Eating on the cheap in Vancouver.
June 14, 2012 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Looking for inexpensive meals in Vancouver.

My fiancee and I are going to Vancouver for our honeymoon in a few weeks (thanks for all of the tips on things to do in my previous Askmes). We've splurged on a fancy hotel -- perhaps a bit more than we should have -- and so we're looking to cut down on our food costs. We've got some nice dinners planned, but we'd like to eat on the cheap for breakfasts and lunches (and maybe a few of the dinners, too).

We'll be staying downtown, and we'll be spending at least one full day on Granville Island, so we're primarily looking for places to eat in those areas.

Neither one of us is a particularly picky eater, so we're open to trying just about anything, especially if it is something that is done particularly well in Vancouver. We're just as happy grabbing a Japa Dog for lunch as we are with sitting down at a sushi place. The main goal here is to keep our breakfast and lunch costs down without having to sacrifice too much on the quality of food (though, again, most of our dinners will be nice, so we're OK with something quick and simple for the other meals).

Our hotel room doesn't have a kitchenette, so making our own food at the hotel isn't really an option.
posted by asnider to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Vancouver Magazine just published a list of cheap places to eat in Vancouver and a friend of mine happened to map them out yesterday.
posted by sillygwailo at 12:58 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Granville Island: your best bet for lunch is to just go to the market, get some bread, cheese, fruit, and find a place outside. There's benches just to the west of the market that look out over the creek. Or you can walk around to the east side of the island until you find some grass, if eating on a wharf isn't appealing.

Elsewise, if you like sushi, you're in luck. There's plenty of hole-in-the-wall joints that will have a "combo" (18 pieces of maki + miso) for $8 or so. Nothing to get too excited about, but most are totally decent.

If you find yourself at English Bay Beach "the Dogfather" has really excellent food-cart hotdogs for $3.
posted by junco at 1:15 PM on June 14, 2012

If you're happy with Japadog, i recommend checking out some of the other food carts that have sprung up around downtown Vancouver.
posted by makonan at 1:19 PM on June 14, 2012

Oh, and a concrete recommendation for sushi downtown is Yamato on Davie between Granville and Seymour, though it can be very crowded at lunch / dinner rush.
posted by junco at 1:21 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, watch out for the seagulls on Granville Island if you plan on eating outside. They're assholes and they stole my corndog.
posted by makonan at 1:24 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

If you get a hankering for inexpensive yet good pizza, you can't go wrong with 2001 flavors pizza on the corner of Pender and Seymour. They have several different pizzas by the slice including at all hours of the day, open until I think 9 or 10 at night. They have a couple of different feature pizzas per day as well that are unusual. They have a swiss, tomato and black forest ham one I really enjoy, and another variety has cheddar and potato that is good. There are a few other buck-ish/slice places in town but they're all pale shadows in comparison to this place.

Also, if you're around the same area of downtown during the week, the Vancouver Community College building at 250 West Pender (a couple of blocks east of the pizza place I recommend above) has an excellent inexpensive cafeteria that the culinary students run. I haven't eaten there during dinner, but I used to work a few blocks away and we'd always go there at least once a week for lunch. In the same building on the same floor is the bakery those students supply as well, and you can usually find a good snack for later in there on the cheap too.
posted by barc0001 at 1:46 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you end up at UBC to enjoy the gardens (main campus is a cluster of construction right now) on a Wednesday, stop by The Pit at the student union building for a $5 burger, fries, drink combo. Its pretty good for a student run pub. Also, the amazing gardens.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:17 PM on June 14, 2012

Cafe Nuba at Seymour and Davie has good, inexpensive Lebanese food. For example, you can get a vegetarian felafel pita for $6.50. I've only eaten at the Seymour and Davie location, but there are a few other locations: one at Main and 3rd, one at 1489 East Hastings at the Waldorf Hotel, and one (a full restaurant rather than cafe) at West Hastings and Cambie.

Pho Number One at 1120 Denman St. is also excellent and very inexpensive.

On preview: The cafeteria at VCC really is very good for reasonably priced, tasty food.

Congratulations and I hope you have a fun honeymoon!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2012

Okay, so cafe regalade is not downtown, nor is it particularly cheap, but it is brunch, so maybe you can count it as two meals. and it is the bomb (pdf menu, I'm referring to the bolded breakfast things in the top left: Basque and Lyon in particular are awesome).
posted by juv3nal at 2:49 PM on June 14, 2012

I was just here last week. My default for cheap eats when downtown is to hit the local Urban Fare, a higher end grocery stone. The have a decent cafeteria-style counter separate from the store with hot and cold food. Not cheap, cheap, but still very affordable (meals for ~$10), great for picnics. Some days, I'm happier on a park bench by English Bay with a sandwich than in a fancy restaurant.

But, ooh, you have to go to Go Fish Ocean Emporium if you go to Granville Island. Just across the bridge on the bike path west of the bridge. They have the most amazing oyster tacos.
posted by bonehead at 2:53 PM on June 14, 2012

Seconding Yamato, and recommending that you get takeout. The restaurant (if you can even call it that) is teensy tiny and it's almost always packed to the brim.

Another hole in the wall that I adore is Thai Basil, on Thurlow Street just off Davie Street. This place is also teensy tiny, but it's less hectic than Yamato.

And yes, what makonan said about the Granville Island seagulls! They knocked my husband's glasses off his head and divebombed his mother's plate of Greek food. They are vicious and fear no human.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:25 PM on June 14, 2012

Did you know about Vancouver's new(ish) food carts? Tasty delicious relatively affordable food is waiting for you!
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:37 PM on June 14, 2012

For inexpensive we liked Anatolia Express (middle eastern) at the convention centre.
posted by canoehead at 4:03 PM on June 14, 2012

La Taqueria is cheap and has super filling tacos. You get 4 meat tacos (they have lots of different flavours and kinds of meat and you get to mix and match) fo $9.50 and I think 4 veg tacos for $8. I like the pepper and creamed corn tacos the best.
posted by sadtomato at 6:15 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

A great cafe for breakfast or lunch is Everything Cafe The coffee and chai is great. They have really awesome grilled cheese with Guinness mustard and their baked treats are delicious.
posted by sadtomato at 6:20 PM on June 14, 2012

Cafe Crepe has several locations. Easy, fairly cheap, quick, decent.
posted by bongo_x at 7:58 PM on June 14, 2012

All of the suggestions so far are good.

I'd nth Go Fish which is a 5 minute walk from Granville Island. If for some reason you don't like that just walk around within the Public Market. You can either by ingredients for a picnic or there are several takeout places in there as well.

Downtown I'd stick to food carts or the cheap sushi places that are everywhere. If you're looking for something really good, go to Finch's for their extraordinary baguettes.
posted by sinical at 8:09 PM on June 14, 2012

Response by poster: They have the most amazing oyster tacos.

That sounds vile. But, then, I thought that fish tacos would be horrible until I actually tried one and ohmygodtheyaresogood.
posted by asnider at 8:32 PM on June 14, 2012

Discovered go fish a couple of years ago. Ate lunch there almost every day for almost two weeks straight, and regretted it when I couldn't.
posted by bonehead at 9:24 PM on June 14, 2012

Kim Phen Xe Lau - W. Broadway Southside about a half block West of Cambie, across from the London Drugs - a 24 hour Vietnamese/Cambodian dive place run by Cantonese. My favourite pho place in town (although I've had to add salt to the broth recently). They're in the middle of moving to a new location, though. Dunno when, and neither do they.

If you have to eat at UBC, go to Osaka Sushi in the basement of the "Village." Yeah, it looks like crap, but their sashimi and some of their rolls are in the top 15-20% in town (and everything else other than their tapa plates [uniformly horrible] is at least very good, even by Vancouver standards) and only for mid-cheapish (less cheap now) prices. Given that, it's the best Japanese place on campus, but they don't have their own sit-down area.

There are lots better places in Richmond, but Chong Quing on W. Broadway Southside a couple of blocks West of Granville on the 2nd floor is authentic, good, consistent, and priced well. They have all of the standard dishes, but might lack the "in" thing this particular month that some high profile dim sum, place in Richmond is flogging. Their calamari and pea-sprouts are great; when being seated ask the maitr'd/manager if you can make an order of both right now, while you peruse the carts and point to stuff that you want.

Down the street on the North side, a half-block West of Granville is Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House. Great soup dumplings. They have a "Beijing" variant that's pan-fried on both sides. It's absolutely boss. Their pressed dried fish in brown sauce is really really good, too.
posted by porpoise at 9:49 PM on June 14, 2012

The new Momo Sushi on Denman is good.
posted by thewalrus at 12:35 AM on June 15, 2012

You could take a short but scenic voyage on the SeaBus across the harbour to Lonsdale Quay where you'll find a market, food stalls and a variety of inexpensive restaurants. Great view of the city skyline from there and lower Lonsdale is an interesting area to explore.
posted by islander at 11:38 PM on June 15, 2012

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