Vancouver BC restaurant recommendations, please
December 17, 2009 6:45 PM   Subscribe

We're going to be in Vancouver BC in late December, and would love your restaurant recommendations.

For the most part, we tend to like the same places as those "foodie" folks, especially places that concentrate on local, seasonal ingredients, but we love all good food. Nothing too snooty (Mr. Rabinowitz won't be bringing a jacket and tie), but we're open to (almost) all cuisines and price ranges as long as there's deliciousness involved. We'll be there for several days, and we'd like to experience a range of Vancouver's food offerings-- but we definitely want to have at least one GREAT Chinese meal, as that's one of the few things not available to us at home in Portland.

As to geography, we'll probably be staying at a hotel downtown (any opinions on Sutton Place vs. Fairmont Vancouver vs. Wedgewood, by the way?), but we'll have a car so we figure we can get just about anywhere we need to.

Thanks so much, Metafilter.
posted by rabinowitz to Travel & Transportation around Vancouver, BC (29 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
posted by matildaben at 6:51 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

the Naam vegetarian restaurant, a Vancouver institution. open 24 hours. healthy and amazing.
posted by beccyjoe at 6:59 PM on December 17, 2009

The Raincity Grill. They're all about fresh local ingredients. It's a nice place but casual, and you can walk there from downtown. Probably need to reserve in advance.

For Chinese food there are a zillion options, so here are the Chinese restaurant award winners from 2009. My favourite place is the Bo Kong on Main St. It's a Buddhist place, so vegetarian, but you wouldn't believe the trickery they pull off with gluten and tofu - you'd swear you're eating pork.

I've never eaten there but a chef friend recommended Cru on Broadway when I asked for a place that had really great quality food but at semi-affordable prices.

You should also come to the east side and have some cheap Vietnamese food! There are a zillion places you could do this too... there's a decent place at Cambie and Broadway close to the Broadway-City hall skytrain station (not quite the east side, but whatevs) or you could take a drive down Kingsway and pass one on every block.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:08 PM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

ok so ... its like the opposite of 'foodie' joints, but, you simply can not come to Vancouver without having breakfast at Bon's Off Broadway!

But for a proper recommendation, I would say The Foundation near Main & Broadway (another veggie recommendation). You can expect pretty unique environments at both these places.

oh and, I haven't tried it, but if you can find the Japa-Dog (Japanese Hot Dog) stands they're quite famous.
posted by mannequito at 7:21 PM on December 17, 2009

I love hons its cheap lots of food(but some think its to slimy) but I love it
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 7:23 PM on December 17, 2009

ah missed the question about hotels. Not that I know anything about hotels in this city, but if you stay at the Fairmont on West Pender you'll be above Caffe Artigiano, which I used to work at and has some of the best coffee in N.America (though I've been told the quality went down under new ownership since I left).
posted by mannequito at 7:24 PM on December 17, 2009

By the way I can't really speak to the hotels, it seems like the location is the same for each of them, but I've always liked the Fairmont because it's one of the CPR hotels. There's one in many major cities in Canada, built by the railroad company in the early 20th century (Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa, Victoria...). Maybe you're a geek like me and find this sort of thing interesting
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:24 PM on December 17, 2009

posted by SatansCabanaboy at 7:25 PM on December 17, 2009

Seconding Japa-Dog by the way.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:25 PM on December 17, 2009

An uber-foodie friend from Vancouver took me to West for a night of seasonal/regional foodiness and I wasn't disappointed. The best meal I've eaten in Vancouver was omakase at Tojo's, about 10 years ago. Apparently some people say it's gone downhill, but a meal half as good as the one I had would be still be the best I eat in a typical year.
posted by escabeche at 7:36 PM on December 17, 2009

Guu in Gastown has amazing Japanese tapas. I've missed it since I moved away.
posted by sinderile at 8:22 PM on December 17, 2009

Dim sum at Fisherman's Terrace (Richmond) or Kirin (Vancouver). Both have an excellent dinner service, too.
posted by VanCityChica at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2009

Strongly seconding West. Arrive before 5.30 or 6 if you want the reasonably priced and delicious prix fixe menu. Vij's is also fantastic. There's always a lineup, though, as they don't take reservations, so try to arrive around 5 if you want to be in the first seating; if you miss it, they do have a nice lounge in the back and they come around regularly with free finger food (pakora and similar).

Chambar is great -- very atmospheric and a great list of Belgian beers. The mussels alone are typically enough of a meal for me, but everything on the menu I've had is superb. Definitely book ahead.

Seasons has solid food and a beautiful view of the city if the weather's clear. Again, book ahead, especially at this time of the year.

For French/bistro type dining, Bistro Pastis is nice, as are Le Gavroche and Pied a Terre. I've heard nothing but good things about Le Crocodile and Les Faux Bourgeois (which isn't all that close to the downtown core) but haven't been to either myself (yet!).

You might get a recommendation for Salt. It's atmospheric (long benches and tables, located down Blood Alley in Gastown) but you can get exactly the same meats and cheeses at Oyama Sausage down at the public market on Granville Island for a fraction of the price -- assemble your own lunch. And definitely do visit the market, as it's a feast for the senses. While you're down there, Go Fish is nearby and recommended.

Kirin and Sun Sui Wah are excellent for Chinese, especially dim sum (which you shouldn't leave Vancouver without trying). All-you-can-eat sushi is fairly popular; definitely not as high-quality as non-AYCE places, but fairly inexpensive and still pretty delicious. My favourite is Shabusen (either location). Seconding Guu, too, which serves something like Japanese tapas.

On to the un-recommendations: I didn't have a mindblowing experience at Raincity Grill, myself, particularly given the price -- but I might be wrong, as I've not been back. Avoid Stonegrill -- overpriced and gimmicky. I also find Bacchus (the restaurant at the Wedgewood) overpriced, though the lounge is fun for people-watching if you don't mind your drinks on the expensive side.
posted by fhangler at 8:28 PM on December 17, 2009

Toshi Sushi on Main and 16th is my favorite restaurant.

Amazing sushi (the box role isn't on the menu but is delicious!) and cheap.

No reservations and you will almost certainly have to wait in their cramped waiting area but so worth it.

It is open after 5pm except Sunday and Monday.
posted by ouchitburns at 8:30 PM on December 17, 2009

oh, one issue is that it has no real atmosphere. it is just delicious. also get the tuna tataki.
posted by ouchitburns at 8:31 PM on December 17, 2009

For Chinese: This weekend I went to Golden Sichuan Restaurant in Richmond with three Chinese acquaintances (who all grew up in China). They said that Chinese food in Vancouver was far superior to anywhere in the Seattle, the best Chinese food in the Vancouver area is actually in Richmond, and that this was a very good example. I recommend it too. Not only was the food very tasty, but it was all somewhat unlike American Chinese food. It's too bad you won't have an actual Sichuan friend to order for you, but the menu is in English too, not that anyone else in the restaurant was speaking it.
posted by grouse at 8:32 PM on December 17, 2009

If you hurry, you could book an evening at the Long Table.
posted by stray at 9:01 PM on December 17, 2009

Finch tea house
is one of the most charming cafes I have ever seen. The sandwiches are gourmet. Great for vegetarians.

The Templeton

Gene (for the view)
Nirvana (for the Indian food, vegan friendly)
posted by ashputtel at 9:14 PM on December 17, 2009

Seconding Hons, despite it definitely lacking in atmosphere, and the service can be hit and miss. There's one on Robson, in Chinatown, one out in Coquitlam, and one in Richmond, but my favourite is the one in New West. Each location's menu varies slightly as well. As a lunch alternative, Golden Great Wall on Broadway and (Heather? Willow? can't remember) can be damn tasty as well, for a respectable price. Not worth it for dinner though.
posted by cgg at 9:37 PM on December 17, 2009

West is solid. Market @ Alberni near Thurlow is decent and lunchtime is a relative deal @ $29 for 3 courses. Fair warning, I have a friend that works at Market. There is some buzz about The Corner Suite (which is not open until January) @ Thurlow & Haro.
posted by juv3nal at 10:18 PM on December 17, 2009

Kingyo on Denman was the best Japanese meal I've had outside of Japan
The Cannery will sadly be closing in March due to the eviction of all non-industrial uses from Port Metro Vancouver (it's located in an area that requires security clearance or a reservation at the restaurant). Stellar seafood.
posted by avocet at 11:48 PM on December 17, 2009

I've stayed at Sutton Place and Wedgewood and I'd vote for the latter. It's a smaller place, more character. But maybe because I've never been there, or maybe not, I think I'd most like to stay at the Fairmont, just for the history.

Lots of great places in this thread. I find myself most often craving Vij's, West, Finch's, Chambar, I do like Salt for all it's pretentious-not pretention, Go Fish, Bin 941 or 942.
posted by miles1972 at 12:24 AM on December 18, 2009

Heartily seconding the recommendations for Rain City Grill and Sun Sui Wah.

Okada Sushi is a hidden gem (it's a bit hard to see from the street, because it's on the top level of a recessed plaza at Nelson and Hornby). It's a very short walk from two of the hotels you're considering (about 2 blocks from Sutton Place or the Wedgewood) and has excellent, fresh sushi and warm, friendly service. Not a fancy atmosphere but kind of like a neighbourhood sushi joint where the staff knows the regulars.

The Afghan Horsemen serves food from Afghanistan (duh) in a cozy but ornate setting. I'd recommend getting seated in the room where everyone sits on cushions on the floor, all facing in towards the centre of the room. I found Afghan food to be like a combination of Persian, Greek, and Turkish food.

The Banana Leaf (there are two, but I like the one on Denman Street, which is the downtown location) serves delicious Malaysian food.

(BTW, avocet, thanks for the heads-up about the Cannery closing! What a shame. I'll have to go there for a farewell meal when I'm there at Christmas. I didn't have the means to eat there more than once when I lived in East Vancouver, but it was easily one of the best meals I've had. Saw two sea lions lounging in the water while walking to the restaurant, too, which was pretty cool.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:26 AM on December 18, 2009

The food at Hon's is disgusting. Don't touch it (especially if you're familiar with the real thing).

For casual Cantonese, Congee Noodle House and Kwong Chow are far superior and also dirt cheap. Cash only at these establishments.
posted by randomstriker at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2009

Okada sushi closed recently. The owner retired.
posted by randomstriker at 10:57 AM on December 19, 2009

randomstriker: Okada sushi closed recently. The owner retired.

Oh no!!! Mr. hgg and I were looking forward to going when visiting Vancouver at Christmas--we ate there most recently at the end of July, so I had no idea it had closed since then. I loved Okada. We're going to have to find a new favourite downtown sushi place now, but luckily there are a few in this thread we haven't been to yet.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:52 PM on December 19, 2009

Ditto randomstriker re: Congee Noodle House over Hon's. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hon's is disgusting, but it's certainly not good.

re: Cannery, last time I was there they said they'd already figured out a place to move to once they got kicked out of the current location (which is, let's face it, a bitch to get to no matter where you live). But I dunno, that was a while ago so maybe the situation's changed.
Cannery does a pretty good lobster bisque.

Oh crap. I just realized no one in this thread has mentioned Pnomh Penh.
Butter beef, chicken wings, & drip coffee with condensed milk. Go.
posted by juv3nal at 4:15 PM on December 19, 2009

+1 for Kingyo. Try the Kobe beef, which you cook to your liking on a hot rock.
posted by findango at 7:55 PM on December 19, 2009

La Quercia
posted by squ1rr3l at 6:01 PM on December 23, 2009

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