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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.

Thanks!

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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: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7050...

      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.

              http://www.yelp.ca/biz/marulilu-cafe-...

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

              -----
              Marulilu Cafe
              451 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC , CA

            2. So here's a quick update of what we've been able to try thus far. General thoughts - prices are higher here than I expected, and thus far we've not been really impressed by anything. Please don't take that as a slam on YVR foods -- we are only just beginning to delve into what's available, and I'm hoping we've just started slowly (though I did stumble onto a thread comparing LAX/YVR that was a bit disheartening). Anyway, off we go ...

              Vij's Rangoli: Grabbed this for takeout our first full-on night here. Had the Goat with Jackfruit curry, as well as the Tamarind and Yogurt Chicken. Both were very tasty, and really hit the spot. I'm really looking forward to trying Vij's, and we will definitely be bringing in from Rangoli again.

              La Taqueria (new location on Cambie): Surprisingly good. We tried the Lengua, the Cachete, Pollo con Mole, Asada, Pescado, Al Pastor, Carnitas, and Rajas.

              Truthfully, I had super low expectations; coming from LA, I thought any sort of Mexican cuisine here would be "Tex-Mex" in nature. But we were pleasantly surprised. While certainly not the best we've ever had, they were still tasty, with the favorites being the Lengua, Cahete, Al Pastor, and Carnitas. I would prefer these not be stewed/braised as much, but nevertheless I'm sure we will stop in again.

              Afterwards I popped in to Zako's for some Poutine -- it was alright, but not something I'll stop in for again. I've enjoyed it on my trips to Montreal, and there is a place in LA called Animal that serves a nice "Americanized" upscale version of it (somewhat akin to Crave's, I'm guessing), but I will happily concede I am far from a connoisseur, so what do I know?

              Refuel: Had dinner here one night; I got the burger, she their Fried Chicken. The burger was cooked to order, and was tasty (though fairly salty). I upgraded their frites to poutine, which I enjoyed more than Zako's, though it was far from otherworldly (it's poutine for goodness sake). The plain frites I scavenged were quite tasty.

              Unfortunately the fried chicken was lackluster, as far as fried chicken goes. The flavor was solid, if unspectacular, but there was absolutely no crunch. The biscuit was a hockey puck, and the gravy the same as what came on the poutine. I feel we might have been overly critical, given we grew up in the Southern US, where Fried Chicken is considered high art.

              Drinks were good here.

              Guu with Garlic: Hit this for lunch last Saturday. I like Izakayas ... a lot. Maybe it's their lunch in general, or maybe we ordered the wrong things, but this was really disappointing given the reviews we'd read.

              We had a plate of the wings, which had a sweet coating and foul (or is that fowl?) aftertaste -- like a poor version of Korean wings gone awry. My wife had the Loco Moco, which was utterly bland, but I will say my Pork Curry Rice dish was tasty ... 'twas kind of like a curry chili.

              Fallafully Good: I know there are much better places, but a lot were closed, or farther than we wanted to travel, given how exhausted we were that night. Tried both shawarmas, as well as the falafel. The consensus was "fine" on everything. I doubt we'd return.

              Sunday breakfast was a smorgasbord from Granville Island -- a fresh out of the oven croissant from La Baguette, a fresh honey-dipped donut from the place inside the market. Fresh fruits (mangosteen!), a French triple-cream from Benton to go with a sourdough baguette from La Baguette, and some coffee we brewed at home. The only disappointment was a cinnamon roll from Terra that was absolutely inedible. I'm a bit gun-shy about going back, but will given the great reputation they have on the board.

              Verace Pizzeria: In the mood for some Napoletana style pies, we stopped here while exploring the area. Met the owner, who was quite nice, and ordered the DOP Margherita, as well as the Capri. We both preferred the margherita; the bianca style was a bit too dry (though certainly not bad).

              We both noticed their crust was thicker (at least on the day we went) as compared to a lot of the other places we've tried (my benchmarks would be Keste in NYC and Bianca in Phoenix, with the former narrowly edging out the latter). It was good, but not great. I'd certainly eat there again (though I'm sure we'll try Nicli next), but I won't be craving it, if that makes sense.

              We've been doing a lot of cooking in these first couple of weeks, but I am sure our dining out will expand. It's been a rocky start, but hopefully it will pick up.

              On a side note, the BC Liquor by us, as someone else mentioned, is criminally awful with their selection. Liberty, on the other hand, was much nicer. We've yet to try Firefly.

              Feel free to keep the suggestions coming, and every few days I'll post our most recent adventures.

              Thanks!

              -----
              Guu
              838 Thurlow St, Vancouver, BC V6E1W2, CA

              9 Replies
              1. re: a213b

                Wow you two have been BUSY ! :-) That's a lot of exploring for such as short time, and really, you've settle in a good geographic location to live, you're quite central to everything.

                Are you ready to hop onto the Canada Line and savour the plethora of Asian/Chinese offerings in Richmond ?

                You won't likely be disappointed with Firefly. DO check out their beer-chilling room ..... now is the perfect time for it :-)

                At City Square Mall (12 Ave @ Cambie & Ash) there's Lennox Liquor Store, not bad on variety given such small store and always better than BCL:

                http://www.mycitysquare.com/tenants/t...

                Don't go up to Liquor Barn on Cambie @ 18th ..... waste of time.

                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Thanks for the head's up on liquor/wine stores.

                  We've not yet made it to Richmond, though we will soon (have a sister coming to visit soon and we're waiting to go with her). Of course we will keep you updated.

                  Edit: We went by Firefly tonight. I REALLY like that place. Ended up with a couple bottles, including a nice Walnut port-style. I loved their chilled beer room, too.

                2. re: a213b

                  Thanks for the report. A couple of comments:

                  -Avoid eating lunch at any izakaya. The menus and the kitchen staff are different during lunch service (which cater to the downtown office crowd). Try them again for dinner.

                  -Refuel's chicken used to be better (when the place was called Fuel). I had a mediocre version a while back and haven't ordered it since. Agreed that their biscuits aren't very good - dense. The burger at refuel is sometimes too salty even for me (a salt fiend).

                  -Verace Pizza. We hit this place during the beginnings of a pizza crawl. I thought the service was great. The pizzas, however, were very pale on top and crust was flavourless. The toppings were decent. The (gas) oven was not set nearly hot enough (700F) to do a "proper" Neapolitan-style pizza. I doubt I will be back.

                  -La Taqueria is the only place that does tacos right in this town, IMO. I agree with your comment about the fillings being too "stewed/braised." I thought the carnitas is good though - more of a proper fried confit than stewed/braised pork. Most other taco shops' carnitas is more like a braised pulled pork. Coming from LA, this could be the closest thing you'll get to a real taco here.

                  1. re: fmed

                    Is avoiding lunch at Izakayas a sort of universal truism? I've only ever been before for dinner (LA, Tokyo, etc), so I guess it never crossed my mind.

                    The Refuel burger was certainly good, don't get me wrong -- just felt it was fairly salty (though I, too, enjoy salt).

                    1. re: a213b

                      I would say it is. Izakaya, essentially, are analogous to pubs. ("izakaya" roughly translates to "sake bar"). The atmosphere is very pub-like and alcohol-centric. Most are closed during the day. The ones that open for lunch often serve bento lunches, etc.

                  2. re: a213b

                    Great that you are posting as you go! Not to bash my own city but it is not by any means world class in most categories. We do some things very well but not many. I always cringe when I hear it being compared to more established and frankly deserving gastrotourist destinations. If you manage your expectations you can eat very well here as I hope you will discover. You can also do so within budget but food is universally 7% more than it was a couple of years ago and certain things are way more expensive here than in California.

                    To your specific points, since I amped up on tea leaf salad: I think Rangoli has dipped in the last yearish in quality so happy to hear you were happy. It was never as good as Vij, which can itself be inconsistent. Too much hype, maybe?

                    Agree completely about the "wetness" of all the meats at La Taq, drives me crazy, but I've found it's the same at all the places that do tacos this way and this is the best you'll find here.

                    I went on a poutine quest a while ago and agree that Zako's is not great. I used to like Salade de Fruits' version but it was sad the last time I went. If your cardiologist isn't paying too close attention to you, you might want to try the crazy-ass breakfast poutine available for weekend brunch at La Brasserie.

                    I do enjoy the burger at Refuel and haven't found it oversalted but then again if you put a salt lick in front of me with a spring of parsley on it I'd probably enjoy it as an appetizer :-). I've had less success with other dishes on their menu, including the chicken. I've never heard anyone who was used to proper southern fried chicken recommend anywhere for this dish in Vancouver. The fries make me happy and with the amount of cheese on the burger I've never felt moved to upgrade to poutine.

                    It's been said before though perhaps not in this thread: izakaya for lunch not so good. That's not to say you shouldn't have lunch at some of them (Kingyo perhaps) but it will be an entirely different experience. I don't think any of the items you had are on the night time menu, though I haven't been super recently.

                    Vancouver is devoid of really great falafel as far as I can tell though I do enjoy the slightly unorthodox one at Nuba on Seymour as mentioned upthread. Falafully Good is better than many because at least they fry the falafel to order. Not a destination as you found out.

                    Yay that you did well at Granville Island! Tip on Terra: stick with their baguettes and the walnut bread (if you like bread with a nut in it). I've never had anything sweet there that made a good impression. There's a grape bread thingy that people rave about and I just don't get it.

                    Your impressions of Verace dovetail almost exactly with what six of us thought eating there recently, at least one of whom is well versed in the proper ways of pies :-). Lots of rookie mistakes by the pizzaiolo it seems resulted in unremarkable though serviceable pies. Also overpriced. Would love to hear what you think of Nicli if you brave the lineups.

                    August is typically a great month to cook at home so good call. BC corn seems late this year but is starting to trickle in with the advent of good weather. We've been starting to bbq and take advantage of the short season. Also be warned that many restaurants do not have air conditioning and can be infernally hot so another good reason to cook outdoors. Santouka was airless today when I picked up my two orders of Toroniku to go ;-).

                    You're also not too far at all from Brewery Creek which has some interesting beers (not too sure about their wines though as I'm usually after brews there).

                    Keep calm and carry on! And do keep reporting back, your reports and diplomatic candour much appreciated by me FWIW.

                    1. re: grayelf

                      Thanks for the tips on Terra, Nuba, and others. If you check below, you'll see we did, in fact, brave Nicli, and what my thoughts are.

                      -----
                      Nuba Cafe
                      322 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6B1K6, CA

                    2. re: a213b

                      I've got little to add other than to agree with your comment on pricing. From my experience, a dollar goes a lot further in the States than in the GVRD, and so a $20 entree here can be a lot different than what you'd get down south. And I won't even start about wine....

                      For dessert, I'd also recommend trying Ganache or Giovane during the day. Both have very good cakes; Giovane has a great sugar bun.

                      For cocktails, I'll throw Jules in as a recommendation. The bartender is from London, wears his barkeep vest and goes the extra distance: carves his own ice, makes his own sloe gin (the guy flies in his own sloe berries), saffron honey vodka, etc etc etc.

                      1. re: clutterer

                        "I've got little to add other than to agree with your comment on pricing. From my experience, a dollar goes a lot further in the States than in the GVRD, and so a $20 entree here can be a lot different than what you'd get down south. And I won't even start about wine...."

                        IMHO that varies a lot between different states, where different % sales tax and minimum wage rates occur. I'd say in Metro Vancouver the eating dollar goes a pretty long way, even with the HST.

                        Alcohol prices ....... yeah what we pay for soft drinks you can get decent drinks south of the border :-/

                    3. a213b, I just re-read your original post. For a good local cheese store, there's Benton Brothers up in Cambie Village (the stretch between 16th and King Edward). While you're up there, stop in at Biercraft (fka Stella's) for a few cold Belgian beers and some moules to share (they have 6 varieties).

                      *Don't* try the Wang's Taiwanese Beef Noodles next to the Chevron ..... very meh in quality and service. You're better off at their main location on Granville @ 68th, better in all ways.

                      Have you guys ventured further up "South Granville" (the neighbourhood ..... from Broadway up to 16th) past Vij's/Rangoli ? There's some good eats, including Cafe Crepe, Ouisi Bistro, West Restaurant + Bar, and CRU (actually on Broadway @ Hemlock).

                      Down on W.7th btwn Granville & Fir is Les Salade de Fruits Cafe, a good-value Frenchy bistro with all the accoutrements of what one might "expect" to find in a westcoast French bistro/cafe.

                      1. Update #2

                        General thoughts - after further investigation/sampling, I'm finding more and more often that prices are more in line with what we are used to in NY and LA. Some places seem to be outliers (Rangoli, I'm looking at you -- also, food carts). Anyway, off we go ...

                        Chambar: Boom! Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Went for dinner Friday night and had a fantastic time -- caveat, I had 4 or 5 drinks, so my perception might have been a touch off-balance.

                        I really like the space. Service at all points of contact was at the minimum good. Drinks were very good (hence my continued consumption).

                        We shared the Moules/Frites Congolaise to start, and these were quite delicious. And a fairly large portion, too! Had a nice touch of heat, juicy mussels, nice broth and the frites were very good as well.

                        For mains she had the Pork Tenderloin, and I the Roasted Duck Breast. Both were VERY good, and the portions again were substantial. I would happily order either again, and certainly recommend them.

                        For dessert we had the Symphonie Tropicale, which while good was the least favorite part of the meal (though still enjoyable). I'm a sucker for passionfruit, and after eating heavier food it was nice to end on a lighter note.

                        Thomas Haas (Broadway): Swung by here for breakfast on Saturday. Tried both the Almond Croissant, and the Cheese Quark. Both were very, VERY good. The Almond Croissant was sublime, and I am wishing I had one right now. Also had a Hot Chocolate and a London Fog, the former being rich (she got the noir) and the latter being equally as enjoyable, though more frothy/milky. Counter girls were super sweet and patient with us, and we will certainly be returning.

                        Also, we picked up a selection of Macarons for the road, which we tried much later: Passionfruit, Pistachio, Raspberry, ??? (Green Citrus), Caramel, and Chocolate. The flavors on these were also quite good, though the fruit ones fared much better than the chocolate and caramel. I won't report on texture, because we'd left them out all day in our apartment.

                        Les Amis du Fromage: Awesome! I love how organized they are with their labelling, and they are very nice in letting one sample whatever one wants. We will return here, too.

                        Patisserie LeBeau: Saw the sign for Belgian Waffles as we started to ride away from Les Amis and had to stop in; picked up a small Liege to go, and very much enjoyed it -- I would love to get one of these fresh off the iron, as we make them at home and love them best that way. My only complaint is there is no Speculoos available! What is that about!?! Come on!

                        Bella Gelateria: Wow! My first bite of Vanilla here was truly outstanding. We were served by James, the owner, who was super kind and patient with us, allowing us to try many flavors. I use Vanilla to judge ice cream parlors/gelaterias, because I find it is a “simple” flavor that many, many get wretchedly wrong. Here it was spot on – I’d hazard to say one of the best Vanillas I’ve had. Texture is perfect, flavor is deep and nuanced. We discussed the various Vanilla sources and his reasoning for using Tahitian beans. While I enjoyed most all of the other flavors I tried, this was certainly my favorite. My wife had a Sea-salt/Chocolate that actually neither one of us really cared for, which was surprising given the other flavors I tried. C’est la vie … we will be back for sure.

                        JapaDog: Grabbed these before heading down to the fireworks. I was bummed to realize the only cart open late enough for dinner did not have fries. As you will find, I am a bit of a French-fry whore. I love them; even when they are bad, they are good. Cover a table in them, and you run the risk of not having a table when I’m through … but I digress.

                        We got the Beef Terimayo and the Spicy Cheese Terimayo. These were good. I mean, they’re hot dogs. Still though, nice and juicy, and I kinda dug the seaweed strips on top. I needed to add some Sriracha to mine to give it any kick (disappointing only because I got the Spicy Cheese one), but I’d swing by again when in the area.

                        Nicli Pizzeria: We’d eaten brunch at home, so we swung by mid-afternoon to split a pie. As always, I got the Margherita (like Vanilla, my barometer for pizzas). Now THIS is much more like it. The crust had some nice charred spots, was thinner than the one we had at Verace (but still with some nice “chew”), and flavors were very nicely balanced (note I’m comparing this to the “premium” version at Verace). I will for sure stop by here another time or two, whenever I am in the mood for a pie. I really liked the space – tres chic for a pizza spot – and the drinks were nice (though certainly not on par with Chambar). Yum!

                        SavOn Meats: Dinner on a very relaxed night. I really like what this place represents. I love that they do so much in house, I love that their prices are super reasonable, and I dig the interior. Service was super friendly, and gracious.

                        But the problem is despite all of this, not only did I not love the food … it simply was not good. At all. I mean, disappointingly so. I really, REALLY was rooting for them to have good food, as I liked all the other elements. But in the end it just did not happen. I hope it was an off night, but in truth I don’t know that I’ll be able to convince my better half to return for another shot. Sigh …

                        Fritz: Remember how earlier I said I am a French fry whore? Well, in hopes of ending the night on a positive, we swung by here on our ride home (oh yeah, we picked up some bikes). Ordered a small and got a side of Dutch Mayo, and … … … … I threw it away with some still left!!!! We sampled 4 or 5 different sauces, and really none of them were that good. Undaunted, because I love frites and am happy to eat them plain, these were just bland. Not seasoned (I know there’re shakers on the counter, but why do they not season at all?), cooked to order but not at all good – these were missing that nice crisp exterior with a pillowy interior. Man what a waste. It takes a lot for me to chuck fries, and maybe I wouldn’t have tossed these if we hadn’t just bombed out at SavOn. But cumulatively, I just didn’t want to waste the calories.

                        So that’s it. As always, feel free to keep the suggestions coming, and every few days/week I'll post our most recent adventures.

                        Thanks!

                        p.s. – I’ve become quite addicted to Butter’s sandwich cookies available at various locations (I get them at Whole Foods). Any other bakeries I should be aware of?

                        -----
                        Bella Gelateria
                        1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G6, CA

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: a213b

                          As a fellow fry-hound, I have to recommend the fries, cooked in duck fat, and bacon aioli from the new Edible Canada restaurant on Granville Island. I had them as take-away the other afternoon and man, delicous! The only comment I would make is they were alittle bit on the salty side (and it takes alot for me to say that as I have something of a salt-tooth) so I would ask for them next time without so much salt. But for $5 these certainly hit the spot.

                          1. re: islandgirl

                            Awesome! Thanks for the rec; Granville is right around the corner, so I'll have to get over soon to try those.

                            1. re: a213b

                              Agree re the fries at Edible Canada. They were stunning the first day (dine in) and slightly less perfect but still vv good the next time (to go). The aioli is extraneous to purposes though good.

                            2. re: islandgirl

                              Is there anywhere in Vancouver that does excellent fries?

                              Vancouver, unlike almost any city I've been to in the USA, doesn't seem to have a good greasy diner culture. And coming to Vancouver for poutine is sort of like going to LA to seek out NYC bagels & pastrami sandwiches. You may find it, but it's not a part of the city's food culture.

                              BTW - if you love Chambar, have a cocktail or two at the Diamond on Carrall & Water in Gastown. It's upstairs on the corner with a sandwich board sign outside. I'd also be inclined to recommend a cocktail at the Refinery on Granville - they make their bitters in house and always impress me on the cocktail front. If you like burgers, try the $10 lunch special between 11am and 3pm at the Shackhouse on Granville Street. I think the deal's good until the end of the month - probably only good on weekdays. I was quite impressed when I visited last week.

                              1. re: Florentine

                                have not been but Nico chef/owner of Chambar is Belgian so i imagine they would be very good (i lived in Belgium and will always miss the beer and frites)

                                1. re: vandan

                                  Yes, the frites at Chambar, as I mentioned, were quite tasty.

                                2. re: Florentine

                                  Thanks for the recs; people at work have recommended both Diamond and Refinery; we will have to try them soon. And I'll look into the Shackhouse lunch special.

                                  1. re: a213b

                                    The place is actually called "Stackhouse" in case Googke can't find it. Go during lunch for the Stackhouse special- cheese and bacon burger plus some nice crispy on the outside fries.

                                    Speaking of fries, I had some really nice fries at Pourhouse a number of months ago. They were thick cut like Pont Neuf frites. I don't know if they still serve it. The food there is nothing spectacular. The cocktails are quite good though.

                                    1. re: fmed

                                      Thick cut fries are called chips! Come on Fernando, you're better than this. Just kidding! T

                                      1. re: tdeane

                                        These are bigger than chips. These are more like small bricks. To wit: http://www.washingtonian.com/block_db...

                                  2. re: Florentine

                                    I think the fries at West are pretty excellent, though it's kind of a pricey place to go just for fries. Worth a side order if you happen to be there, though.

                                    1. re: jerkstore

                                      Your post just inspired me to go to West and order just the fries and a beer. I'll make sure to leave a substantial tip!

                                      1. re: fmed

                                        Hah, well I suppose that's another way to do it...enjoy!

                                    2. re: Florentine

                                      I have to say I love the fries at Engima on West 10th. This little neighbourhood spot does really good food for a great price.

                                  3. re: a213b

                                    "...maybe I wouldn’t have tossed these if we hadn’t just bombed out at SavOn."

                                    Great feedback, and IIRC, one of the basic rules of frying is to salt immediately out of the oil.

                                    1. re: a213b

                                      jut curious what did you eat at Save on ? as i can recommend the brekkie and the burger is also quite good as well

                                      1. re: vandan

                                        Burger and Ribs. Neither was good.

                                        However, I will say I enjoyed their biscuit. Not a classic Southern Biscuit, but it has a bit of a crunchy shell and a very soft interior, and I liked the sage & rosemary they put in.

                                        1. re: a213b

                                          thats too bad, i do quite like the burg and i'm sure the price ( $6 ) with fries makes it taste just a little bit better

                                          1. re: vandan

                                            The burger there is super basic. I really wanted to love it seeing that SaveOn is trying to be more than be a mere restaurant. It is on some sort of messianic mission or something. Anyway... nearly everything about the burger is made in house including the bun. It was OK. But seeing that it is half the usual price of a premium burger here, I'll make allowances.

                                          2. re: a213b

                                            I'm rather keen to try the breakfast "bun" they do in a biscuit for something ridiculous like $1.50 but I haven't found myself in that area early in the a.m. since it reopened.

                                            1. re: grayelf

                                              yup i've had the brekkie sandwich a few times as well , and they have improved it as at first it was on a not so great roll, last time i had it they served it on their biscuit which was much better, some ham and lots of melted shredded cheese on there as well so a real steal for $1.50 i'd say

                                      2. Hello....
                                        a213b your standards sound admirably high and your budget better than mine. But as a Vancouver girl I had to throw in a few basics:

                                        lovely Fish and Chips at Pajo's at Steveston on the Wharf in Richmond
                                        the best coffee in all Vancouver is from Cafe Artigiano. Have a latte or a cappuccino.
                                        Fratteli bakery on Commercial Dr has wonderful Italian pastries. Inexpensive to grab a box for dessert.
                                        Terra Breads: I simply adore the blueberry and white chocolate bread as well as their grape bread with pine nuts. Their Cafe on West 5th is fresh and tasty for a healthy lunch.
                                        If you like Whole Foods well enough anyhow try to find time to check out their Robson St as well as the West Van Park Royal Location. The atmosphere and selection at those two is preferable to their okay-ish space on Cambie.
                                        I have never been disappointed by a brunch from Milestones but I guess it could be considered a little ordinary. :)
                                        I love the french pastries and desserts from Cho Pain on Davie St in the West End.
                                        I think Savary Island Pie company in West Van is worth a visit or two!
                                        If you are staying in Vancouver for 3 months anyhow try to drop into Cobs breads - around 11am or so any day- and pick up a loaf or two of bread for sandwiches or toast. Their pastries are overpriced but I wouldn't buy my everyday bread anywhere else!
                                        I am very fond of Trafalgar's on West 16th at Trafalgar. Their wait staff won't steer you wrong on meal choices, and their desserts are fantastic. Note that Sweet Obsessions, previously mentioned, is their attached bakery and the source of their amazing sweets.

                                        Last one: Little Nest on Charles St in East Van has some of the tastiest, freshest, organic breakfast and lunch dishes I've ever tasted. If you're ever entertaining a child, or just feel like eating surrounded by pre-schoolers- check it out.

                                        Cheers

                                        1. Hope you are enjoying Vancouver so far. Here are my two cents:

                                          Brunch-I think you found the best already (patisserie lebeau). Get the combo which is the best deal in town. They don't usually advertise it as I suspect they must lose money, but it is a large waffle with a huge portion of both custard and whipping cream, pile high withe seasonal fruit for $8. We used to go all the time until the pants started getting tight. Unfortunately not open on Sundays. I always see the people who don't know about the combo looking over longingly at people who do! Also I like the sunshine diner for eggs benedict. You should also try dim sum in Richmond. Sorry can't get more particular on that one.

                                          Pizza-You have also found the best pizza joint in town (Nicli Antica). Go early or late as there are lineups. Nat's pizzeria used to be good too.

                                          Cocktails-Pourhouse or Diamond. Had the food at Pourhouse and wasn't super impressed but they make a mean mint julip.

                                          Date night-La Quercia or Bishops (or both)

                                          Charcuterie-an Italian deli on commercial drive. At a restaurant try Salt or Yew at the four seasons. My boyfriend and I split it at Yew and just ask for lots of extra bread.

                                          Bread-Terra breads (try in the mornings as they can get a bit hard) or Uprising breads near commercial

                                          Sushi-I don't usually spend a lot on sushi as it is a staple. I got to Hi-Nippon on 4th for the black rice sushi. Dinner is usually around $10-12 bucks. Miku also has a great little lunch deal.

                                          Best chain-If you end up at a chain go to Cactus or the Keg if you want steak

                                          Wine store-the signature liquor store on 39th and Cambie is the best BC liquor store. My fav wine store are Kits wine cellar or Marquis wine cellar. The owner at Marquis, John Clerides is great and they also do single bottle futures.

                                          Farmer's markets-Trout lake. The one at Kit's high school is closer and ok.

                                          Coffee-49th Parallel on 4th. If you go to Cafe Artigiano get the spanish latte.

                                          Other favourites:

                                          Gastown
                                          Chambar-try the coquette moules frites. Stella (or Bierbistro) on Commercial and Cambie also have great mussels.
                                          Boneta-Be sure to try this one. They are moving soon so you will need to get in soon or wait until mid-late september. Similar vibe to Chambar.
                                          L'abbatoir and Cork and Fin-I wasn't super impressed with Cork and Fin but a friend and fellow foodie swears by it.
                                          Peckinpah-Get a large beef brisket and lots of sides and share. Don't feel like it is super authentic but kind of interesting
                                          Bao Bei's-haven't been but heard lots of good things

                                          Yaletown
                                          Blue water cafe-my fav in yaletown-good seafood and sushi
                                          Rodney's oyster bar-great oyster deals on specific nights. Lots of sauces for the oysters
                                          CIOPPINO’S
                                          La Terrazza-years ago had the tasting menu and it was great. The portions were huge as it isn't that popular so they just split regular orders in two. One of the best MOZZARELLA DI BUFALÁ in Vancouver

                                          Downtown
                                          Ensemble-haven't been yet but heard good things and next on my list. Want to see what Top Chef Canada can do
                                          Market-One of my go-to's for business lunches. Good lunch prix fixe-try the shrimp salad with champagne dressing, lingcod, and chocolate mousse
                                          Hawksworth-other go-to for business lunch-very similar in style both food and room to Market

                                          4th Ave
                                          Bistro-Bistro-rustic french. Good prices and great service. Amazing sides for only $4-5 bucks. We usually order one main and lots of sides. Ratatouille, carrots, and baguette and olive tapenade are musts
                                          La Quercia-Italian neighbourhood restaurant
                                          The naam-Vancouver vegetarian 24 hour institution. People love it or hate it. Large servings with lots of alfalfa
                                          West-haven't been in a while but was great last time.

                                          Main street
                                          Cafeteria
                                          Grub
                                          Crave-All three are kind of similar to me. Decent food, good atmosphere and reasonable prices

                                          East side-can't add too many here but heard le faux borgeouis is good

                                          Others I haven't tried but heard good things are la buca and peid a terre

                                          Secret restaurant-If you can get a group of around 8-10 try 12B an "underground restaurant". It is $65 for 6 amazing courses and you can bring your own drinks. It is usually pretty booked up though.

                                          When you have had grease overload try Gorilla raw foods. Try the pizza or the main street monkey sandwich. I also recommend the smoothies.

                                          Have fun!

                                          -----
                                          la buca
                                          vancouver, Vancouver, BC , CA

                                          Miku Restaurant
                                          1055 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9, CA

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

                                          1. Where should we go for brunch? le brasserie on davie. poutine!

                                            Best date night(s)? cioppino in yaletown or le crocodile on smithe

                                            Best sushi? tsukiji japanese restaurant in richmond or tojo's on w. broadway
                                            various japanese restaurants to try:
                                            for a traditional japanese dinner not just focusing on sushi you should try either hachibei on w.16th between oak and cambie or tenhachi located inside a b&b on w.12th between oak and granville
                                            kintaro on denmen for ramen
                                            zakkushi charcoal grill denmen for izakaya

                                            Any great places for cocktails? the diamond in gastown

                                            What about dessert spots? chicco on robson or the chocolate buffet at the sutton place hotel

                                            Any threads on the wealth of regional Chinese cuisines I should peruse? imo it'll be a shame if you don't at least try the following restaurants at least once
                                            kirin is exceptional for both dim sum and dinner (there's a location right on the corner of 12th & cambie) but it's my go to place for dim sum
                                            shanghai - top shanghai cuisine or shanghai river in richmond. the dumplings (xiao long bao) are very good at both
                                            phnom penh cambodian restaurant in chinatown is a must try. try to go early for either lunch or dinner otherwise you'll be hitting crazy line ups. the fried chicken wings and butter beef are both very popular dishes
                                            lido restaurant is a hong kong style cafe in richmond that has the best pineapple buns in town. i recommend not going during the lunch hour rush otherwise you'll be caught waiting in line and if it's a busy weekend you'll have a long wait for your buns, unless you're wise and call dibs on them while waiting. considering you're right by the canada line, i recommend you take public transportation because the restaurant is located in the complex right beside aberdeen centre

                                            Great coffee spots? jj beans

                                            Best Burger? diva at the met

                                            Where are the great Artisanal stores from which to buy? granville island for one stop shopping
                                            famous foods on the corner of kingsway and ??

                                            Farmers Markets? trout lake, kitsilano, kerrisdale, main st. station are the locations in vancouver, you can easily google their exact locations

                                            Cheese shops? les amis du fromage

                                            Charcuterie shops? oyama in granville island

                                            Wine Stores? cambie signature store has the best selection for bc liquor stores otherwise liberty or firefly. everything wine in north van is where i usually shop to stock the wine rack

                                            good eats in general:
                                            nicli pizzaria in gastown
                                            campagnolo on main
                                            pied-a-terre on cambie, la buca on mcdonald , cafeteria on main are all owned by the same people

                                            -----
                                            la buca
                                            vancouver, Vancouver, BC , CA

                                            zakkushi
                                            1833 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J, CA

                                            1. A few things to add that I don't think have been mentioned yet:

                                              Dessert: Thierry, the new patisserie shop on Alberni between Burrard/Thurlow. AMAZING desserts.

                                              Brunch: I'm always a sucker for Glowbal in Yaletown, it's consistent and reasonably priced, with a great patio when the sun returns.

                                              Coffee: One of my all time favourites and I think best lattes in the city, Continental Coffee at Commercial/E 2nd.

                                              Sushi: Bluewater. Not cheap but amazing. Try some cocktails while you are there, sit at the bar, they will take care of you.

                                              Food cart: Re-Up. Excellent pulled pork sandwich. They are in front of the Art Gallery at Georgia and Hornby.

                                              Wine/booze shop: My new favourite, just checked it out yesterday, is Legacy Liquor store in the Olympic village. Amazing selection (500+ beers) and excellent customer service and rewards program. Definitely go there with some time... it's too fun wandering around.

                                              Italian: La Quercia on W 4th. Do the 7 courses for $45... great deal, great food.

                                              Sounds like you are off to a great start so far.

                                              -----
                                              La Quercia
                                              3689 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6R1P2, CA

                                              1. Update #3 (a long time coming):

                                                Sorry for the incredibly long delay -- between people visiting, a death in the family, and some travel, I've been really swamped and not had a chance to update things. Anyway, here we go ... given the volume of places, I'll probably give more broad-strokes opinions than go over specific dishes.

                                                L'Abbatoir: Really enjoyed this place. Loved their drinks, felt the food was very good and the flavors tight and on point. Nothing revelatory, but certainly a "should-hit" when in town.

                                                Diamond: we stopped in after L'Abbatoir, and while I totally like the space, of the 4 drinks we tried, none was particularly noteworthy. Of all of the "cocktail'ian" places we've tried, this has been the least enjoyable. Fun, but nothing special.

                                                Medina: Hit this for brunch, and had quite an enjoyable meal. The Fricassee, in particular, was scrumptious and much-needed after a night out of drinking. The waffles we had were a little over-done, but this is a really good brunch spot.

                                                Cioppino's: Good starters; very, very good pastas; OK mains; good desserts. I love pasta, so I'm happy about that, but for the price I'm not sure this is worth it. Guess we'll see as other places are explored.

                                                Richmond Night Market: Lots of fun; worked our way up and down the food booths trying various dishes. Fun fair food, great experience, totally worth checking out.

                                                Boneta: Ate here there last night at the old location. Good drinks, OK food. I was hoping on their last night all stops would be pulled out, but alas that was not the case (at least I hope not). Everything felt a bit flat -- no need to return.

                                                Jade Seafood: Went here for Sunday Dim Sum. Ummm ... the three of us completely failed to see why this place is so hyped. We tried a large selection of dishes and left more than a bit perplexed. I'm just left scratching my head. Hunh.

                                                Honey Donuts: Awwwwww Yeeeaahhh!!!! Not really a donut, more like a cake/fritter, but hot sauce this was great, especially fresh out of the oven. I desperately wanted a second, but was (wisely) talked out of it by my wife. I'd have been walking around with a millstone in my belly had she not. This was one of the better, singular bites I've had in YVR. Really tasty!

                                                Edible Canada: Popped in and, as per your recommendations, picked up the duck-fat fries. Hot damn! These are some of the best fries I've had in awhile. Yum!!! I don't need the ketchup (which was fine), just give me two of the aiolis please!

                                                Sha Lin Noodles: Ended up here one weekday night when our original destination, Peaceful, was closed to shoot DDD. It might have just been the night, but this really hit the spot. Makes me wonder if I even need to bother with Peaceful.

                                                Peaceful: Umm, strike that, this place is AWESOME! Sha WHO?!?! I don't mean this as a slight on Sha Lin, but Peaceful is the freaking Bees Knees! This has become a weekly stop for us, and the only thing thus far I did not LOVE was actually the thing I wanted the most -- the Dan Dan. I found these too soupy and "peanut-y", with not enough kick. But all of the other things I've tried (typical recs here on the board, plus a few others) have just been rad.

                                                La Taqueria: Just wanted to reiterate that I dig this place, despite it's price-point being a bit too high. Would I stop here if it was back in LA? No. But given that Mexican cuisine in all of its various forms (but especially tacos) is a huge favorite of mine, I had to get my fix somewhere. While we don't hit this up every week, we do come here somewhat regularly.

                                                Les Faux Bourgeois: Popped in on a Saturday night, sat at the bar, and had a really fun time. That being said, the food here was a touch underwhelming, given the level of praise and the rating on sites such as Urbanspoon. I did really enjoy the Moules Frites though. Maybe I missed something?

                                                Farina: I like the space, and the pizza was good, but not great. We both liked the sauce, with my wife saying its flavor reminds her of tomato-paste gravy. Buuuttttt, is that really what you want someone saying about your pizza sauce? I dunno. The crust was a little too crisp for my liking, and Nicli is still the pizza I like best here.

                                                Campagnolo: Stopped here after Farina, and really dug it. It's not really relevant now, but had some of the absolute best tomatoes I've had here at this spot. The two pastas we had were both really good as well. I was disappointed to hear they don't make all of them in house, but happy to find out they did make the ones we had.

                                                Araxi (Whistler): Popped up for a weekend. This was our splurge meal, and while we had a lot of fun, again I was underwhelmed. And that's a problem; I tend to have fun at most of the meals I eat, but frustration has certainly crept in with respect to expectations being met. I don't know, I try to guard against it, but I guess my hopes are still too high when I go into places.
                                                Sidecut (Whistler): in the Four Seasons hotel, we ate here the day after Araxi; It might have just been the craving, but this was really, really satisfying. Just a classic steak place, I like the variety of sauces they bring on the side (though I prefer my beef unadorned), and the sides were tasty, too. I was quite happily surprised, as I tend to find hotel restaurant food less than special.

                                                Meat & Bread: Yes!!! As my wife would tell you, I am VERY picky about sandwiches. In fact, for the longest time I felt like I didn't actually like most sandwiches, because most of them suck -- true story. But this place, man, this spot knows what they are doing. We tried the Porchetta and the special, a braised beef, and both were really, REALLY good. I'd go out on a limb and say one of the better things I've had in the city.

                                                Hawksworth: Popped in and sat at the bar, and had a really good meal. We did not have any mains; instead, we shared a bunch of apps and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Certainly didn't hurt that the bartenders are super cool.

                                                Yew: Had brunch here; good value at $27 or $28 for three courses. Solid food (see: usual expectations for hotel food), nothing to rave about, but nothing to scoff over either. I prefer Medina, but for a touch more upscale, and a really good value, I'd recommend Yew.
                                                La Quercia: Had the full on 11 course tasting menu here. Very good. VERY good. Only one course was not at all to our liking, and that was something whose flavors we don't enjoy regardless of who makes it. We had a very cool server, the space is certainly intimate (to put it nicely).

                                                Thierry Busset: Stopped in to try a few items. Thomas Haas this is not. The madeleine was far too dense/cake-y, not light and airy like all the others I've had. The macarons seemed less than fresh, and the flavors were nothing special. The few chocolates we tried, too, were disappointing. A definite skip, especially with the phenomenal Thomas Haas here.

                                                We're having a great time thus far, really enjoying your city. What I'm finding is that, for me at least, there's a ceiling to the "highs", at least at places that aspire to any sort of elevated level of refinement/plating/flavor profiles/etc. I'm not putting this well. I guess, for the most part, it's the single dish places that I find are giving me the most enjoyable food (e.g. sandwiches, noodles, etc).

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: a213b

                                                  Wanted to add a couple things.

                                                  We LOVE Elysian. Best coffee we've had in the city, and better than the three hyped places we tried this past weekend in Seattle. The people who work here are so nice, and the coffee has been consistently top notch.

                                                  Peaceful and Thomas Haas also fall into the category of places we love and frequent. Fantastic quality, great staff ... I really love these spots.

                                                  1. re: a213b

                                                    "We're having a great time thus far, really enjoying your city. What I'm finding is that, for me at least, there's a ceiling to the "highs", at least at places that aspire to any sort of elevated level of refinement/plating/flavor profiles/etc. I'm not putting this well. I guess, for the most part, it's the single dish places that I find are giving me the most enjoyable food (e.g. sandwiches, noodles, etc)."

                                                    FWIW, I think you are putting this perfectly. You've summed up my experience of food in this city. I will cross town for one dish at a particular restaurant and order nothing else A LOT.

                                                    I also concur with your writeups, though I thought my last two visits at Medina were sub par. Will have to give the tasting menu a whirl at La Quercia, hearing too many good things about it to put it off any longer.

                                                    Thanks for your continued input, however, delayed, and hope you continue to enjoy your time here and post on it.

                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                      Thanks Grayelf. I think you and I share similar outlooks, or so it seems.

                                                      I also forgot to mention I stopped in at Lins just for some XLB, and Jeebers were they good!

                                                      And I tried to hit Santouka one afternoon, but the wait was almost an hour (granted, it was on the weekend), and I don't know if god herself were making the noodles that I would wait that long for ramen.

                                                      Taking my MIL to Chambar tonight, so I'm hoping she enjoys it.

                                                      1. re: a213b

                                                        I like Chambar but find it a bit loud and sceney. If you are able, request a table in the "belly" of the resto to mitigate.

                                                  2. When it's time for a splurge, head for Hawksworth

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                      As I mentioned in my post on October 12th, we did make it to Hawksworth and quite enjoyed it!

                                                    2. Sorry for the delay; I'm just now getting 'round to wrapping this up. We left your beautiful city right before Halloween, and pretty much immediately headed down to Australia and have been quite busy down here.

                                                      That being said, I wanted to chuck in the final few places we managed to visit while there.

                                                      We took a small trip to Victoria and managed to hit 3 places there ...

                                                      1) Pizzeria Primastrada (I believe the one on Cook). We stopped here for lunch and I really couldn't be bothered ever to return, much less recommend it.

                                                      Service was ... strange. Just a really weird vibe, compounded by an employee violently re-stocking the wood bin up by the front door, which was just gratingly loud. This went on for 10 minutes with none of the servers/hosts seeming to notice that it was nigh unto impossible to hear one's thoughts, much less have an actual conversation with one's dining companions. Thankfully a complaint put an end to it, but I could see the utter lack of comprehension on their parts as to WHY that would be an annoyance.

                                                      That being said, great food (for me) can make up for a host of service missteps ... except, this is not great food. Granted, it's pizza -- but this place bills itself as having fantastic, artisanal pizza. Umm, no. Crust? To crisp, exterior and WAY too chewy. Sauce? Yawn. Toppings? Meh.

                                                      I had the Margherita, which is as I said is my benchmark, and it paled in comparison to a place like Nicli. In fact, on this day, it paled in comparison to the one from Whole Foods. Ugh.

                                                      2) Brasserie L'ecole: Holy crap! This place in every way, shape, manner, form, and fashion absolutely made up for the debacle that was Primastrada. PHENOMENAL meal here, with unbelievably nice service.

                                                      We stopped in and put our names in for a table, a bit hesitantly as we really just wanted something like Fish & Chips from Red Fish/Blue Fish, but when we stopped by we realized A) it's just a stand, and B) they were closing anyway.

                                                      It's been over a month, but I loved, LOVED this place. Great beer, amazing food, truly a gem. It blows Le Faux Bourgeois out of the water, and was actually one of the better meals we had during the entirety of our stay in the YVR area. Just really, REALLY satisfying -- we all loved it.

                                                      3) Fairmont High Tea: Exactly what you'd expect. There's no reason to say more

                                                      4) Red Fish/Blue Fish: Holy smokes! This MIGHT be the best F&C I've ever had ... we got both the Ling Cod and the Halibut, and good grief was this fantastic. I'm craving some as I type this!

                                                      Another weekend we went to Tofino, stayed at the Wick and ate all of our meals there. I was actually VERY impressed. I had halibut the first night, and it was so damn good I got it the next night, too. My wife had the steak one night, and the Rabbit Pappardelle the other, and both were outstanding. We also had the Coronation Grapes for dessert, which were truly impressive (beaten in the past few months only by my love affair with Corn & Blueberry dessert at Spur in Seattle). This was, too me, a creative take on the life cycle of champagne, from the earthy, peppery "birth" represented by the Arugla, all the way through one's first sip with the "pop rocks". Very inventive, and truly outstanding.
                                                      Other than these, we hit up La Taqueria a few more times (LOVE the new Tinga de Pollo), and my absolute favorite YVR spot, Peaceful -- god how I crave Peaceful! I really, REALLY miss that place. I mean, I would KILL for it right now. God how I miss it.

                                                      So that's it ... thanks for sharing your wonderful city with us. While we never had anything transcendent, there were several "wow" moments, and a few places with whom we fell deeply in love (Elysian, Peaceful, and Thomas Haas ... I'm looking at you in particular!)

                                                      Thanks so much!

                                                      1 Reply