Granville Island is famous for many things. It's a centre of arts and culture, home to Vancouver TheatreSports League, the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, the Vancouver Writers Fest, Waterfront Theatre, and the Arts Club Theatre's Granville Island Stage.
It also has perhaps the most famous public market in Western Canada. But what also keeps the locals coming back is the food and beverage scene. In 2015, Granville Island establishments and products garnered 13 Golden Plates Awards from readers of the Georgia Straight. You can read about them below. On Granville Island, artistry takes many different forms.
The former Edible B.C. has expanded into Edible Canada. While the focus remains on B.C. ingredients, it celebrates cuisine from different parts of the country, such as the Quebec duck poutine or the Alberta Angus beef burger.
The well-executed yet unfussy West Coast dishes include grilled salmon and duck-fat fries. One of the highlights is an expansive patio with a terrific view of the Granville Island Public Market.
"A warning about the hash browns," the Straight's Pieta Woolley once wrote. "Once you’ve tried these—as I did—all other hash browns will forever pale in comparison. Bite in, and the crispness is audible. The potato inside is velvety and smells like earthy root."
Located on the Granville Island waterfront, the Dockside Restaurant serves up innovatively prepared Ocean Wise seafood in a clean, contemporary setting, complemented with a spectacular patio. With its bright, airy dining space, beautiful cityscape views, and 50-foot aquarium, the Dockside Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
The culinary team, led by executive chef Victor Jacinto, has created lunch and dinner menus that highlight dishes like the grilled & chicken ancho chili prawns, seared Haida Gwaii halibut, and Moroccan spiced rack of lamb. For breakfast, you can have your choice of offerings like the Dockside omelette with sautéed B.C. wild mushrooms, sharp white cheddar, charred roma tomato, and fire-roasted red pepper sauce or the southside huevos (corn tortillas, two sunny-side up eggs, chorizo, black bean–cucumber salsa, avocado, red onions, and sour cream).
The Dockside Restaurant’s three separate dining areas (the restaurant, the semi-private dining room, and the lounge) are available to rent for events, for groups of anywhere between 30 and 300 attendees.
Located just across the bridge at the entrance to Granville Island, this café relies on seafood from the nearby fish market.
"Halibut, salmon, oysters, mussels—the seafood here is as fresh as it gets," wrote former Straight food editor Angela Murrills.
Executive chef Nicolas Hipperson told another Straight food writer, Tara Lee, that he uses R&B Brewing Red Devil Pale Ale in the batter because he likes the bitterness and the hoppy-ness, providing a sharp flavour. Chips are created from Kennebec potatoes.
Founded by the now-deceased Alan Lee and his wife Betty-Ann in 1979, this popular bakery offers up fresh, homemade doughnuts and doughnut holes.
"The honey-dipped doughnut has long been the most popular treat sold at Lees, although fans of the mango, Bavarian cream, and chocolate versions have kept the counter staff busy for decades," wrote the Straight's Martin Dunphy.
He noted that Lee's Donuts relies on whole eggs, which are fried in vegetable shortening. Fillings are obtained locally, wherever possible.
When they’re hungry for artisan loafs, rustic pastries, and wholesome granola, Vancouverites flock to Terra Breads. Since its first bakery and café opened in Kitsilano in 1993, Terra Breads has expanded to four locations, including one in the Granville Island Public Market.
Terra Breads combines traditional methods, quality ingredients, and new flavours to make baked goods that fit the West Coast lifestyle. Bread is baked in stone-hearth ovens after rising on French linen. Local and organic ingredients are used as much as possible.
Readers of the Georgia Straight recently voted this local business the best bread bakery in our 2015 Golden Plates and 2014 Best of Vancouver surveys. You’ll only need one bite of the cranberry pistachio bread, grape bread with pine nuts and walnuts, or salted caramel apple focaccia to find out why.
Abundance is the word here. Bursting with colour, activity, and aromas, this open-concept indoor market is a magnet for food-shopping locals and tourists alike. It's easy to see why: everything from baskets of fresh berries and specialty cheese to handmade bath products and arts and crafts pack the sprawling premises. Food-court vendors serve up dishes from Greece and France to India and Thailand, with classics like burgers and fish 'n' chips also in the mix.
Florists, fudge-makers, loose leaf tea experts—they're all nestled inside this bustling maze that visitors can spend hours exploring. Guided tours are offered by Edible British Columbia on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 8:30 am.
Brothers Jonah and Andrew Benton traded in their engineering training to become aficionados of all things fermented. After working with connoisseurs across Canada, the duo opened this gourmet shop with its well-curated assortment of handmade cheeses from Basque to Burgundy, as well as Quebec, B.C., and more.
But that's not all. Patés and in-house smoked meats, crackers, condiments; accompaniments like almonds, apricots, and olives; oils, vinegars, chutney, and jellies; and plenty of other items make this venue a one-stop shopping destination for cheese fanciers. What's more, the knowledgeable brothers, well-versed in everything from flavour profiles to wine pairing, are ready to answer all your questions while offering samples straight off the wheel.
The Oyama Sausage Co. takes pride in choosing only the freshest ingredients, which is one reason why it consistently does exceptionally well in the Georgia Straight’s annual Golden Plates Awards.
Owner John van der Lieck is part of a family that has been practising the craft of charcuterie for five generations. While he's of German and Dutch heritage, his company has incorporated flavours from a multitude of countries into its products.
A Vancouver staple since 1971, this family-owned and managed restaurant was the first to serve traditional Afghan cuisine in Canada. Conveniently situated at the entrance to Granville Island, the Afghan Horsemen is open seven nights a week.
The atmosphere is exotic and welcoming here, where guests have the option of sitting in booths or on cushions with food is served on low-lying tables. Art, crafts, and jewellery from Afghanistan abound, prompting the Straight's Charlie Smith to once compare the restaurant to a museum.
Carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike will find ample sustenance in a menu where kebabs, grilled lamb, and dolmah are featured alongside eggplant baked with herbs, lentil stew, and baked rice served with vegetables. If you've never eaten Afghan food, it includes hints of Greek and Indian cuisine, which reflects the history of migration through the region dating back to the days of Alexander the Great and leading up to the Moghuls rise to power across South Asia.
It also won for best Persian.
Sometimes, it's best to go to specialists in their field. The Stock Market has been obsessing over nutritious and tasty soups ever since it opened, serving three to four different varieties a day.
The rule here is no additives, preservatives, or MSG.
The head chef, Jean-Philippe Bedard, told the Straight's Michelle da Silva in 2012 that split-pea soup is the "easiest and most rewarding soup to make".
“If I’m using a fresh herb in the soup, like thyme, I’ll want to use it in the beginning so it has time to soften and mingle its flavour all around, but if I want to finish the soup with a fresh parsley, I might just want to toss it right on top of the soup at serving time and preserve the freshness of the ingredient,” Bedard said.
Craft breweries generate plenty of media coverage, but this region is also home to several craft distilleries. Straight columnist Kurtis Kolt has written that Liberty Distillery's spirits "have quickly gained a cult following".
He noted that staff let people try before they buy at Liberty, which creates hand-crafted spirits fermented in stainless-steel tanks and distilled on the premises. With brands like Trust Whiskey and Truth Vodka, Liberty is conveying that it's an honest broker of alcoholic beverages.
It's also the first pure craft distillery in Vancouver. Visitors to the city are often attracted to the century-old antique bar, as well as for the tours and tastings.
Canada's first microbrewery opened in 1984 bringing west coast style and flavours to the craft brewing scene. Visitors to the GIB Taproom can sometimes catch a glimpse of the brewmaster behind the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
In 2014 to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the brewery launched three new categories of beer: the Coastal Series, Under the Bridge, and Small Batch.
Under the Bridge included the hearty Swing Span Amber Ale and Hey Day Hefeweizen, with labelling harkening back to Granville Island's industrial era.
Longtime brewmaster Vern Lambourne created the strong-tasting beers in the Small Batch series, such as Shamrocker Potato Stout. The Coastal Series includes Cypress Honey Lager and the classic English Bay Pale Ale.
Lambourne left GIB in February 2015 and new brewmaster Kevin Emms took the helm in May.
A robust ale featuring cocoa, caramel and vanilla. Lions Winter Ale took the silver medal at the 2011 World Beer Championships and won the Georgia Straight's Golden Plates award for best locally brewed.
In 2014, Straight contributor and noted beer aficionado Joe Wiebe included this beverage in a roundup of holiday-friendly winter beers.
This hearty ale's vanilla-like finish has made it a favourite of many Vancouverites, but be warned: it's only available between October and March.