The Absolute Best Restaurants in Vancouver
Celebrated worldwide for its culinary chops, Vancouver tops the list of British Columbia’s best stops for food-loving travelers. The city blends the freshest ingredients (oh, the sushi) with daring, modern techniques. Favorite dining stops include Blue Water Cafe, Cafe Medina, Kissa Tanto, and Vikram Vij’s well-named Vij’s. But those restaurants are just the start. A leader of the sustainable seafood movement in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, the city plays with a big palette, looking west to Asia for flavor inspiration.
1059 Alberni Street
Born in Auvergne, Thierry Busset trained with European masters before taking his pastry prowess to London’s Le Gavroche and Marco Pierre White (both of which peaked at three Michelin stars). His talent even tamed the famously mercurial Gordon Ramsay, who called Busset “one of the finest pastry chefs in the world.” Nestled on Alberni Street (which is rapidly turning into Vancouver’s version of Rodeo Drive), Busset’s eponymous café is constantly bustling. Pop in for the pillowy macarons, but stay for the soups, quiches, and sandwiches crafted with house-baked bread. Open until midnight daily, the chic eatery also serves spiked drinks, perfect for sipping on the gorgeous heated patio. If you have your heart set on a particular treat, swing by early—fan favorites can easily sell out before noon.
Richmond, BC, Canada
This airy, elegant Richmond eatery celebrates the fusion of French and southern-central Vietnamese cultures in its look and menu. Chef/owner Lan Do and her team painstakingly bake baguettes daily and simmer beef bones for 12 to 15 hours for the pho stock, enriched by onion, ginger, shallots, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom. Another standout: the banh khot, petite savory rice crepes tinged with turmeric that cradle shrimp. Finish with macrons and a TWG tea from Singapore. Note: Bánh Mì Très Bon has slightly elevated prices for a restaurant tucked near the Walmart Super Centre, but that’s only because it sources as locally, sustainably and organically as possible—the same nutritious food Do would serve her own family.
1480 W 11th Ave
Celebrity chefs Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala serve brightly spiced dishes at their flagship restaurant—often hailed as one of the world’s finest for Indian food. Their wine-marinated lamb popsicles are legendary, but their menu has other stars, too, like jackfruit in cumin-black-cardamom curry, boneless chicken wings on ricotta-sweet-potato cookies, and Punjabi-style goat meat with spiced vegetables. Thankfully, the lines have calmed since Vij’s 2015 move to bigger digs on Cambie Street, where guests can also enjoy a great rooftop patio. Wait times still too long? Try Vij’s Rangoli, just 1.4 miles west, which has shorter lines and accepts online takeout orders.
1095 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5T4, Canada
Routinely crowned the city’s top seafood restaurant, Blue Water Cafe is also among the continent’s best. After honing his skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, executive chef Frank Pabst opened this Yaletown classic to marry fine-dining techniques with local, sustainable ingredients. Eventually, the restaurant became a founding member of the Ocean Wise program, which helps consumers make ocean-friendly seafood choices. When visiting, you can belly up to the bar—which boasts more than 200 whiskeys and 1,000 wine labels—or reserve a table in the elegant brick-and-beamed dining room, housed in a heritage warehouse. Come summertime, however, you’ll want to head straight to the patio for sushi and premium sake. Fancy a splurge? Go for the seafood tower, which showcases the bounty of British Columbia.
15 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1C8, Canada
This urban icon started as a hippie food truck housed in a surf shop parking lot on Vancouver Island. It has since blossomed into three restaurants, two burrito bars, a taco joint, and two food trucks, located everywhere from Hastings-Sunrise and Yaletown to Gastown and the Financial District. Chef Stefan Hartmann, who once ran a Michelin-starred restaurant in Berlin, now captains these elevated spots along with founder Jason Sussman. Expect nuanced options like chorizo-kale, pork al pastor with pineapple, and chicken with pickled vegetables, all on soft wheat tortillas for six to seven dollars. Also noteworthy are the meat-free dishes like “vegetable scrapple”—a delicious fritter of squash and chickpeas, topped with herbed tomatoes. And don’t overlook the octopus tostada—Tacofino not only sources seafood sustainably but also participates in Vancouver’s Climate Smart program and is working toward being a zero-waste business.
780 Richards St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3A4, Canada
The longest lines in the city form every day at Café Medina, a haven of Mediterranean-inspired breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch dishes in the Library District. The decor here feels like a minimalist version of 1920s Paris, with aged walls, mismatched light fixtures, and a mosaic entranceway. Equally charming, the eclectic bistro fare ranges from pistachio-rosewater Belgian waffles to halloumi couscous and a harissa burger, spiked with preserved lemon and tucked into a pita with baba ghanoush and two fried eggs. Don’t miss the blistered flatbread, ideally paired with the honey-black-pepper mascarpone side. And finish with a lavender latte, a house-made turmeric soda, or a superb craft cocktail. If you don’t want to wait, skirt the crowds by visiting Tuesdays or Wednesdays for lunch, or arriving at 2 p.m. (an hour before last call).