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The 11 Absolute Best Restaurants in Vancouver

Visitors and Vancouverites alike are constantly engaged in the search for Vancouver’s best restaurants. But is Vancouver even a good food city?

Well firstly, the city is located within a few hours of some of the most bountiful oceans, farmland, orchards, and vineyards in the world.

Combine this with a cosmopolitan population of immigrants from every corner of the globe, and what do you get?

A gastronomical wonderland featuring cool restaurants of every shape and size – but we’re here to narrow it down so you don’t have to.

So with no further ado, here’s our list of the 11 best restaurants in Vancouver.

The Best Restaurants in Vancouver

Joe Fortes Seafood and Chophouse

A seafood platter at Joe Fortes, Vancouver
Instagram: @joefortesvan

$$$$ | Area: Downtown | 777 Thurlow St | Skytrain: City Centre | Website

The king of downtown Vancouver restaurants named after a legendary lifeguard is universally considered the best oyster bar in town.

But with over 50 different kinds of fish, shellfish, and chops sourced only from local farms, fisherman, and ranchers… Joe Fortes is much more than that.

The stunning 1920’s dining room features 30 foot ceilings and a famous rooftop patio. It’s one of the best spots in the city to enjoy a happy hour cocktail. 

Go here for uniquely West-coast cuisine.

St. Lawrence

Quail at St Lawrence, Vancouver
Instagram: @stlawrencerestaurant

$$$$ | Area: Gastown | 269 Powell St | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

Since opening in 2017 St. Lawrence has won numerous awards for serving classic French cuisine heavily influenced by Executive chef J.C. Poirier’s Québécois upbringing.

But don’t expect Vancouver must eats like poutine.

This Gastown haunt offers elevated French country cooking (cuisine de campagne as he labels it): rustic, generous, and honest.

We went for a light endive salad with blue cheese and then went all out with two classics: trout amandine with brown butter sauce and hangar steak aux poivres with the most delectable pommes frites you’ve ever tasted.

Well respected local publication Vancouver Magazine recently awarded St. Lawrence with the prestigious title of Best Restaurant and Best Chef in 2019.

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

A plate of steamed dumplings at Bao Bei, Vancouver
Instagram: @baobei1

$$$ | Area: Chinatown | 163 Keefer St | Skytrain: Stadium | Website

This ain’t no fortune cookie Cantonese joint with special fried rice and chicken chow mein – Chinatown favourite Bao Bei Brasserie kills it with elevated Chinese classics infused with flavours from Taiwan, Shanghai, and Sichuan.

And they come paired with some of the tastiest cocktails in the city.

The schnacks section contains a number of shareable finger foods (go for the marinated eggplant) that are perfect pairings as an Asian aperitivo!

The delicious petit cadeaux menu contains a variety of handmade dumplings, wontons, and pot stickers. Need something more filling? Locals hit the petit plat chinois for dan-dan noodles, crispy pork belly or wok fried squid.

The kicker? It’s a 100% sustainable, organic ,hormone-free, and MSG-less kitchen to be devoured in good conscience.

They don’t accept reservations – get there early.

Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar

Snapper en croute de sel at Boulevard Kitchen, Vancouver
Instagram: @blvdyvr

$$$$ | Area: Downtown | 845 Burrard St | Skytrain: City Centre | Website

Located in the iconic Sutton Place Hotel, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar has been racking up awards due to the inventive cuisine of executive chef Alex Chen.

While firmly based in French traditions, Boulevard’s menu also employs strong Asian and West-coast influences in its award winning menu.

As a seafood lover I recommend the local roasted sablefish, served with broccoli, grilled maitake mushroom and xo sauce.

Looking to stay on land? The grilled USDA prime NY steak with shiitake pomme Anna and maitake mushrooms.

The happy hour menu is also some of the best value in the city.

Ask for Luigi

An egg drizzles over a plate of Tagliolini Carbonara
Instagram: @askforluigi

$$$ | Area: Gastown | 305 Alexander St | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

If you’re on the lookout for honest Italian food served in a casual and intimate setting then there’s no better spot than Ask For Luigi.

Dining in this pint-sized restaurant feels more like lunch at nonna’s – if she were a five star chef with meatballs that could interrupt a Berlusconi bunga bunga party.

Start with an aperitivo like a spritz or a bicicletta (campari, wine, lemon) and dig into some bocconcini fritti : deep fried house-made mozzarella with marinara sauce.

It’s the homemade pasta though that keeps customers coming back.

Two can’t miss courses are the fusilli verde with a rich duck ragu or the ricotta ravioli with peas, mint, and lemon.

I capped things with a short espresso and a necking of the undisputed king of Italian digestivi (grappa) and walked out half-cut: just like nonna would have wanted!

Hawksworth

Morrocan rubbed lamb shoulder over white polenta
Instagram: @hawksworthrest

$$$$ | Area: Downtown | 801 W. Georgia St | Skytrain: City Centre | Website

This 5 time winner of Vancouver Magazine’s prestigious Best Upscale award celebrates modern Canadian cuisine with a spontaneous, seasonal menu.

Executive Chef David Hawksworth beautifully take a casual, multi-ethnic approach to create stunning entrees like wild ling cod with black rice, curried root vegetable, and orange lassi.

The piece de resistance is the aged beef sirloin with a beef fat roasted onion and smoked bone marrow bordelaise.

There’s also a superb cocktail list and some of the top desserts in the city. 

Pidgin

Chicken karrage at Pidgin, Vancouver
Instagram: @pidginyvr

$$$ | Area: Gastown | 350 Carrall St | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

This stylish eatery on the edge of trendy Gastown tasks itself with the goal of challenging people’s deep seeded notions of Asian cuisine – combining traditional Asian flavours with European sensibilities.

My favourite starter is the crunchy chicken karaage with spicy yusu kosho mayo and pickled daikon – a personal childhood favourite elevated.

The Korean rice cake with gochujang bolognese (a Korean chili paste) is the restaurant’s signature dish. But if you’re feeling extra indulgent, you can’t go wrong with the foie gras rice bowl with chestnuts, daikon and unagi glaze.

Pidgin masterfully breaks down the walls between both East and West and past and present. Consequently, it manages to represent contemporary Vancouver in a way that few other good restaurants can.

Vij’s

The famous lamb popsicles at Vij’s
Instagram: @eatdrinkvijs

$$$$ | Area: Fairview | 350 Carrall St | Skytrain: City Hall | Website

Curry lovers will be thrilled to know that Vancouver is home to what has been dubbed the best Indian restaurant in North America.

The brainchild of Canadian celebrity chef Vikram Vij, Vij’s has accumulated a wealth of international accolades over 25 years of operation – most famously in the late Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

The show begins the minute you walk in the door: a warm smile, a selection of complimentary snacks, and a cup of the best chai tea in the city.

You’ll probably meet Vikram himself as this masterful restauranteur is as attentive to his diners as he is to the unique spice blends used in his kitchen.

The restaurants signature dish is without a doubt the tender wine-marinated lamb popsicles with fenugreek cream curry.

Other favourites include the grilled local sablefish in a light yoghurt tomato broth with onion masala and the spicy Punjabi-style goat curry.

*Vij’s only excepts a limited amount of reservations, with the majority of tables reserved for walk up customers. As a result, we highly recommend booking in advance to secure a table at your time of choice.

L’Abbatoir

Cod au vin at L’Abbatoir Vancouver
Instagram: @labbatoir_van

$$$$ | Area: Gastown | 217 Carrall St | Skytrain: Waterfront | Website

Situated in the heart of Gastown between historic Gaoler’s Mews and Blood Alley, fine dining L’Abattoir is located on the site of Vancouver’s first city jail.

Eventually, the building was converted into the city’s main butchery and now the restaurant and its rather macabre name: meaning slaughterhouse in French.

The French influenced West-Coast cuisine, coupled with the attentive yet unpretentious service has secured L’Abattoir numerous awards since it’s opening in 2010.

West-Coast classics like roasted ling cod and traditional favourites like Steak Diane are heavily ‘frenchified’. If that wasn’t enough, they come accompanied with an eclectic wine list and some of the best cocktails in the city.

Kissa Tanto

Tempura battered whole fish at Kissa Tanto
Instagram: @kissatanto

$$$ | Area: Chinatown | 263 East Pender St | Skytrain: Stadium | Website

If your reaction upon hearing the words ‘Japanese-Italian fusion‘ is ‘why mess with two good things?’ then I’ll give it to you – until I discovered one of the best new restaurants in Vancouver.

Its imaginative decor paying homage to a defunct 1960’s Tokyo jazz club (‘Kissa’) is perennially ranked amongst the best restaurants in the country.

The pairing of delicate Japanese flavours with the rustic warmth of Italian cooking is a home run for tastebuds.

Start out with the daily fish crudo, with shiso vinaigrette, capers, Castelvetrano olives and mustard greens. Fancy a pasta?  Then shoot for the agnolotti with braised duck, Japanese leeks, and a grainy mustard brandy sauce.

The main event? A whole fried fish served tempura style with a daikon soy dipping sauce.

Reservations at Kissa Tanto are hard to come by. However, they do leave a number of tables open for walk ins on a daily basis.

Show up early to get your spot.

Tojo’s

A sashimi platter at Tojo’s
Instagram: @tojos_restaurant

$$$$$ | Area: Fairview | 1133 W Broadway | Skytrain: Broadway | Website

The best sushi in Vancouver, period.

Tojo’s is home to internationally acclaimed sushi chef Hidekazu Tojo: a man so highly regarded that he has been fawned over by Anthony Bourdain, ranked as one of the 10 best sushi chefs in the world, and even named a goodwill ambassador by the Japanese government.

Not easily impressed? He has also been credited with the invention of North American sushi staple the California roll in 1971.

At Tojo’s it’s simply called the ‘Tojo roll’.

The ultimate way to experience his genius is the omakase menu. Meaning “chef, I’m in your hands”, this option allows Tojo to prepare a specially curated selection of hot and cold dishes.

There are 5 different options starting at $80 and up. You’re guaranteed 6-7 courses specifically tailored to your tastes.

Not looking to drop $80? An a la carte option is available.

Tips for Dining in Vancouver

A couple prepares to dine

Before going for a little taste here are a few quick tips to help you get the most out of the best restaurants in Vancouver.

Book a Table in Advance

Many of the restaurants on our list are among the busiest in Vancouver. Consequently, we highly recommend booking a table as far in advance as possible.

Our preferred method is using the popular app OpenTable.

This valuable tool allows you to conveniently view all of the restaurants that have availability in one place.

You can compare menus, prices and reviews from your own mobile device, saving you time, money and potentially the disappointment on a sub par meal.

We have made sure to provide links to the restaurants making use of this service in each corresponding section.

*We will receive a small commission to help maintain this site on each booking made through these links. Thanks for your understanding.

Try Visiting For Lunch

One of the best ways to avoid the crowds and guarantee yourself a table at a highly rated restaurant is to opt for a lunch service.

Furthermore, since lunch menus are typically priced at a lower rate, this can be a great way to save a few dollars while travelling, particularly in an expensive city such as Vancouver

Hit up Happy Hour

Another valuable money saving tip is to make use of the happy hours that are being offered with increasing frequency in many of the city’s bars and restaurants.

Typically offered in the lull between lunch and dinner (think 3-6ish), happy hour menus usually offer a select group of beers, wines and cocktails that are paired with some of the best food in Vancouver – at budget prices!

This are a great way to sample the cuisine at a restaurant that may otherwise be out of your price point.

We’ve made a note of the restaurants on this list that offer happy hour in the “hours” section.

Score a Table Without a Reservation

If you are unable to score a coveted table at the restaurant of your choice, all isn’t lost.

Unbeknownst to most, even the busiest restaurants in town keep a couple tables open to the public. But how do go about snagging one?

Well, short of bribery (oddly enough, most people love money), the best option is to opt for an early or late seating.

Relative to Europeans, Canadians tend to dine fairly early, with bookings typically peaking around 6:30-8:00. Simply show up at opening time, or better yet, waltz in around 9 o’clock after a few pre-dinner aperitivi.

More often than not, you’ll be dining in no time!

Take a Bite Out of Us

We’ve run out of places in our list of top restaurants in Vancouver but it doesn’t have to end there!

If you didn’t see anything that tickles your fancy or you have any other questions regarding anything Vancouver, be sure to get at us in the comments below.

Until next time! Bon appétit 🙂

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