Let’s face it: Vancouver’s stunning scenery and love of green space is almost enough to make us don some Lululemon gear and become green gurus. In Vancouver, “local”, “eco-conscious” and “sustainable” aren’t just PR words — it’s a way of life.
Next time you’re on Canada’s West Coast, take some time to explore Vancouver’s Foodie Trail and you’ll discover more than just leafy greens and fruit smoothies. Here are five things to love about Vancouver’s food scene:
1. Ocean Wise Seafood:
If you’re like me, you’ve got a love-hate relationship with tuna. It’s a favourite seafood dish, but we’re now fishing the world’s last 10% of it. Ocean Wise is a program created by the Vancouver Aquarium, with over 525 Canadian partners, to enable more sustainable seafood practices.
The Fairmont Pacific Rim’s RawBar was the first to offer a 100% Ocean Wise sushi menu. If you’re looking for a real treat, order a decadent cocktail and ask the chef to run wild with a custom sushi creation. You won’t be disappointed.
For bustling, market-style ambiance, check out the patio at Edible Canada at the Market on Granville Island. Don’t leave without ordering the impossibly tender Ocean Wise Pacific grilled octopus, which comes with smoked fingerlings, chorizo rouille and crispy onions.
2. Fastidious Food Trucks
Questionable “sausages” are a thing of myth for the Vancouver food truck scene. In fact, if you thought opening a restaurant would be demanding, try opening a food truck in Vancouver. These impressively versatile mobile kitchens are staple lunch spots for Vancouverites, and it’s easy to see why.
If you have doubts, book a spot on the World’s Best Food Truck Tour and prepare to be shocked by dishes to rival those of the city’s top-notch dining spots.
Some highlights include: Soho Road, serving up luscious butter chicken atop freshly baked naan; Tacofino, with perfectly battered crispy Pacific cod tacos; and The Kaboom Box, which smokes salmon (a beloved local favourite) in its tiny smoker all day.
3. Urban Beekeeping
The Fairmont Waterfront may seem like any other faceless hotel chain from the outside, but ascend to their third-floor herb and veggie garden where they care for several bee colonies, and you may retract your assumptions.
Executive chef Dana Hauser uses the fruits of her labour (quite literally, she tends to the garden herself) in her seasonal dishes at ARC, and maintains familial relationships with several local farms to ensure her kitchen is continually serving local, sustainable food.
In addition to incorporating the bees’ honey into many of its dishes (ask to try the Honey Collins cocktail or the Honey Lager), the hotel has championed Vancouver’s urban beekeeping trend in partnering with Hives for Humanity to encourage community connections through apiculture (beekeeping). What was that you were saying about faceless hotels?
4. Restaurants with a View
The only thing better than a perfect meal? A perfect meal in a perfect place. You don’t need to look far for breathtaking views in Vancouver, but sometimes it’s the more unexpected spots that cultivate the most memorable experiences.
Situated in a heritage Tudor cottage on the banks of serene Deer Lake, Hart House Restaurant in Burnaby is a cozy little hideaway; an idyllic weekend retreat. Divine appetizers include pickled beets and burrata, albacore tuna and daily oysters on the half shell. Follow it up with some Ling Cod or Dungeness Crab, both regional specialties.
If you find yourself on the south side of town, nestled among South Granville’s art galleries and boutique shops you’ll find Italian dining with local flare at Siena, a casual restaurant that proves that Vancouver’s plethora of international flavours co-mingle perfectly with local, sustainable ingredients.
5. Approachable Fine Dining
In a city that fully embraces neon fitness wear, Vancouver’s fine dining establishments offer a much more relaxed and approachable experience when it comes to planning your special night out.
The newly opened Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar is hands down one of the most talked about new dining spots in Vancouver; one that fully deserves its widespread praise. Both the food and service are executed with perfection, and die-hard seafood lovers will rejoice at former Beverly Hills Hotel chef Alex Chen’s irresistible menu.
You need never leave the building if you book a room at the Moda Hotel in Vancouver’s cultural district. Grab a couple of cocktails from renowned mixologist Lauren Mote at UVA Cocktail Bar (try the Apple Cart 13 and the Kismit), then make the long three-step journey to adjacent Cibo Trattoria for friendly and uncomplicated Italian fine dining. If you’ve never tried ox tongue, this is the place to do it.
Vancouver takes a refreshingly authentic approach to its food scene. As the city gears up to become the world’s greenest by 2020, from food trucks to fine dining, Vancouver’s commitment to locally sourced, sustainable cuisine is steadfast, and passionately embraced.
IF YOU GO:
- Start with a Big Bus hop-on hop-off tour to familiarize yourself with Vancouver’s distinct neighbourhoods
- Get into the heart of nature right in the middle of the city: rent road, hybrid or mountain bikes from Spokes Bicycle Rentals to traverse the Stanley Park sea wall
- Breathe a little deeper in the rainforest treetops at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park