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May 20, 2011 06:18 AM

Best Local Type Chains in Greater Vancouver Area?

We will be spending about two weeks in Vancouver and the surrounding area. I've picked out some places to eat, using recommendations from Chowhound and other sources.

Here's what I'm looking for: does British Columbia/Vancouver/Canada have any good, reliable chain type restaurants? We're going to have a considerable number of meals where I won't be able to make reservations, won't know exact times we'll be eating, and really won't know what area of town we'll be in at the time. I'm looking for some "go-to" places in these situations and was hoping to just have a few reliable type places to search for in my GPS. Just as examples, I've heard about Cactus Club, Earls, Joeys. Any opinions? Any other thoughts?

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  1. Cactus and Earls are safe bets. Brown's is also decent. I'm not a big Joey's fan.

    1. I think Cactus Club has the best food and service of the above you mentioned. Earls used to be good and the food is still good but the service and atmosphere is a little too "loungey/clubby" these days for my taste.
      Milestones is another option as is White Spot. Milestones service and atmosphere is very good, food can be hit and miss I find although if you stay with basics like burgers, steaks, etc it's reliable. White Spot is the most casual of these types of restaurants mentioned but has good burgers and sandwiches etc. More of a diner type menu

      5 Replies
      1. re: islandgirl

        Thanks for these replies! This was exactly what I was looking for.....just the names of a few places I could enter in my GPS and head toward some decent food. I'll be in situations where I don't want to drive 30 minutes for lunch, but just to something nearby - and hopefully, good!

        1. re: islandgirl

          Just to add to my response above, we were at Milestones on 4th last night for a quick dinner. They are now featuring specials from Top Chef TV show which are freshly prepared in-house. I had the watermelon and golden beet salad which was quite good and my husband had the steak and frites which came with a sinful gorgonzola and green peppercorn sauce. Both these items, and I imagine the rest of the Top Chef menu items, are a notch above the typical Milestones options, many of which are pre-made or frozen to start.
          Also, Milestones is very child-friendly if that's of interest to anyone reading or the OP.

          1. re: islandgirl

            Milestone's items are pre-made or frozen to start? That will come as a surprise to the folks I know who work for them!

            1. re: robinsegg

              Not all of their items by any means, but having an allergy I've had to ask about many items and many of them are not made in house or are not made to order so can not be modified (the flatbreads, the phyllo shrimp, the Kobe sliders). Perhaps this is restricted to the appetizers? Most of their mains contain cheese or other dairy products so I have to avoid them.

            2. re: islandgirl

              On a recent trip to Milestones in Victoria I tried the Grilled Seafood Salad. I think I had this once this past summer as well. Both times I've been impressed. The greens were fresh and crisp, topped with crispy noodles, avocado, papaya, tomato, 6 skewered grilled shrimp, marinated shrimp meat and a piece of grilled salmon filet. Very tasty lemon vinagrette.
              Why can't all their dishes be this good?

          2. I think a classic West Coast chain is White Spot. I agree that Cactus and Earls are decent and Milestones. I enjoyed Browns.

            5 Replies
            1. re: rtms

              White Spot menu is stuck in the '80s, circa 1988. Have you seen their prices these days ? 'Cept for the burgers, other offerings I find almost criminal in pricing relative to what you get. My $0.25

              1. re: LotusRapper

                Don't forget, the guy coming up with the new menu items at Whitespot used to be in charge at Earls in the 80's and early 90's. I mean who still puts stir frys on their menu? Whitespot is good for a burger but, avoid the bigger better burgers. Far superior is the original patty especially the double double!!

                1. re: tdeane

                  I would agree that the menu is not innovative at White Spot but they have a few items that are consistently good: the beef dip and the shrimp sandwiches, the chicken pot pie and the aforementioned basic burgers.

                2. re: LotusRapper

                  I don't really have a reply to jabs at White Spot. I do like their burgers and it is restaurant chain that originates on the West Coast.

                  West Coast Cafe
                  5142 Cordova Bay Rd, Victoria, BC V8Y2K5, CA

                3. re: rtms

                  When it comes to White Spot, stick to breakfast and burgers.

                4. We're big Milestone's fans, for that type of fare. "Locally grown" chain that is now owned by a large food company out of Toronto.

                  We're also partial to Moxie's, and there are 3 in downtown Vancouver; their menu is online. Also a Canadian chain.

                  Moxie's Classic Grill
                  1160 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E1N1, CA

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: robinsegg

                    I know it is not exactly what the OP is asking for, but how about this spin on local chains:

                    Japadog (not for a formal meal,but for a quick lunch on the fly)

                    Peaceful Restaurant (2 locations now)

                    Go Fish on Granville Island (not exactly a chain, and not exactly a restaurant, but there are multiple offshoots including at least 2 here in Victoria--RFBF and 1 Fish 2 Fish)

                    Hapa Izakaya (3 locations at last count)

                    These are truly "local chains" as opposed to regional chains like Earl's, Joey's, Moxie's, Cactus Club, Brown's, etc...and the food is better at these small local chains, though admittedly they are not burger, fries, and pasta type of chains.

                    Hapa Izakaya
                    1516 Yew St, Vancouver, BC V6K3E4, CA

                    1. re: anewton

                      The Guu's as well (6? locations including the one in TO).

                      1. re: anewton

                        I think Go Fish is still out of commission as of 2 weeks ago. I may be wrong.

                        I agree with most of the above recs ... I do have to say that my early experience of Milestones back in the day when they were just coming in was having a Ceasar salad and getting 4 prehistoric fern-like pieces of greens and 2 rubik's cube sized croutons.

                        I kid you not.

                        You had to break up the crouton to get more croutons.

                        1. re: bill_n_opus

                          Go Fish is open and has been every time I've walked by in the last week. They were closed last winter for renos but that's it as far as I know.

                          As for the Moxie's a few of them have morphed into a Wok concept - the Broadway and Burrard location for example, same company though so I'm not too excited.

                          1. re: eatrustic

                            I think the new chain is called Rockport. Mostly wok and grill foods. It is ok quality with a cheaper price point than Milestones and Cactus Club.

                    2. into inexpensive sushi?
                      "Yamato's" on Davie and Seymore downtown Vancouver, 22 pieces under $6, < with salad soup tea favorite place for sushi period. Not a chain but if you're in town and hungry for sushi, it's a hit for sure.
                      "Vera's Burgers" I think there are 5 in town, I've been to 4 of them.
                      Their burgers are huge, so you can share if you want and they have perfect poutine, share it too, it's way too much for one but delicious.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: iL Divo

                        Lest We Forget Pajos and their four stellar locations