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Jul 28, 2011 10:28 PM

Vancouver for 3 months ... help!

So here's the gist. My wife and I have just temporarily re-located to Vancouver (from LA) for work, and we are quite keen on trying all the food Vancouver has to offer.

We are staying in the Fairview area (7th & Cambie), have a car, and more importantly have an affinity to try any and everything, so long as it tastes great.

We only just arrived this past Sunday, so thus far we have only had the chance to try Vij's Rangoli, and La Taqueria. We've had a couple meals we've cooked in after a quick trip to the very nice, local Whole Foods.

While here, we will be doing a mixture of eating out and cooking in, just as we would at home. So we are looking for recs for darn near just about everything, including but not limited to the following:

Eating Out:
I don't even know where to start; unlike our other trips this came up so last minute I've not really had time to do too much research, so all of your help will be greatly appreciated. There is pretty much no type of cuisine that we are unwilling to try, nor any particular type of food.

So what do you say? We've no restrictions budget-wise, and are interested in everything from fine dining to street carts.

Where should we go for brunch?
What are some of the best food carts?
Best date night(s)?
Best sushi?
Any great places for cocktails?
What about dessert spots?
Any threads on the wealth of regional Chinese cuisines I should peruse?
Great coffee spots?
Best Burger?

I'm sure I'm forgetting a TON of places, so feel free to chime in with any/all thoughts and suggestions.

Eating In:

Where are the great Artisanal stores from which to buy? Obviously we have the generally good Whole Foods nearby, and Granville Island is a quick walk away ... the other night I smelled some great bread coming from a bakery there.

Farmers Markets?

Cheese shops?
Charcuterie shops?
Wine Stores?

Anything else you can think of?

Thanks so much to everyone for your help. I plan on just using this thread to post updates when I can about what we've tried, as well as any other thoughts and queries.


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  1. Here are some of my favourites
    Where should we go for brunch? Medina
    What are some of the best food carts? Fresh Local Wild
    Best date night(s)? Chambar, Hawksworth (though not from first hand experience).
    Best sushi? (Tough one). These days for straight sushi: Miko. But there are a number of board faves including Kimura, Dan, Ajisai, etc. En seems to be back on the radar. Tojo's is famous and famously expensive.
    Any great places for cocktails? The Diamond
    What about dessert spots? Vancouver truly sucks at desserts, IMO.
    Any threads on the wealth of regional Chinese cuisines I should peruse? Do a search for "Crystal Mall", "Alvin Garden", "Shanghai" and "Sichuan" and you will find a number of good threads.
    Great coffee spots? Elysian Room
    Best Burger? My favourite premium burger - Refuel. My current favourite lunchtime burger - Stackhouse.

    Eating In:

    Where are the great Artisanal stores from which to buy? Trout Lake Farmers Market. For stores...I guess Whole Foods.

    Farmers Markets? Trout Lake is the grandaddy and still the biggest (but will be small compared to the ones you see in parts of California.

    Cheese shops? Les Amis du Fromage
    Charcuterie shops? Bosa Foods, Oyama
    Wine Stores? Liberty or Legacy

    Anything else you can think of? Asian: T&T for Chinese groceries, H-Mart (belongs to the same chain as what you have down in LA) Korean, Fujiya for Japanese.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fmed

      Where should we go for brunch? Aphrodites on 4th and Dunbar. Delicious, organic breakfast.

      What are some of the best food carts? I personally haven't been able to sample many food carts, but my boyfriend has. He likes the Nu food card and Les Brasserie. I think both of these only have 1 or 2 items to choose from though.

      Best date night(s)? It's expensive, and some might not agree, but I like Blue Water Cafe. The food is tasty and I like the atmosphere for my date nights.

      Best sushi? That's a good question. I would listen to the experts on here - they know their stuff.

      What about dessert spots? I enjoy the desserts at Bistro Pastis on 4th Avenue. They are not a desserts only place, but they are always doing special treats. It's one of my go-to places.

      Best Burger? I second Refuel. Also, in a totally different category of burger, I like Romers. But like I said, different types of burgers all together from Refuel.

      Farmers Markets? Yep, the Trout Lake Farmers Market is amazing. Also, if you're looking for a tasty breakfast while you're there, try La Boheme Creperie. So tasty!

      Cheese shops? Les Amis du Fromage (2nd Avenue), Benton Brothers (41st)

      Bistro Pastis
      2153 West 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N7, CA

    2. Responding to your requests only if I have something vaguely useful to say, hence the omissions :-).

      Where should we go for brunch? Vancouver is not a good place for brunch. My previous recco was Medina but I've been disappointed last two times. More limited but I do like the food at La Brasserie. Mostly we go out for breakfast instead.

      Best date night(s)? Since you're on the west side, check out La Buca and Pied A Terre. Both are cozy and reasonably priced for a bit of a splurge. Can be a bit warm at this time of year so maybe wait till later in your stay.

      Best sushi? Lots of talk about this in recent posts if you have time to read up a bit. My favourite is Kimura for omakase. I just wrote up an all sushi meal here:

      For above average but still reasonably priced sushi/sashimi, you might try Tokyo Thyme in Kerrisdale. The itamae is Mexican but trained under Tojo. Very casual and service can be a bit haphazard.

      What about dessert spots? Also weak here, though there are a few interesting Asian options in Richmond. I don't mind the offerings at Sweet Obsessions and they have one standout for me, the lemon dacquoise. Also quite close to you.

      Any threads on the wealth of regional Chinese cuisines I should peruse? There are so many places in Richmond, your best bet is to do a bit more reading and ask specific questions. One option near you that is fun to try is Peaceful but you should do some homework on what to order. We also had surprisingly good Sichuan at Szechuan House at Cambie and 18th-ish recently. And Lin's at Broadway and Granville is my favourite for XLB but the rest of the menu is wildly inconsistent.

      Great coffee spots? We've been favouring Kafka's of late, when the SO is not wielding the Baratza at home. I also like the Elysian on Broadway to hang out in (the Kits one has kinda wierd seating).

      Best Burger? Refuel is getting my vote at the moment but be warned most places here will not cook your burger to order for complicated, quasilegal reasons.

      Eating In:

      Where are the great Artisanal stores from which to buy? You have a very nice cheese shop a short walk away, Benton's, with lots of Canadian cheeses to try. Their olives are always really good to for some reason. For bread to go with it, I like the plain baguette and the walnut bread at Terra on GIsle. Avoid Stuart's.

      Farmers Markets? Not a strong point here though there are many of them. They are quite small with high prices and limited selection. The best is probably Trout Lake which is a schlep. There is a new one being trialed in Kerrisdale this weekend that is also nearish you.

      Cheese shops? See Benton's above for proximity. My go-to is Les Amis near Granville Island. Bring money but the quality, selection and expertise is worth it. I haven't had good luck with the cheese mongers on Granville Island. I don't like pre-cut cheese for entertaining and am very picky as I worked in a cheese store years ago.

      Charcuterie shops? D-Original is my favourite. He has a tiny space behind Kafka where he makes and sometimes sells his products. You can also find them in various stores around town. Not exactly charcuterie but I love the jerky at Bee Kim Heng on Fraser. It will look closed and empty when you go but just ask for pork or beef, spicy or not, and it will miraculously appear. They will also give you a taste if you ask. Also love Hong Kong BBQ Masters on Three Road in Richmond for BBQ pork/ribs. You can dine in a small area but I usually get it to go. Their roast pork is also excellent. I was not impressed with the duck.

      Wine Stores? Another slightly problematic thing here, booze is really expensive and selection can be limited. Liberty can be pretty good though. There's a very decent wine and beer store near you called Firefly. They are in the bottom of a hotel that is currently being remodeled at Cambie and Broadway so no parking lot at the moment. I like hanging out in their "cold room" on hot days and picking out different beers to try. They also carry a reasonable selection of local cider if you are interested in trying that out.

      Anything else you can think of? I like Parthenon on Broadway for a good selection of middle Eastern food and very reasonable lunch meats, basic cheeses (their fetas are excellent and cut to order) and such. They also carry a few of D-Original's sausages. Some of their prices are out of whack (I'm looking at your, sweet trahanas) but overall quite good.

      Fujiya is good for Japanese staples and their takeaway sushi is surprisingly decent for not being made to order and ubercheap. Try to park on the street if you go as the parking lot will make you crazy.

      There are a bunch of small grocery and veg stores on Main between about 10th and 16th that have good prices and a variety of "ethnic" staples. I head over here when I'm out of Filipino stuff like toyomansi and bihon noodles, and there's a decent selection of canned Mexican sauces, East Indian stuff and so on for less than you'll find them on the west side, though a bit more than if you seek the same items out at shops further east that specialize.

      Random favourite/delicious items from all over the place:

      Double baked almond croissant from Thomas Haas

      Pork heart from Alvin Garden

      Cheese pides and the best "tsatsiki" evah from Anatolia's Gate

      A freshly cooked honey doughnut from Honey Doughnuts in Deep Cove

      Biesenstich cake from Breka Bakery on Fraser

      Pepah tofu from Good Choice on Fraser

      Falafel sandwich (with avocado!) and Najib's cauliflower from the Nuba on Seymour only

      Hush puppies and brisket from Peckinpah

      Banh mi from somewhere on Kingsway -- my favourite is the number 3 from Kim Chau

      bot chien from Green Lemon Grass, also on Kingsway (I haven't tried the Richmond one


      My Chau on Kingsway for pho ga (closes early and Sundays but so worth it for this dish)

      Ningtu for the deep fried seaweed fish

      quasi gourmet lunch special from the Argo Cafe -- weekdays only

      Zakkushi for Japanese things on sticks (izakaya in general worth a look in Vancouver)

      toroniku from Sanpachi

      Bo Laksa King for one of his salads

      Finch's for one of their signature sandwiches, and because it feels like Vancouver in there for reasons I can't fully articulate

      Hope this helps, and that your visit is full of delightful tastes.

      1. Welcome, glad to have you guys in Vancouver, a123b.

        With Fmed and Grayelf's recommendations, you won't be short of choices for the entire 3 months ! They are two authorities here on the BC forum, but I'm sure you'll soon hear from Clutterer, Sam Salmon, ck1234, BetterThanBourdain, vandan and kentan just to name a few of the other usual suspects.

        All the best !

        1. Welcome to Vancouver! I'll chime in despite a bunch of my recs being repeats.

          Brunch? Medina, Two Chefs and a Table, Alibi Room
          What are some of the best food carts? Re-Up, Fresh Local Wild, TacoFino
          Best date night(s)? Cafeteria, Les Faux Bourgeois
          Best sushi? Nearby to where you're staying, Shiro up on 15th and Cambie and also Toshi on 16th and Main. Also Kimura and Ajisai.
          Any great places for cocktails? Pourhouse, Refinery, Diamond, Bao Bei
          Any threads on the wealth of regional Chinese cuisines I should peruse? Peaceful is just up the street. I love their noodle dishes and can be found dining there several times a week.
          Great coffee spots? Follow the others lead (I happen to work at a certain coffee bar just up the street from your place.)
          Best Burger? Refuel. I'm biased as I'm a bit of a fixture of their bar, but it is a burger beyond all burgers. Dry aged Pemberton beef, house cured bacon, aged cheddar and mayo. Simple and delicious. Get it cooked medium rare if you are into that.

          Where are the great Artisanal stores from which to buy? Whole Foods yes. Also, Choices on 18th and Cambie is good too, check their flyers for really terrific deals on local and organic foods. For other neat little food stores for ingredients: Marché St. George, South China Seas Trading Co, Gourmet Warehouse.

          Farmers Markets? Trout Lake on Saturdays and then the Main St/Terminal on Wednesdays for mid-week produce.
          Cheese shops? Benton Bros is my current favourite and it's just up the street from you at 18th and Cambie. Les Amis is also terrific (and does have better selection) but I prefer service at Benton.
          Charcuterie shops? Oyama on Granville Island, D-Original is great, but to get his products from him directly, you kind of have to be introduced to him, JN&Z on Commercial also produces some terrific products for less money than most places - I'm a huge fan of their smoked pork loin.
          Wine Stores? Nearest to you you have the worst BCL (well, one of many of the worst) for wine. Their selection at 8th and Cambie is despicable. So, I trek up to 12th and Cambie and shop at Firefly. Often, a certified sommelier is on hand to discuss their many wines. Great selection of VQA BC wines and old world stuff too (the manager is from Bordeaux). Unfortunately, wines are pretty pricy in BC due to draconian Prohibition-era legislation. Other options in the city for quality wine selection are Liberty, Marquis, Legacy (kind of mediocre, but close by for you) and Kitsilano Wine Cellar.

          Gourmet Warehouse
          1340 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V5L, CA

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

          South China Seas Trading
          1689 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H, CA

          Pourhouse Restaurant
          162 Water Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: peter.v

            Good thing you mentioned JN&Z! Worth the trip...and while you are on Commercial Dr, go to Mediterranean Specialties, and Donald's Market (for regular groceries and produce that are cheaper than nearly anywhere else.)

          2. Windsor Meats at 25th and Main has a selection of local and sustainably sourced meats. They are a full service butcher, and have been very willing to cut up chickens or slice meats for me when asked. There is an organic grocery store across the street, too, with a reasonable selection of dry goods and produce.
            If you are looking for off-the-wall grains and/or flour alternatives, visit Galloways in Burnaby or Richmond. (check out their on-line store for a preview).
            The farmers' market at 12th & Trutch, in Kits, is a mere 10-minute drive from you, and is managed by the same people as the larger Trout Lake market. There is a new farmers' market Wednesdays, at 49th and Oak streets, as well as a mini-market at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House on 7th near Vine, on Thursdays 3-7pm.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KarenDW

              Marulilu on Broadway for brekkie/brunch/lunch if you can get in-it's a 90 second walk away.


              No Frills on Broadway for staples/to ease the pain of 'Whole Paycheque.'

              Marulilu Cafe
              451 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC , CA