If you’ve vowed to eat less after the holidays, as many people do, you may want to restart your New Year’s resolution next month.
Tourism Vancouver has released its 13th annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival menus for the 17-day restaurant promotion taking place January 16 to February 1. A record 277 eateries across Metro Vancouver are participating this year—with over 50 of these new to the Dine Out program—so the biggest challenge is deciding where to make reservations.
There are a few ways to sort through the restaurant options. Diners can narrow their search by cuisine, neighbourhood, and price (prix fixe menus are offered at $18, $28, and $38 for three courses). On the Dine Out Vancouver Festival website, there’s also the option to select only those restaurants catering to vegetarian or gluten-free diners, as well as places offering set menus for lunch.
Many diners will peruse menus based on price, and after holiday splurges, the $18 category will likely be popular. Of the 60 restaurants listed, Café Kathmandu looks promising. The casual Himalayan eatery on Commercial Drive offers Nepali dumplings (better known as momo), goat curry, and a saffron-spiced rice pudding as options on its three-course menu. Vegan and gluten-free dishes are also available and include pea and potato stew as well as a rice and lentil flatbread.
In Kitsilano, Las Margaritas features a hearty Mexican meal: main-course choices of cubed beef chili, turkey-stuffed poblano pepper, and a vegetarian tamale are followed by tres leches cake or churros for dessert.
Located in Gastown, the Donnelly Group–owned Clough Club is appealing. The cocktail den’s eclectic menu includes patatas bravas (a Spanish potato dish), kimchi bratwurst, and an ice-cream sandwich. For even more exotic flavours, why not try Dine Out newcomer Damso Modern Korean Cuisine? The Denman location offers a lunch and dinner that includes a Korean taco followed by slow-cooked kalbi beef short ribs, and a refreshing yuzu sorbet to end the meal. At Damso’s new Bute Street restaurant, diners can enjoy the same three courses, plus a pork-belly rice cake, for $10 more.
Under the $28 banner, diners will be able to enjoy new Vancouver restaurants like the Abbey. The modern British pub near Gastown has pumpkin ravioli to start, and duck and sausage cassoulet or panko-crusted tuna with wasabi-soy butter as main course options on the menu. You’ll want to save room for dessert, which includes the option of the restaurant’s popular peanut butter pie.
Bella Gelateria is returning to Dine Out with an $18 trio of desserts at its Coal Harbour location. At its recently launched Yaletown restaurant, a $28 menu including wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza and fresh, handmade pasta awaits. While owner and gelato master James Coleridge’s icy treats aren’t on the Dine Out menu at this location, tiramisu and lemon meringue pie are.
Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar, which has two locations, is participating in Dine Out for the first time this year. During the festival, each restaurant will feature different comfort-food dishes at the $28 set price. Jambalaya and gumbo appear on the Kitsilano menu, while chicken-fried gator and smoked beef brisket are available downtown.
For diners interested in restaurants at the $38 mark, Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel offers good value. According to the restaurant, the average dining cheque is $65 per person, but during Dine Out, diners can enjoy the same experience—which includes live piano music—for a fraction of the cost. Executive chef David Hassell’s menu includes wild boar terrine to start, and duck confit and steelhead trout for mains. A few blocks away, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar at the Sutton Place Hotel also offers an upscale dining experience. Here, executive chef Alex Chen’s menu starts with albacore tuna tartare dressed in sesame oil, scallions, and shredded seaweed as one of the appetizer options. Butternut squash risotto, braised pork cheeks, and a Mediterranean salmon dish round out the mains, and citrus pavlova and chocolate torte are offered as dessert. At both Boulevard and Bacchus, B.C. VQA wine pairings are available for each course at an additional cost.
The Kirin Chinese restaurant chain is participating for the first time this year as well. While three of its locations (two in Vancouver and one in Richmond) are serving $38 three-course menus, dishes at each restaurant will vary. Mains include black-pepper and basil beef and scallops served with vegetables and steamed rice downtown, smoked lobster at the City Square location, and sweet and sour halibut and sole at the Richmond restaurant.
There’s more to Dine Out than prix fixe meals. If restaurant options aren’t appealing—or if your top picks are fully booked—take a look at the more than 30 events scheduled during the festival. Favourites, such as Secret Supper Soirée (where participants dine in hidden locations), Dinner at the Birdcage (a meal paired with a drag cabaret show), and Street Food City (which corrals some of Vancouver’s food carts) are all returning.
New this year is a cognac master class at UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar, a Robbie Burns whisky supper at Café Medina, and a southern-style feast at Mamie Taylor’s. Also, the International Chef Exchange makes its debut with a chef from Brighton, England’s Terre à Terre restaurant and Vancouver’s the Parker collaborating on a vegetarian meal.
Tickets to Dine Out events and links to reservations at participating restaurants can be found at the Dine Out Vancouver Festival website.