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Jan 21, 2008 10:59 AM

traveling to vancouver - need recs for solo dining!

I'm going to be spending a few days in Vancouver in a couple weeks. I'll be traveling alone and am looking for interesting/fun eating destinations. Anything from a nice restaurant with a good bar menu to a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant will do - I'm open to just about anything but keep in mind that

1. I'll be dining alone;
2. Am looking for something different (ie, i don't need to have Vancouver's best hamburger, as good as it might be...);
3. Don't mind spending money on good food, but don't feel like its necessary to have a great meal; and
4. Love seafood.

Any other suggestions about slightly out of the way or hidden things a foodie might be interested in seeing would also be greatly appreciated. I have no other plans in Vancouver other than to eat my way across the city, but I just don't know much about where to look at this point

thanks in advance for the tips!

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  1. Go to Go Fish at the False Creek Fisherman's Wharf... a 5 minute walk from Granville Island. You'll get wonderfully prepared fresh fish and chips, or whatever else you might choose to order. The view is spectacular if it's a clear day. Go Fish is a takeout stand though, so be prepared to wait and eat outside. I eat there alone all the time too, so you wouldn't feel out of place at all.

    1. I too second Go Fish, pretty sure they buy their fish from the commercial boats that dock there. From the market cross the bridge on foot and follow the path that heads right. Go Fish is the shack on the left, you wont miss the outdoor seating across from the ramp that leads down to the marina.
      Also head to Commercial Dr. lots of choices, a great view of the "Mountains" and great people watching etc. Memphis Blues is good. But like I said there is lots of choices. You can take either line of the skytrain from DT to the start of Commercial and then walk up and down the strip. The neighbourhood is quite "diverse" so take your time and enjoy the walk.

      1. Vancouver is very good at Regional Chinese; Izakaya, and Sushi:

        I'll just link to a previous post I have made (note that many of these are in Richmond - worth the trip for the Asian food):

        If you don't have good Vietnamese where you live, Vancouver has a decent list of Pho and Banh Mi restaurants.

        I'll second the rec to go Commercial Drive. Specifics include:

        Szechuan Chong Qing
        Pondok - Indonesian
        Rinconcito Salvadoreno for pupusas
        Prado and Continental for coffee
        Lombardo's for Neopolitan Pizza -- it's in the mall
        Assorted pastries at Fratelli and cheeses at La Grotta
        Finally a drink and some tapas as Stella's where they have a couple of dozen premium Belgian Beer.
        I'm not sure I agree with the rec for Memphis Blues since (curduroy79, I'm assuming you are American?) you will get much better BBQ in the US than anywhere in Canada.

        Granville Island for the Market -- produce and the burger at Market Grill, Go Fish is OK.

        Chinatown is faded now, but it might be worth the trip.

        8 Replies
        1. re: fmed

          I never thought that curduroy79 might be from the US, in that case your right, skip the BBQ if its a regional speciality.
          Whats your rec for fish and chips?

          1. re: cdn

            yup, im flying in from boston... not great bbq here either! :) but these are all great recs! I've heard a lot about vancouver and the food there but i wanted to make sure i got some good recs from locals before i made the trip, so thanks for all the help - these will certainly come in handy!

            1. re: cdn

              >>Whats your rec for fish and chips?

              To be honest - I'm not a fish and chips fan in take my recs with a grain of salt (and a splash of vinegar). I've enjoyed Go Fish, Mr Pickwick's, King's Fare. Olympia WAS good too -- on Thurlow - now gone. Anyone know if it moved?

              I haven't yet found a place where both the fish AND the chips were equally good.

            2. re: fmed

              definitely don't have Izekaya restaurants in Boston - we have to go to NYC for that... is that something I can do alone like yakitori or sushi?

              1. re: corduroy79

                It's always more fun with friends...but can do it solo. Most of these izakaya have bars that you can sit at. It's a fun scene for people watching. Make sure to make a reservation. Hapa, Guu - all three of them, Kingyo, Shiru Bay are my favourites.

                1. re: corduroy79

                  Don't miss Guu with Garlic on Robson at Bidwell, a block down from Denman. Sit at the bar and enjoy the show along with their great izakaya dishes. Here's a link to Part 1 of our report from last summer, Pts. 2 & 3 also have notes on our subsequent visits, yep, went three times in one week.


                  1. re: PolarBear

                    For eating alone in Vancouver there's not much better than Bin 941. It's a great atmosphere, food, and wine, and the whole scene is condusive to "single" diners.

                    1. re: FAT Traveler

                      A hearty second for Bin 941 which, unfortunately, we missed on our last trip.

              2. I assume you are not Asian. If you really like seafood, try it the asian way - still swimming in the tank when you walk into the restaurant. It does not get fresher than that.

                If interested, go to Kirin or Imperial. Walk up to the fish tank and choose the seafood - shrimp, lobster, geoduck, fish, anything. And choose a cooking style that is light, steamed or wok fried. Never deep-fried.

                6 Replies
                1. re: kwailan4

                  Seafood fresh from the tank in a Chinese restaurant is always fantastic... but it's probably far too much food for a solo diner. The only Chinese restaurant I can think of that might serve seafood in an appropriate solo portion is ZEN Fine Chinese Cuisine. They do sort of a tasting menu of sorts. I've never been, though, so can't give any feedback on the food. Has anyone been?

                  Some things that are "different" to add to suggestions above...
                  Kintaro - very tasty (and rich) pork ramen noodles at share tables or the bar
                  Aberdeen Centre (Richmond) food court
                  Green Lettuce - Chinese-Indian cuisine
                  Japa Dog hot dog stand if you're still in town Feb 1st and onwards

                  Also, I agree... Go Fish is a must!

                  1. re: twinkienic

                    thanks for all the great tips everybody... will certainly be trying some of these things out.

                    one more question though.
                    i know its winter, but are there any cool markets open during the week? ill be there from monday-wednesday. thinking maybe a fish market? i dunno, just a thought. thanks.

                    1. re: corduroy79

                      Granville Island is open 7 days a week. The other guys around might know what the best vendor in the market is for fish. I've had good shellfish from the spot in the middle of the market.

                      There should be some commercial fishermen selling fish from their boats next to GI across from Go Fish too.

                      1. re: peter.v

                        Ditto on Granville Island - go to Market Burger for burger and fries. Walk around the island itself and check out the ateliers and Emily Carr. Barbara Jo's Books to Cooks at the Net Loft is a "must". Also Osake - the artisinal sake maker.

                    2. re: twinkienic


                      Coming back home from a week in India, and sorting through all the newspapers that had accumulated over the seven days I was away, on the front page of this past Friday's Vancouver Sun I saw the Zen Fine Chinese Cuisine being profiled. The title... "Could a great review save a dining room on the brink? - New York Times critic says near-bankrupt restaurant in Richmond has best Chinese food outside China". Now these last five words really got my attention, as that is some very high praise, and not really sure how one could even qualify such a statement given the wide range and incredible number of Chinese restaurants around the world.

                      A link to the author's blog that comments on the article after it came out.

                      It does mention an eight-course tasting menu for just C$36. I'm also curious since the chef mentions it costs C$30 just for the ingredients, and he figures he should be charging the original C$72 price instead of the half-off one he has to put out there just to get customers through the door.

                      Today's Vancouver Sun had a follow up story mentioning that since the Friday story came out, the place has been bombarded with reservations. Funny how that works... :)

                      1. re: jay_kay

                        I ate there last year (late summer?). To be honest, I left Zen without the desire to come back soon. (It wasn't at the insane $36 dollar price point, though).

                        The presentation was great, I must admit. Overall, the experience left me wanting. I can't really explain it. Perhaps it is the sort-of-fusion-confusion of the food (eg Susur in TO).

                        I'll definitely try it again.

                  2. When I am travelling and dining alone, I tend to want to go where there is somewhat of an interesting scene. As good as the food is for locals, some are just not condusive to alone dining.
                    The already recommendations are all pretty good, but if you are staying downtown, there is not really a need to venture out (unless it is Granville Island) for just a few day trip.

                    That being said, in addition to what has already been mentioned- here are a few more:

                    For Breakfast:
                    Cafe Medina
                    Coffee and Waffles

                    For Lunch:
                    Salt Tasting Room

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jewels_vancouver

                      Mmm.. the waffles (and sauce) at Cafe Medina are great! But I might suggest it instead as a mid-afternoon snack... it's a pretty light nibble.