Great for meeting up with friends, or an intimate date night.
For someone who’s lived in eight different cities in four countries, settling somewhere was very tricky for me. But when I arrived in Vancouver, I finally felt that I was home. Not that that means I’ve quit traveling – not only is the international airport just 15 minutes away, Vancouver means I’m within a short walk or bike ride from beaches, mountains, golf, movies, art galleries, ballet, and some of the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth.
I fell in love with Vancouver for the awesome weather, the HUGE number of festivals and general STUFF to do outside, and the amazing food. But I also love that Vancouver’s got this laid back, entrepreneur-friendly, super creative vibe to it. I think that blend of surroundings helped lead me to creating the Aria Travel Kit. I’ve definitely found a place that I adore “almost” as much as I love traveling.
Few travelers may know this, but Vancouver is a veritable mecca of to-die-for international cuisine. Perched on the shores of the Pacific and heavily influenced by Asian cultures, especially from Hong Kong, Japan, India, the Philippines and Mainland China, Vancouver cuisine blends the seafood-packed dishes of West Coast cooking with fresh flavors from farther East. That said, there’s certainly no shortage of cuisines from elsewhere across the globe, be it Italian, Greek, Brazilian BBQ, Caribbean or Mexican. On any given street corner downtown, you’re no more than a few short steps from some of the best food you could hope to eat. From cheap hole-in-the-wall digs with quick lunch plate to over-the-top, elaborate restaurants headed my Michelin-rated chefs, Vancouver has it all.
It’s hard to choose just five top restaurants in Vancouver, but here are my choices for your best bets for consistently fantastic food that’s reasonably priced, and all served in an awesome atmosphere that’s great for meeting up with friends, or an intimate date night. You’re also more likely to be surrounded by locals in these spots than by tourists.
1. Ramen DANBO
Hours: Mon-Sun 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Call: +1 778-379-8977
Ramen DANBO has two locations – one just a few convenient steps away from my apartment on 4th Ave on Kits, and another on Robson. Frankly, Danbo’s ramen is my number one addiction; their broth is flavorful but not heavy. You can choose the thickness and softness of your noodles, and their lava egg is always perfect. Get the Miso Ramen or the Classic Tonkotsu with Rekka.
Hours: Sun-Thu 5 p.m.-12 a.m.; Fri-Sat 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
Call: +1 604-568-7022
Located in uber-trendy Gastown, Pourhouse is one of my favorite spots to stop by for drinks and dessert with friends. It’s a 1920s-themed spot with a gorgeous bar, lovely high-backed chairs and jazzy live music on Sunday evenings. It’s a place worth dressing up for. If you feel like splurging, reserve the Chef’s Table in advance for a multi-course meal with an ever-changing menu that you’ll never forget.
Hours: Tue-Thu 5 p.m.-12 a.m.; Friday 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. & 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. & 5 p.m.-12 a.m.
Call: +1 604-568-5882
Very rarely do I need to be rolled out of a restaurant after a meal, but that is certainly the case at Calabash, the best Caribbean restaurant in Vancouver. The servers are all insanely cool and friendly (many of them have dreads, which is a rare sight in Van), and the food is to die for. Get a group of friends together and get the à la carte meal served in the basement, and pair with a lineup of dark and stormys. Don’t’ forget to stick around on the weekend for the reggae party.
Hours: Mon-Wed 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Thu-Sat 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m.; Sunday 3 p.m.-10 p.m.
Call: +1 604-899-7907
If you think you’ve already eaten the best fish taco on the planet, you’re mistaken my friend! Tacofino is a regular stop for me, either for lunch or dinner. Now that they have two locations – their flagship Gastown eatery and smaller Yaletown spot – I have twice as many reasons to get a pair of Baja fish tacos into my mouth. Their amazing Paloma washes it down nicely, too. In fact, I did that just yesterday!
Hours: +1 604-609-0080
Call: Mon-Sun 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Those “Suck me off” T-shirts you see around Vancouver aren’t sexual, unless oysters really get you going. They’re from Rodney’s Oyster House in Yaletown, which is one of the rowdiest seafood shacks I’ve been to! Their lineup of very charming male waitstaff, melt-in-your-mouth oysters, ridiculously good music, and super cool vibe all-around make Rodney’s a super popular spot on Friday and Saturday evenings, especially great for the mid-20 to mid-30s Vancouver crowd.
Photos: Erin Reynel
Where’s your favorite restaurant in Vancouver? Share with us in the comments.