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South Granville Shopping
South Granville, which runs from Granville Bridge toward 16th Avenue, bordering the prestigious Shaughnessy neighborhood, is also known as Gallery Row. Internationally known painters are on display in the galleries here. Also impressive are the 18 Karat, an Asian design emporium for those who want modern, organic furniture and housewares, and the avant-garde designer clothing and gifts at Bacci's and Misch. South Main Street from Eighth Avenue to 24th Avenue is known as SoMa and houses the best selection of local designers in the city.—Kasey Wilson
West Restaurant & Bar, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3J4, Canada
Tel: 604 738 8938
West's menu changes with the seasons to highlight the finest sustainable ingredients the West Coast has to offer. Chef Quang Dang's contemporary interpretation of classic dishes is characterized by fresh, herbaceous notes with Asian influences from his Scottish–Vietnamese heritage. Order à la carte or indulge in one of three six-course tasting menus. Winter selections may include thyme-marinated grilled Thiessen Farm quail with chanterelle tortellini, Brussels sprouts, and sherry vinaigrette. Dang's single-ingredient Elements menu is ideal for a casual shared-plates nosh; Asian-style beef tartare with a hint of cilantro is a standout. Save room for dessert—celebrated pastry chef Rhonda Viani's sweet creations are not to be missed. The artfully elegant room features a Werner Forster mirrored sculpture winding across the ceiling and an impressive temperature-controlled wine wall housing 5,000 bottles. The two intimate chef's table banquettes offer prime seating for watching Dang and his brigade in action.—Kasey Wilson
Open daily 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Sunday brunch 11 am to 2:30 pm.
Rangoli Grill, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 1L1, Canada
Tel: 604 736 6664
Gregarious owner Vikram Vij and wife Meeru are best known for their fabulous, dinner-only, reservations-not-accepted Vij's restaurant. By all means try to squeeze in there; the lamb popsicles are by themselves worth the wait (you can usually be seated pretty quickly if you arrive around 9 or 9:30 pm). But the Rangoli Grill, their more casual annex next door, is a much easier way to try some of Vij's scrumptious subcontinental food. Grab a table in the unassuming, diner-style room and order such seasonal dishes as Bengali tilapia curry or jackfruit paratha with lentil dumplings and spiced yogurt. If you're worried about late-night cravings for more or plan to spend an evening in your hotel room, Rangoli has a counter selling upscale takeout, including curries, chutneys, cumin rice, chapati, and naan. There's even a special dessert to go: Chocolate Sparkle cookies developed by Vancouver's leading chocolatier Thomas Haas and flavored with Vikram's own garam masala spice blend.—Kasey Wilson
Vij's opens for dinner daily at 5:30 pm. Rangoli opens daily 11 am to 10 pm.
Tojo's, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 1G1, Canada
Tel: 604 872 8050
Hands-down the best sushi restaurant in Vancouver, Tojo's (named for owner/chef Hidekazu Tojo, known here as "Tojo-san") occupies a misleadingly industrial-looking space. The stark blue walls, warehouse-high ceilings, and enormous open kitchen are almost antithetical to the delicate, meltingly subtle dishes served here. The menu of sushi rolls includes some deliciously local variations: The Great B.C. roll pairs barbecued salmon skin with cucumber slices, while the Pacific Northwest roll incorporates real crabmeat, scallops, avocado, and herring roe. Of the sashimi choices, the Tai Usuzukuri (thin slices of red snapper served with spicy daikon radish and ponzu sauce) is top-notch. To truly taste Tojo-san's culinary genius, though, reserve a seat at the omakase bar, where menus are banned. You'll discuss your likes and dislikes, any allergies, and budget ($80 and up) with the chef, who will then surprise you with an array of sashimi, sushi, and cooked dishes. The wine list needs some work, which may be why cold Masukagami sake is the best bottle to order.—Kasey Wilson
Opens Mondays through Saturdays 5 pm till close.
The Sandbar, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3R9, Canada
Tel: 604 669 9030
The place to be at the Sandbar, a boisterous 300-seat Granville Island seafood spot, is the rooftop patio. Literally tucked beneath the Granville Bridge, it has gorgeous views of the city, plus heat lamps, a roaring fireplace, and blankets to wrap up in during the winter. No reservations are accepted on the roof, so if you can't come early to get a spot, grab a table in the beamed, lodgelike indoor dining room. Here, a crowd of tourists and locals tucks into small plates like crispy wok-fried squid and grilled scallop kebabs, which are admittedly average at best. Better bets include lobster pulled live from the tank, fresh-harvested mussels, and the house specialty: salmon fillet baked on a cedar plank and glazed with brown sugar, soy, and lemon. But the best-kept secret is the made-to-order sushi by Chef Hoshi, a contemporary of Tojo's, where the prices start at $2.50.—Kasey Wilson
Open Sundays through Thursdays 11:30 am to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 1 am.
Lift Bar & Grill, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 3H5, Canada
Tel: 604 689 5438
Set right on the downtown seawall, super-modern Lift has the best views in the city through its enormous walls of glass (which prop open like French doors in the summer to let in the breeze). Diners near the windows get to look out over Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, and the North Shore mountains; so do those sitting on the fireplace-warmed roof terrace. Once the sun goes down, the backlit bar, softly glowing aquarium, and two flat-screen TVs create a lounge-y backdrop for enjoying the menu of eclectic small plates—they call them "whet plates" here. Options include classic moules frites, panko-crusted calamari, and a trio of wild salmon—gravlax, smoked with blini, and sockeye tartare.
Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to midnight, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to midnight.
Japa Dog, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2K6, Canada
Forget the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. If any place deserves to toot its hot-dog horn, it's this one-of-a-kind Japanese hot dog stand perched at the corner of Burrard and Smithe in front of the tony Sutton Place Hotel. The dogs here are topped with Japanese condiments, so you're likely to hear "Hold the nori!" or "Extra wasabi!" from the hungry hordes ordering lunch. Try the Terimayo—an all-beef wiener with julienned nori (seaweed) shavings, teriyaki sauce, fried onions, and a garnish of thick Japanese mayo—or the tasty Oroshi, a bratwurst decked out with finely shaved daikon radish and green onions, and topped with wasabi and soy sauce. Go a little lighter with the Misomayo, a turkey dog layered with miso mayonnaise, sesame sauce, and kaiware (daikon radish sprouts).—Kasey Wilson
Open, weather permitting, Mondays through Thursdays noon to 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 9 pm, Sundays 12:30 to 7 pm.
Imperial Chinese Seafood Restaurant, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2G8, Canada
Tel: 604 688 8191
Despite a mostly non-Chinese clientele, the Imperial serves the most authentic Cantonese in the city with flawless execution. A regiment of full-time dim sum chefs trained in Hong Kong produce everything from scratch to ensure optimal freshness. Deep-fried crab claws, usually banquet fare, make a welcome dim sum appearance, along with an addictive banana shrimp roll. Other signature dishes on the à la carte menu include pan-fried scallops garnished with fried garlic milk, and sautéed spinach with minced pork and Chinese anchovies. A soaring Art Deco room with a central staircase leading to a balustrade-lined mezzanine, the Imperial is also the city's most opulent Chinese restaurant, although the dining room could use a 21st-century update. During the day, several tables for two (unusual for a Chinese restaurant) buzz with power-lunchers. Service is friendly and informative, with well-chosen wines to complement the dishes.—Kasey Wilson
Open Mondays through Fridays 11 am to 11:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10:30 am to 11:30 pm.
Hapa Izakaya, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 1C1, Canada
Tel: 604 689 4272
The first thing you hear on entering Hapa is a boisterous welcome cry from the staff at this contemporary izakaya (a traditional Japanese pub serving delicious and eclectic small plates). Unlike the modest, down-and-dirty affairs that were Vancouver's first izakayas, Hapa is an upscale place, where Japanese-Canadian chef Justin Ault serves what he calls "tapanese" dishes in a high-tech room with exposed ductwork and low-slung tables. The ebi mayo may be the city's best shrimp dish, with prawns tempura-battered and drizzled with chile mayonnaise. The mackerel is seared tableside with a blowtorch, and the kakuni pork belly is simmered slowly and served on steamed buns. Hapa's reasonable prices attract a young, energetic clientele willing to wait for a table if they haven't made a reservation.—Kasey Wilson
Open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 pm to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 pm to 1 am.
Go Fish!, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 1E8, Canada
Tel: 604 730 5040
Come early to score a table for lunch on the deck at Go Fish!, a humble seafood hut tucked into False Creek Fisherman's Wharf, where you can watch the daily catch being hauled in from fishing boats. Cod, halibut, and salmon are beer-battered in Granville Island lager then snatched from the deep-fryer at the instant of just-cooked perfection and served in bamboo steamers with fries and Asian slaw. The oyster po'boy—stuffed with three grilled Cortes Island beauties—and the cone-shaped fish tacones are irresistible. If you're planning to go after 5 pm, call ahead: Once the supplies are gone, so is the kitchen crew.—Kasey Wilson
Open Tuesdays through Fridays 11 am to 6:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays noon to 6:30 pm.
Chambar Belgian Restaurant, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 2L3, Canada
Tel: 604 879 7119
Belgian-inspired and perpetually packed with hip, youngish locals, Chambar has the feel of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. The dimly lit lounge area, with its exposed-brick walls and dark leather sofas, is a scene unto itself; the bar serves 18 Belgian beers, including the custom-made Chambar Ale, as well as some very creative cocktails (try the Blue Fig—vodka infused with oven-roasted figs and served martini-style with a side of Danish blue cheese). In the dining room, where the walls function as a gallery space for local artists, the menu includes starters such as the deservedly popular moules frites Congolaise, roasted duck breast, goat cheese and tarragon gnocchi, and an elegant coquille St. Jacques with smoked Kurobuta pork cheek. If you order the braised lamb shank tagine entrée, which comes in a spicy sauce made with honey, figs, cinnamon, and cilantro, make sure you get some extra bread—you'll want it to mop up your plate. For Vancouver's best breakfast, period, visit their Café Medina next door (556 Beatty St., 604-879-3114).—Kasey Wilson
Open daily 5:30 pm to midnight.
Cactus Club Café, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C O18, Canada
Tel: 604 682 0933
Vancouver's superstar Iron Chef Rob Feenie had a dustup with his business partner and was locked out of his West Side restaurants, Lumière and Feenie's, in 2007. Now, as "culinary architect" for this upscale casual regional chain, Feenie is serving the dishes he cooked for those well-heeled diners—at greatly reduced prices. All his signatures dishes are here: albacore tuna tataki, braised short ribs, a barbecued duck club sandwich, ravioli in a truffle beurre blanc. Otherwise, expect the usual gamut of burgers, steaks, pastas, and seafood. The two-story Bentall 5 location is a stylish contemporary space with original art, including a Warhol and a trio of Basquiat paintings. The mostly business crowd flocks here for the hand-squeezed lime margaritas, locally brewed beers, and an always-improving wine list. Service, by a bevy of beauties, is informed and enthusiastic.—Kasey Wilson
Open daily 11 am to midnight.
C, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2L9, Canada
Tel: 604 681 1164
Super-slick C (a play on "sea") is dramatically designed, with a mezzanine level overlooking a white-on-white main dining room, theater-style spotlights, and enormous two-story windows with views over False Creek and the outdoor terrace. Executive chef Robert Clark and chef de cuisine Lee Humphries create sustainable seafood dishes that measure up to the cool and modern setting. Unexpected ingredients like lees from the Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island make regular appearances, as does the restaurant's signature octopus bacon. A six-course iteration of signature dishes (spot prawns, foie gras, lobster) prepared in astonishing ways with wine pairings is worth the whopping $275 price tag (there's also a less elaborate tasting menu with wines at $170). If you don't want to splurge, order the special, whatever it is. The seafood-friendly wine list focuses on sparkling wines and whites with crisp acidity, mostly from France, Germany, and North America.—Kasey Wilson
Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 5 to 11 pm.
Bishop's, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6K 1N7, Canada
Tel: 604 738 2025
A longtime proponent of seasonal, local cuisine, chef John Bishop opened his namesake restaurant in 1985, and it's been a Vancouver institution ever since. The walls of this bright 40-seat restaurant are adorned with contemporary and First Nations artwork; the tables are draped with crisp white linens. Executive chef Ron Shaw's haute-barnyard menu is almost 100 percent organic; the kitchen even butchers whole animals to make its own charcuterie. Petite Kumamotos and a sake–pear granita transport the typical plate of oysters to a whole new level. Other seasonal standouts include seafood risotto with spotted shrimp (a local prawn with a delicate flavor and firm texture), roasted free-range chicken with cured pork and root vegetable mash, and spring salmon paired with herbed parsnip latkes. All the desserts are impeccable, but don't miss the pure comfort apple bread pudding with apple-cider ice cream. There's also an eclectic list of local and imported wines, with an emphasis on half bottles. On the way out, pick up a copy of one of Bishop's user-friendly cookbooks.—Kasey Wilson
Open daily 5:30 to 11 pm.
See + Do
Stanley Park, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Tel: 604 257 8400
Described as a "1,000-acre therapeutic couch" of majestic evergreens, formal gardens, hiking trails, and kids' activities, Stanley Park is the third largest public park in North America. Set at the northwest corner of Downtown, it occupies a bulb-shaped peninsula that juts out into English Bay and Burrard Inlet. The park's summit, Prospect Point, is at its northern edge and has sweeping views of the inlet, North Vancouver, and the Lions Gate Bridge. Looking straight down from the point, you'll see the parade of walkers, bikers, and in-line skaters plying the park's prize attraction, the 5.5-mile seawall path that runs along the perimeter.
The entire park can be walked in two and a half hours at a brisk pace, but if you're pressed for time or have little ones in tow, you can also drive through the park and hit some of its high points—like the eight soaring totem poles carved by the Squamish people near Brockton Point. Bring your camera and in the evenings, maybe your earplugs: Nearby is the Nine O' Clock gun, an old English sea cannon placed in the park more than 100 years ago and fired nightly. The most developed area of the park includes the Vancouver Aquarium; the nearby Miniature Train, a delight for kids of all ages; and the Children's Farmyard, a petting zoo with barns full of sheep, goats, and pot-bellied pigs (and one grouchy llama).
In December 2006, hurricane-force storms uprooted and damaged some 10,000 trees in the park. All the roads and hiking trails have been cleared of debris and are again open to the public, along with the seawall. But Stanley Park is so beloved by locals that any change to the natural landscape is an issue of study and contention. Even an offer of a free concert by hometown hero Bryan Adams was turned down, as was a request from Jaguar to use the seawall as a backdrop for the unveiling of its snazzy coupes. That said, numerous annual events are held in Stanley Park; call the Parks and Recreation Board office for information and maps.—Kasey Wilson
See + Do
Museum of Anthropology, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2, Canada
Tel: 604 822 5087
You'll see a whole lot of totem poles while you're in Vancouver; they're the most striking evidence of the First Nations Indian population living in the area. The poles, usually 15 to 30 feet high and made from local red cedar, are intricately carved with faces and figures depicting important historical and tribal events. This compact museum is the best place to learn more about the totem tradition; the high-ceilinged Great Hall displays dozens of poles (many over 100 years old) and explains how they were made and what they symbolize. There are plenty of other draws, too: a huge trove of Northwest Coast art, masks, textiles, jewelry, and canoes, plus two traditional First Nations houses re-created on the grounds. In 2008, the museum underwent a $55 million expansion that increased its size by 50 percent. It's part of a larger project to relaunch the MOA by January 2010 to coincide with the Cultural Oympiad.
Closed Mondays mid-October through mid-May.
See + Do
Granville Island, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Tel: 604 666 5784
Mini-ferries called "aquabuses" take you from one of several downtown stops (including Yaletown at Davie Street and the southern end of Hornby Street) to this happening enclave underneath the Granville Bridge—home to artisans, art galleries, and one of the best daily farmers markets anywhere, the Public Market. The "island" is actually a small peninsula attached to the south shore of False Creek and just a five-minute ferry ride from the Hornby Street stop. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here, munching your way through the market and browsing the fun little shops and galleries in the surrounding maze of streets. Check out the Wood Co-op, with its impressive selection of beautifully crafted wood furniture, art, and housewares (1592 Johnston St.; 604-408-2553). If you have children, hit the Kids Market for two levels of shops selling toys, books, kites, and marionettes (1496 Cartwright St.; 604-689-8447). For a full-size meal, stop in for cedar-planked salmon or sushi at the Sandbar restaurant. In the summer, a visit to the Water Park and adventure playground is a must for parents with young children.
See + Do
Bard on the Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 3J9, Canada
Tel: 604 739 0559
This annual June-September festival of Shakespeare en plein air—or in open tents, anyhow—has a backdrop no set designer could compete with: a waterfront park in the Kitsilano neighborhood surrounded by ocean, sky, and mountains. The festival runs alternating performances of four different Shakespeare plays with two evening performances Tuesdays through Fridays and two afternoon and two evening shows most weekends. Seating is by general admission, so arrive early to "select and sticker" your seat. Cushions are recommended, as are comfortable layers for when the temperature drops quickly after sunset. Tickets are about $30 each. Look out for the special festival spin-offs, from Bard-B-Q and wine tastings to auctions and opera recitals.
Asia West District, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
A visit to Richmond's Asia West district is an experience that's unique in North America. The malls here sprang up along a stretch of No. 3 Road in the mid-1990s to service a newly settled community of mostly Hong Kong expatriates. The malls now house Chinese herbalists, Japanese housewares, designer luggage, and plenty of fashion-forward clothes and shoes for petite women. There are also huge Asian supermarkets such as the T&T, where you can select a fish from the tanks and the staff will deep-fry it while you shop. Alexander Road, unofficially known as "Food Street," contains more than 50 Asian restaurants within two blocks; throughout Richmond you'll find more than 500 restaurants serving authentic cuisine by professional Asian chefs.—Kasey Wilson
See + Do
Capilano Suspension Bridge, British Columbia, Canada
North Vancouver, British Columbia V7R 4J1, Canada
Tel: 604 985 7474
This 450-foot-long pedestrian suspension bridge, which gently (terrifyingly?) sways 230 feet above the tree-lined Capilano River Canyon, is the world's longest. The Treetops Adventure attraction, opened in 2004, added an additional 650 feet of bridge linking eight Douglas fir trees up to 100 feet above the forest floor. The bridge gained some notoriety in 1999, when a 17-month-old infant fell from her mother's arms and survived a 154-foot plunge into the trees below. But it's safe, really—though even mild acrophobics should stay far, far away.
Although shorter than the Capilano bridge, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is every bit as breathtaking—and it's free. Swinging 20 stories above Lynn Creek in North Vancouver, the bridge offers views of the steep cliffs and tree-lined edges of the canyon (open daily at 7 am; closing times vary by season; 3663 Park Rd.; 604-990-3755).—Kasey Wilson
Capilano bridge open daily except Christmas; hours vary by season.