6 must-book restaurants in Vancouver

An assortment of dishes at the Peruvian SUYO. | Credit: SUYO

New restaurants have been opening at a pace faster than Vancouver has seen in recent years, making dining here more exciting than ever. Choose from additional locations of local favorites, an Alberta eatertainment import where you can eat and play at the same time, and an all-new concept serving ancient Peruvian fare in Mount Pleasant. Restaurants are also increasingly offering ways to give back, with one spot benefitting humanitarian relief in Ukraine and another folding gratuity into prices to provide fair salaries and benefits.

No matter the cuisine or reason, these are the six must-book new spots around Vancouver.

NOX (Coal Harbour)

Italian traditions meet Pacific Coast flavours at NOX. | Credit: NOX

From New West restaurateurs Alejandro Diaz and Sam Fabbro, modern NOX sports striking midnight blue walls and is on the ground floor of the new And-Co co-working building on West Georgia (And-Co members get exclusive access to lunch and catering). Choose from the prix fixe or à la carte menus that blend Italian traditions and the Pacific Coast’s fresh flavours. The menu features cicchetti, pasta, primi, and secundi courses; one could order duck leg confit, chile-marinated crab with egg noodles, bison tartare with sunchoke chips, and grilled albacore tuna, and then choose from traditional Italian desserts. Those with dietary needs, take note: Several items are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free—even some pastas.

Tap & Barrel Bridges (Granville Island)

The iconic yellow building on Granville Island’s waterfront is now part of the Tap & Barrel family, and it’s fresh off an eight-month renovation. Up to 800 people can now enjoy Tap & Barrel’s “next-level comfort food” in the two-floor building, both indoors and outdoors on the dock level patio and the newly extended (and now all-season) patio on the second floor. Maple-dijon glazed salmon, crispy Humboldt squid, burgers, hand-stretched pizzas, BC brews and wines, and more are on offer at happy hour, weekend brunch, and daily lunch and dinner. Admire the boats out on False Creek, local paintings inside, and the wall of old buoys (among other nautical touches). The Soleri Room is available for a private meal for up to 12 people (optional: your fave HD sports channel on the flat screen). Take-out is also on offer. Keep your eye out for new menu items, as Bridges is now Tap & Barrel’s test kitchen, too.

Kozak Ukrainian Restaurant (Gastown)

Pierogies at Kozak. | Credit: Kozak Ukrainian Restaurant

New to OpenTable is the Gastown location of Kozak Ukrainian Restaurant, a more sophisticated version of its casual East Van and New West locations. Befitting the restaurant’s roots—Irina Karpenko and Sergiy Kuznietsov started out selling sourdoughs at farmers’ markets—stellar baked goods made with local grains feature prominently on chef Alex Orlenko’s menus. From Lavka, the bakery and coffee shop at Kozak’s entrance, you can take home treats including the coveted chocolate babka plus prepared meals such as rolled crepes Nalysnyky with sweet cottage cheese or a filling of chicken and mushroom. Choose from traditional (seven types of handmade varenyky, aka pierogies, and two kinds of deruny, aka latkes) or more modern (duck confit and chicken Kyiv). Keep an eye out for menu items where 100 percent of the sales go to humanitarian relief in Ukraine.

GRETA Global Street Food & Arcade Bar (Gastown)

The arcade area at GRETA. | Credit: GRETA

Expanding from Calgary and Edmonton, Vancouver now has its own GRETA. From mid-afternoon till the wee hours, load credits on an RFID card to play vintage and new arcade games while you snack on international street foods and sip beer, wine, and expertly crafted cocktails. Some nights, you can even dance to a DJ. Chef Tomoki Yamasaki uses locally sourced and never-frozen ingredients for his dishes, such as a Wagyu or vegetarian smash burger, Korean and Vietnamese wings, Baja fish tacos, and proper chip truck fries. Groups of eight to ten can pre-order sharing platters of DIY lettuce wraps stuffed with slow-roasted Berkshire pork shoulder or bao buns with red braised beef shank. Weekly discounted specials include Wednesdays’ all-day happy hour, Olé Thursdays, and ReGreta Sundays catering to Vancouver’s hospitality workers.

Folke (Kits)

New in June 2022, Folke features a vegan shared-plate menu and chefs who happily come out of the open kitchen to describe where they sourced the local and sustainable ingredients and what they did to enhance their flavours and textures. You might have chilled ramen with rye, shiso, and eggplant or perhaps dumplings with mushroom XO, komatsuna, and ponzu. Co-owned by chef Colin Uyeda and pastry chef Priscilla Deo, Folke has hospitality-included pricing to provide both their front- and back-of-house team members with a fair salary and benefits.

SUYO (Mount Pleasant)

A dish from SUYO’s ceviche bar. | Credit: SUYO

SUYO opened its Main Street doors on August 25 to provide Vancouver with comida Peruana—Peruvian food—from throughout the third-largest country in South America. Chef/owner Ricardo Valverde’s menu reflects his homeland’s full culinary heritage, characterized by Pre-Inca, Inca, Quechua, Western European, African, Chinese, and Japanese influences. That translates to a menu featuring ceviche, lomo saltado stir fry with Canadian tenderloin, and a cauliflower steak with chimichurri and pepian sauce. Wines are from South America and the North American Pacific coast, while inventive cocktails salute Peru’s Amazonian, Andean, and Pacific coastal topography. The 49-seat restaurant’s hardwood, stone, and botanical decor also evoke the beauty of Peru; on the walls of the 22-seat Nazca private dining room are depictions of the mysterious ancient geoglyphs from southern Peru.

 

 

Johanna Read is a Canadian freelance writer/photographer specializing in travel, food, and responsible tourism; follow her on Twitter at @TravelEater and Instagram at TravelEaterJohanna.

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