Vancouver is one of my favourite weekend getaways from Kelowna. Ironically, the Okanagan is a favourite weekend getaway for many Vancouverites as well.
But here in Kelowna, as a smaller city, it can feel like you’ve tried every restaurant, tried every winery and you seek something new. Vancouver holds that newness for me and my family and with great bars, scenery, the ocean and great entertainment, we have had our fair share of foodie adventures there.
Here are a few within every budget range imaginable! From food trucks to upscale restaurants, here are some of my favourites in Vancouver.
Le Crocodile has been in Vancouver for an impressive 26 years and is the result of chef Michel Jacob wanting to create a memorable dinning experience for foodies such as myself. His passion is presented in the form of the traditional plates in a small bistro that calls to mind 1930’s Paris and has catered to various celebrities from Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Jean Chretien and Cindy Crawford (as noted on their website).
My sister and I had the night out to ourselves. With her birthday approaching and my having completed another semester of university, we intended to treat ourselves in the form of fine food and champagne. I had come to the conclusion that we would be unable to go to Europe and my long fantasized Paris until 2014. However, at Le Crocodile I had brief moments of being transcended to my imagined Paris. There were many customers speaking french and other languages creating enjoyable linguistic background music.
I imagined a pondering Hemingway sitting in the red bistro seats across from the bar. One of the best stops for French food in Vancouver is Le Crocodile. My favourite dish, the sole meunière which is deboned table side and served with a decadent beurre blanc sauce.
Our first stop in Vancouver is where Vij’s Restaurant has catapulted its way to one of Vancouver’s best restaurants which opened its doors in 1994 with Vikram Vij and his wife Meeru Dhalwala. Their aim was to create an Indian restaurant that didn’t serve the expected. The menu is a journey across India of sorts which means they focus on flavours and spices from the Punjab to Gujurat regions while using locally sourced ingredients from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
Ten years after Vij’s opened and its popularity boomed they then ventured to open Rangoli located next door to Vij’s which is a more casual style of food which you would find on the dinner table of an Indian family, while Vij’s is more similar to Indian food cooked for occasions and events with VIP treatment without the VIP price. Not that I know by experience I have yet to dine at either Vij’s or Rangoli, nor have I traveled to India But before I lose you…I have eaten at Vij’s Railway Express! A playful food truck emitting aromas of curry and lamb located at 1075 West Georgia just down from the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
You’ll recognize this train themed truck from blocks away either due to its blues and yellows or the long lineup of business elites, hipsters and tourists alike. This food truck is only a year old but, like Vij’s and Rangoli, it has boomed in popularity in such a short while and was featured on an episode of Eat Street.
We took the episode’s advice and ordered the lamb kebab and the chickpea salad but each week Vij’s Express provides features to a different regions of India. The kebab was one of my favourites and I have never tasted such playful yet prominent flavours in my life with the mixture of sweet, spicy and savoury from the perfectly done juicy lamb. Be sure to give it a try but you are warned the spices aren’t for the meek looking for the mild. No water is served at this food truck so you’ll have to be adventurous and order the blueberry lassi or an iced chai for example which is served in a bag with a straw.
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Virgos: “I’m not really hungry. I just want a small snack.” Also Virgos: — (📷: @k.cee) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ #igersvancouver #eatfamous #infatuation#zagat #dishedvan #f52grams#buzzfeedfood #mygastown#eeeeeats #huffposttaste#604eats #tacos #nachos #burritos#vancouverfoodie #buzzfeast #thrillist #curiocityvan #vancityeats #yvreats #yvrfoodie #vancouvereats #tacofino
The first time I tried tacofino I was in Tofino, BC. I cannot tell you enough how stellar this food truck was. These tacos are the best I’ve ever had…and yes they’re in Canada. With one in Vancouver you’ve got no excuse not to try the famed Tacofino!
Try everything, try every last god damn one! You won’t regret it.
Sometimes when I travel to other areas of Canada I just want to get away with a cheap and yet filling meal that provides an experience without me having to worry about the dreaded insufficient funds glaring at you as you hand the debit machine back to the already snobbish waitress.
Luckily Vancouver is experiencing an increase in gourmet food trucks at price points even the most broke student can handle. So what is Japadog? A Japanese inspired hot dog with ingredients like seaweed, daikon, miso sauce and many other unique combinations.
Japadog, now with more locations that their original push cart stand, began in 2005 when Noriki Tamura and wife Misa made the move from Japan to Vancouver. Their dream was to create a world famous Japanese inspired food cart. With many obstacles including cold winters and skepticism over the years their dream started to become realized as they gained a large following on the streets, received celebrity customers and many catering requests from universities and film crews. In 2011 a food truck was needed and they also opened their store location on Robson in 2010 in time for the Olympics. Since the success of the Olympics Japadog has now become a prized Vancouver gem and word is spreading internationally. Japadog has 2 locations in the Los Angeles area for my US readers!
Through all this hype I only tried my first Japadog in July 2013 despite having passed the Robson location countless of times and being discouraged by the long line up ~ as I discovered the line up actually moves quite fast. The menu is quite varied and offers an education in sausage meats and alternatives such as Kobe beef, Kurobuta (aka Birkshire) sausage, turkey sausage, Arabiki sausage, deep fried pork cutlets and even veggie among many other variations some stuffed with cheese or edamame.
Blue Water Café
Blue Water Cafe is one of those places that books up fast because of the delicious and fresh seafood and selection. Everything we tried that night exceeded expectations, including a healthier option of Sablefish with bok choy, sushi, kobe beef, and lobster in beurre blanc. The atmosphere was ideal for a romantic night out with the dinning room of red and gold with charming wood beams, glass blown wine decanters and wine everywhere you looked. The surprise is that this restaurant also offers top quality sushi with a sushi bar against the far wall where you can sit and watch the masters at work. The sushi is certainly some of the best I’ve ever had.
The Fairmont & Afternoon Tea
In 2012, for my birthday, I was treated to a delicious tea time at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel. Delicious finger sandwiches and cakes were served on a silver tower in a dimly lit ballroom with tall ceilings. Pinks and hues of blue-green set the tone of the room – art deco meets Marie Antoinette. To celebrate the occasion we ordered Lavender Earl Grey and Moet & Chandon Champagne. I must warn you that this is no cheap occasion and be prepared to treat yourself to a luxurious lunch with a girlfriend or two. The hotel also has packages where you can have afternoon tea and then head over to the Vancouver Art Gallery across the street to take in the latest exhibition. I was fortunate enough to visit during the Surrealist Exhibition on now, supposedly, one of the best that Canada has featured.
Upon exiting the lobby to head out to the Vancouver Art Gallery a framed photo in the hallway, across from Prada, caught my eye. It was a black and white “before” photo of the old Vancouver Hotel. Immediately, I recognized this as a building that appeared in my Great Uncle’s historical book, The Lady of Culzean. This book was about a woman, Lady Constance Fawkes, who came to Mayne Island from their Scottish Castle (don’t worry, they brought the French furnishings). She and her husband, Col. Fawkes, became local celebrities in the lower mainland and dear friends of my Great Uncle Jack (/John). After her husband had died, he explained in the book, that he and Lady Constance decided to move away for a year and live in the Vancouver Hotel, the very hotel that I too had enjoyed afternoon tea (altered by a series of renovations of course).
For my Art History Directed Studies and I had the opportunity to study the Lady Constance and Col. Fawkes. The latter contributed to the art history of Mayne Island, as well as London, England. In fact, a “famous” art critic, known as Carnacky, had commented on Col. Fawkes’ work, saying that if he dedicated more of his time to Portraiture he could easily be the best in England!
The man painted up to 400 paintings so it is amazing that he is not well known in the lower mainland at all. Col. Fawkes also owned 2 original J.M.W Turners and painted copies of his work as well. Uncle Jack tells of a shocking moment when he delivered the Turners via public transportation to the Vancouver Art Gallery with no means of protection for him nor the paintings! But I digress, back to the food!
The Flying Pig in Yaletown
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A very upbeat and fun place to go for a date and dessert! My god the chocolate cake is towering and the best I’ve ever had…I finished it 😯
This is one of my go-to places to dine when I’m looking for tasty food on a little bit of a budget. With dishes like bane marrow, excellent charcuterie, oysters and burgers that delight, it is simple yet exciting food to keep everyone happy.
We went here for a light lunch because truthfully, dinner reservations are coveted and it is very expensive. Be prepared to dress up and dine among the elites of Vancouver and travelers like me who feel out of place. But really though, the food is stellar and the dessert is worth sticking around for!
I met a friend here for breakfast and lingered over coffee. It was my first outing alone since I had baby and the simple act of walking on the street without worrying about a feed or a change felt freeing.
Our breakfast lasted for about 90 minutes and it flew by. We chatted over eggs benny, oatmeal and delicious cappuccino. Maybe it was the fact that for the first time since before I was pregnant I was able to feel myself again or maybe it was just a damn good cup of coffee and benny?! But it was bliss.
In the Listel Hotel you’ll find one of my favourite brunch and lunch stops after shopping Robson Street, Forage. I mean, how can you not stop at a place that has bison boards? Their food is plated beautifully and the flavours match the aesthetics. Aside from that, it is one of the best brunches I have ever had while in Vancouver.
When options like corned bison hash or a double fried pork cutlet sandwich stare you down in the wake of hunger, you just plant your butt in the seat, close your eyes and let your finger land somewhere on the menu…you’re bound to be happy.
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
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Our new brunch menu did wake up like this. Join us for weekend brunch from 11am – 3pm. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ #infatuation #zagat #dishedvan #f52grams #buzzfeedfood #yahoofood #eeeeeats #beautifulcuisines #huffposttaste #vancouverfoodie #curiocityvan #buzzfeast #thrillist #eater #narcityvancouver #yvreats #604eats #scoutthis #cheflife #chefslife #artofplating #frenchtoast #brunch #brunchgoals #brunchtime
3/4 times I see some celebrity at their bar. The first time it was Lou Diamond Phillips and the last time it was Sophie Bush. This is not to say that Boulevard is a super fancy place but rather the hotel it calls home, Sutton Place, is where these celebs go to stay.
But I recommend Boulevard because of the cozy bar (where you’ll find me during my winter visits), the delicious selection of oysters and fabulous drinks. The bartender will make you anything, just ask!
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Snap back to budget reality. Lee’s donuts is an institution located on Granville Island. I was first introduced to this little gem back when I took a Vancouver Foodie Tour and I would gladly take another tour for all the front of the line service. This little donut shop offers your classics but also seasonal options; Egg nog during Christmastime, or Pumpkin Spice for your obssessed pumpkin lovers in the fall.
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Where all the magic happens! ✨ Join us Monday – Friday 3-6 PM and Saturday and Sunday 4-6 PM for Happy Hour! #dishedvan #vancouverfood #vancouverfoodies #yvrfoodie #yvrfoodies #vancouvereats #yvrfood #vancouverrestaurants #joefortes #vancouverfoodie #yvreats #vancityeats #vancityfoodie #vancityfood #vancityrestaurants #yvrrestaurants #dailyhivevan #OfferingMoreSince1985 #happyhour
If there’s one place you should go during your stay in Vancouver, make it Joe Fortes. It is synonymous with excellent seafood dishes and no one can resist their oval bar or their oyster shucking bar upstairs. In the summer I recommend snagging a spot on their patio upstairs. Otherwise, enjoy the live piano and the seafood tower.
Tell me in the comments below, where is your favourite Vancouver eats?