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30th Birthday in Vancouver

I'm heading to Vancouver for my 30th. A few notes that might help illustrate where I'm coming from:

- Coming from LA, I love great artisanal cocktails. I've been to most of the good cocktail bars in LA, and love most of them. I'm looking for well-balanced, well-made cocktails, typically (though not exclusively) with dark spirits, like bourbon or whiskey.
- I'm a chef for a profession, so I tend to enjoy interesting food. That's not necessarily only the fancy food, but just really well made, delicious food. Obviously a couple "nice" meals would be great for my birthday, but that's far from all I'm looking for.
- I've heard about Vij's in Vancouver, but I'm not typically big into Indian food. Is it still worth it if the Indian I've had has not spoken to me? It's not necessarily that I hate it, but the flavors aren't typically in my wheelhouse, and I don't usually enjoy them.
- I'll be staying at the Fairmont Hotel downtown, and won't have a car. I'm not sure what the cab situation is, but certainly being close to that location is preferable, but nowhere near mandatory.

So you all don't feel like I'm asking you to do everything, I've done extensive research, including on Chowhound, and many other places. I've heard about and am considering C Restaurant, Hawksworth, West Restaurant, and quite a few others.

I'd love places that speak to Vancouver's specific culinary perspective, but in general I'd love just great food. To put it in perspective, I really have only limited interest in truly "sight-seeing," since my favorite things are enjoying food and good cocktails (and wine). If there are must-see locations, I'm completely game for them as well.

My vacation is going to be the 2nd week of November (from the 3rd to the 8th), and I can't wait to experience everything you guys have to offer. Any help making sure it's as special as possible would be helpful.

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  1. Vij's is great - but if you're not big on Indian I'd say skip it.

    My choice for a 30th bday would be Chambar, L'abbatoir, or Blue Water Cafe.
    C, Hawksworth and West are all very nice but a little too refined for a good party to be had.

    Must see: Stanley Park, Granville Island

    1. I think L'Abbatoir is a must given your criteria. Cocktails are quite good and food is simple and very well executed. (http://www.labattoir.ca/index.html

      )

      Wildebeest is quite new so the verdict is not complete yet, some great some not so great reviews so far, but the menu and drink list is VERY intriguing to me personally. (http://wildebeest.ca/

      )

      Hawkesworth is worthy, but I wouldn't go with C or West, that's just me personally though as some quite like them.

      As for must see, Id recommend Grouse mountain for the view if the weather is good and clear. You can get there by transit, I just dont know how off the top of my head. Something like seabus, regular bus then the tram up the mountain.

      Hope you have a great time and happy 30!!

      I would definitely recommend Vij├Ęs but maybe not for your birthday, save it for next trip maybe. It is not your typical pakoras, curries, butter chicken etc., just really well balanced flavors and well executed food.

      1. L'Abbatoir would be my pick too. I really enjoy the ambiance. Lovely food and interesting wines on their list. On a recent visit, I really enjoyed their 'Meat Hook' cocktail - Bourbon and 10 y Ardbeg if I recall.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kinnickinnik

          +1 on L'Abattoir, and on the Meat Hook, quite the concoction.

          1. re: jerkstore

            I'll weigh in for L'abbatoir also. Since you're turning 30 you may prefer the "scenier" (for me too loud) upstairs -- I prefer the glassed in area at the back. I've found their apps to be more intereresting/successful than mains, and the cocktails worthy if not as stellar as you might be used to. L'abb also benefits from being located in an area that has a number of bars with good cocktail programs and that is just generally a bit more happening than other downtown 'hoods.

            Bring or buy an umbrella, and at least one fully waterproof jacket.

        2. I would add a vote for Abattoir. The bartender there also should enliven your evening. Otherwise, consider consider grabbing a seat at the kitchen bar at La Brasserie on Davis. Very social and watching the kitchen staff do their wonders in the restaurant's tiny kitchen is a treat.

          1. I responded to somebody's request for craft cocktail recommendations earlier this year. Hope this helps!

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838900