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Downtown Lunch Spots

I'm working out of Vancouver for a few weeks and was hoping for some help finding places to try for lunch. I'm working at Burrard and Pender and am willing to walk 5-10 minutes. I'm looking for places that are more take-out/quick lunch spot than fine dining (i.e. $8-10, in and out in 20 mins). So far I've tried Meat and Bread, which is awesome, and Fujiya for sushi (not the best, but very respectable for the convenience and cost). Considering that sushi and sandwiches are two of my favourite foods, I’d likely be ok just alternating between the two for weeks but I figure I should probably make more of an effort than that.

The next one on my list to try is Mogu, but after that I’m running out of suggestions that aren’t the typical food court type chains. Does anyone have any other favourites? Perhaps some nearby ramen, Thai curry, banh mi, or Mexican? I don’t really have any preferences in terms of cuisine, just looking for whatever is tasty.


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  1. La Taqueria: 322 W Hastings

    Joyeux Cafe & Restaurant: 551 Howe St

    Nuba: 207 W Hastings

    Finch's Tea & Coffee House: 353 W Pender

    Vancouver Community College cafeteria: 250 W Pender
    (don't take my word that you could be in/out in 20 mins, their lunch lineup can be long but self-service is pretty fast & efficient)

    Zero One Sushi: 559 W Pender St
    (a friend who works at St. Paul's hospital really likes that place, says sushi is v. decent)

    Urban Sushi: 562 Granville

    1 Reply
    1. re: LotusRapper

      I tried La Taqueria over the weekend. Great recommendation. The creamed corn and fish tacos were fantastic. The beef cheek and pork/pineapple tacos were likely good on their own, but seemed bland being on the same plate as the other two.

      Tried Joyeaux for lunch today and had the lemongrass fish on rice. Wow. The food was amazing and after looking at other people's dishes, I'm convinced that there are way better choices on the menu. I'll definitely be back to try a few more.

    2. Pita Wrap Cafe
      Cheap and delicious Mediterranean
      565 Dunsmuir St

      If you head over the the art gallery, there is usually a cluster of food carts as well, most are very tasty!

      1. Anatolia Express at the north side of Convention Centre west.

        1. I also think there is a Mexican food cart that parks near the conventon center called Arturo's -- never tried it though.

          3 Replies
          1. re: kati3

            It's usually at the NE corner of Cordova and Howe. I haven't tried it either.

            1. re: Anne M

              I have, last summer. Sadly, binned the item after one bite. YMMV.

              1. re: grayelf

                Wow, what a shame given the scarcity of food cart licenses.

          2. Miyako sushi (829 W. Pender) is somewhat decent. Definitely better than Fujiya. It's more of a sit down but if you go before 11:30 you can be in and out in 20 mins.

            I second Joyeux for Vietnamese - again go early.

            Arturo's sucks and is closed anyway. If you don't mind the walk definitely hit up La Taqueria as previously mentioned.

            2 Replies
            1. re: waylman

              @OP: I should note I've only been to Joyeaux Cafe once and I was not on a work schedule per se that day. So for you it may be a bit of time squeeze in a 20-min window. They're popular and the space is small and the ambiance is chaotic. You could call ahead to order for pick-up.

              1. re: waylman

                [smacks forehead] .... I almost pho-gotten about Ha Long Bay, on Pender just west of Homer. Hole-in-wall place, solid pho IMO. Pretty good banh mi too but I find the bun heavier than other places.

                And The Sunshine Cafe is next door if you ever feel like a greasy-spoon lunch.

              2. Oh yeah, cant forget about this little gem:

                International food fair

                2 Replies
                1. re: kati3

                  This place for a fabulous lunch-run by the Dearest people.


                  1. re: Sam Salmon

                    Don't how long the OP will be working downtown, but I just read that the Harbour Centre food court is slated for renovation starting April-ish. All the food court vendors have been asked to leave by the end of March, so hopefully Bali Thai will have found a different spot by then.

                2. Wow, great suggestions....thanks, everyone. I'll start working my way through these and report back.

                  1. Wow, no recs for Japadog (cart on Burrard...maybe at Robson?)? Too passe now? On a day nice enough to be outside, I enjoy it, but I'm new here.

                    Lots of good Ramen on the west end of Robson, but might be a hike from you...I really like Ramen Jinja (or is it Jinya?) east on Robson by the library.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: LotusRapper

                        I like Guanaco a lot but if there is a line at all, the 20-min window is going to be shot. They do everything a la minute. Same issue for Mogu which is the third of my favourite food carts so far, the other being Le Tigre which is at Alberni and Bute Thursdays only -- not sure if that is too far for the OP.

                        I loves me a Japadog (hello Kurobota pork okonomi-dog) so agree with pusherman, though I've gotten a bit spoiled by going to their bricks and mortar on Robson...

                    1. Oooo thought of a couple more -

                      Super cheap and tasty korean fast food curry. Nothing fancy here.
                      (always thought it was funny, i say "dodgy" in my head everytime


                      My Monday blues cure is cheap lunch at the Pourhouse. Might be at the long end of you walk (takes me 10 from howe/dunsmuir) but worth it. It is sit down and you can get a sandwich, side (salad, soup, fries) and beer for $14. I think if you go sans beer it is $10. You can get in and out in half an hour, especially if you avoid noon exactly.
                      32 water st

                      1. I'm blown away by the number of replies and options. Thanks, everyone.

                        The 20 minutes wasn't a hard and fast rule, just my way of saying that I wasn't looking for a sit-down restaurant, more of a take-out, quick eatery.

                        Now to decide if I want Mogu, Joyeaux Cafe, or Guanaco today. Hmmm.........

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: RobS174

                          Okay, which pick won out and what did you have? Enquiring minds and all that.

                          If you didn't choose Joyeaux but do go another day, they do a decent bot chien there.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            I ended up at Mogu yesterday and tried the pork miso katsu sandwich. Highly recommended, I'll definitely be back there to try the rest of the menu.

                            I'll give Joyeaux a try next week and report back. Looking forward to it.

                        2. Giovane Cafe + Bakery + Deli + Winebar
                          Inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim

                          Aki Japanese Restaurant
                          Pender at Broughton

                          Urban Sushi
                          Granville at Dunsmuir

                          1. does anyone here go to this small chain downtown http://www.sciue.ca/locations/

                            the decor is nice
                            i don't know about the food / service / etc.

                            appears the housewivfes (sic) go there ;

                            in similar vein - does anyone go to (like) Artigiano (several locations incl downtown) --- i have been in there only once or twice, Hornby St.

                            it might fit the requirements - not particularly special but ....

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Georgia Strait

                              I work a block away.... the savory food looks good. Had a pastry there once and it was unremarkable tho.

                              1. re: Georgia Strait

                                I don't mind Scuie but the pizza can be expensive. I gave up on Artigiano a while back as their coffee became undrinkable -- too much expansion?

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  I think the chain was sold to the Earl's conglomerate and proprietor went on to open 49th parallel....

                                  1. re: kati3

                                    The Piccolo's sold Artigiano to an former Earl's exec (Willie Mounzer). And yes, the coffee there is not great. While working in Yaletown, I would walk an extra block to go to JJBean instead.

                              2. Today is my last day in Vancouver so I thought I'd come back to this thread with an update. I've managed to try the following in the past few weeks:

                                -Street Meet - tried it a couple of times, their veggie burger is likely the best I've had. The pulled pork was good quality, but the apple overpowered everything and it just ended up too sweet. I liked the place overall though

                                -Guanaco – had the pork pupusas. It was delicious, but a bit small and not very filling. The yuca frita and slaw were forgettable.

                                -Japadog – delicious, but no surprises there since I’ve had it on a few previous trips to Vancouver

                                -Meat and Bread – ended up here three times. The first two, I thought it was a bit overrated considering all the hype is gets. Then I tried the porchetta. Wow. That one sandwich makes this place worth it

                                -Fujiya – this ended up my go-to when I had only had 5 minutes to grab something to eat at my desk. Solid, but not really spectacular

                                -Joyeaux – delicious, but only works if you get there by 11:45 because it gets way too packed. A little annoying that you spend all this time standing in line, but by the time you get close enough to see the menu, you’re at the front of the line and end up panicking and ordering the first thing you see. Or maybe that’s just me.

                                -Urban Sushi – ended up here twice. All in all it was good, but the service was really mediocre. There’s enough good sushi places around that there isn’t really a reason to go back.

                                -Giovane Café – had a delicious sandwich and soup. It was pricey though, especially for the tiny portion. I was still hungry enough afterwards to get a Japadog.

                                -Mogu – the pork miso katsu sandwich was delicious. A bit odd that the only side dish you can get is chicken karaage though. The sandwich itself wasn’t quite filling enough and it would’ve been nice to have a salad, some veggies, or even fries on the side. Having extra fried chicken next to your fried sandwich is a bit much.

                                -Dae-ji – it was a tasty, quick, filling meal. Did the job but overall it was forgettable.

                                -Ramen Jinya – perfectly respectable ramen, but again, overall it was forgettable.

                                -Bali Thai – great quality and delicious food for what looks like a generic food court dive.

                                -La Taqueria – went a couple of times but never for lunch. Really tasty and the Wednesday special makes it good value as well. I found the vegetarian and fish tacos were way better than the meat ones.

                                -Anatolia Express – really good quality durum wrap; they put some love and pride into their food and it shows.

                                -Kaboom Box – the hot smoked salmon sandwich was fantastic. Had the veggie burger another day as well; it was great, but not as good as Street Meet.

                                -Fresh Local Wild – I was craving fish and chips so ended up here to spend a fortune on their 2-piece cod and chips. It was definitely a great dish, but nearly $20 and having that greasy a lunch is never a good idea in the middle of a work day.

                                Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions. I appreciated them all and tried out as many as I could. Now to decide what to have for my last lunch here…..