Although there have been a number of closures of some longterm hangouts in the West End, the winds of change are bringing some breezy new opportunities for locals to find new favourites.
What's particularly promising is that a number of new eateries are increasingly becoming health focused, such as Pasture to Plate and Fit Camp Foods. We also mentioned that the vegetarian Mexican-inspired Lucha Verde opened up in the former location of Lolita's South of the Border Cantina.
Here's a quick look at some new entries into the eatery scene in the downtown Vancouver neighbourhood.
Easy to be green
Avocado toast has been making the rounds on menus these days. And so have tacos. Now here comes a place that combines the best of all those worlds.
Avocado Bay Guacamole House and Juice Bar is gearing up for a soft opening on the Canada Day weekend on the second floor at 1184 Denman Street in the former location of the Denman Taphouse.
While full details haven't been released yet, their all-avocado (yes, it's true!) menu will offer a variety of guacamole and tacos, featuring gluten-free jicama taco shells. There'll even be an avocado burger, with two slices of an avocado replacing the buns.
Stay tuned for more information on this one to come.
Rio to move south
Rio Brazilian Steakhouse is relocating from its Coal Harbour location at 689 Denman Street (at Alberni Street) to a second floor location on the same street, this time near English Bay at 1122 Denman Street.
They'll be taking over premises that have been sitting empty for years since the all-you-can-eat Tanpopo Japanese Restaurant closed down around 2013.
Rio managing partner Felipe Ramos said that they're aiming for an opening by around next Thursday (July 6). The size and seating capacity will be about the same (around 150 people) but this new location will have a patio.
Meanwhile, they also operate a second location in Coquitlam at 2729 Barnett Highway, which opened in 2015.
The restaurant specializes in southern Brazilian churrasco, or Brazilian barbecue, with rodizio, or continuous tableside service with meat-based offerings ranging from picanha (top sirloin cap) and frango com bacon (bacon-wrapped chicken) to cordeiro (mustard-crusted lamb). That's in addition to their hot buffet and salad bar, and they also feature samba dancers on weekends.
A new slice of sushi
The clean, petite Tetsu Sushi Bar opened in April at 775 Denman Street, taking over from where Lanna Thai used to operate.
While the menu covers all the sushi and sashimi bases, including taktaki (tuna, hamachi), there are also a few unique, luxury, or hard-to-find items as well.
For example, among the appetizers, there's mozuku (Okinawan seaweed with soy vinaigrette, $5) and yamaimo salad (plum-flavoured Japanese mountain potato with wasabi and seaweed soy sauce, $7), which may not be found on many local menus.
Donburi (rice bowls) includes uni and ikura don ($18) and even teriyaki-flavoured foie gras don ($15).
Maki selections include salmon, sabagari (mackerel, shiso, ginger, sesame seeds), negitoro (tuna belly, green onion), sockeye salmon, and ika (squid) with shiso, ranging from $3.50 to $5.50.
Aburi (or flame-seared) sushi, from $2.75 to $9.50, includes salmon, albacore toro, wagyu beef, foie gras, and blue fin o-toro.
North American rolls cover familiar favourites like California, chopped scallop, or spicy sockeye salmon ($3 to $5.50), as well as a real crab roll ($8.50).
There's also a small selection of noodles—udon, soba, inaniwa udon (handmade thin, flat noodles from Akita, Japan, served with hot soup or cold dipping sauce)—and fish dishes: squid, saba shio, soy- and sake-marinated yellow tail, sockeye salmon sake kasuzuke (sake kasu miso marinated sockeye salmon), and black cod marinated in Kyoto saikyo miso.
Some brief notes about other food news in the neighbourhood:
• a new ramen shop, Chi Men, is preparing to open in the former location of the blink-and-you-missed-it UNoodle the Noodle Factory (which opened in the fall of 2016 and closed a few months ago), at 1120 Denman Street. This new spot is just beyond the ramen district concentrated at Robson and Denman streets.
• Pasture to Plate deli and grill (1061 Denman Street) which offers organic meat from their own chemical-free, biodynamic B.C. farm, is now offering a steak salad with strawberry vinaigrette, goat cheese, and sunflower seeds ($17) as a new summertime special