British Columbia’s largest city boasts an award-winning dining scene, which draws on myriad culinary traditions and utilizes the rich bounty of the surrounding lands and waters. When locals have a night off, where do they like to go? These top Vancouver restaurants span neighborhood gems to haute cuisine, but they all have one thing in common: they serve up some of the best food in town.
The sleek ‘n’ chic stunner inside the Rosewood Hotel Georgia is a scene setter and a scene-stealer. Executive chef David Hawksworth – the youngest chef ever inducted into the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame – presides over a modernist menu grounded in classic techniques. The hyper-refined fare could be called contemporary Canadian, but expect flourishes of Italian and Japanese influence – such as lobster tail with squash and mushroom agnolotti and black truffle as well as black-peppered tuna tataki with mushroom dashi. No matter what the inspiration, dishes are forged from in-season produce and local products. Make a reservation at Hawksworth.
The original location of this stunner from restaurateur Elizabeth Blau and her husband, chef Kim Canteenwalla resides in Las Vegas. This outpost sits inside the Parq Vancouver, where it sprawls over enough floor space to accommodate 300 seats. The restaurant specializes in eye-popping comfort food that is equally appetizing and Instagrammable. Prime examples are the Market – a blossoming bouquet of fresh veggies, pickles, and sweet potato chips accompanied by mini Mason jars full of dips, such as goddess dressing and cauliflower hummus – and the humungous slab of Society Cake sporting generous layers of banana and chocolate mousse. Make a reservation at Honey Salt.
The restaurateurs behind this locally loved seafood joint in the Kitsilano neighborhood have already been successful with Tavola and Nook. Their latest venture is flavor-focused and never fussy. Take the Seafood Hot Mess, a mélange of deep water delights cooked a la plancha, including half a lobster, mussels, clams, squid, scallops, prawns, and more, which comes with a side of verdant salsa verde. If that’s too much of an undertaking, let the chalkboard be your guide. It lists the day’s catch, which is mostly sustainably and locally sourced, as well as a few veg sides that have just as much oomph and just as little pretension. Make a reservation at Oddfish.
CinCin Ristorante + Bar
A curling terracotta stairwell leads diners up to this high-end, white tablecloth Italian restaurant in downtown. Executive chef Andrew Richardson presides over a menu broken down into first (small bites, salads, and soups), pasta and risotto (don’t miss crab and sea scallop ravioli in lobster-tomato broth), and mains. For the latter, make sure to explore the options cooked on the wood-fired grill, such as prawns grilled on a rosemary branch, pork tenderloin cooked over the coals and served with kumquat mostarda and butternut squash, and grilled chicken with truffles, sage, chestnuts, and gnocchi. Whatever your selections, there’s a beyond-impressive wine list to complement your meal. Make a reservation at CinCin Ristorante + Bar.
Executive chef Wesley Young blends French techniques and Asian influences at the downtown Eastside favorite. Think a rice bowl with unagi-glazed foie gras, chestnuts, and daikon, and mushrooms with extra umami thanks to yuzu brown butter and a “ramen egg.” Best-in-town gochujang-glazed wings are a worthy start to any meal. And there’s a huge selection of sake and whiskey to help wash it all down. Make a reservation at Pidgin.
What are your picks for the top Vancouver restaurants beloved by locals? Let us know here in the comments or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Glasfurd and Walker (St. Lawrence); Bill Milne (Honey Salt); John Sherlock (CinCin).