Vancouver is one of the world's most thrilling cities for foodies, with a newly Michelin starred culinary scene that is fast-paced, endlessly innovative and fed by a wealth of superb produce from the lush farmlands beyond the city and the nearby sun-drenched Similkameen and Okanagan Valleys.
The cool, clear waters that surround the city are home to an incredible variety of seafood from briny oysters to sweet prawns and tender Dungeness crab. Thanks to its multicultural population, this west coast bounty takes on an exciting new form with recipes, ingredients and techniques drawn from around the world, most notably Asia.
Below our expert shares her tips for the best restaurants in Vancouver. For further inspiration, see our guides to the city's best hotels, bars and attractions, plus how to spend a weekend in Vancouver. If planning a longer trip, use our expert's ultimate itinerary here.
Forage is wildly popular with West End locals thanks to its warm hospitality and commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly dining. Few farm-to-table restaurants truly walk the walk like chef Welbert Choi and team with their zero-landfill waste ethos and locally farmed, foraged and seasonal menus, which pair with an all-BC (British Columbia) list of wines, beers and spirits. Breakfast and brunch are reliably tasty, featuring house-made preserves and a jar-scraping 'nutella'. Dinner showcases gloriously cheffy touches with dishes such as duck breast smoked with foraged grand fir tree needles. Make a reservation for the Bison Board to share spectacularly meaty treats such as cured bison, braised bison risotto or bison heart tartare. Only available in limited quantities on Friday – Sunday).
There will be queues at the city's best ramen shop, but they move fast and it’s unmissable, especially if you love noodles. Each day Marutama makes 500 4.4-ounce balls of noodles (you can watch the machine in the dining area) which rest for 24-hours before being slurped up. Come for its chicken-based toripaitan broth, which is just as rich and creamy as the traditional tonkatsu pork-based broth but not as fatty. The décor is basic with wooden stools, benches and tables, but the cheery welcome when you enter is friendly and the ramen spectacular. Don't miss the cha-shu tamago ramen; the egg is consistently the best in town and the seasoned pork meltingly meaty.
Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar
Boulevard may be a restaurant in a hotel (it's attached to the Sutton Place Hotel) but it’s far from the usual hotel restaurant. Alex Chen, one of the city's most decorated chefs, and his team are creating west coast wonders in this elegant room with a gleaming marble raw bar and cosy cream leather booths. Providing an innovative take on the Pacific Northwest’s seasonal bounty, Chen's picture-perfect dishes may include experimental techniques and ingredients but they always delight – the parmesan custard on the asparagus salad is utterly moreish. Splurge on a seafood tower and follow up with Haida Gwaii halibut with a divine kombu seaweed butter sauce.
Head upstairs away from the hubbub of the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby Lounge to the vanilla and pale pink curves and jungle of greenery at the Botanist to find a champagne lounge bubbling over with eclectic offerings, a cocktail bar 'focusing on high-concept creative presentations and chef Hector Laguna’s fine-dining haven celebrating locally sourced produce and sustainable seafood. This may be one of the pricier spots in town, but Laguna’s delicate artistry, confident use of bold flavours and textures which dip into his Mexican heritage, and whisper-light intensely flavoured foams makes their tasting menu worth every penny. House-made pastas are silky and bright, veggies shine as the stars of the plate and dishes dance with decadent cheffy touches such as a wafer-thin, beet-stained crêpe layered in a mille feuille with foie gras, dotted with sustainable local caviar. Unmissable.
Best table: The Garden Room
Vancouver has a thriving food truck scene: download the excellent and free street food app to see what's open and where. One of the original food carts still going strong is the ever-popular Japadog which combines hot dogs with Japanese flavour combinations for a very Vancouver experience. You can find them at the junction of Burrard and Smithe at their original location which opened for business back in 2005. Try the Terimayo, a 100% all-beef sausage generously topped with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, fried onions, and seaweed, or indulge in the ‘Age Ice’ deep-fried sweet buns stuffed with ice cream—the black sesame or mango are delicious.
Late night dessert is always a desirable option at this swish wood-lined French patisserie, an easy stroll from most downtown hotels. Delicate buttery tarts filled with seasonal fruits (think fresh strawberries and basil pastry cream, or yuzu sabayon and fresh local raspberries), dark rum-soaked brioche savarins, a raft of crumbly cookies, lavishly decorated cakes and hand-made ganache-filled chocolates (perfect gifts if you can manage not to devour them yourself) are on offer along with very good espresso-based drinks and house-made sodas. Take a seat out on the small patio and watch late-night Vancouver unfold.
A funky modern take on a Chinese brasserie complete with an excellent cocktail bar and thoughtful wine list with plenty of gems from British Columbia. Bao Bei is a slender room with padded leather seating running along the wall in the back and high tops in the bar area. The crashing sound of woks in the kitchen speaks to the authenticity of technique used here but because it’s Vancouver all proteins are local, sustainable and ethically raised. Prepare to order multiple plates of the beef tartare with taro chips, burnt scallion oil and crispy shallots; it's far too good to share, and don't skip local legend Helen’s hand-made juicy dumplings.
Reservations: Walk-in only, and all members of the party must be present in order to be seated.
Downtown East Side (DTES)
West coast cuisine tends to be light and fresh; something you could eat and contemplate a yoga class later. Not so at St Lawrence, chef JC Poirier’s love letter to the buttery, rich cuisine of Quebec that has been a smash since opening in 2017 and recently scored a Michelin star. Step behind the velvet curtain of this intimate dining space and walk into an authentic French-Canadian experience where the music, wine list and many of the staff are French. St Lawrence only offers a tasting menu experience, and you’ll need to book at least a month in advance (or get lucky with a cancellation), but it’s worth it; as St Lawrence tempts with outrageous decadence; and if it’s on the menu, the flaky Paris-Brest stuffed with duck liver and foie gras mousse is a worthy ‘final meal’ contender. Over-order any extras and resign yourself to unbuttoning that suddenly tight waistband; c’est la vie!
Reservations: Essential. Book well in advance.
Best table: Chef’s counter
Mount Pleasant/Main Street
Burdock & Co
If Vancouver were to have a restaurant family tree, at the heart of many of its most important spots would be chef Andrea Carlson, whose tireless work with small farmers, fishers and foragers has shaped Vancouver’s fresh, local and sustainable culinary style and was recently awarded a Michelin star. The simple wood-and-white-brick room in the heart of the funky Mount Pleasant neighbourhood allows the Instagrammably beautiful food to shine. Serving only a family-style, multi-course tasting menu enjoy decision-free dining on whatever's delicious, fresh, and currently in season. Check if the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is included, if not, order a portion for the table, the dill powder ranch dip is delicious.
Published on Main
Published on Main bagged very nearly every award going in Canada in 2022 from the number one spot in Canada’s top 100 restaurants to a one-star award in Vancouver’s inaugural Michelin guide. Sure, getting a reservation may be tricky but if you want to experience Vancouver-style modern fine dining at its best, it’s worth either booking 60-days ahead or showing up at 5pm for a walk-in table – once you’re there, let the team take the lead with the tasting menu and creative drinks pairings from small-batch sake and boutique wine to craft cocktails. The 11-course tasting menu celebrates the best locally sourced, seasonal ingredients with plenty of fermented and foraged elements, and lashings of cheffy technique from aerated hay custards to local steelhead trout with Douglas fir-infused crème fraîche.