The Culinary Traveller’s Guide
COMMERCIAL DRIVE This traditionally Italian and Portuguese area on Vancouver's east side now includes professionals and hipsters galore. The street is lined with coffee bars, restaurants of many ethnicities, and unique stores like Fratelli's Italian Bakery and the organic butcher Pastures to Plate.
GASTOWN Vancouver's oldest neighbourhood has long waited for its day in the sun. Excellent restaurants and stores with original, locally made items are springing up everywhere. Pick up baked goods at Brioche, or fresh organic meat at Save-On-Meats.
YALETOWN This former warehouse district boasts some of Vancouver's best and most expensive restaurants, as well as the upscale food stores Choices and Urban Fare. Treat yourself to a meal at Blue Water, one of Vancouver's best seafood restaurants.
RICHMOND This suburb to the south of the city is a preferred destination for East Asian immigrants, mostly Chinese. Many say the best Chinese food in North America can be found here. As well as restaurants there are food stores and malls packed with East Asian products.
CHINATOWN The original home of Vancouver's Chinese immigrants still has terrific budget Chinese restaurants, bakeries and produce, and some new, eclectic restaurants. Pick up barbecue pork buns at New Town Bakery or head directly to Phnom Penh restaurant, a Vancouver institution, for Vietnamese/Cambodian food.
KITSILANO This hippie haven of the 1960s has morphed into an upscale, uber-hip strip. Les Amis du Fromage stocks 400–500 varieties of cheese and offers meals and cheese plates. Terra Breads features artisan breads and rustic pastries as well as a lunch menu.
SURREY It's a bit of a hike from downtown, but this suburb southeast of Vancouver is home to more than 100,000 immigrants of South Asian, mostly Punjabi, origin. There are countless restaurants and food stores, as well as sari and fabric stores, in the area around Scott Road. (There's a smaller but still interesting Indian area at Main St. and 49th Ave in Vancouver.)
GRANVILLE ISLAND PUBLIC MARKET The granddaddy of Vancouver markets, with several square blocks of farmers' markets, artists' studios, performance spaces, restaurants and stores — including a top kitchenware store. Open daily, 9 am–7 pm. 1689 Johnston St. www.granvilleisland.com
RICHMOND NIGHT MARKET Called the largest Asian night market outside of Asia, with prepared food, food products and other goods as well as performances from Chinese opera to Canto-pop. Open Friday and Saturday, 7 pm–11 pm, Sundays and holidays, 6 pm–11 pm, May 17–Oct. 14. 8351 River Rd, Richmond. www.richmondnightmarket.com
TROUT LAKE FARMER'S MARKET A favourite for local and organic produce and crafts. 9 am–2 pm, Saturdays, May–Oct. Trout Lake Park, East Vancouver.
For the entire list of farmers' markets in Vancouver, see www.eatlocal.org/markets.
New and Notable
ABSINTHE BISTRO Chef Corey Pearson went to France from Vancouver after finishing culinary school. Now he's brought his considerable talent back home, creating light French-style dishes sans heavy sauces. The prix fixe menu changes every month; three courses are $38 and two courses just $28. The great food and the small bistro atmosphere can't be beat. 1260 Commercial Dr. www.bistroabsinthe.com
BISTRO WAGON ROUGE More great affordable French bistro food. Brad Miller spent five years at the high-end Bistro Pastis before starting his own restaurant. The space is down near the docks, the former site of the Dockers Cafe. It could be parachuted into a little French village and feel right at home says restaurant critic Mia Stainsby. 1869 Powell St.
ASK FOR LUIGI It's not Luigi at the helm, but Jean Christophe Poirier, who learned his trade in French restaurants — although here he's cooking Italian. Prepare to line up for his pastas (including a gluten-free one), sauces and appies. 305 Alexander St. www.askforluigi.com
CUCHILLO Owner/chef Stu Irving has cooked at two of Vancouver's favourite restaurants, Asian-fusion Wild Rice and the now defunct Cobre. At Cuchillo the small plates tend toward Mexican but incorporate Peruvian, Chilean and Colombian dishes too. 261 Powell St. www.Cuchillo.ca
FARMER'S APPRENTICE Chef David Gunawan creates new recipes daily, on the spot. In summer, farmers bring in products that are at peak and Gunawan transforms them. Although meat dishes like quail and pork terrine are available, the restaurant tends to focus on vegetables. 1535 W. Sixth Ave. www.farmersapprentice.ca