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Sep 9, 2009 01:05 PM

Vancouver markets & early breakfast options

i'll be in vancouver for a few days around the late fall/early winter time and have been trying to make a habit of finding a hotel with markets neary like jean talon in montreal and st lawrence market in toronto (for some canadian examples). breakfast is often the odd meal out when i travel with most of the highly recommended places to eat not usually open for an early morning tourist. these markets can be such havens for a gal like me who needs a good start first thing.

my brief research doesn't really seem to necessarily show that there is one major market that would be suggested other than perhaps the granville island one, but enthusiasm for it even seems a bit low. i was considering doing dim sum every day but i find the richmond area a bit too dreary to locate my home base. so i might commute instead for a late breakfast/early lunch a couple times.

are there any suggestions?

would also appreciate any thoughts on how much time one would suggest to spend on the island since i'll be by myself and won't likely get to do too much outdoorsy things. trip will be about 5 full days.


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  1. Hi psp. I haven't been to Jean Talon, more's the pity, but I'd love to live within walking distance of the St Lawrence Market. I don't think you will find GIsle as friendly for grazing but there are a few breakfasty options like the BELTCH at the burger place, or picking up bready things from Terra and grabbing some charcuterie/cheese from Oyama. Depending where you're staying you could do dim sum every day without going to Richmond -- Golden Ocean, Kirin, Sun Sui Wah and a few others are in town, but they don't tend to get rolling all that early. In fact, I would say that Vancouver is not a haven for hearty early morning breakfast eaters. Why don't you post a bit more about what you like to eat first thing and we can try to come up with options.

    Your Island question probably requires a bit more info also. Are you going to be in Victoria or elsewhere? The lsland is very much about "outdoorsy" things though I'm not a big sportive person and can always find much to do in our capital city, including *eating* of course...

    1 Reply
    1. re: grayelf

      hi greyelf, thanks for the prodding!

      i'm sure most will say it, but i pretty much eat anything and everything for breakfast. it all just depends on mood. so some days i'll go from your traditional eggs and bacon to granola to fruit to pastries to the left over italian meal and gnaw on some rabbit bones while having some chicken liver rigatoni. i eat it all. perhaps i should just doing a CH search, but how do you find the in town dim sum suggestions you've given to compare to Richmond? of course i'm trying to get in the best options i can so i'd rather travel the distance than make do.

      i haven't decided anything on the island yet... so perhaps that's a question best to be left. i have a friend who's family has a b&b out by comox but i suspect then i'll need to get a car to take advantage of those options. so i was thinking staying in victoria and taking tours out from there (whale watching, hiking, basic easy outdoorsy things) though i've just been sent a link about some high up bridges in north vancouver i believe and may just settle for that.

    2. Granville Island is going to be your best bet in terms of a major market. We have farmers markets but those are small in comparison. I don't think you would be dissapointed with GI. There is an array of places to eat breakfast such as a breakfast sandwich from Market Grill, butter croissants and pastries from La Baguette & L'echalote (I even saw Ina Garten there:), sweet and savoury pastries from Terra breads (delicous) etc. I am sure you can find full on breakfasts at some of the food stalls (ie scrambled eggs).

      10 Replies
      1. re: selena03

        Selena, it was Market Grill I was talking about for the BELTCH but blanked on the name -- thanks! The only farmers' market I know of that runs in the winter here is the one at WISE Hall and it's only every second Sat IIRC so GIsle is definitely it. I've never had a really outstanding breakfast at any of the prepared food places there though, hence my caution in recommending it for same but you won't starve there :-). And it occurs to me that there are a couple of potential spots quite nearby eg Patisserie Lebeau for savoury Belgian waffles (or sweet, if you must!). And I've been hearing good things about the Brunch a la Galerie (Autumn Brook Gallery)
        1545 West 4th Avenue 604-737-2363 just west of the gates of Granville Island though I haven't made it there yet. Oh and you could always wander further up 4th for a light snack of the twice baked almond croissants or a scone from Thomas Haas and a damn fine cup of coffee at 49th Parallel...

        psp, your omnivorous approach to breaky made me chuckle -- I've been known to eat the oddest things to start my day, and am not a big fan of sweets so I totally hear you. If you want to compare dimsum in Van proper to Richmond, you have some reading to do, and some opinions to form :-). The consensus seems to be "best dim sum is in Richmond" but I don't think you'll be disappointed if you try some of the other places in town, even though you come from a city with some mighty fine yum cha. Another thought would be to have pho or banh mi for breakfast one day -- at least one of the other regular posters here is a fan of Vietnamese beef noodle soup in the a.m. and I believe the sandwiches are actually designed to be eaten for breakfast though I may have got that wrong.

        1. re: grayelf

          is bahn mi exceptional in vancouver?

          i guess i'm also trying to figure out where the overlap between toronto and vancouver exists so i can try to avoid anything that would end up being an equivalent or potentially worse. i've had some pretty good viet though i imagine the chinese could get much better at the mid-level range.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            Good question -- I was just trying to come up with some other options for breaky for you :-). I don't know anything about banh mi except that I like it, and I never had it in TO (though that is where I "discovered" Vietnamese food after university). Our Vietnamese does get some love but it is not at all upscale here, a fact sometimes lamented by connoisseurs. I like the more rustic stuff for want of a better word so I'm happy but as for comparos, I dunno... On Chinese, we seem to have quality offerings in every price range but again I'm hardly an expert.

            1. re: grayelf

              Grayelf-Have you tried Chau's Kitchen on Robson? It is supposed to be upscale Vietnamese/French. A Vietnamese friend rec'd to me but I have not been yet. She said it is really good but is fusion w/French. I think it sounds really interesting.

              1. re: selena03

                I haven't but others I trust have and were not blown away, sadly...

            2. re: pinstripeprincess

              We have good bahn mi here - especially if you know where to look (Tung Hing). It's been a while, but I recall that Toronto's bahn mi are smaller than the typical Vancouver one (6-7" vs 10-11"). Is that still the case?

              On overlaps....Vancouver and Toronto have large overlapping quality Chinese food at all levels (though Lai Wah Heen specifically is a notch above the best Vancouver has to offer in Cantonese dim sum, from what I can remember). Toronto has better pizza, Carib food, Lebanese, and so forth.

              One thing Toronto does not have are izakaya. An outpost of Guu is about to open over there in Sept to fill that void. Vancouver has many of these establishments (dozens now). Generally speaking Vancouver's Japanese scene surpasses Toronto's in variety and quality. Same with Korean.

              1. re: fmed

                hrm... size is difficult to judge. my current fave place is about say 8" but a much fatter thicker roll whereas some other places serve something closer to the 10-11" but are much thinner. i will keep a note to look up bahn mi!

                izakaya are definitely on the list as with anything japanese... didn't realize that about korean. obviously have a lot of research to do! i've oddly never actually been to lai wah heen (though i'm hoping to rectify that soon) and so i'll hopefully get that experience in before going to vancouver so i have some more context.


                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  Just as an addendum - If you stick to seafood, especially during certain seasons (eg King Crab in Feb-Mar and Spot Prawns in May-Jun ), Vancouver Chinese food is hard to beat.

          2. re: selena03

            Last week we went to GI around 10am or so, and had a great breakfast/lunch of bread from Terra, with proscuitto and French cheese from Dussa's, (I think, can't exactly remember the place) topped with roasted red peppers from the stand right across from Dussa's. Kids had chocolate croissants from the other bakery there. (Starts with an S; again, can't remember name.) It was great!

            1. re: sibaik

              I think it might be Stuart's...

          3. re: breakfast on Granville Island. There's also Seigel's Bagels, and of course Lee's Donuts (you did say you'd eat anything for breakfast). I like JJ Beans for my coffee fix on GI. Also, I'm not sure what time the Culinary Institute opens its bakery, but they have good scones.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KGill

              Sophie's Cosmic Cafe, Cafe Zen, in Kits,. are places you should check out for breakfast.
              For Markets, there really isn't a daily market that would be on par with what you are looking for. The closest would be the whole of Granville Island, including the Public Market. Baguette La Et E'cholate is a great bakery. And of course, Terra is awesome. Check out Caper's on 4th Ave sometime.

              Sophie's Cosmic Cafe
              2095 4th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6J1N3, CA

            2. I stayed for 4 nights at the Granville Island hotel last week, only a few minutes walk from the public market. I enjoyed the location, wandering around in the early morning before the market opens, and in the evening there are theaters and bars open, although the area is generally quiet. It's also fun to take the aqua boats to and from Granville Island to English Bay or Yaletown or other locations, and you can walk (or take a very short cab ride) to some of the best restaurants in Vancouver, like West, Vij's or Fuel, and other restaurants on West 4th in Kitsilano.

              For breakfast you can dine at the hotel, nice view over the water. Or of course munch your way through the market after it opens at 9am. Another choice on Granville Island in the Net Loft building is Sevasty's Coffee Bar & Grill, which opens at 8am, has an interesting breakfast selection including variations on eggs benedict, good coffee.

              Vij's Restaurant
              1480 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

              1. Whenever I visit Vancouver from the SF Bay Area, I try to have a pancake at De Dutch. I don't know of any restaurants over here that serve these 12-inch diameter treats, especially the ones topped with apples and bacon and "stroop". . .


                As for dimsum, I haven't been to the places in Richmond, but I can tell you that the Sun Siu Wah and Kirin in town are better overall than anything I've tried in the SF Bay Area, in large part because of Vancouver's superior seafood.

                Enjoy Vancouver! I know I always do.

                5 Replies
                1. re: pilinut

                  The best breakfast I have had in Vancouver is at Medina, next to Chambar. Mind you, it is nowhere near Granville Island, but it is worth the trek for interesting items like short ribs and eggs. Their waffles, served with a variety of toppings, are also great. But Medina is not handy if you are staying over at G'Ville Island.

                  If you are staying at GI, make sure to pick up some of the *EXCELLENT* charcuterie from Oyama, as others here have recommended. Also, while you are more of a breakfast person, an early lunch at Go Fish would not disappoint. Certainly in terms of fresh, sustainable, wild seafood, Go Fish is a good option and is not likely to replicate anything you can find in Toronto.

                  1. re: anewton

                    hrm... am i missing something? i didn't notice anyone else mention oyama and didn't really notice it unless i was turning a blind eye to things because of rain.

                    i did pick up some stuff from ducca though... will write a separate post soon.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        Grayelf mentioned Oyama...she was the first to respond to your post. Looking forward to your write-up.

                        1. re: anewton

                          ah thank you! my quick "find" didn't start in the right part of the post or something. i am having a hell of a time remembering where it was in the granville market but i don't think i was terribly thorough.