How do we determine where to eat when we travel? It starts with some advanced pre-trip research on restaurants that fit our criteria. We tend to favor places with locally sourced, sustainable seafood and interesting preparations.
Once we get to a city, we ask knowledgeable locals for their favorite restaurants. Then we stop by to peruse the menus, atmosphere, and vibe of virtually every interesting restaurant we identified or that we passed by in our miles of walking.
While we can’t claim to know all of the restaurants in Vancouver, here are the places we have eaten in when we visited the city (alphabetical). We were not compensated or comped to include them. As a reminder, menus and chefs often change. Your experience may not be the same as ours.
Blue Water Café (Yaletown)
Blue Water Cafe is large, very popular, and expensive seafood restaurant. Although all people with whom we talked, spoke highly of the restaurant, they all cautioned us about the price. We had an imaginative and delicious Dungeness Crab with White Asparagus Panna Cotta, an equally good Sablefish with miso sake glaze, baby bok choy, edamame, quinoa, and shiitake mushrooms, accompanied by a British Columbia Pinot Gris. It was well worth the price.
Brix and Mortar (Yaletown)
Brix and Mortar is a wonderful restaurant with very good food, a nice wine list, and very professional service. Although tempted by several dishes, we decide to split one main course and an accompaniment. The main dish was a large fillet of potato-crusted halibut with aged cheddar gits, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and chimichurri (which did not, in our mind, enhance the dish). The side was one of the best lobes of seared Hudson Valley foie gras that we have had. It was slightly charred and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The wine to which The sommelier guided us to the perfect wine—a Joie Farms “En Familie” Reserve Pinot Noir from the Okanagan Valley.
This very popular restaurant has three signature mussel dishes and a selection of fish, meat, and fowl entrees. We had the Moules Frites Congolaise in a tomato coconut cream broth, and a braised lamb shank with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro along with a British Columbia Pinot Noir. Although both dishes were fine, we don’t quite understand the fervor surrounding the restaurant.
Fanny Bay Oyster (Downtown)
We stopped here for a pre-dinner, Happy Hour appetizer (and drinks) of Fanny Bay (British Colombia) and our favorite, the briny, minerally Boss Gibson oysters from New Brunswick.
And for when we go to Granville Island and don’t have time to enjoy a sit-down restaurant, we pick up several dishes from the Public Market. Although the market is certainly fun and has some very appetizing fresh meats, fish, and produce, the prepared options were primarily fast food. We had a very credible and chicken-packed chicken noodle soup from a soup shop and an overly noodle-stuffed shrimp summer roll from an Asian stand.
Jade Dynasty (Chinatown)
We shared har gow (shrimp dumplings) and General Tso Chicken which we both enjoyed. However, we were less impressed with our second dish, the barbeque pork and shrimp with fried vermicelli.
Joe Forte (Robson)
We have eaten here several times when we traveled to Vancouver. The service and the food were credible on our first visit, if not particularly notable. The fried oysters, while a bit overdone for our taste, were serviceable. The cedar-plank grilled salmon with an edamame cabernet reduction sauce, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes was much more interesting. The lobster oil with balsamic served as an unusual and good accompaniment to the bread.
On our more recent 2022 visit, the fried oysters were again slightly overcooked. So too was the spring (aka King, aka Chinook) salmon with lemon butter which we ordered rare, but came just short of medium. We mistakenly chose to accept it. The accompaniments, however, were quite good—roasted baby Yukon Gold potatoes, golden beets, asparagus, and carrot puree. Our wine was acceptable, but uninteresting Carson Naramata Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Okanagan Valley. Twice, however, was more than enough. Despite the restaurant’s continued popularity, we will not return.
Provence Marinaside (False Creek)
We shared a grilled avocado stuffed with shrimp and lime dressing, and a grilled, line-caught BC halibut with vegetables, fingerling potatoes, grapefruit, and salsa verde. The restaurant has an amazing, 27-page wine list that includes 75 wines that are available by the glass (as well as the bottle) with prices ranging from about $60 to $1,700 dollars. Although the selection represents many of North America’s and Europe’s primary wine regions, we focused on British Columbia wines. After sampling three, we selected a bottle of 50th Parallel Pinot Gris from Lake County. We followed up with a B.C. liquid desert of Ice Wines: a lighter, bodied, slightly drier Pentage Roussanne Ice Wine and our preferred sweeter, more viscous Mission Hill Estate Riesling Ice Wine.
Rodney’s Oyster House, (Yaletown)
We have stopped at this fun, informal food and drink bar several times for Happy Hour. What’s not to like about oysters and wine? had a Happy Hour meal at this oyster bar with a dozen British Columbian Fanny Bay oysters and much more to our taste, a dozen large, briny Prince Edward Island Five-Star Malpeque oysters, steamed manila clams, fried oysters, and an acceptable bottle Poplar Grove Pinto Gris. It also has a limited menu of straightforward chowders, shellfish and fish dishes.
Sandbar (Granville Island)
We had a delicious black cod (aka sablefish) which was marinated in miso-soy sauce and served with jasmine rice, asparagus, and red and yellow peppers along with a Poplar Grove Pinot Gris. While we enjoyed the food, the service was atrocious. It was slow and messy (including some spilled wine with no apology). Even after seeing our dissatisfaction, no one asked about our food.
Showcase Restaurant (Downtown)
The restaurant is in the Marriot Pinnacle Hotel. We enjoyed a snack of fried, Southern-spiced calamari with spicy aioli and roasted cauliflower with toasted cumin seed butter, lime yogurt, garbanzo beans, and cilantro. We paired the food with glasses of marginal Inniskillin B.C. Pinot Blanc and Cabernet. A talented solo guitar player made the food even more enjoyable.