Celebrate your special occasions at these top 14 Vancouver restaurants

Dishes at the Cantonese and Sichuan-inspired Mott 32. | Credit: Leila Kwow

Vancouver’s breathtaking surroundings make it all the more exciting to go out for a celebratory meal. But beyond epic waterfront views, Vancouver’s thriving dining scene holds something for all kinds of celebrations. Whether it’s a top-notch Chinese meal in luxe interiors, eating flaky Moroccan pastries under a lantern-lit ceiling, or sharing a towering seafood platter in a city famous for its fresh catch, Vancouver offers plenty of options for a celebratory meal out.

Read on for 14 Vancouver restaurants to book when you’re looking to ring in something special.

Botanist (Downtown)

The dining room and open kitchen at Botanist. | Credit: Botanist

The bounty of the Pacific Northwest is on display at Botanist, the swanky restaurant inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel. Executive chef Hector Laguna serves up dishes such as black pepper-crusted salmon with caramelized eggplant, roasted maitake mushrooms with sunchokes, and seared scallops with duck prosciutto. Or let Laguna decide by selecting his $145 per person tasting menu with an optional $70 wine pairing. The restaurant features four distinct spaces, including a champagne lounge and an indoor garden, making it an apt destination for a celebration.

Farmer’s Apprentice (Kitsilano)

As its name suggests, the menu at Farmer’s Apprentice changes constantly based on what’s harvested at the nearby farms it works with. Some recent highlights on the family-style menu include a hazelnut miso eggplant with charred scallions, heirloom tomatoes with crispy shrimp, and yellowtail fish in a saffron sauce. The open kitchen offers views of the chefs dehydrating, smoking, and fermenting all kinds of ingredients, making for an action-packed evening at the restaurant.

Mott 32 – Vancouver (Downtown)

Mott 32’s signature Peking duck. | Credit: Leila Kwok

Downtown’s Mott 32, which reopened in January, is the only Canadian outpost of the famed international restaurant with locations in Hong Kong, Dubai, and Las Vegas. Chef Lee Man Sing’s menu has Cantonese and Sichuan influences with highlights including the Peking duck, which requires a 48-hour preparation; barbecued Iberico pork; and dim sum such as a soft-boiled quail egg inside a pork siu mai. Designer Joyce Wang imagined Mott 32’s luxe interiors featuring leather banquets and gold accents on the wallpaper.

Gotham Steakhouse and Bar (Downtown)

For top-notch steakhouse fare paired with live music and a sophisticated Art Deco interior, look no further than Gotham. One of the highlights of the menu is a seafood tower featuring lobster tail, oysters, and scallop ceviche, among a host of other seafood selections. Musicians play in the lounge Wednesday through Saturday evenings for diners looking for a more lively night out.

Honey Salt at Parq Vancouver (Stadium District)

Chocolate banana cake at Honey Salt at Parq Vancouver. | Credit: Honey Salt at Parq Vancouver

Husband-and-wife team Kim Canteenwalla and Elizabeth Blau work with local farmers and fishermen to bring diners the freshest ingredients at Honey Salt in Parq Vancouver. Menu highlights include a mushroom pappardelle with a basil walnut pesto, truffle macaroni and cheese, and mussels cooked in a coconut curry broth. Finish off the meal with one of the decadent desserts such as the chocolate cake served tableside with caramelized bananas, a milk chocolate mousse, and a dark chocolate glaze.

Moltaqa Moroccan Restaurant (Yaletown)

Find a little piece of Morocco at Yaletown’s Moltaqa (the Gastown location is closed for repairs) with its mosaic tiles and lanterns that cast intricate patterns on the ceiling. Dishes cooked in a tagine are the highlight of the menu with options including a duck tagine with pears and figs. Or opt for one of the flaky pastillas, a Moroccan sweet and savoury pastry that Moltaqa offers with chicken, vegetables, or seafood. The cocktails, too, highlight Moroccan ingredients: the amour de hivernage features date- and cardamom-infused whiskey.

L’Abattoir Restaurant (Gastown)

Kitchen prep at L’Abattoir. | Credit: Gaolers Connaughton

At Gastown’s L’Abattoir, expect a French-influenced menu highlighting local ingredients such as steamed Pacific halibut and smoked trout salad with a poached egg. The space in a 19th-century building has several rooms, including a patio and private dining rooms, for all types of celebrations. For a splurge, opt for the Gaoler’s tasting menu, which features nine courses and an optional wine pairing.

Osteria Savio Volpe (Mount Pleasant)

Food cooked over a wood-fired grill is the focus at sleek Italian restaurant Osteria Savio Volpe. Choose between veal chop with pine nut polenta or the half chicken with charred lemons. Or opt for one of the restaurant’s handmade pastas including pappardelle and pork ragu with Calabrian chiles. The negroni is one of the highlights on the cocktail menu here, though there are plenty of options to choose from including Italian sodas, British Columbia beers, and a variety of spritzes. Don’t leave without ordering one of the desserts, such as the chocolate olive oil tart with pine nuts, and pair it with the restaurant’s top-notch coffee.

LIFT Bar Grill View (Downtown)

LIFT’s waterfront views of Stanley Park and the North Shore are its biggest draw, but its seafood-focussed menu is just as compelling with halibut cooked in a sage-infused brown butter sauce, scallop and prawn linguine, and crispy squid with Sichuan peppers. Going here for weekend brunch is a solid bet, too, with four kinds of eggs Benedict, among other savoury options.

Miku Restaurant – Vancouver (Coal Harbour)

Aburi-style sushi at Miku Restaurant – Vancouver. | Credit: Miku Restaurant – Vancouver

Miku chef Seigo Nakamura is best known as the man who introduced Vancouver (and Canada) to the joys of flamed-seared aburi sushi, back in 2008 with the debut of his waterfront restaurant. Aside from the famed sushi, diners can opt for a multi-course kaiseki menu or choose from à la carte options such as lobster risotto. Show-stopping desserts including green tea opera cake are a must to end the meal. When weather permits, grab a seat on the patio, which overlooks the five sails of Canada Place.

Notch8 (Downtown)

Afternoon tea at any of Canada’s Fairmont hotels is always a treat, and it’s no different at Fairmont Vancouver’s flagship where it’s served at the Notch8 restaurant in the green-roofed Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. There are nearly a dozen tea selections to choose from, and the drinks come alongside a sumptuous spread of sandwiches including a smoked sablefish creation, cheddar and buttermilk scones, and a host of cakes. For a boozy afternoon, opt for one of the cocktails: the sunflower combines gin, elderflower liqueur, orange-flavoured liqueur, absinthe, and lemon. Diners can also opt to eat at the rooftop dining room with views of the city for weekend brunch.

Torafuku (Chinatown)

Torafuku’s pan Asian plates. | Credit: Leila Kwok

Chef Steve Kuan’s Torafuku grew out of his pan-Asian Le Tigre food truck, and the restaurant is still going strong seven years after its debut. Highlights of the menu include a papaya salad with confit pork jowl plus stir-fried rice cakes with roasted mushrooms, napa cabbage, and crème fraîche. Cocktails also incorporate Asian ingredients with yuzu juice and tea-infused gin prominently featured on the menu. For parties of seven or more, the restaurant can customize the menu with advance notice.

Zarak by Afghan Kitchen (Mount Pleasant)

This Mount Pleasant restaurant honours the recipes of owner Hassib Sarwari’s mother, Zohra Parwani. Order plates to share—roasted Brussels sprouts or charbroiled kebabs served with rice—for the table. The new weekend brunch menu includes eggs Benedict served with a chutney hollandaise, as well as waffles with quimaq, the tea featuring clotted cream that’s made for special occasions in Afghanistan.

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar (Downtown)

Chefs Alex Chen and Roger Ma head up this stylish Sutton Place Hotel restaurant. Their West Coast cuisine menu emphasizes seafood with constantly changing dishes. Recent highlights have included charcoal-grilled sablefish served with bull kelp plus a dish of seared Hokkaido scallops in a red curry sauce. For celebrations with big groups, opt for the caviar service or the two-pound Mediterranean sea bream. The elegant restaurant features Italian marble and white oak floors, antique chandeliers, and a heated, wrap-around patio for al fresco dining.

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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