The Insta-famous foodie from Vancouver @vancouverfoodie shares her top restaurants she's discovered in the city.
If you love food and crave it 24/7, you’re in the right place. Hey there! It’s Emma Choo here with my carefully curated list of food spots you need to try or rediscover this year in Vancouver!
My wonderful hometown, Vancouver is one of those cities that has a bit of everything you have ever wanted to try in one place. Being located at the intersection of mountains, land, and water, our expansive food landscape is backed up with some of the freshest and robust local ingredients that one could dream of. Whether you’re new to Vancouver or have lived here your whole life, I hope this list of restaurants can give you a reason to step out and eat till your heart’s content.
I have broken the list down into the following sections: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Fancy Meals, and Dessert. Yes, fancy meals get a spot on its own for those special nights you want to treat yo’self or that special person.
I don’t know about you, but I’m already salivating…so let’s get to it!
Lift Breakfast Bakery LTD.
101 Lonsdale Ave, North Vancouver, BC V7M 2E6
Before opening up this friendly neighbourhood breakfast spot in North Vancouver, Chef Jane Copeland worked for the famous El Bulli restaurant in Spain. People always wonder why she decided to open a breakfast joint after having worked at one of the most highly recognized restaurants in the world.
She says that El Bulli equipped her with the right skills, but at the end of the day she wants to cook what she loves to eat. From the bread to the pastrami, everything is made from scratch at Lift Bakery. My go-to orders are the heritage hash and 1st Street lemon ricotta pancakes (think fluffy lemon loaf)!
The Red Wagon
2296 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V5L 1V4
The Red Wagon is a good ol’ classic diner that has been around for years. It’s one of those places where you want to grab a friend and share the ‘Super Trucker’ that comes fully loaded with 2 eggs, 2 buttermilk pancakes, pulled pork, crisp pork belly, homefries and toast. Oh, and you must go big or go home with Jack Daniel’s spiked syrup for $3 more! It’s booomb with the pulled pork and pork belly.
Chewie's Biscuit Co.
2822 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1R2
Newly opened in Kitsilano is Chewie’s Biscuit Co! A mom-and-pop shop serving up light and fluffy biscuits done 5 different ways! You can sink your teeth into a straight up buttery biscuit, get it French-toasted, sandwiched, eggs bennied, and in a BONUT form. Think biscuit + donut = MINDBLOWN.
551 Seymour St, Vancouver, BC V6B 3H6
Kokoro Mazesoba is well-known for their creamy “mixed noodle” bowls – filled with their house made multigrain noodles and 11 unique toppings. Their noodles are different from others in that they have the thickness of udon, but with the al dente bite of ramen 🍜 If you’re still hungry, they also provide a FREE BOWL OF RICE at the end to finish up your remaining sauce. But to top it all off, you need to get their Hokkaido Crème Cone (local organic milk soft serve in a cookie cone).
Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen
5083 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC V5P 3T9
This Vietnamese restaurant is not-your-average pho spot! Rather, they are known for their specialty Vietnamese noodle bowls, #23 and #24! #23 is their Special Crab Soup w/ Vermicelli and #24 is their Special Fish Cake & Vermicelli in Soup – filled to the brim with deep-fried slices fish cakes and fish balls with fresh bits of dill.
Just a heads up, go an hour before or after 12 pm to miss the line-up. Otherwise, you can try sharing a table with another diner for a different dining experience – one that is common in Asia!
4151 Hazelbridge Way #1830, Richmond, BC V6X 0A4
Sura has one of the best lunch specials in town! The $15 set menu has 11 dishes, while the $20 per person set course has 13 dishes (both include 3 side dishes too). A generous spread enough to have leftovers for the next day. Just a heads up, they have two locations – Downtown and Richmond. In my experience, the Richmond location provides larger portions and has the option to grill the bbq meats yourself!
1691 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9
Four well-known chefs around Vancouver teamed up to create Popina Canteen to nail the perfect lobster roll, fried chicken, falafels, and beef burger. I have to say they nailed their fried chicken burger with a Nextjen gluten-free and free-range chicken patty that has a killer ASMR-WORTHY crunch and juices bursting as you bite down. On Sundays, they have a specialty item called the ‘Hammer’s Hot Chicken’, available in three different spice levels - classic, Hammer’s hot and screaming hot!
2041 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1N3
TurF is a restaurant, a café, a fitness studio, and a shop. Yes, you can get a good sweat in one of their several workout classes and then go eat a delicious wholesome meal right after. TurF’s philosophy is “food keeps us alive, but good food makes us feel alive.
This philosophy is reflected well in their active choice to source from local Vancouver farms and cared-for animal proteins. Their MUSHROOM + RICOTTA toast with wild mushrooms and herbs topped with cashew cream ricotta is my all-time favourite there!
Sushi Bar Kilala
4749 East Hastings Street, Burnaby, British Columbia V5C2K8
Run by an adorable Japanese couple is this hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant in Burnaby that has melt-in-your-mouth unagi battera (freshwater eel) and uni gunkan maki (sea urchin) layered generously with fresh and plump uni. Keep an eye out for their daily specials to see if they have uni available and hopefully Hokkaido scallops straight from Japan as well!
Old Xian's Food
1111-3779 Sexsmith Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 4B3 (Several Locations)
Having been in Xi’an a few years back, the feeling of eating these long, wide, and chewy biang biang noodles is quite nostalgic for me. These are the noodles you would find local vendors selling in little carts on the side of the bustling streets. Old Xian’s Food has 3 locations – Robson, Crystal Mall, and Richmond (flagship). If you want a spot for the perfect noodle pull, this is it!
244 E Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z7
If you’ve ever asked a local for a food recommendation, there’s a 99% chance they said Phnom Penh. This Cambodian and Vietnamese restaurant located in Chinatown is iconic for their DEEP-FRIED CHICKEN WINGS. You dip the garlicky and peppery wings in the tangy lime sauce that will leave you wanting the whole plate to yourself. When in doubt, always order the large portion. Other staple dishes include butter beef and beef luc lac with an egg on rice (or fried rice).
4-3130 Saint Johns Street, Port Moody, BC V3H 5E3
$25 OMAKASE…I repeat…$25 OMAKASE! 11 pieces of nigiri, 1 hand roll and miso soup…say what?! This mom-and-pop shop located in Port Moody has THE best omakase deal you can ever find (at least in Vancouver)! It’s a bit of a trek to get here, but I promise you it is fully worth it. I highly recommend calling in advance to reserve a spot at the sushi bar for the authentic omakase (leave it up to the chef) experience, where you can watch Chef Toshiaki Hataguchi work his magic with each piece!
2045 Lonsdale Ave. North Vancouver, BC V7M 2K2
Indian Fusion has been around since 2008, but Chef Abby Sharma continues to cook up Indian dishes bursting with exotic spices and fresh local ingredients that leave you wanting more. I absolutely love ordering their garlic naan and dipping it into the lamb korma that is rich and creamy. My other must-order is their Mixed Grill, as it comes with tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, tandoori prawns, tandoori fish and lamb tikka on a sizzling hot plate!
11780 Thorpe Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1J5
I AM IN LOVE WITH THEIR MADE-TO-ORDER REGULAR FRIED CHICKEN! It's got that perfect crunchy skin that is audible from across the room when you first bite down. Order the regular fried chicken here and go around the corner to Church's Chicken to order their spicy fried chicken and crinkle cut fries. Thank me later 😉
2081 W.42nd Ave. Vancouver, British Columbia V6M 2B4
This sushi spot is an oldie, but goodie. Ajisai is nestled within Kerrisdale with an extensive menu of fresh rolls, nigiri and sashimi. To the point where you will find little to no hot food items. A must-try item is their negitoro roll (tuna belly and green onion) – one of my favourites in the city!
269 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1G3
St. Lawrence is in my list of Top 3 Restaurants to eat in Vancouver. This Quebecois-French Restaurant has THE BEST PORK CHOP IN TOWN. It’s thick and juicy with an irresistible cheesy Robuchon potato puree – essentially to die for. To start off, you must order their savoury Paris Brest with a foie gras mousse...I still have dreams about it. They even have the sweet tooths covered here with their house-made rice pudding topped with a dollop of salted caramel, candied pecans, and little cinnamon pastries!
Tetsu Sushi Bar
775 Denman St Vancouver, British Columbia V6G 2L6
Tetsu Sushi Bar is one of the best-kept secrets of the West End. It’s located on Denman Street, just steps away from Stanley Park. They fly in fresh fish from varying regions of Japan, even from the famous Tsukiji Market. Each piece of sushi you inhale here will leave you wanting to order more. In this case, go for the Premium omakase that includes Hokkaido Uni from Japan and Bluefin Tuna Kamatoro (regularly $12 a piece).
1600 Howe St #2, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2L9
Did you know that Japanese-Peruvian food is a cuisine of its own? It’s called Nikkei to be exact. Ancora is known for its beautifully-executed dishes that reflect Nikkei cuisine and West Coast sustainable seafood. They have one of the best ceviches and causas in town IMO! Ancora has two locations with waterfront views – across from Granville Island and their newly opened location in West Vancouver with gorgeous panoramic views and high ceilings for days.
200 Granville St #70, Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4
Miku is the OG for aburi oishi sushi (aka flame-seared and pressed sushi) in Canada. It’s the place you bring your valuable client or significant other for that ‘special’ meal to show them how much they mean to you. Recently, I even came across a person selling their Valentine’s Day reservation at Miku on a Facebook group for $100.
Dolar Shop Hot Pot
5300 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2X9
Originally from Shanghai is one of my favourite hot pot restaurants in the city! In fact, they are one of two hot pot restaurants in the city to serve sustainable Oceanwise seafood! Dolar Shop Hot Pot stands out that they provide a luxurious hot pot dining experience with their palace-like interiors and high-quality ingredients like Japanese Wagyu beef! They also do personal hot pots here, so you can choose your own broth!
Earnest Ice Cream
1829 Quebec Street, Vancouver, BC (1 of 4 locations)
If it’s your first time at Earnest Ice Cream, I’m sure it will not be your last. But first, you must opt for one of their three staples: London fog, salted caramel, or whiskey hazelnut. But, when in doubt get their cookies ‘n cream. I promise you it’s unlike any store-bought version - it’s rich, creamy and fully loaded with cookies. To amp it up, Earnest even has specialty ice cream sandwiches and sundaes!
413 Industrial Ave, Vancouver, BC V6A 2P8
Beta 5 is THE spot for cream puffs in Vancouver. From staples like ‘Variations of Chocolate Cream Puff’ to fun and creative ones like their Pina Colada Cream Puff made with pineapple curd and coconut ash Chantilly. In the summer, they have Ice Cream Socials, where they feature a new fun sundae creation every weekend. My favourite creation of theirs so far is the like a mango bubble tea sundae. This flavour became so popular that they created a cronut version of it!
7980 Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6P 4Z2
This Hong Kong-style dessert shop is the perfect mix of nostalgia, fun and creativity. They do a proper tofu pudding with ginger syrup in a cute wooden bucket as well as Vitasoy bulldogs. For major nostalgia, they offer street snacks like curry fish balls, fish siu mai and maltose crackers. For the days you crave adventure, try their latest creation - edible mah-jong tiles made of coconut and red bean pudding!
2785 W 16th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 4W7
I love La Glace. Their rich and decadent ice cream is made with “a crème anglaise base, a thick custard composed of egg yolks and heavy cream”...talk about an ice cream lovers dream! La Glace’s culinary director, Mark Tagulao travels abroad often to gain inspiration, which always has me looking forward to what new recipes he has up his sleeve. Currently, on the menu are incredible flavours like kalamansi sour cream sherbert and black sesame & salted duck yolk swirl. My all-time favourite here is their milk chocolate passionfruit!
4216 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P9
Trafiq is one of my go-to's for everyday and celebratory cakes. If you ever happen to see their Mucho Matcha Tart featured, YOU MUST GET IT. This matcha tart is a triple threat with matcha almond cream, matcha pastry cream, and matcha cream! Otherwise, if you’re just looking for a good afternoon snack, try their schnecken. It’s a warm brioche cinnamon bun loaded with a handful of pecans.
Nana's Green Tea
2135 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6M 1Z6
Nana’s Green Tea is a super popular dessert chain in Japan! For a while now, Vancouverites had been waiting for a spot that specialized in green tea treats. When Nana’s Green Tea announced its opening last year, everyone was ecstatic. Their matcha shiratama parfait, hoijicha float (roasted green tea), matcha white chocolate brownie, and matcha cake roll are my favourite treats to order here!
Are you drooling now? Don’t worry, I am too. Thanks for taking the time to scroll through my list of places to try for the first time or even rediscover this 2019! If you ever have any questions on where to go eat next, feel free to slide in my DM’s on Instagram! I’m already excited for YOUR next meal in this wonderful city I call home 😊