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Jul 12, 2011 12:14 PM

SF hound visiting Gabriola Island & Vancouver

Hi folks,

My wife & I are leaving this weekend for 6 days on Gabriola Island and 4 days in Vancouver, and would love any tips for local eats. We've never been to Vancouver before and are looking forward to getting to know the city a bit.

I expect we will cook in on Gabriola, but if there's anything tasty around Silva Bay, I'd certainly like to know about it.

I've been reading this board for a couple of weeks now, and so far our tentative Vancouver eating itinerary is something like:

Fri 7/22 (arrive early afternoon): JapaDog, dinner @ Joe Forte's (a friend's husband is a bartender there)

Sat: Nelson Park Farmers Market, brunch @ La Brasserie, dinner @ Phnom Penh, top off w/Chinatown Night Market

Sun: Breakfast/brunch (Twisted Fork?, but open to anywhere downtown'ish, especially if they serve earlier than 10am), dinner @ Vij's or Rangoli (any tips for minimizing wait @ Vij's? Get there @ 5?)

Mon: dim sum carts @ Golden Ocean, early dinner @ Go Fish or maybe one of the downtown Guu - flight back to SF @ 8pm.

We are staying in Davie Village and won't have a car, but are happy to take transit elsewhere so long as it's not too far away (and preferably in a 'hood with other things to do).

Cuisine-wise, we absolutely want at least one dim sum meal (strongly prefer carts over menus), and one "northwestern" meal (Forte's, I guess? The other usual recs are too pricey), and can skip Italian since that's very well-covered at home.


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

838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

La Brasserie
1091 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E1M5, CA

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  1. Greetings, adampaul! Love your home hounding territory...

    Recipe for successful visit of SF Hound to Vancouver: First, pray to the weather gods :-). Next, manage your expectations and you'll have fun and some good food. Leave lots of time to get places unless you are walking. Our transit is not in the same league as Muni and BART.

    Re your itin, Japadog is fun but it is just a tubesteak. I like the kurobota best in the okonomi dog (only available at certain locations). 'Ware lineups at peak times, and service is always somewhat slow. Pretty sure I'm in the minority here but I prefer the bricks and mortar shop on Robson as there is somewhere you can eat, the service seems to be faster and I like their fries as well -- there is one called butter shoyu IIRC that particularly floats my boat.

    Joe Fortes is not a place I'd choose if I was coming from SF for BC representative food but you have a connection there and it sounds like the prices at the usual reccos (Bishop's, West, maybe now Hawksworth) are putting you off them.

    Compared to the ones in SF our farmers' markets are pretty sad and small but since you are staying nearby it may be worthwhile. Seek out the cheese curds from Little Qualicum if they are there that day (I think they go to Trout Lake on Saturdays, alas). If you want a treat to share for later, deek into Transilvanian Traditions at 1111 Davie and Thurlowish and grab one of their kurtos kalacs, a crazy spiral tube of citrusy sweet bread that is brilliant with a good espresso based coffee (which you will have to get elsewhere!).

    Love the burger at La Brasserie. Phnom Penh is a bit of a board fave but I haven't had much luck with consistency there, especially lately. The lines are a bit off putting at peak hours too. The squid is usually pretty good. Chinatown Night Market is kitschy fun and you'll be full from PP so no need to eat there.

    I've only been to Twisted Fork once and was too underwhelmed to return. It's tiny so beware waits at peak brunch times (a real curse here generally that you will be familiar with from SF but with lesser quality, I fear). You should be okay most places before 10 am but these'll tend to be dinerish rather than fancy brunchish (most brunchy places seem to open at 11 here, like La Brasserie which has a nice brunch menu -- hello, breakfast poutine. But you're going there for dinner anyway).

    You will have to wait at Vij's even if you get there at 5 because they don't open till 5:30. If you're lucky, you'll get in the first seating. The prevailing wisdom for later dining seems to be go and get on the list, then hit up West for cocktails. I've found Rangoli to be inconsistent lately and it has never IMO compared to dining at Vij's, though I have eaten good things there. It is very casual.

    I am a fan of Golden Ocean for the old school items on carts. I hope you enjoy! Be sure to make a reservation and try to come before 11 am to get the 20% discount (check and make sure they are still offering it). Also be prepared to wait a bit even with a reservation.

    Go Fish at an off time is a good idea (say, 4 pm); though there might still be a line, it'll be more manageable. Double check the opening time for the Guu you pick. Some open at 5, some at 5:30, and their websites are a mite incomprehensible. My favourite is Guu with Garlic. Another thought if you are downtown would be Santouka for toroniku. This is one of the best things I've ever eaten, and there aren't too many outposts Stateside as yet. It's open from 11 to 11 and going in off hours is a great idea to avoid lineups.

    5 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      Wow, thanks for the lengthy reply, grayelf!

      I figured Japadog would be a fun bite since we're arriving 1pm'ish and are having dinner @ 6:30 so a proper meal would be too much - we'll check out the bricks & mortar one, as they're close enough to where we'll be.

      I've read mixed reviews about Forte's, but I expect it'll be just fine. Indeed the prices at Bishops, Wests, Raincity, and friends are a little off-putting, especially thanks to the weak US dollar.

      We're going to the Nelson farmer's market w/our friends who live in the West End, so it's more a pleasant morning out than looking to be wowed - we are indeed blessed with wonderful markets here in SF.

      Given that we are planning on spending an afternoon/evening in Gastown & Chinatown, other than Phnom Penh, where would you eat in the area? I haven't seen too much in the way of recs there other than Salt Tasting Room, which looks possibly a little precious, not that we have anything at all against cheese/meat/condiment/wine dinners.

      Ahh the brunch curse - few good choices, and horrendous crowds at the ones that are - yes, we're well familiar with that! We're not by any means set on Twisted Fork, and in fact on our Sunday, would much prefer an earlier breakfast so we can spend some quality time in Stanley Park - any good options downtown'ish? Greasy spoons are fine by us, so long as they're good greasy spoons.

      We're actually going to La Brasserie for our Sat brunch, not dinner, so thanks for the rec on the poutine - sounds delicious!

      We'll plan on arriving @ Vij's at 5 then - having just been to India earlier this year, I'm very curious to see what they're like.

      I know you're a fan of Golden Ocean - it was courtesy of your extremely-helpful cart dim sum compendium posts that we found out about it!

      Sounds like it's Go Fish for our Monday exit meal, as with an 8pm flight, dinner @ 5:30 is too late.

      Thanks again for the info!


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

      La Brasserie
      1091 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E1M5, CA

      Twisted Fork
      1147 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z1M1, CA

      1. re: adampaul

        Hi Adam,

        Go Fish is closed Mondays but if you can fit it in on another day, here's a tip: Call ahead and you can pick it up w/o the long wait.

        1. re: kinnickinnik

          Ah nuts - any suggestions for somewhere serving at ~4pm on Granville Island or very near Davie Village?

        2. re: adampaul

          Hello adampaul, looks like you're all set between grayelf and kinnickinnik ... I have just a couple more thoughts. I'm with grayelf that Twisted Fork left me decidedly underwhelmed. I'm a fan of Cafe Medina for breakfast/brunch, which is downtownish as you preferred and opens early. No reservations though, so I usually try to get there right when they open. Some hounds have reported that they're not as good as they used to be (but who is...) Re Vij's, my take on it is that it's really Western food with some Indian flavours, so unless you frequented the really high-end hotel restaurants in India, some of which try to be more Western, I think you'll find it quite different. Rangoli tends more towards the traditional, but is still very westernized to my palate. Also, I'm not sure what they have for seating. Hope this helps and enjoy your visit!

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

          Twisted Fork
          1147 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z1M1, CA

          1. re: À la carte

            Cafe Medina looks tasty indeed, although it's a little bit of a haul from where we're staying.

            We ate mostly local food in India, not hotel stuff, but I'm down with fusion'y/westernized, so long as it's tasty.

      2. Gabriola is pretty limited in my experience but I'll check with my brother who lives on the Island. There's a farmer's market on Saturdays for local colour.

        1. I recently visited Gabriola and enjoyed a visit to Woodfire Pizza []. It appears to have opened this year and is producing quite tasty fare. The Woodfire salad was a standout with fresh peas and thyme, walnut and chevre plus greens that weren't the standard restaurant mix. It's a busy spot (and as a result a somewhat loud environment) and we were thankful to have made a reservation. Our server was excellent and took great care of our 90 year old guests.

          I haven't been there but have heard that the pub in Silva Bay is worth a visit as well.

          Enjoy your trip!

          1. Hi Adam,
            I grew up on Gabriola and I'm back so maybe I can help you out. If you are here on a Thursday, Artworks has art openings from 7-9pm, great place to grab a glass of wine and look at all the local talent, then if you head over to Woodfire you can enjoy some fantastic food and listen to some live music. The atmosphere is gorgeous and the food is amazing. If you want to look at the views of the Marina I would go to the Silva Bay Pub & Restaurant, try to go on a nice evening and enjoy the deck. Another good lunch place is Mad Rona's, great upscale coffee place with really good sandwiches. Let me know if you'd like me to send you a list of events the week you're here. Hope you enjoy the Island, we certainly do!

            1. Thanks for the Gabriola tips folks!

              DiscoverGabriola, we arrive in Gabriola early afternoon this Saturday the 16th, and leave mid-morning on Friday the 22nd - I'd love a list of events, but via email, so as to not clutter CH with not-food-stuff. I'm web (at) adampaul (dot) com.