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Places that are a must in Vancouver

s
samanh Mar 10, 2010 06:08 PM

We are spending 3 days in Vancouver in April. Would be appreciative of suggestions for places we should not miss. Probably can't afford any place very expensive, but willing to splurge once or twice. Thanks in advance...

  1. LotusRapper May 25, 2010 10:17 AM

    Depending on your definition of splurge, and your overall budget, it it boiled down to 4-5 quintessential restaurants reflecting Vancouver, I would go with:

    1) db Bistro Moderne
    2) Bishop's
    3) Vij's
    4) Sun Sui Wah (Main St)
    5) Raincity Grill

    4 Replies
    1. re: LotusRapper
      grayelf May 25, 2010 10:38 AM

      Lotus, need more data from you on your choices re how you feel they reflect Vancouver. Not picking nits (well, maybe a little with 1 and 5!) but really interested.

      1. re: grayelf
        LotusRapper May 25, 2010 12:06 PM

        Hmm. Just off-the-cuff list of restos that reflect the cultural diversity of Metro Vancouver (MV), our own interpretations of dominant ethnic cuisines, applying the West Coast approach to fresh eating leveraging local ingredients and suppliers. Bishop's reflects a sort of culinary excellence and pride that MV has developed over the past 2.5 decades and which continues to be our crown jewel, while db Bistro Moderne, although very new to the local landscape, serves as affirmation on an international scale that MV wasn't *too* engrossed in its own navel-gazing as a culinary destination in N. America.

        BTW, I haven't been to Bishop's nor db BM myself (yet).

        1. re: LotusRapper
          grayelf May 25, 2010 12:15 PM

          Thanks for the clarity. I have been to both Bishop's (love it and damn straight that JB practically invented locavore cooking and sourcing here) and dbBM (need to go back to try more, didn't get the local angle from what I had -- the $28 burger). Vij's I think is a no-brainer based on your criteria, love it or hate it (I love it, especially for veg based dishes, but I hate the lineups). I used to love SSW for dim sum but have only been back once since they lost the carts and I hated the oversell they do on the menu based ordering so much. I have never been for dinner. I've eaten too many mediocre meals at Raincity Grill for it to have any credibility with me. I also hate the way they overcomplicate their plates and menu descriptions -- I'm a fair food nerd and everytime I go (always at the behest of a tourist), I find I'm forced to ask for endless explanations of ingredients or preps. And then there is no payoff on the fork. The last straw was when I was served (really) overdone salmon with a veg side that had spiny sunchokes. Just sloppy.

          1. re: grayelf
            LotusRapper May 25, 2010 01:59 PM

            I've had dinner a few times at SSW, and compared to Kirin, Victoria and Imperial, I like SSW the most. Personal opin, of course.

            To be fair to RCG, it's been a few year since I've been so my impression is out-of-date.

    2. p
      Peter Rodgers Mar 11, 2010 01:11 PM

      I would add La Quercia for exquisite, reasonably priced Italian food; Chen's and The Place for Shanghai and Rodney's for oysters.

      1. Beach Chick Mar 11, 2010 09:11 AM

        For coffee, Caffe Artigiano is one of the best places for lattes..
        Gerard's at Sutton Place is a wonderful place for drinks, burgers with the clubby mahogany atmosphere and the roaring fireplace.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick
          grayelf Mar 11, 2010 02:12 PM

          Caffe A is good because it is all over the place, too. And I will admit to a weakness for their "Spanish latte" which comes with (drool) sweetened condensed milk. Evil, yes, but tasty.

          I keep hearing about the burger at Hamilton Street Grill, if you are looking for something burgery in Yaletown. I haven't had the pleasure as yet.

          1. re: grayelf
            c
            Chardonnay Mar 22, 2010 03:15 PM

            I agree about Hamilton Street Grill, I think their burger is the best in the city and they grind their own burger with certified angus beef so you can have it cooked med rare if you like

            -----
            Hamilton Street Grill
            1009 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2R9, CA

        2. peter.v Mar 10, 2010 11:04 PM

          It's not quite as universally acclaimed as it was when it was the high-end Fuel, but Refuel has an incredible burger and a wonderful menu of snacks. They of course serve more than that but I am so smitten with the burger that I rarely order anything else. Be completely forewarned, this place is all about fat and related meatiness so if you're not down with that, avoid Refuel at all costs. Dishes are straightforward and rather simple, but oh so fantastic. After 9 PM (or between 3 and 6), the burger with a beer is 15.50.

          I always think Go Fish is a quintessential Vancouver experience too. Sit on the seawall and have some halibut and chips or their fish tacos ("tacones"). Was just there today and the chips were stellar. It was quite cold and in between lunch and dinner, so there was more attention paid to the food than when there is a 30 person line.

          If you like beer, have a pint at the Alibi Room on the outskirts of Gastown. Unparalleled selection of BC beers.

          I'll second grayelf's rec of Peaceful for northern Chinese. I'm currently hopelessly addicted to their Xi'an White Lamb Stew. Peaceful is a favorite of my cafe's staff (which may have been mentioned grayelf too... thanks!) and another dish that is fantastic there is the Sichuan Broth Braised Fish. So tasty. Service is very helpful there too - just ask for their house specialties to make sense of the massive menu.

          Other folks and a number of other posts on this board should help enlighten you on our rather large dining scene.

          10 Replies
          1. re: peter.v
            e
            eatrustic Mar 10, 2010 11:43 PM

            Two out of the way but very, very worth checking out:
            Bao Bei the new retro modern Asian restaurant on Keefer (cool design and well done small plates and super tasty cocktails).

            Au Petit Chavignol on East Hastings- a great cheese based French style bistro: that does every thing right from the food to the wine selection.

            As for the burger at Fuel, I'm still on the fence as to how good it is. The big bonus is that since they grind their beef fresh every day they can cook the burger any way you want. The fries are actually done in Beef Tallow and as much as I like the authentic way of doing things there is a pronounced taste that I just can't get my head around.
            Best fries in town: Go Fish or Au Petit Chavignol

            1. re: eatrustic
              s
              samanh Mar 11, 2010 01:58 AM

              awesome recs. They sound great. Especially intrigued about Peaceful. Will check it out and let you know.

              1. re: eatrustic
                tdeane Mar 11, 2010 10:06 AM

                For me, I think beef tallow is the second best fat you can fry fries in after duck fat. McDonald's has fried in beef tallow for most of it's existence. What don't you like about the taste? Just curious.

                1. re: tdeane
                  e
                  eatrustic Mar 11, 2010 11:00 AM

                  I agree on Duck or Goose fat for frying but maybe it was the batch they were using to fry with (it wasn't old or rancid). I found that the frying medium overpowered the potato flavour instead of accenting it. Maybe I've just gotten used to more neutral tastes but I don't think so. Could just have been that batch as I hadn't noticed it the previous time.
                  I'll try them again to see if it's me, the way they were fried or the tallow.

              2. re: peter.v
                grayelf Mar 11, 2010 06:56 AM

                Hey peter, thanks for the tip on the Sichuan broth braised fish at Peaceful. That is one item I haven't tried yet of many off their as you say massive menu. The other must-have for me there is the potato roll.

                1. re: grayelf
                  fmed Mar 11, 2010 07:03 AM

                  My new must have at Peaceful is their lamb and cumin stuffed shaobing.

                  1. re: fmed
                    Cancuk Mar 11, 2010 11:49 AM

                    We order the lamb cumin shaobing every time as well. Love peaceful.

                2. re: peter.v
                  v
                  vandan Mar 11, 2010 08:56 AM

                  ha, i was there yesterday as well, funny it had been a while so i thought i remembered them having heaters on the patio, no such luck, i must say i do plough through lunch as hands were getting pretty darned chilly

                  1. re: vandan
                    peter.v Mar 11, 2010 03:09 PM

                    Really? They had one propane heater out in the corner for us poor souls. I've been before when it's barely above zero and they had run out of propane for the heater. I know how it feels!

                    1. re: peter.v
                      v
                      vandan Mar 11, 2010 03:30 PM

                      hmm, i sure din't see that

                3. grayelf Mar 10, 2010 10:42 PM

                  Here's a conflation of one of my old posts and some newer ideas with some addresses added in

                  Salt or Gudrun for a late afternoon ploughman's moderne snack
                  Cobre for a pan-Latin dinner
                  Peaceful for house-made noodles and dim summy stuff: try the potato roll (lunch or dinner)
                  Patisserie Lebeau for sweet and savoury brekky waffles -- they just remodeled (go early, closed Sundays)
                  Nuba for healthy but v. tasty Lebanese in a funky setting (two locations -- I prefer the small one on Seymour)
                  One of Andrey Durbach's restos (La Buca, L'Altro Buca) for muscular Italian
                  Go Fish for fresh "fish shack" offerings with a twist in a supernatural BC setting (one word: tacones, especially if the cod version is on the specials menu; ask for extra hot sauce on the side instead of the cole slaw which is inside already)
                  Rangoli for a taste of Vij's minus the wait
                  Argo Cafe for a post-modern take on the diner (breakfast and lunch only -- be sure to check out the lunch specials like duck confit or seared tuna for like $12!?)
                  49th Parallel coffee -- I'm currently most partial to Prado on Commercial or Elysian on 5th near Burrard (there is also one on Broadway
                  Crystal Mall for an Asian food court experience (Wang's XLB is worth the trip alone)
                  One of the Guus (I like Guu with Garlic) for a slightly rowdy izakaya experience or one of the Zakkushis for things on sticks
                  somewhere Vietnamese -- I'm currently into finding North Vietnamese (Truong Tranh) but My Chau is great for chicken noodle soup and there are lots of places for bun (Cuu Long has nifty grilled offerings)

                  La Buca Restaurant 4025 MacDonald Street near 23rd
                  Peaceful Restaurant 110-532 West Broadway near Cambie
                  Cobre Restaurant 52 Powell St at Main
                  Salt Tasting Room 45 Blood Alley Sq
                  Vij's Rangoli 1488 West 11th Avenue near Granville
                  Crystal Mall 2819-4500 Kingsway Burnaby
                  Kitanoya Guu With Garlic 1698 Robson Street
                  Zakkushi Japanese Restaurant on 4th near Burrard or on Main near 25th
                  Patisserie Lebeau 1728 W 2nd Ave near Burrard
                  The Nuba Cafe 1206 Seymour Street
                  Go Fish Ocean Emporium 1505 West 1st Avenue (look at a map for this one as it can be a wee bit tricky to find)
                  Argo Cafe 1836 Ontario Street near 2nd Avenue

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: grayelf
                    fmed Mar 11, 2010 08:02 AM

                    Adding links
                    (Can't add Bao Bei which is on Keefer St in Chinatown).

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

                    Peaceful Restaurant
                    532 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z1E9, CA

                    Cobre Restaurants
                    52 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1E7, CA

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

                    Crystal Mall
                    4500 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H2A9, CA

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

                    Zakkushi Japanese Restaurant
                    823 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L7, CA

                    Patisserie Lebeau
                    1728 W 2nd Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J, CA

                    The Nuba Cafe
                    1206 Seymour St, Vancouver, BC V6B3N9, CA

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

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

                    Alibi Room
                    157 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A1B8, CA

                    au petit chavignol
                    845 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6A, CA

                    Vij's Rangoli
                    1488 11th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6H1L1, CA

                    Guu
                    838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

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

                    Nuba Restaurant
                    207 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1H7, CA

                    1. re: fmed
                      fmed Mar 11, 2010 10:04 AM

                      missed a couple

                      -----
                      My Chau Restaurant
                      1715 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N2S4, CA

                      Truong Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant
                      2096 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N2T3, CA

                      1. re: fmed
                        t
                        tedfood May 25, 2010 09:23 AM

                        As far as I know Fuel closed 2009 and reopened as Refuel-more casual offerings and the food is still phenomenal especially the 31? days aged beef for two.
                        The other outpost by the train station is Campagnolo
                        My personal favorite is Mis Trucos-tapas in a very casual-living like space. A wonderful homage to Spain via Vancouver.

                        -----
                        Campagnolo
                        1020 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A, CA

                      2. re: grayelf
                        n
                        nonaggie Mar 11, 2010 12:37 PM

                        We're also visiting Vancouver soon and planning to go to Crystal Mall. Besides Wang's XLB, are there any other particular items you recommend we seek out?

                        1. re: nonaggie
                          el_lobo_solo Mar 11, 2010 01:03 PM

                          If you're asking about other items in Crystal Mall, check out this thread:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691117

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