Vancouver loves to boast about its outstanding restaurant scene, and sure, we’re spoiled here with our diverse dining options.
Those who are so obsessed with food that they have cookbooks on their bedside table and like to think about what to have for dinner during breakfast (hello) may worry that heading out of town will mean food that pales in comparison, a nonstop buffet of chicken tenders and subpar sandwiches.
But fret not, Vancouverites: there are some fine culinary experiences to be had far beyond our city limits.
A trip to the relaxing, walkable seaside provincial capital would not be complete without a stop at Fan Tan Alley in historic Chinatown, the colourful, crowded street being named the narrowest in North America. Right nearby is Olo (509 Fisgard Street), a locavore restaurant with Brad Holmes at the helm.
The executive chef’s name may be familiar to Vancouverites; he used to work at Lumière and West, studying under Rob Feenie and David Hawksworth. A member of the Slow Food Chefs Alliance, Holmes prides himself on knowing by name the 50 or so farmers, foragers, and small suppliers from whom he sources his food.
The menu is always changing, but examples of dishes include lamb tartare, alder-smoked salmon, balsamic beets, and lingcod with gnocchi and a herb-and-shellfish foam. There are family-style dinners and tasting menus, plus weekend brunch—try the sweet soufflé pancakes with poached rhubarb, honey, and yogurt.
You’ve got no shortage of options here, from Mexican to Mongolian and all sorts of burgers in between. And despite the prevalence of sushi in Vancouver, don’t overlook Japanese cuisine here. There’s a reason Sushi Village (4272 Mountain Square) is still going strong after more than three decades in operation.
Head chef Hideki Kobayashi offers everything from spicy ahi poké to hot-pot dinners for two with thinly sliced sirloin in sukiyaki sauce with raw egg. Check out his creative rolls, too, like the Pumpkin Delight, with pumpkin tempura, takuan (pickled daikon radish), enoki mushrooms, beets, cilantro, sesame mayo, and balsamic reduction. Pair them with a potent sake margarita, available in fun flavours like strawberry melon and strawberry banana.
Oh, Pemby, home of one of the best restaurants in Canada. Mile One Eating House (7–7330 Arbutus Street) has everything a discerning foodie could ever want: a menu that showcases regional producers and delicious, expertly executed, top-quality food. You’ll find Cache Creek natural beef, Fraser Valley duck and smoked bacon, Salmon Arm chicken, Little Qualicum cheese, Pemberton potatoes (obviously)… The list goes on.
Try the Two Rivers slow-roasted beef-brisket sandwich with Okanagan-apple sauerkraut, Mount Moriarty cheese, arugula, and red onion on a baked buttermilk bun.
Mile One’s craft-beer program features ales from Red Truck Beer Company, Postmark Brewing, and Hearthstone Brewery, among many others; wines on tap include CedarCreek Estate Winery, Blasted Church Vineyards, and Stag’s Hollow winery. Worth a day trip from Vancouver.
Unless you’ve been living in a fog, you’ve heard of Wolf in the Fog (150 4 Street), the Tuff City resto that’s made waves across the country ever since day one. With art made out of pieces of driftwood and old surfboards, this place nails the concept of local, fresh, seasonal food with items like salal-infused gin, Bamfield seaweed, chanterelle mushrooms foraged in the forests right outside of town, and, of course, fish that comes in daily from a dock that’s a block away.
Executive chef and owner Nick Nutting used to work at the Pointe Restaurant at Wickaninnish Inn. The calibre of the food is on par with that at Bishop’s, but it’s served up Tofino-style; sharing is encouraged.
One of its signature items is its potato-crusted oyster, with the Quadra Island bivalve wrapped in shoestring potato crust and served with julienned green apple and truffle oil. Be sure to start off with a Cedar Sour, a fragrant cocktail made with cedar-infused rye and lemon-thyme syrup—liquid rainforest in a glass.
With the wine-touring business booming, there are plenty of terrific winery restaurants to try out between sips. Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek (537 Tinhorn Creek Road, Oliver)—a joint venture of Tinhorn Creek and Manuel Ferreira, former owner of Le Gavroche—earned the title of best winery restaurant in the Georgia Straight’s annual Golden Plates Awards, voted on by readers, for 2017 and 2016.
Chef Jeff Van Geest offers seasonal, contemporary Mediterranean-inspired wine-country cuisine. Menu items change, but examples of standout dishes include a yogurt-braised lamb shank with pistachio, mint, and cilantro accompanied by green chickpea hummus, sumac flatbread, and salted cucumber, as well as halibut in paella consommé with chorizo, confit potatoes, baby octopus, lobster oil, and spring greens.
With a panoramic view of the Golden Mile Bench, the restaurant also makes authentic al forno Neapolitan pizza.