Untidy Heidi

the untidy side of my learning journey

Vancouver Favorites (rough notes)

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In the online community of my grad school program, they started a Foodie feed asking for people’s recommendations of their favorite places. Below is the rough post I created for my classmates. I thought it might be a good start for my Culinary Adventures section. This list is mostly for out-of-towners or for locals hosting guests. If you are a local and haven’t tried these places, go check them out and let me know what you think.

I love a good culinary adventure and would LOVE to hear your recommendations!

(Sorry for the typos, this was a quick write up and post… hopefully later I’ll get a moment to edit it and add more links). Enjoy!

Breakfast in Vancouver:

Vancouver has been lacking on the brunch fronts until a couple of years ago, but here is my two cents…

  • Best Croissants: Beaucoup Bakery & Thomas Hass … A perfectly crunchy croissant with a perfectly brewed coffee with a good book or the news – that’s a perfect morning, if you ask me.
  • Best Coffee: I love JJ Bean. I appreciate a good dark roast, but if you prefer a lighter, more floral/citrus/fruity coffee then 49th Parrallel will be your perfect cup. JJ Bean on Main Street is my favorite (it’s around the corner from me) – the coziest coffee shop.
  • Best Donuts: YVR has been lacking on the donut front as well until recently, though they still aren’t my favs. If you want fancy & hipster donuts, check out Lucky’s (usually connected with 49th Parallel Coffee) or Cartem’s in Gastown. I on the other hand want the freshest, right out of the fryer donuts… I can get those at Lee’s Donuts on Granville Island and occasionally at Duffin’s Donuts. Duffins is out of the way on 49th (I think), but it’s one of those ‘only in Vancouver’ kind of places… Donut and Mexican Tortas in a Fast Food style with a side of Chinese Food. It’s weird and it’s awesome and I think it’s open 24 hours. And if you are in Deep Cove on the North Shore (especially after some paddleboarding or kayaking), you must stop in for the freshest of fresh, like no other donut at Honey’s.
  • Best Brunch: There are more and more places popping up and there are the usuals recommended on blogs & yelp like Twisted Fork and couple of others. I have yet to check them out (too long of lines and not convenient to my apartment). Jethro’s (are staple brunch place with ginormous and amazing pancakes), Red Wagon (there’s a wait, it’s been on DDD, go with the pork belly), Edible Canada on Granville Island (love the maple bacon caesar & the bfast poutine… my fav bday brunch spot… probably great for dinner too!), El Camino (is in my hood), Deacon’s – more American diner style (the only place I can get decent corn beef hash or biscuits & gravy).


Lunch in Vancouver:

  • Japadog: *MUST DO!! It is one of the founders of our food carts/trucks in the city… Pick your poison – it’s all awesome and all delicious! (Right Cynthia Ponce?)
  • Finch’s: I just have 5 words… Pear, Blue Brie, Prosciutto Baguette. It’s art in sandwich form. It’s awesome! Go for lunch and pair with a cup of tea on a drizzly day. It’s lovely!
  • Dirty Apron: LOVE THIS PLACE! Sandwiches, hearty meals, delicious soups… Great to sit and eat (if raining) or take for a picnic in Victory Square. I love their crab baguette, but their chicken sandwich with anchovies is awesome as is their new beef thai baguette.
  • Meat & Bread: Best Porchetta I have ever had… (disclaimer: it was my first porchetta). They opened in my old office building and have since opened another location. (Fun fact: I was their first yelp reviewer…) Rich, heavy, but delicious!
  • La Taqueria: I only put this b/c when I moved up here there were no decent tacos… my first 10 dates with my partner/BF were him researching/locating taco places and taking me to try them… I claimed that the lack of tacos would be what would drive me to leave… and then magically La Taqueria opened kiddy corner to my old office (que angels singing and sun shining). … Tacofino is newer too and I would recommend them for their fish tacos – yum!
  • Banh Mi: I love these Vietnamese sandwiches… cheap, crunchy, delicious, so good! I usually do what is local to me (BALLE or Le Petit Cafe), but really, if you want cheap, fast and delicious, find the closets Vietnamese restaurant. You really can’t go wrong.
  • Noodles & Dumplings: I am still on the hunt for my fav dim sum, but hopefully this will help…
    • Hand spun noodles & dumplings: Shao Lin
    • Peaceful Restaurant: Hand spun noodles, must try their beef roll, and I have a love for their Xiao-Long Bao Steamed Buns (was on DDD).
    • Dim sum to go & snacks… New Town Bakery in ChinaTown on Pender.
    • Ramen… there are some great Ramen places! I can’t remember the name, but there is a hub of them near Denman & Robson.
  • Banana Leaf (Malaysian) – so delicious! My mouth is watering thinking about it… I like the tiny location on Denman, but they have a few open around town now.
  • Donburiya: I would categorize it as awesome Japanese street food. This is where I go for my favorite Takoyaki (octopus balls). Love this place!
  • Phnom Pehn in Chinatown – best and most addicting chicken wings! Look them up on Yelp for more help on what to order. SO GOOD!

Note: most all of these could be affordable dinner locations too (except for Finch’s, Dirty Apron, Meat & Bread)

Sushi in Vancouver: *MUST DO!!

  • Best of the Best and Expensive: Tojo’s. He is the creator of the California Roll (not the faux crab one, the awesomely delicious one).
  • Most eclectic experience and sushi selection: The Eatery in Kitsilano. It’s mind blowingly crazy, fun and I love the Volcano Roll, the Beet it Roll and you must start with a Fat Elvis.
  • Fav Local (and #2 rated in the city): Toshi’s on 16th Ave at Main (always a wait, get there before 5pm for early spot in line) or order out and bring to my place. We can pick up a local beer to have with it too!
  • New (I haven’t tried, but my foodie friend recommended it): Yuji’s in Kitsilano.
  • It is really hard to go wrong with sushi in this city, if you feel the hankering, pop in and get what looks/sounds delish!

Dinner/Appetizers in Vancouver:

  • Chambar… I love getting a table at the front, ordering their mussels (both are amazing!!) and a delicious cocktail with some girlfriends. They just moved to a bigger and stunning place (next to their old location). Highly recommend! (note: fancier)
  • Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie : Vancouver : Chinatown | (great food and good cocktails!)
  • Oysters: Rodney’s (get the Caesar – a bloody Mary north of the border with clamato juice). It’s quite a scene there with a schtick of handsome men with flirty attitudes as servers. But Oysters here are amazing!! (If you are into them). Or find a place having an Oyster happy hour. Yum! Rodney’s is in Yaletown or Gastown.
  • Nuba (lunch or dinner…) – delicious Lebanese food! Recommended: Najib’s Special (amazing cauliflower!), Halloumi Cheese, Lamb Kafka, and a Mezze platter (hummus, babaganoush (sp?), etc)
  • *MUST DO! Guu in Gastown – Fun, delicious, in awesome historical brick buildings… Look for a sandwich board on the sidewalk, otherwise you’ll miss it. I think they open at 5pm.
  • Fancy pants dinners:
    • Raincoast (I have never been, but here it is great!). Sustainability and seafood focused.
    • Blue Water in Yaletown – seafood heaven. Expensive, but I think worth it.

Snacks in Vancouver:

  • Ernest Ice Cream – fresh, local, delicious, creative flavours. New venue at Quebec & 2nd (near the Olympic Village/Science World).
  • La Casa Gelato – 100s of gelato flavours (yes we spell things with the ‘u’ up here). An experience in itself!
  • Chocolates: Rogers Chocolates is a fav Canadian export for my family… My partner’s family prefers Purdy’s. Thomas Haas chocolates are amazing!
  • Edible Canada on Granville Island is foodie heaven of food items to bring home.
  • Poutine… Yep you have to do it! If you want decent and cheap – go to Costco downtown. I recommend Fritz’ on Davie near Granville. Belgian Fries on Commercial Drive. Frenchies, I hear is a staple and one just opened up on Main at Broadway. Now they offer super gourmet poutine at places (reference duck bfast poutine at Edible Canada).

Drinks in Vancouver:

Beer: (this is mostly a copy paste from the 2015 student intros…)

  • Howe Sound Brewing: If willing to do a little road trip to Squamish (or if there for some hiking, etc) check out Howe Sound Brewing. They are my favorite! Their Father Frost Winter Ale is a fav as well as their pumpkin beer (if in season). They have a beer & whiskey house in Vancouver now called Devil’s Elbow.
  • Microbrewery Crawl:
    • I’m in Mt Pleasant (off Main Street) where we have at least 4 open and a few still in the works within 10 blocks of each other. 33Acres, Brassneck, & Main Street brewing are within 3 blocks of my apartment.
    • There is another cluster of breweries further east in and around Powell Street. All pretty good as well.
  • Biggest Beer selection: Craft in False Creek. It’s in a historical old building and they have more beer on tap than I have ever seen. Food is just ok, but their beer draft system is crazy awesome!
  • The only brewery used to be Granville Island Brewing, but I am not the biggest fan of their beers… The are ok, but not very original. (Might help put my tastes in perspective…:)


    • The Pourhouse: 1940s style, I love to belly up to the bar and give them some insight into what I like and let them work their magic. They are some talented humans! They have a great selection of bitters too.
    • Chambar (see dinner) – amazing cocktails and I love their mussels. It’s my fav girls night out destination.

Neighborhood Overview:

  • Gastown: historical district with cobble stone streets (go see Gassy Jack) and a recently changed neighborhood with awesome eateries, drinking holes and randomly it has become a hub of fancy design (think interior design). I LOVE THIS HOOD!!
  • Yaletown: It is a young wealthy professional neighborhood that used to be industrial buildings. Some good restaurants and bars… I like this hood, but it is not really my cup of tea.
  • Downtown: When I think Downtown, I think Granville street with is where the young kids go to dance and drink. We call Granville street the ‘Woo!’ District (all the cheering drunk kids walking down the street ‘Woo!’ at each other). There are other good pockets down here, but I don’t spend a lot of time in Downtown.
  • West End: Denman – Foodie Street, Robson – Shopping Street, Davie – it’s Vancouver’s Castro district (ie fun dancing!)
  • Mount Pleasant (Main Street): this is my hood and I LOVE IT! Great restaurants, lots of new breweries, ME, coffee shops, etc. It has a rep for being a bit hipster.
  • Kitsilano: It is the neighborhood known for women wearing yoga pants and shopping at Whole Foods… and it is a cute hood, with great shops and good restaurants (see above, I mention it often).
  • Chinatown: Neighbors Gastown and they can blur together. Rumour is it is the 2nd largest Chinatown in North America (2nd to SF). Great restaurants tucked away on side streets.

I guess I had a little to say about the matter… I am sure I missed some things, but let’s say this list has been brewing in my head for a little while. Sorry for the typos – too much to say and limited time to share it!

Author: Heidi

A California gal living it up in Vancouver, BC. I'm into food, people, scoots, wine, sustainable biz, fun and doing good work.

One thought on “Vancouver Favorites (rough notes)

  1. hi Heidi! for japanese, i would tottally reccomend yuji’s. it is own by the old matredee of the octopus garden. they dont have alot of sushi, but they have authentic japanese food, like beef tongue (and awsome moshi ice cream ;-])

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