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Vancouver Restaurants

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
163 Keefer Street
Chinatown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6A 1X3
Tel: 604 688 0876
www.bao-bei.ca

Bao Bei is a beacon of new life in the neon night of Vancouver's Chinatown, thanks to the inspired cuisine of owner Tannis Ling. Bric-a-brac furnishings lend a vintage retro sensibility to the dining room, and the small plates bring a fresh, home-style quality to traditional Chinese recipes, influenced by Ling's Shanghai-Taiwanese upbringing and executed with contemporary flair by Japanese-French chef Joel Watanabe. The just-spicy-enough shao bing—a crunchy Chinese-style panini stuffed with cumin lamb sirloin and salted chiles—is incredibly satisfying. Equally tasty are the steamed truffled pork dumplings and straight-from-the-market snow peas sautéed with garlic and shaoxing wine. The restaurant is a bit of a hangout for downtown hipsters; part of the allure no doubt is the creative cocktail menu crafted by Ling, who was once a bartender at the trendy Chambar Lounge.—Kasey Wilson

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5:30 pm to midnight.

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Bishop's
2183 W. Fourth Avenue
Kitsilano
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6K 1N7
Tel: 604 738 2025
www.bishopsonline.com

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.

Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar
1095 Hamilton Street
Yaletown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6B 5T4
Tel: 604 688 8078
www.bluewatercafe.net

Locals and tourists alike flock to this stylish converted Yaletown warehouse for locally sourced seafood imaginatively prepared by executive chef Frank Pabst. Sustainability is the restaurant's philosophy, whether it be one of its principal plates, such as sablefish (a.k.a. Alaska Black Cod), or the sushi selections. Chef Yoshiya Maruyama is at the helm of the 12-seat raw bar with its impressive roster of East and West Coast oysters and generous portions of sushi, sashimi, and nigiri. Chilled prawns, lobster, and briny bivalves are available à la carte or riding atop seafood tiers (from $28 to $128) with horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce and Japanese mayo. During Pabst's "Unsung Heroes Festival" in February, the menu focuses on underutilized delicacies from the Pacific such as periwinkles, jellyfish, sea cucumbers, and red sea urchin. Blue Water's wine list is extensive, with a good selection of British Columbia's best wines. You can also dine on the heated terrace outside.—Kasey Wilson

Open nightly 5 to 11 pm, bar nightly from 5 pm to 1 am.

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C
2–1600 Howe Street
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6Z 2L9
Tel: 604 681 1164
www.crestaurant.com

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.

Cactus Club Café
588 Burrard Street
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6C O18
Tel: 604 682 0933
www.cactusclubcafe.com

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.

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Chambar Belgian Restaurant
562 Beatty Street
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6B 2L3
Tel: 604 879 7119
www.chambar.com

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.

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Go Fish!
1505 W. First Avenue
West Side
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6J 1E8
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.

Hapa Izakaya
1479 Robson Street
West End
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6G 1C1
Tel: 604 689 4272
www.hapaizakaya.com

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.

Imperial Chinese Seafood Restaurant
355 Burrard Street
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6C 2G8
Tel: 604 688 8191
www.imperialrest.com

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.

Japa Dog
Northwest corner of Burrard and Smithe streets
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6Z 2K6
www.japadog.com

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.

L'Abattoir
217 Carrall Street
Gastown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6B 2J2
Tel: 604 568 1701
www.labattoir.ca

Manhattan has its Meatpacking District, Vancouver's Gastown has Blood Alley. It's named for the buckets of blood spilled on cobblestones by butchers who ran businesses around the turn of the century, when payday muggings and robberies were commonplace. Today it attracts club-kid hip restaurants, bars, and boutiques that cozy up to decaying brick and restored post-and-beam timber ceilings. L'Abattoir plays on the butcher theme in name only—the food here is contemporary and not as meat-centric as one might think. The downstairs bar is small and cold even though it nuzzles up to the kitchen, but it warms up quickly when people waiting for tables begin to gather. Upstairs, the main dining room mixes modern with rustic-chic—a glassed-in courtyard with a chandelier of sinewy driftwood and whitewashed brickwork that plays off ornate tiling. Lee Cooper's imaginative menu is chock-full of creative pairings and intriguing preparations, like the steelhead trout ravioli, raw Pacific oysters with asparagus strudels, rabbit cannelloni, scallop and oxtail dumplings, or roasted flank steak with rich sweetbreads and charred onion.

Open nightly 5:30 to 10 pm, bar open to midnight.

Legendary Noodle House
1074 Denman Street
West End
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6G 2M8
Tel: 604 669 8551

Okay, "legendary" may be pushing it a bit, but the huge, cheap bowls of steaming noodles at this cozy Chinese hole-in-the-wall in the West End are more than a little addictive. The decor and food lean toward rustic; amazingly, almost all of the noodle dishes are hand-pulled to order by cooks who manipulate large balls of dough at warp speed, spinning and twirling until lo (ropes of fresh noodles) are produced. These are quickly boiled and then topped with flavorful broths enriched with cilantro, garlic-spiked lamb shanks, or chicken. You'll find no better remedy for a cold—or a hangover—in the city. Finish with a glass of the soothing flower- and wolfberry-infused house tea that aids digestion. Service can be absentminded, but that's part of the charm.—Kasey Wilson

Open Mondays through Thursdays noon to 9 pm, Fridays through Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.

Lift Bar & Grill
333 Menchion Mews
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6G 3H5
Tel: 604 689 5438
www.liftbarandgrill.com

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.

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Market by Jean-Georges
Shangri-La Hotel
1128 W. Georgia Street
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6E 0A8
Tel: 604 695 1115
www.shangri-la.com/en/property/vancouver/shangrila/dining/restaurant/market

The prices have crept up since Jean Georges Vongerichten first opened Market at the Shangri-La Hotel in 2009. Chefs come and go, but one of Jean Georges' considerable talents is the ability to have cooks execute his signatures without flaw: black truffle and Fontina pizza, crispy Parmesan-crusted organic chicken, soy-glazed short ribs with apple-jalapeño purée, and Pavlova with passion fruit sorbet. In the understated dining room, the tables are comfortably spaced and the taupe and gray palette is elegant in its restraint. Entrées range from $18 for a burger with black truffle dressing to a $42 lobster dish; the wine list, which emphasizes British Columbia wines, is reasonably priced. But there's no compromise here, in either the quality of ingredients or the professionalism of the staff. The restaurant also comprises the Market Bar, where ace bartender Jay Jones shakes things up to go with light snacks.—Kasey Wilson

Open Mondays through Sundays 7 am to 2:30 pm and 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Sunday brunch 11:30 am to 3 pm. Market Bar Sunday to Wednesday 11:30 am to midnight, Thursday to Saturday 11:30 am to 1 am.

Rangoli Grill
1488 W. 11th Avenue
South Granville
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6H 1L1
Tel: 604 736 6664
www.vijs.ca

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.

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Salt
45 Blood Alley
Gastown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6B 1C7
Tel: 604 633 1912
www.salttastingroom.com

Located in a scuzzy back alley in Gastown, Salt Tasting Room is an unlikely destination on Vancouver's culinary map. But this wine bar is a popular spot with local foodies, particularly chefs and kitchen crews. The room, with its zinc-topped bar, communal seating, and festive air, is dominated by a chalkboard listing local and international cheeses and cured meats, with a focus on excellent local producers like Granville Island's Oyama Meats. Order a trio of cheese and charcuterie, elevated with specialty sweet and lively condiments (honeycomb, grainy Guinness mustard, cipollini onions, Marcona almonds), and pair it with appealing sherries and (mostly red) wines; tasting flights educate the indecisive. The portions are small, so you might want to add an extra trio.—Kasey Wilson

Open daily noon to midnight.

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The Sandbar
Creekhouse No. 9
1535 Johnston Street
Granville Island
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6H 3R9
Tel: 604 669 9030
www.vancouverdine.com/sandbar

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.

Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe
1059 Alberni Street
Downtown
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6B 2J2
Tel: 604 608 6870
www.thierrychocolates.com

When it comes to classic European pastry chefs, Vancouver's got some of the best. Thierry Busset, an accommodating Frenchman, led the pastry programs at CinCin and West before opening Thierry. He has won over the restaurant crowd with this bustling and casual café showcasing spectacular confections and velvety ice creams and sorbets. An eye-filling assortment of exquisitely executed macarons come in classic and exotic flavors like passion fruit, lime, chestnut, cranberry, coffee, and chocolate-pistachio. Besides pastries and chocolates, there are Spanish bocadillo-style sandwiches prepared by CinCin chef Todd Howard. Beverages include the Thierry espresso blend and spiked teas and coffee from the licensed full-service bar. For all-around atmosphere inside and out, there's no better place to refuel.—Kasey Wilson

Open Mondays through Fridays 7 am to midnight, Saturdays, Sundays, and statutory holidays 9 am to midnight.

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Tojo's
1133 West Broadway
South Granville
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6H 1G1
Tel: 604 872 8050
www.tojos.com

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.

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West Restaurant & Bar
2881 Granville Street
South Granville
Vancouver , British Columbia
Canada V6H 3J4
Tel: 604 738 8938
www.westrestaurant.com

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.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.