14 Vancouver Restaurants Perfect for Celebrating Special Occasions

Afternoon tea at Notch 8 | Credit: Notch 8

Vancouver restaurants are ready to help you celebrate, whether it’s a vaccination or a once-in-a-lifetime momentous occasion. Choose from fancy to fun and everything in between to make a toast to the fabulous food at these Vancouver restaurants, even if you opt to bring it home to celebrate. 

And don’t worry about matching your cocktail dress with your COVID mask. High fashion isn’t ever the norm in Rain City anyway, and if you’re eating outside on a patio — even those that are heated — you’ll want to dress warmly.

Here’s where to book in Vancouver for something special.

For creations both dazzling and delicious: Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Botanist’s dining room with open kitchen | Credit: Botanist

Executive Chef Hector Laguna creates magic with BC ingredients at Botanist. Come for theatrical signature drinks in the cocktail laboratory and exquisite dishes made from sustainably sourced local ingredients — botany inspires and morphs into a dining experience.

For farm-to-table gastronomy near the Granville Bridge: Farmer’s Apprentice

Next door to neighbourhood gem Grapes & Soda is the award-winning Farmer’s Apprentice, with constantly-changing menus based on whatever’s been delivered from the region’s organic and ethical farms. Mad-scientist-like smoked, dehydrated, or fermented creations are on view from the open kitchen, which turns out plates both delicious and beautiful.

For steak and Champagne with live music Downtown: Gotham Steakhouse & Bar

Gotham’s sophisticated Art Deco dining room connects to its sunny patio via glass doors, and musicians entertain in the lounge Thursday to Saturday evenings, where lower-priced small plates are available, too. Lunch and dinner menus have an abundance of choice from tuna poke to dry-aged New York strip steak. Toast your special occasion with Gotham’s Champagne Celebration dinner (plan ahead: that one needs a reservation a week in advance).

For all-day hospitality with decadent desserts: Honey Salt at Parq Vancouver

Chocolate and banana layer cake

Honey Salt’s chocolate cake | Credit: Bill Milne

Just off the lobby at the JW Marriott Parq is comfortable-yet-sophisticated Honey Salt, wife-and-husband team Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla work with local farmers, fishermen, and growers to source fresh, regional ingredients for dishes such as harissa roasted organic Maple Hill Farms chicken and British Columbia pink scallop linguine. Save room for fabulous desserts like a chocolate cake with caramelized bananas, milk chocolate mousse, and dark chocolate glaze.

For slow-cooked dishes in an evocative setting: Moltaqa Moroccan Restaurant

Decorated with lavish textiles, beautiful mosaic tilework, and patterned lanterns, Moltaqa Moroccan Restaurant’s design evokes the same authentic sense of place as its menu. The menu centres around tagine cooking, which uses a conical pot of the same name to produce moist, flavourful dishes. Mains like the duck tagine with pears and figs and the chicken pastilla highlight Moroccan cuisine’s characteristic balance of sweet and savoury flavours. Meats are halal and there are plenty of vegan, pescatarian, and gluten-free options, making this restaurant an ideal choice for those with diverse dietary needs. Drinks, which include tea served in a traditional silver teapot and Moroccan-influenced cocktails, provide the perfect palate complement to the delicious food menu.

Credit: Gaolers Connaughton

For West Coast cuisine and masterful wine pairings in Gastown: L’Abattoir

L’Abattoir is in a 19th-century heritage building at the site of Vancouver’s first jail, with a seasonal patio, plus a 1,200-square-foot  private dining area for special events. The French-influenced menu features local ingredients such as albacore, halibut, and duck, all paired with an award-winning wine list or craft cocktails. The new Gaoler’s tasting menu is a great bet for first-time diners, featuring eight or nine seasonal dishes curated by chefs Lee Cooper and Yoann Therer plus optional wine pairings.

For thoughtfully-prepared Italian cuisine and a buzzing ambiance: Osteria Savio Volpe

With its convivial atmosphere and modern design, Osteria Savio Volpe puts a contemporary spin on the classic neighborhood osteria. Fresh, unfussy flavours are the name of the game here, with much of the meats and fish prepared over a wood-fired grill. Handmade pastas are doused in rich sauces such as sausage ragu or oxtail stracotto. The restaurant’s less-is-more approach extends to the bar, which serves Italian sodas, easy-going spritzes, and essential cocktails like the negroni. A selection of housemade gelato, Italian pastries, and top-notch coffee provide a satisfying finish to any low-key celebration.

For seafood on the water: LIFT Bar Grill View

It’s hard to beat LIFT’s waterfront views of Stanley Park, the north shore, and Coal Harbour, whether from the rooftop deck or through the floor-to-ceiling windows. LIFT’s menus feature lots of seafood, while weekend brunch has four kinds of eggs Benny and other savoury selections.

For aburi-style Japanese and innovative desserts: Miku Waterfront

Plates of sushi and raw fish

Aburi-style sushi | Credit: Miku

Miku’s Seigo Nakamura introduced Vancouver to flame-seared pressed aburi sushi back in 2008, combining Japanese and Canadian flavours into melt-in-your-mouth bites. Miku also offers à la carte Japanese selections, kaiseki multi-course dining, and stunning Japanese-Euro-influenced desserts. Right on Burrard Inlet Downtown, Miku Waterfront’s dining room and patio overlook the five sails of Canada Place.

For afternoon tea at the Fairmont: Notch8

Afternoon tea at any of Canada’s Fairmont hotels is always a treat. At the Hotel Vancouver, one lucky twosome per day gets to have their tea and tier of elegant pastries and sandwiches framed in the historic hotel’s front window, with fashion illustrator Mandy Lau’s streetscape backdrop behind them. Notch8 also serves inventive cocktails, classics, and regional dishes at lunch and dinner.

For homestyle Caribbean eats and a deep rum selection: Calabash Bistro

This welcoming Gastown restaurant takes its name from the calabash, a gourd known for its many functions. Much like its namesake, which can be used for everything from eating to playing music, Calabash Bistro is a multipurpose space that houses a Caribbean restaurant, live music venue, and art gallery. The restaurant menu features classic dishes such as fish cakes, house-braised jerk chicken, and slow-marinated oxtail, as well as a lengthy list of more than 80 rums. Calabash Bistro offers takeout and delivery, but if you’re dining on-site, be sure to head downstairs after your meal to check out the music and art elements of the venue.

Credit: Torafuku

For pan-Asian with local ingredients near Chinatown: Torafuku

Steve Kuan’s Torafuku grew out of his pan-Asian Le Tigre food truck. Torafuku’s menu is pan-Asian too, featuring local ingredients in innovative dishes such as rice bowls featuring rice prepared with sake, butter, dashi, poached egg, mixed herbs, and pickled cabbage; or short ribs with wagyu sirloin kimchi fried rice. Cocktails incorporate Asian-influenced ingredients like yuzu juice and tea-infused gin and classic drinks are $3 off during the daily afternoon happy hour. Casual, lively celebrations such as birthday parties are well-suited here.

For everything Italian at Yaletown’s latest: Tutto Restaurant & Bar

Brand new as of August 2020, spacious Tutto serves modern Italian from an open kitchen inside a 100-plus-year-old Yaletown building. Tutto — “all” or “everything” in Italian — features dishes from across il bel paese (the beautiful country); try the alla Fiorentina steak, grilled Humboldt calamari, Arctic char with black risotto, or Roman-style pizza. A visit here is the next best thing to one to Italy.

For artful West Coast cuisine in a luxe hotel: Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

This stylish restaurant located in the Sutton Place Hotel is helmed by executive chef Roger Ma, who trained under culinary heavyweight chef Daniel Boulud and recently took home the title of National Champion at the Canadian Culinary Championships. Known for its creative West Coast cuisine with an emphasis on seafood, the menu at Boulevard changes often, but you can expect dishes that bring a fresh approach to fine dining, such as charcoal-grilled sablefish with local bull kelp or grass-fed striploin with ricotta custard. The space is effortlessly elegant, blending imported Italian marble and white oak floors with local artwork and antique chandeliers. The heated, wraparound patio offers an equally lovely setting for dining al fresco.

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.
Jessica Huras contributed reporting to this guide.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.
Dine Out Vancouver

Dine Out Vancouver

January 14 - January 31
Dine Out Vancouver Festival

Dine Out Vancouver Festival

February 5, 2021 - March 7, 2021