10 years can change a city quite a lot
April 30, 2022 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I left Vancouver (Canada, not Washington) in 2012, and haven't been back other than very quick visits. My wife and I are going to have a 5 day trip there this coming July 10--15th. What have I missed? What should we make sure we see, eat, and do?

We both like to eat and drink tasty things. I have lots of old haunts that we could try to go back to, but I also know that cities change, and new places open up as old ones pass away, and quality can change a lot over time.

I left right before there seemed to be a lot of beer tasting rooms opening up, so I don't really know what's the current scene there. What are the best ones? My wife prefers sours and other funky beers, and I lean towards *ple IPAs as well as Trappist-style beers.

But for example, Is Toshi's sushi still any good? Is Tojo's still the best high-end sushi? Where is the best ramen? Is the Alibi room still fantastic, or should we look for something even better? We are weirdly lucky in Lund and have a far better-than-you-expect Sichuan restaurant (I would honestly say it's the best Chinese food I've ever had), but maybe I need to explore that side of Vancouver's restaurant scene better, so... where should we go for that? Are there any good wine bars specialising in Canadian wines for someone who grew up in a wine region in California?

In general, please let us know what your favourite pubs, restaurants, and other fun things to do. We aren't in town for that long, but we hope to make it memorable!
posted by vernondalhart to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The alibi room is still fantastic! I went for the first time in a couple of years recently, the pandemic hasn’t changed it. Still my go to if you want a great beer selection.

Toshi is takeout only now last time I checked, may not be true by July.

Restaurants: Savio Volpe, Published On Main, Burdock & Co, Ubuntu are all great for local farm-to-table type food, though Savio is specifically Italian (but amazing)

Salmon and Bannock is an indigenous-owned-and-operated bistro that is getting excellent reviews, although I have not yet been personally.

Keefer bar is a lot of fun - cocktails and small Asian-inspired plates, but with a mini-golf and indoor patio.

What used to be a The Whip has reopened as a wine bar, that would be worth checking out.

Honestly there are too many things to list - Scout magazine is a good resource for restaurants/food.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I think Jon’s list is very good.

In terms of breweries I’d put Superflux and Luppolo on your list.

You want good Chinese? Head for Richmond. Lots of foodie write ups to guide you out there. It’s such a thing the NYTimes even did a big feature.

More new places (since 2012) to check out: Kissa Tanto, Pizza Coming Soon
posted by miles1972 at 4:22 PM on April 30, 2022

Thinking back, yeah, place has changed a lot in the last 10 years and not necessarily for the better.

You might be able to get a wider audience on /r/vancouver, the way that you posed the question here (is good and) shouldn't automatically get it downvoted into oblivion.

I rarely ever go downtown/ Westside anymore and Kits rarely, so my microbrewery patio has been limited to the suburbs. North Van and Port Moody (and grudgingly, PoCo) have some fine ones, but this could be a popular standalone question on Vancouver reddit.

Tojo's hasn't been the top Japanese raw bar in a very long time. The generic "best" might be Miku. The place that everyone forgets about is Octopus Garden. Sushi Bar Maumi - get reservations as soon as you can. The Raisu/ Suika/ Rajio group is a modern West coast take on different styles of Japanese cuisine. Suika has uni- carbonara style udon topped with real crab and salmon roe that's superb. The sashimi is surprisingly economical for the quality and amount. Raisu is more nigiri. Rajio is (now) a kushiage place, I miss their izakaya.

For Indo-Chinese, Chili Pepper House and Green Lettuce are still around.

For Chinese BBQ in Richmond, continue to go to Parker Place, not the one across the street from it (the one that Seth Rogan plugs). Especially for the crispy skin roast pork. Bring cash.
posted by porpoise at 8:02 PM on April 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh, and it is ridiculous, but The Barge stuck in English Bay really cheers me up, perhaps because of how appropriate it was as a 2021 thing to happen. Worth a look, especially if you’re walking in Stanley Park anyway.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:18 PM on April 30, 2022

Ha! Staff from other offices, when visiting the Vanmumblecouver office all get a kick out of visiting the barge.

Most get a kick out of an Aquabus runabout. It's a great tourist golden poly-angle around False Creek. The daypass is $16 and a very good deal.
posted by porpoise at 9:57 PM on April 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Since it seems you like Japanese food, you'll definitely want to go to STEM in Burnaby.
Also, for ramen, Marutama is very good, and has a few locations.
posted by birdsquared at 10:57 PM on April 30, 2022

Response by poster: Regarding sushi: I do like Japanese food, but it's as much as anything that I _miss_ the ubiquity and quality of Vancouver sushi. Not that everywhere is good, but most mediocre sushi in Vancouver is at least as good as, if not better than, the best sushi where I live.

Thanks for the suggestions so far! I think this list will give us a lot to plan on.
posted by vernondalhart at 11:52 PM on April 30, 2022

Response by poster: One other question: If we want to go to a fine-dining type restaurant, what would be a good choice? Hawskworth was supposed to be quite good 10 years ago, what would be a good choice now?
posted by vernondalhart at 12:09 AM on May 1, 2022

Still can't go wrong with AnnaLena; any of the bigger hotels downtown will have attached restaurants that will give the impression of quality. How do you define fine dining?
posted by porpoise at 1:33 AM on May 1, 2022

Response by poster: I think of fine dining as high quality food from generally local and seasonal ingredients. One of our favourites is Lyran whose menu changes daily depending on what they have available in their kitchen.

We have also eaten at Noma, which is of course superlative. But ideally something with high quality food that speaks of the time and place. It doesn't have to be particularly dressy, just delicious.
posted by vernondalhart at 6:37 AM on May 1, 2022

In terms of finer dining: Published (which Jon mentioned) fits the bill. Also Nightingale (Hawksworth less formal place) and Botanist.
posted by miles1972 at 10:11 AM on May 1, 2022

I’d also throw The Acorn’s hat in the ring - as a vegetarian restaurant they are extra focused on local/seasonal food, the meal we had there was one of the most creative and flavourful I’ve had, ever.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:09 PM on May 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

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