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Mar 19, 2009 12:06 PM

If you had just two days in Vancouver, where would you eat? Shop?

I'm in Vancouver for just two short days. Staying for Friday, Saturday after a business trip. My hotel is in central downtown. I've never been there, however am a single female and will be dining and travelling alone. Any suggestions on great places to eat? Which markets to hit? I love food, and am completely open to all cuisines. I also love to cook and would love to bring back some great local ingredients.

Salt spring island? Other places on Vancouver Island? Any other markets, shops, restaurants that are a must visit and not too complicated to get to?

Any suggestions are much appreciated!

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  1. If you are only at your leisure for two days, going to either island you mentioned might be a bit of a stretch, though both are beautiful. If you want to just eat great food, Vancouver is probably your best bet for a short visit.

    Granville Island Market and Edible BC will provide you with one stop marketing, I'd say. You pay a bit of a premium at EBC but they have everything in one place, and then you can hit Oyama and some of the other purveyors in the rest of the market. While you're there, consider Go Fish for a tacone (ask for extra hot sauce instead of the slaw inside).

    Another good snack is a Japadog. Search the board for writeups on this little Burrard Street stand.

    A short cab ride from downtown is Campagnolo. I'd be very comfortable dining there as a single female but I would definitely take a cab both ways as the nabe is a might sketchy. The portions are small enough you could get a few items and not be stuffed to the eyeballs.

    For something fairly Vancouver-centric, how about an izakaya? You could sit at the bar and be entertained by the cooks -- this is one for the boisterous types. I like Guu with Garlic a bunch but others get good comments and might be a bit more mellow.

    I've been hearing good things about Market for dinner but haven't been yet and so don't know if it would be good for a single diner. I'll leave it to others to fill in the blanks for finer dining downtown :-).

    Kitanoya Guu with Garlic
    1698 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G1C7, CA

    Go Fish Ocean Emporium
    1505 W 1st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J, CA

    845 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z2K7, CA

    1020 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A, CA

    Edible B C Culinary Experiences
    1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H, CA

    Granville Island
    1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H3R9, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      Ciao grayelf- Grazie mille! (A thousand thank you's!) Thank you so much for the great info! I'm amazed that someone took the time to post the links. So thoughtful. Again thanks so much. I hope to make the most out of my trip, and looks as though now I will with some direction from you. I'm pretty new to chow so I'm still discovering the best ways to get info off this site. A direct reply to my question has been really helpful.

      1. re: gourmetnista

        Prego, gourmetnista. I didn't realize this was only your third post -- welcome to Chowhound! As for posting the links, I find it quite hard to track down the restaurant listings for Western Canada, so I try to throw in the links whenever I can to help posters find references. It takes a lot less time than searching randomly, I find.

        If you have any other questions, feel free to post again. You didn't, for example, mention if you have a car. That can make a big difference in the recs you get, as our transit is not as good as TO's which I surmise is your home base. If you have wheels, I'm thinking you might want to check out the dimsum and Chinese scene in Richmond, though it is not quite as satisfying on one's own :-). Also let us know when you will be here in case there are any special events on. And speaking of special events, if you happen to be free on the Friday at lunch, Fuel has their fried chicken on offer again just a short cab ride from downtown... I must get my butt in there and try it.

        Fuel Restaurant
        1944 West 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

      2. re: grayelf

        If you do end up at Granville Island, do try out Terra Breads for breakfast if you're in the mood for pastries, rustic tarts, coffecake, etc. Their baking is very high quality. I try to go to Terra Breads every time I'm in town.

        Also, if you're into gourmet sea salts, Edible BC sells quite the variety from a company called Maison Cote. They have raspberry rosemary sea salt, citrus sea salt, etc.

        1. re: grayelf

          I agree with grayelf. As beautiful as Vancouver Island and SSI are, you won't have time to visit. You'll have to come again another time, and I will be happy to give you some recs for both!

        2. Also, forgot to mention.. if you're in the mood for good quality coffee, you should check out Caffe Artigiano. They have multiple locations downtown. Makes starbucks and second cup look like nothing..

          6 Replies
          1. re: miss.foodie

            Another coffee recco: keep an eye peeled for 49th Parallel. Their shop is on 4th Avenue near Fuel, but there are a number of places around town that sell/serve it. Would be a great thing to take a bag home...

            1. re: grayelf

              Yes I am new to chowhound. I wish had more time to search on here but unfortunately its a bit of a busy time for me leading up to this trip. I will have access to a car when i'm there and am guessing that's probably a good thing? I am from TO and am used to the luxury of our transit system. :-) Thanks again for all the great info. Oh and I will be there April 1st or 2nd leaving the sunday morning of that week. I'll let you know what I manage to check out!

              1. re: gourmetnista

                As I am getting over a cold, you are benefitting with all these detailled posts :-). I've added the links wherever I could. The car could be a nice option if you want to get out of downtown eg Fuel or Campagnolo. Here are a few other ideas to make use of the vehicle :-):

                You didn't ask about breakfasts but you might want to check out Deacon's Corner 101 Main St., 604-684-1555. Again, very close to a nasty part of town but worth a look. Weekdays 7 a.m. to 3 p.m weekends 10-3 per website but all the reviews say not so call first. Not sure how it will stand up to your great breaky/brunch options in TO but I'd be interested to hear what you think... still dream about the huevos divorciados at easy :-)

                And what about Medina Café 556 Beatty St., Crosstown, 604-879-3114. All-day brekkie at this Belgian/North African café around the corner from parent resto Chambar (also a board fave for dinner but I'm not sure about going there alone??). The accent is on savoury with really interesting combos, and they have the 49th Parallel coffee I was raving on about earlier.

                For an unexpectedly gourmet lunch experience, again in a funky but old school diner setting, try Argo Café 1836 Ontario St., 604-876-3620 weekdays only! From a recent VanMag writeup: "French and Chinese accent the flavours, thanks to chef Denis Larouche and his co-owner, Kirby Wong. Neighbourhood mechanics and industrial designers cram in for workday lunches of wasabi-and-sesame-crusted seared tuna ($10 with sides) and duck confit ($10)"

                I don't recall the Mexican scene being particularly stellar in TO and it certainly isn't here but there is one option I can recommend which you deffo need a car to try: DONA CATA MEXICAN FOODS 5076 Victoria Drive, 604-436-2232.

                Another spot I wouldn't feel weird eating in on my own: Golden Garden (509 Main St., 604-685-5623) for tasty Vietnamese. There is a wee banh mi takeout service in the front, and a full resto in the back. Now that you have a car you might want to venture out to the hotbed of pho and bun, Kingsway, but Golden Garden is a very decent alternative that is closer.

                If you are into cheese and cured meat, you might want to try Salt for a late afternoon ploughman's moderne snack in a pretty nifty setting. It has a big communal table in the middle so would be good for a singleton (Consider a cab if going after dark rather than taking the car, be prepared for alleyway entrance). I seem to be recommending a lot of places in dodgy areas, oops.

                We haven't talked about sushi which is a bit of a must-have in Vancouver. Here's a place I keep hearing about (I think this blurb is from VanMag again) that is right downtown:

                Shuraku Sake Bar & Bistro 833 Granville St. near Smithe, 604-687-6622. Executive chef Masahiro Omori’s menu focuses on izakaya-style small plates and his culinary skills shine in exquisitely crafted dishes like barbecue back ribs—perhaps the best barbecue you’ll ever eat. They are succulent and fall-off-the-bone tender. Omori’s inventive sushi creations include the roulette roll: spicy chopped scallop, avocado, and cucumber topped with negitoro and lotus-root chips, accented by a dramatic stripe of nori soy sauce. Complement spectacularly fresh sashimi with a selection from the impressive sake list.

                Car-wise, I'd try Lime on Commercial Drive (sit at the bar in the back and watch the talented itamae at work) or Octopus' Garden in Kits.

                Oh and what about ramen? There are several places near Denman and Robson all of whom have their champions but Motamachi and Benkei Ramen (1741 Robson St., 604-688-6980) seem to be getting the most love recently.

                One more idea now that I know you have a car: La Buca (either the original on MacDonald or the new one L'altro Buca in the West End which apparently just opened last night) for great muscular Italian food -- my favouorites are the lamb pasta or short ribs, or one of the daily specials. Major bonus to original location: tons of free parking but do be aware there is nothing in the immediate vicinity of interest except the resto. We are going there for my bday dinner tonight :-)

                La Buca Restaurant
                4025 MacDonald St, Vancouver, BC V6L2N8, CA

                Salt Tasting Room Ltd
                45 Blood Alley, Vancouver, BC V6B 0C4, CA

                Octopus's Garden Restaurant
                1995 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J1C9, CA

                Doña Cata
                5076 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC V5P, CA

                Benke Ramen Restaurant
                1741 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6G1C9, CA

                Motomachi Shokudo
                740 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G, CA

                Argo Cafe
                1836 Ontario St, Vancouver, BC V5T2W6, CA

                Lime - Japanese Cuisine
                1130 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L, CA

                Shuraku Restaurant
                833 Granville Steet, Vancouver, BC V6Z1K7, CA

                Medina Cafe
                556 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B2L3, CA

                1. re: grayelf

                  One more idea (sticking to the sketchy nabe reccos!):

                  Very new but by all reports very good -- only open Thurs to Mon 5 pm onwards.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    I second Octopus Garden. It was one of the most memorable meals for me during my last trip to Van back in January. I would suggest that you go for one of the omakase selections. It's slightly on the pricey side but well worth it. I had the sashimi & sushi omakase ($55). As part of the omakase, I started off with one of their famous C-shooters (looks like they took it off the current menu.. I hope they still have it.. I loved the uni one that I had). The shooter was delicious! The presentation for the sashimi course was impressive. My favorite piece of sushi was the foie gras, lobster and mango sushi. The mix of the flavours was amazing!

                    I enjoyed this omakase at Octopus Garden much more than at Tojo's. A couple of years back, I tried the omakase at Tojo's. It was $120 a person and about 10 small courses of food. For me, being female, that was way too much food for me as every course had a least 2-3 pieces worth. As for the food itself at Tojo's, I only found about half of the courses to be amazing. The rest was just ok. In all honesty, I just found Tojo's to be overpriced and overhyped. I don't regret that I tried it as it is on every foodie's must-try list. However, now that I know what it's all about.. I'd much rather find hidden gems like Octopus Garden.

              2. You did not mention your budget, but these are "musts" on the higher $ side:
                Vij's, Tojo's, Blue Water Cafe, Bishop's.

                3 Replies
                1. re: felix the hound

                  If you do decide to go to Vij's, here are some tips:
                  1) They do not take reservations.
                  2) If you don't want to sit at the bar to wait for a table which might take a couple of hours depending on how busy they are, you should get there by 6:00pm at latest. They open at 5:30, I believe... so pretty much the earlier the better. I went on a Thurs night around 6:00 and managed to get one of the last tables.
                  3) You should try the lamb popsicles. That is one of the dishes to try at Vij's.

                  1. re: miss.foodie

                    Good tips, although 5:30 pm is probably better. You might also try going around 8 pm. I noticed that people were being seated quite promptly around that time.

                    1. re: felix the hound

                      The last time I tried to go to Vij's on a Friday, I went at 5:15 and there was already a lineup. We just barely made the "first seating"... I'm partial to their veghead offerings, particularly anything stuffed.

                2. MrCris and I also had two days in Vancouver last weekend. As we stayed at the hotel on Granville Island, we spent a lot of time in the market. (If you're not familiar with Granville Island, it's a small island just under Granville Bridge which connects downtown to the area of Vancouver closer to the airport. It's full of boutique shops, and the public market with tons of individual stalls of fine foods) I definitely recommend a visit there - we brought home some nice salts from Edible BC as miss foodie recommends. We also brought home a whack of smoked meats from Oyama - beautiful smoked buffalo, amazing duck prosciutto, some rich and decadent wild boar sausage, and really interesting citrus cured air dried beef.