From laksa-marinated wings at an ’80s-inspired Singaporean kopitiam to sustainable fish and chips from a marine biologist, here’s where to eat in Canada’s thriving food hub
Ringed by soaring mountains, with gleaming glass skyscrapers reflected in the still waters that surround its downtown core, Vancouver is easy to love. And as the thriving urban hub of British Columbia and a proudly immigrant city, there are plenty of people around to love it. Over 40 percent of Vancouver’s residents were born outside of Canada, and the city is home to robust Chinese, Indian, and Filipino communities, to name a few.
The city’s most beloved and vital dining experiences reflect this blend. Chefs from around the world apply culinary traditions to exceptional produce from the Lower Mainland and superb seafood from the cold, clean waters around Vancouver Island, creating a unique style of West Coast cuisine. Vancouver is especially spoiled for choice when it comes to Asian dining: pan-Asian flavors pair with French techniques at Pidgin, Bread X Butter, and Patisserie Remi; Vietnamese and Cambodian culinary traditions joyfully collide at Phnom Penh; and neighboring Richmond boasts some of the very best Chinese food in the world outside of China. Meanwhile, the city’s signature plant-forward, locavore cuisine thrives at restaurants like Forage and Burdock & Co, and sustainable seafood shines at RawBar and Sashimiya. Add in mushrooming brewery and distillery scenes, globally awarded, fresh fruit-forward wines from the nearby Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, and a creative cocktail culture that’s second to none, and you’ll see why Vancouver deserves its reputation as one of the world’s best places to eat and drink.
Updated, May 2022:
Cherry blossom and patio season fully bloom in Vancouver in May, bringing long, late sunsets and a chance to enjoy the city’s dazzling mountain and ocean views (mostly) without an umbrella. With most COVID-19 restrictions now removed, bars and restaurants across the city are busy, in-person events are back, and spirits are generally high. Look out for seasonal treats on menus, such as sweet sustainable spot prawns and the first scarlet coho salmon from Haida Gwaii.
Nikki Bayley is an award-winning freelance travel, food, and wine writer whose work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, National Geographic Traveler, The Globe and Mail, and The Guardian.