- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
Downtown Vancouver has so many good dining options that it is a shame to eat in a food court, but like in cities around the Western world, they are a good place for a fast, reliable, and inexpensive meal. The southwest corner of the Pacific Centre (at Howe and Georgia Streets, diagonally opposite the art gallery) holds a glass-domed food court with many inexpensive food bars and seating indoors and out.
West Coast/Fusion and Seafood
With its prime waterfront location between Canada Place and Gastown, Aqua Riva (200 Granville St., 604/683-5599, Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., daily 5–10 p.m., $15–39) features stunning views across Burrard Inlet to the North Shore range through floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s less touristy than you may imagine and well priced for the high standard of food offered. The least expensive way to enjoy the dramatic view is with a pizza baked in a wood-fired oven ($15–16), but dishes such as the grilled salmon are delicious.
At Gastown’s busiest intersection, opposite the crowd-drawing steam clock, is Water Street Cafe (300 Water St., 604/689-2832, daily 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., $16–33). Unlike dining at most other Gastown eateries, you won’t feel like you’re in the touristy quarter of Vancouver. White linens, dark blue carpets, and lots of polished woodwork ooze style, while service is professional. Most importantly, the food is well priced and delicious. The wild salmon topped with hazelnuts and a maple butter sauce is a good choice, or go for something lighter, such as the prawn and papaya salad. A good selection of simple pastas provides a break from seafood.
One of Vancouver’s finest seafood restaurants is
A Kettle of Fish (900 Pacific St., 604/682-6661, daily from 5:30 p.m., $18–45), near the Burrard Street Bridge. The casual decor features café-style seating and abundant greenery, while the menu swims with schools of piscatory pleasures. New England clam chowder is one of more than 20 appetizers, while entrées ranging from the simple (fish-and-chips) to the obscenely rich (lobster casserole) make up the main menu. The extensive wine list is especially strong on white wines—the perfect accompaniment for a feast of seafood.
Steak lovers in the mood for a splurge should consider Gotham Steakhouse (615 Seymour St., 604/605-8282, daily from 5 p.m., $29–53). With furnishings of thick leather seats, dark hardwood tables, and plush velvet carpet, the restaurant exudes the atmosphere of a private gentleman’s club. If the steak here isn’t the best in Vancouver, servings are certainly the most generous, especially the signature dish, a $52.95 porterhouse. Other mains start at $29, with vegetable sides extra, earning the steakhouse awards from city magazines as the “Best Restaurant When Someone Else is Paying.”
Stepho’s (1124 Davie St., 604/683-2555, daily noon–11:30 p.m., $8–14) is one of Vancouver’s best-value restaurants. Locals line up here to enjoy the atmosphere of a typical Greek taverna—complete with terra-cotta floors, white stucco walls, arched doorways, blue and white tablecloths, travel posters, and lots of colorful flowering plants. Expect to pay less than $30 for three courses.
Of Vancouver’s many Italian restaurants, one of the most popular is Il Giardino (1382 Hornby St., 604/669-2422, Mon.–Fri. noon–2:30 p.m. and Mon.–Sat. 6–10:30 p.m., $18–36), in a distinctive yellow Italian-style villa. The light, bright furnishings and enclosed terrace provide the perfect ambience for indulging in the featured Tuscan cuisine.
For Vancouver’s finest French cuisine, go to the small, intimate Le Crocodile (909 Burrard St., 604/669-4298, Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., Mon.–Sat. 5:30–10 p.m., $28–42), where a smallish menu relies heavily on traditional French techniques, which shine through on appetizers (or entrées as they are properly called at Le Crocodile), such as wild mushroom soup with truffle oil or frogs legs sautéed in a chive butter sauce, and mains like pan-seared veal with black truffle–foie gras cream sauce.
Dining in Chinatown offers two distinct options—traditional eateries, where you’ll find the locals, and the larger, westernized restaurants that attract non-Chinese and a younger Chinese crowd. A perfect combination of the two is Kent’s Kitchen (232 Keefer St., 604/669-2237, daily for lunch and dinner, $6–13), a modern café-style restaurant where the service is fast and efficient, the food freshly prepared, and the prices incredibly low. Two specialty dishes, rice, and a can of soda make a meal that costs just $8.
Next door to Kent’s, Hon’s Wun Tun House (230 Keefer St., 604/688-0871, daily for lunch and dinner, $7.50–13) is the most lively of five local restaurants started by a Chinese immigrant in the 1970s. It’s a large, bright, and modern restaurant that attracts a younger Chinese crowd for mostly westernized Chinese food. Tiny Gain Wah Restaurant (218 Keefer St., 604/684-1740, daily for lunch and dinner, $6–11) is typical of the many hundreds of noodle houses found in Hong Kong, and is extremely inexpensive.
Many inexpensive Japanese restaurants are scattered between Granville Street and Gastown. Guu Otokomae (375 Water St., 604/685-8682, daily 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m.) is a groovy Japanese restaurant with an energetic chef who oversees the needs of mostly young—always loud—patrons. Known in Japan as izakaya-style dining, the atmosphere is informal, with a menu that encourages sharing. It’s similar to a North American neighborhood pub, but instead of wings and nachos, choices include harumaki (spring rolls), shiso-age (chicken and plum sauce wrapped in thin bread), and maguro (tuna with avocado and mango sauce). Expect to pay around $30 per person for dinner.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition