Vancouver is known for it’s rain, natural beauty, Chinese foreign investors and of course the ridiculous wealthy. Every city’s unique cultural make up will inspire an original assortment of food. Vancouver’s magnetism for Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern immigration has given rise to an extremely diverse set of cuisines, and made foreign foods landmarks of the city’s identity. This, paired with Vancouver’s extreme wealth has made for a plethora of high end fusion restaurants, but you don’t always have to go the expensive route to have a great meal. Here are some of my personal favourite restaurants for every budget:
Vij’s is an upscale Indian restaurant with a warm and comfortable ambiance and curries that will blow your mind. It’s hidden away just off of south Granville street with an unassuming facade and dim lighting. Order any dish off the menu and be impressed by the richness and uniqueness of flavours despite striking simplicity. The secret is fresh local ingredients and cooks who know the ropes. Vij’s orders much of their produce from local organic farms, and while dining one can see three or four Indian women cooking in the kitchen. If lamb is within your realm of moral standards, go for the lamb popsicles. The meat will fall of the bone, which acts as a small popsicle stick, and you’ll be left licking your fingers clean from mouth-watering yellow curry that comes with the meat. Vij’s doesn’t accept reservations and there’s often a one and a half to two hour wait. So come before you get hungry, put your name down on the list, and spend a few hours window shopping at the boutiques of south Granville.
The Templeton is a 50s style diner on the downtown portion of Granville street. The juke box and brightly colored leather booths catch the attention of passers-by, and the affordable, huge portions of delicious diner style food keep them coming back. The service is quick and the waitresses have a distinctly catty, no-bullshit vibe. Just in case they needed to add to the coolness factor of the Templeton diner, beneath the glass covering your table there will be a collection of themed vintage post cards. Each table has a different theme such as Wonder Woman, Airstream trailers, or Elvis. If you have a big appetite, go for the BBB burger, a side of poutine and a Jones soda. Everything on the menu is great, but the poutine is next level. With grated aged cheddar cheese and miso mushroom gravy on top of thick home style fries, this Canadian standard is flipped on it’s head and made even better than the original Quebecois poutine.
Nuba is a Lebanese restaurant with a few franchises across Vancouver. It’s reasonably priced, and cozy but classy, and a great place to go for a date. The delicious tapas style sharing dishes are perfect for groups and couples who like to try a variety of things, the drinks are delicious, and the exotic middle eastern flavours will keep you ordering appetizer after appetizer until you’re beyond full. If you’re vegetarian, this is a great restaurant for you. Think olives, feta, hummus, spicy cauliflower, and fresh flat bread.
Japanese food is likely the most sought after style of cuisine in Vancouver. With an abundance of upscale Japanese/Asian fusion restaurants in the downtown core, fancy sushi is not hard to find. As Vancouver is right on the Pacific ocean, fresh sea food is also not hard to find and even some cheap Japanese restaurants will wow you with their delicious rolls. Hi Nippon is a great place to have affordable, off the charts sushi at an unassuming restaurant on a trendy strip of Kitsilano. They serve wild fish and fresh vegetables and offer the option of brown rice sushi instead of the typical white rice rolls. Go for the salmon and tuna sashimi and enjoy melt-in-your-mouth soft fish caught from the ocean just four blocks away.
The Nook is an up-scale Italian restaurant with a franchise in Kitsilano and a franchise in the West End. Their food is simple, fresh, and delicious and their wine list is stacked. Choose a pizza or pasta from the few items on the menu and you will not be disappointed. If you want an extra treat, order an appetizer of burrata cheese and an assortment of nuts, fruit preserves, and maybe cured meats if you’re really hungry. Pick out a wine that suits your tastes or ask the servers, who are extremely well versed in their wine list, to surprise you. The ambiance at The Nook is classy but comfortable. You can walk in wearing a little black Chanel dress, or your Nike trainers and not feel out of place.