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YVR recs?

rainey Jan 8, 2014 05:43 PM


Been away from Vancouver for more than a decade and heading back up soon.

What should we know about eating and shopping? I'm thinking we'll probably end up on the West End. It could be the North Shore but we'll still, no doubt, be eating and shopping where there are good opportunities.

We'll be doing some upscale dining but don't want to have to dress up for fine dining much. We'll be grabbing fast stuff -- tho not necessarily "fast food". I'll be cooking and baking regularly. And if something is a "must" we wouldn't want to miss it.

Thanks for your help. Can't wait to be back in the northwest!

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  1. waylman RE: rainey Jan 8, 2014 08:35 PM

    Don't worry about dressing up in Vancouver! You can easily slide in to the best restaurants in town with jeans.

    A few of my fav places that I hit as often as possible...

    Fine Dining:
    Blue Water Cafe (Yaletown)
    Cioppinos (Yaletown)

    Chambar (Gastown)
    L'abbatoir (Gastown)
    La Quercia (a bit of a drive from downtown but worth it!)
    La Buca (again - a drive but a great spot)

    Shiro (Cambie and 15th)
    Octopus Garden (by Kits beach)
    Kishimoto (Commercial Dr)

    Honestly, the West End does not offer much in my opinion. If you have time check out the Main St. hood which has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Scope out Main between Broadway and King Ed. Along this stretch you'll find lots of great coffee, little hole in the wall asian joints, and some cool casual spots.

    If you do end up on the North Shore go for Persian at Cazba - great casual spot for a joojeh (chicken) kebab.

    15 Replies
    1. re: waylman
      rainey RE: waylman Jan 8, 2014 09:21 PM


      Any good Mexican food? The last time we were there it was a Mexican food dessert. I ended up bringing back ingredients in my luggage and getting stopped at baggage claim to explain why I needed enchilada sauce etc. ;>


      Where's the good Italian and Indian? Is Vij's still a long wait to get into?

      1. re: rainey
        waylman RE: rainey Jan 8, 2014 09:31 PM

        Good Italian is Cioppino's, La Buca, and La Quercia.

        Yes to the long wait at Vij's.

        As for Mexican, things are somewhat improved. We have several hole in the wall Mexican joints that are worth checking out. Sal y Limon is a personal fav. La Taqueria also makes some great tacos.

        1. re: rainey
          LotusRapper RE: rainey Jan 9, 2014 07:44 AM

          Decent Mexican/Latin American options include:

          Baru (Alma @ 10th)
          Los Cuervos (Kingsway, just west of Fraser, beside tire shop)
          La Casita (Cordova)
          The Mexican (Granville, btwn Nelson & Helmcken)
          Lolita's (Davie)

          Los Cuervos is my current fave.

          1. re: LotusRapper
            grayelf RE: LotusRapper Jan 9, 2014 07:50 AM

            If the OP is coming from somewhere with zero Mexican, I might support hitting one of the places here. I still haven't found anywhere that really makes me happy, though. Adelita's on Victoria Drive comes closest for me. I used to like Dona Cata but they took a dive after the move.

            1. re: grayelf
              rainey RE: grayelf Jan 9, 2014 08:03 AM

              I'm coming from Los Angeles where Mexican is prevalent and good to excellent (my subjective tastes, of course).

              I'm willing to make my own if the ingredients are available. Back in '01, if they were, I never found them. OTOH, we'll be moving house and I'm willing to pack some of the non-perishable stuff and bring mine up from SoCal. Just don't look forward to having to explain them again. ::giggle::

              1. re: rainey
                grayelf RE: rainey Jan 9, 2014 08:26 AM

                Oh deffo make your own then! I go to Fresh Is Best on Broadway for tortillas, tomatillos, hominy and green salsa. What sort of ingredients might you be seeking?

                1. re: grayelf
                  rainey RE: grayelf Jan 9, 2014 09:03 AM

                  Wonderful to hear those things are available!

                  Other things I'd need that occur at the moment are fresh chiles, dried chiles, enchilada sauce, refried beans and herbs like Mexican oregano and episote. Think I could find cheeses like cotija, queso fresco or queso quesadilla?

                  Mexican food is such a standard thing here that we have all kinds of jump start prepared sauces. I can make them if I have to but I should be prepared with what I need to bring up with me. Consequently, your advise is really valuable and really appreciated.

                  Mostly, it's great to know there are more things available and where to look for them.

                  Gotta say, it's a curiosity to me that so many Canadians vacation in Mexico -- where they must enjoy the food -- but don't seem so interested in having or making it. Of course, I'm basing that on old info and it's not intended as criticism in any way. It's just a curiosity from a woman who grew up on the East Coast unfamiliar with Mexican but who fell in love with it at the first bite. ;>

                  1. re: rainey
                    Sam Salmon RE: rainey Jan 9, 2014 10:39 AM

                    There's a least one Canadian In Love with making Mexican food.


                    1. re: Sam Salmon
                      rainey RE: Sam Salmon Jan 9, 2014 11:23 AM

                      Sensational! Looks like he/she (I couldn't figure that out) is in Victoria. I was hoping he/she would have info about resources on the mainland. But maybe he/she will when I get into it.

                      Thanks so much for that. Bet that's gonna be a real asset!

                      I just LOVE this CH community! You can get the answer to anything food here!

                    2. re: rainey
                      grayelf RE: rainey Jan 9, 2014 01:08 PM

                      There are a couple of knockoffs of Mexican cheeses available here (try Les Amis on 2nd) but I haven't been able to source the real things.

                      I believe Fresh Is Best has epazote and Mexican oregano.

                      I was one of those Canadians who traveled extensively and repeatedly in Mexico, where I learned to love the food. I get the sense we don't have the Mexican population here to support restos that deliver the real thing but I have no data to support that, other than the lack of solid options.

                      Shelora Sheldan is the titular broad of the blog Sam linked to. She is an Island based food writer.

                      1. re: grayelf
                        rainey RE: grayelf Jan 9, 2014 01:37 PM

                        So glad to hear Les Amis is still in business! OTOH, I'm looking forward to some of the excellent cheeses I used to be able to buy in the large grocery chains.

                        Oooo! There's so much to look forward to.

                  2. re: rainey
                    LotusRapper RE: rainey Jan 9, 2014 08:58 AM

                    LAX ..... uh oh !

                    Have a great trip, Rainey

                    1. re: LotusRapper
                      rainey RE: LotusRapper Jan 9, 2014 10:34 AM

                      I am soooo looking forward to this!

              2. re: rainey
                Florentine RE: rainey Jan 9, 2014 12:57 PM

                Mexican food has improved since you've left, but coming from LA (the Mecca of Mexican), you'll probably still be disappointed..

                Saying that, I am a fan of La Mezcaleria, on Commercial Drive. The kitchen staff are all Mexican, the Mezcal flights are dangerous, and the tacos are fantastic. The atmosphere is fun - it functions as a bar rather than a restaurant, but it's worth a visit: http://www.lamezcaleria.ca/

                La Mezcaleria, by the way, are owned by La Taqueria.

                I've also enjoyed the Tacofino Commissary on E Hastings, even if it's a complete hipster hotspot: http://tacofinocommissary.com/

                In any case, these two East Van places will give you a taste of the Vancouver Mexican culinary scene circa 2014. And once you're there, you can find Mexican ingredients along Commercial Drive as well. Poke your head into Dollar Grocers, Triple A Market, and El Sureno Market - you'll no doubt find the jars, spices, and whatnot. Heck, even Urban Fare (owned by Save On Foods) sells a variety of dried chiles.

                1. re: Florentine
                  rainey RE: Florentine Jan 9, 2014 01:41 PM

                  Listen! It already sounds a world away from what it was.

                  Back then I had a 12yo boy who was *really* missing his regular Mexican fix. I found a taqueria on Lonsdale and was so excited to take him there. They tried to make an enchilada with salsa.

                  What we finally found was a Taco Bell up in Squamish. LOL

                  So this already sounds promising. Thanks so much.

            2. Sam Salmon RE: rainey Jan 10, 2014 12:01 PM

              Given OP's stated interest in all things Honey as per another thread a visit to this place on Main St might be in order.


              And just a few blocks away is the aforementioned Fish Counter


              Roman style Pizza of distinction


              And so many more places-too many to mention

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