Victoria and Vancouver Rec's... coming from SF
My Family and I will be coming to Victoria and Vancouver this christmas for 8 days. We all love amazing food, from the dives to the most expensive...
In Victoria, where should we eat for 2 nice nights out? I know im going to Red Fish Blue Fish for lunch one day, any other spots we must hit for lunch/breakfast?
In Vancouver, we're looking for one really nice dinner out, but it looks like a lot of the more highly recommended restaurants like Fuel and Cioppinos are extremely expensive... In SF im used to having a lot of great restaurants in the 25-30$ entree range. We'd like something that Vancouver specifically does very well, like pacific NW, with slightly more reasonable prices.
Additionally, what else does Vancouver do best compared to SF? I know chinese is big... I have lived in Shanghai and love XLB's... I know indian is big, but the only Indian restaurant I have heard of in Vancouver is on the very pricey side, and Im used to inexpensive indian.
Any other suggestions on any style of cuisine are appreciated... Im really looking forward to the trip!
Red Fish Blue Fish
1006 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W, CA
For Vancouver, how about The Sandbar Restaurant on Granville Island? It's a seafood restaurant (with some pacific NW, and Asian influences) in a great location, and has relatively reasonable prices. If instead you're looking for Chinese, I had very good meals at Spicy Court Chinese Restaurant, but there are definitely many other options.
Spicy Court Chinese Restaurant
5638 Cambie St, Vancouver, BC V5Z3A5, CA
1535 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9, CA
For XLB - we have many Shanghainese places (and now many Canto places) that serve a great XLB. I recommend Long's not just because of the XLB (which is amongst the top), but because of the rest of their menu - some well executed Shanghai classics (drunken chicken, etc) and some innovations (salty yolk puffed rice).
Ningtu (which grayelf mentioned in the locked thread) is an long time favourite that seems to fly under the radar. It is old school Vancouver Shanghainese.
For Cantonese (which this city does very well) - I recommend Good Choice on Fraser St. Very well executed dishes with all the hallmarks for good Cantonese.
I recommend a trip to Richmond BC to visit some Asian foodcourts. Aberdeen Center for an upscale, somewhat curated experience and the Richmond Public Market for a more authentic Asian feel. Both are very easy to access by Canada Line skytrain. Over on the other side of the city is Crystal Mall in Burnaby which I think has the best Asian foodcourt food in the GVA - very accessible by Skytrain. Individually, my favourite stalls are O'tray (President's Plaza - across from Aberdeen), Xian (RPM), Wang's (XLB at Crystal Mall), Huaxi (Crystal Mall).
grayelf is spot on about our Indian here. I think that many travel writers must think that Vij's has some sort of halo effect on the rest of the Indian restaurants here. Overall, the best Indian is "good" but I don't know of a good destination quality Indian here (other than Vij's). I don't have a good frame of reference to SF Indian as the only place I have experienced is Amber which I thought was fairly Westernized and very upscale. Saying that - I think it is a fun trip to the "Punjabi Market" which is a marketing term for the Little India section of the city around Main and 49th. A couple of sweets and buffets there are pretty OK. (The sweets are better than the hot foods).
We have done reports here on this forum on most of the above. But do post questions if you would like more specific recommendations.
re: Lord Griffin
You might be thinking of Go Fish! which is in Vancouver (near Granville Island, next to Fisherman's Wharf). As far as I know they're open every day except Monday, but given the weather we've been having (snow!) you might be wise to call and check before making a special trip. However, bear in mind it is more of a fish and chips stand with limited outdoor seating only so you might want to find a warmer place indoors to enjoy your take-away at this time of year.
I'll let the Vancouver hounds speak for Vancouver, though I will ask you this: how is the Hunan cuisine in San Fran? I ask because, after months of reading on this board about the flavourful, fiery, authentic, and unpretentious Hunan cuisine at Alvin Garden in Burnaby, my wife and I finally made the trek over and thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate there.
Victoria probably does not have anything that San Fran does not. So my recommendation is to choose places that offer consistent food. They may not be revelatory for a Bay Area hound, but at least you'll feel like you got your money's worth (there are many, many tourist traps in Victoria where you do NOT get good bang for your buck).
For lunches, I recommend the following places: Pizzeria Primastrada (2 locations), an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria that uses some local organic ingredients (i.e. buffalo mozzarella from up-island); Zambri's, which is now open 7 days a week and offers simple preparations of Italian classics; Hernandez, which is run by a fellow from Central America (Guatemala?) and serves up tasty huaraches, tacos, and occasionally enchiladas; Devour, a tiny whole-in-the-wall lunch spot on Broughton with an ever-changing menu; or Choux Choux Charcuterie, a tasteful, whole-in-the-wall French deli (two or three tables only) that offers a daily lunch special (usually delicious).
For coffee in Victoria, I recommend either Discovery (2 locations), 2% Jazz, or Habit (2 locations). In Vancouver I recommend Elysian Room (2 locations) or Kafka's at Main and 10th. If you are starting your morning right downtown and do not have a car, Caffe Artigiano is decent but is part of a chain. Ditto for JJ Bean's (which has a gastown location).
If you are hankering for a very good bakery, Fol Epi in Victoria (across the "Blue Bridge" from downtown, tucked away in the dockside green development) is awesome; the baker/owner mills his own flour on-site and makes the best baguettes, boules, and rustic whites (sourdough) as well as a delicious rye bread. They also serve sandwiches, pizzettes, and a variety of pastries and desserts that are all worthwhile. They are in the same space as a decent coffee place, so you could start your day with an Americano or espresso to accompany a delicious pain au chocolat or crossaint.
For dinners in Victoria, I have been a bit disappointed of late in some of my standard recommendations. I think that Camille's (real locavore place) and Stage (small plates, ideal for sharing) are two of the best options, though Brasserie L'Ecole, while not unique, is still a warm and comforting room serving simple preparations using very good, mostly local ingredients (their unofficial slogan is French, with a west coast twist).
For chocolates, I must recommend Chocolat, right in downtown Victoria. They have, by far, the best chocolate on Vancouver Island (and maybe some of the best in BC).
I also must make a special recommendation for an outstanding cocktail bar, Clive's Classic Lounge, in the unassuming Chateau Victoria hotel. The mixologist at Clive's is striving to make it one of the top cocktail bars in the world, and the cocktail list is very impressive indeed (I'd hazard a guess that there are around 50 or more to choose from). If cocktails aren't your thing they have an impressive selection of whiskies and specialty beers. They also have food which, though not outstanding, is passable and has improved in the past year.
PS--A search of the Vancouver boards will reveal many places that are consistently recommended (Bishop's, Bo Laksa King, and La Buca are a few of the board favourites).
La Buca Restaurant
4025 MacDonald St, Vancouver, BC V6L2N8, CA
Choux Choux Charcuterie
830 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8R, CA
1778 W 5th, Vancouver, BC V6J1P2, CA
911 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8V4X3, CA
4850 Imperial St, Burnaby, BC V5J, CA
Bo Laksa King
4910 Joyce St, Vancouver, BC V5R, CA
2621 Douglas St, Victoria, BC V8T 4M1, CA
Go Fish has a covered deck with a propane heater that accommodates about 20 people and they are open Tues-Sun 12:00-18:00 no matter the weather.
Because crowds are down in the off season seating is easy to find and the whole place has a cozier feel-especially after dark when tea lights grace the tables.
For whatever reason the soup @ Go Fish always tastes better in winter-a squash/fish combo earlier in the week was outstanding.
Ive gotten a lot of great recommendations so far, particularly for Victoria. I gues I have a few more questions as to what to do in Vancouver. While I know vancouver has all the great chinese, we have tons in SF too so im not too stoked about that. now that Indian has been debunked, I really dont have many vancouver rec's to go on.
For vancouver Im interested in the best midrange restaurants. maybe a great vancouver institution or 2. maybe some great fish and chips... anything else great and unique to vancouver.
also, what about gastropubs, and cocktails?
re: Lord Griffin
Fish and chips: Go Fish
Izakaya as I mentioned on the locked thread.
I don't think we do gastropubs well here at all. We can't seem to get good beer and good food on the same menu.
Lotsa good cocktail options but you may be disappointed coming from where you do -- eg I've had nothing here that would compare to Aziza's offerings. I'll let others weigh in on specifics as I haven't done a wide enough survey.
re: Lord Griffin
I personally think that Vancouver is one of the few places in the Western Hemisphere that can beat the bay area on Chinese, so I wouldn't shy away from it. And definitely try some of the izakaya places per grayelf's suggestion.
In the midrange in Vancouver, I loved Chambar, though it has been about four years since I ate there.
re: Lord Griffin
Good midrange spots:
- Bao Bei - 'modern/fusion' Chinese (they call themselves a Chinese Brasserie). Inventive cocktail list as well.
- Chambar (Belgian/North African). Really good cocktail program here as well. Always a good vibe.
- Boneta (French/West Coast). Again, good cocktail/drink program and fun room.
- L'Abbatoir (French). Pretty much the same as Boneta/Chambar: great drink program, good food, fun room, great neighbourhood.
- ReFuel (the reincarnation of Fuel.) Whole confit duck for two is one of my favourite dishes in the city. Come here with the intention of eating lots of meat.
- Campagnolo (rustic Italian). I think the value here is outstanding and, even though I always thought the food was good/very good, it's gotten better since J.C. (new chef) has taken over.
- La Buca (Italian). Awesome food. Out of the way location.
- La Quercia (Italian). Awesome food.
- Alibi Room: Gastropub. Awesome beer selection and room. Food is basic English pub stuff, but a step up on 99% of the pub food in this city. But, come here for the beer.
- Irish Heather. Gastropub. Very solid.
- Corner Suite Bistro de Luxe. French. After some hiccups, I've had two very good meals here. Drinks are top notch as well.
I think all of these fall into your price range and, IMO, are our better examples of what (I think) you are looking for although I could probably add some more that are more or less equal.
If you're looking for a night out of eating/drinking, do a little 'Tour de Gastown'. All of these places are within two blocks of each other:
Boneta - food/cocktails
L'Abbatoir - food/cocktails. Hard to get a seat on a weekend. No reservations
Cork and Fin - Champagne/Oysters.
The Diamond - Cocktails and snacks. Great room and great drinks.
Alibi Room - Beer
Irish Heather - Beer/Whiskey
It's always a good time and, if some places are too busy, there are quite a few others that I would be fine recommending within a couple of blocks, especially if it's just drinking like:
Pourhouse (very good cocktails, food is hit and miss for me)
Steamworks (brewpub, solid beer. VERY bad food)
Have a great time!
La Buca Restaurant
4025 MacDonald St, Vancouver, BC V6L2N8, CA
1020 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A, CA
3689 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6R1P2, CA
157 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A1B8, CA
162 Water Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2, CA