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Places that are a must in Vancouver

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...

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  1. 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

      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

      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

        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

          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.

          1020 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A, CA

        2. re: grayelf

          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

            If you're asking about other items in Crystal Mall, check out this thread:

        3. 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

            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

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

              1. re: eatrustic

                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

                  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

                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

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

                  1. re: fmed

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

                2. re: peter.v

                  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

                    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!

                3. 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

                    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

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

                    1. 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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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.