Oh, Canada! 10 Must-Visit Restaurants in Vancouver
This spring, I had the chance to take a quick trip to the Pacific Northwest, and I jumped at the chance to dive into Canada’s food scene for the first time. Despite growing up on the West Coast, I had never ventured farther north than Seattle. I only spent three days in Vancouver, but I was really impressed by the city’s offerings. Keep reading to see where I ate, drank, and slept in Vancouver:
1. Wildebeest - They offer an à la carte menu, but here it’s best to go wild and choose the “omakase.” Instead of a set tasting menu, you give them your price point and any food allergies/dislikes and they design a unique menu just for you. The more people you bring, the more dishes you can eat! My omakase included the deviled egg with foie and caviar; house-made charcuterie (elk salami, boar tenderloin, goose terrine, etc.); pickled herring; the best bone marrow I’ve ever had; an absolutely insane wagyu tartare; stinging nettle ravioli; hasselback potato cooked in wagyu fat (!!); and hay-smoked celeriac. To drink, they have some natural wines (yay!) and really creative cocktails - one based on fresh horseradish went great with the tartare. Sustainability is a big focus of the restaurant and they work hard to use local ingredients and reduce food waste.
2. Medina Cafe - These delicious Belgian waffles are worth the Instagram hype! Medina uses special waffle machines from Belgium that flip 180 degrees, allowing the waffle batter to spread out and cook evenly. 450 waffles are made fresh every morning, and are popped in the toaster to order so they’re served warm to every customer. The highlight for me was the many different flavored sauces - my favorites were the white chocolate rose water pistachio and passionfruit cream. Don’t go too late - they typically run out around 1pm.
3. Farmer’s Apprentice - This adorable farm-to-table joint is home to the best deal in Vancouver: a delicious three-course lunch for $25 USD! I tried the lemongrass broth with oyster and shiitake mushrooms + housemade sourdough; the lemon poppyseed noodles (one of the best pastas I’ve ever had); and a lime custard dessert topped with housemade granola. In the glass? A local orange wine from Canada. They only serve natural wines here!
4. Tacofino - A really cute taco chain with a few locations around Vancouver. I visited the “Oasis” location, a tropical getaway hidden in the heart of the financial district. My sister and I tried the pineapple margarita, chips and guacamole, chorizo burrito, fried fish taco, beef taco - they were all delicious!
5. Market by Jean-Georges - This is not your typical Jean-Georges restaurant! At Market, head chef Ken Nakano is straying away from the French classics and adding dishes that showcase the best ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. I especially loved the burrata salad and the pan-seared sea bream with polenta and artichoke. Be sure to try a few of their inventive cocktails - my favorite was the “Lost Horizon,” their award-winning cocktail crafted after the book of the same name.
Coffee + Sweets
6. Nemesis - Nothing better than walking into a bakery and being greeted by a gorgeous pastry case filled with treats, all made from scratch. I wanted to try everything, but I opted for a chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie - it was topped with sea salt and had a perfectly chewy consistency. I also loved the ham and cheese croissant, layered with gruyere and bacon (and did I detect a little maple syrup?), and topped with a dollop of Parmesan cream hollandaise. In the mug? A super floral Colombian pour over with notes of elderflower and cantaloupe, brewed perfectly.
7. Timbertrain - A beautiful coffee shop with a unique seating layout (it feels like a mix between a hipster train and a coworking space). I loved my floral Burundi pour over - the coffee is roasted in house. I’ll have to come back to try some pastries next time - they looked delicious.
8. Earnest Ice Cream - Adorable Vancouver ice cream shop with a few locations around the city, offering small batch, seasonal ice creams based largely on foraged ingredients. Some of my favorite flavors included the London Fog, honey chamomile, and elderflower. They have lots of vegan options, too!
9. Grapes & Soda - The sister wine bar to Farmer’s Apprentice, located literally right next door. They have a very knowledgeable and passionate staff who could talk about their wine list for hours, a good selection of local and international wines, and a big by-the-glass menu to encourage customers to try new things. You can also order 3oz pours to taste even more wines. They have a small food menu and cocktails available, too.
10. Botanist - An absolutely gorgeous cocktail bar located within the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. The all white aesthetic has loads of living plants as the main form of decoration. Right now the cocktail lab menu is inspired by the elements: Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire. We tried the “Deep Cove” cocktail (representing the water element), which was made of gin, sea buckthorn, and blue algae, and the “Pretty Bird” cocktail (representing the air element), which was made of gin, strawberry juice, sparkling wine, and served in a cute bird glass. The drinks are as refreshing and well-balanced as they are attractive. Botanist has great bar food too - we especially loved the agnolotti pasta and the wagyu cheeseburger.
Shangri-La Vancouver - It’s hard to leave and explore when your hotel room is so luxurious! At Shangri-La Vancouver, I was spoiled with a gorgeous corner suite with two private balconies, a marble bathroom with a spacious bath tub, and a room service breakfast menu from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges. The hotel is in a great central location by the Vancouver waterfront, and is equipped with an outdoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and the wonderful Market by Jean-Georges restaurant (reviewed above). It’s safe to say I didn’t want to check out!
Following along on Instagram? See more from the trip at #CarnivorrVancouver.