Don't be fooled, the Canadian city of Vancouver is a foodie mecca, offering up everything from epic trucker brunches to craft beer galore. Local Hayley Simpson knows all the best spots in this exciting city's foodie neighbourhoods.
Vancouver is a great place to be a foodie. There are so many pockets around the city overflowing with excellent local restaurants, bars and cafes. Here are Hayley's five favourite foodie neighbourhoods, with plenty of top-notch food and drink suggestions.
1. Afford to be Choosy at Commercial Drive
Commercial Drive is one of Vancouver’s most popular neighbourhoods. As you walk up “The Drive”, you will pass restaurants specialising in many different, and unique, cuisines. Check out Nuevo Latino cuisine at Havana, Caribbean at The Reef Restaurant, Mexican at La Mezcaleria and Japanese at Kishimoto and you'll not be disappointed.
When dinner is complete, I recommend visiting one of the two best bars on Commercial Drive: St. Augustine’s and BierCraft. St. Augustine’s has T.Vs displaying how much beer is left in each keg, so you know if your favourite is down to its last drop. Meanwhile, BierCraft is home to over 100 different beers, so it may take a while to choose your poison.
2. Catch some Rays at Olympic Village
If you visit 'Rain-couver' on a rare, sunny day, then Olympic Village is the foodie neighbourhood to hotfoot to. Begin with drinks at Craft Beer Market, which also has over 100 international and local beers to choose from. For dinner, hit Tap and Barrel; the restaurant’s patio overlooks the water, with uninterrupted views of the city skyline. The Flying Pig is an alternative, which specialises in fries stacks that will overflow your plate. Yum.
3. Mega Offerings at Main Street
Whereas Commercial Drive’s restaurants are within a few blocks of each other, Main Street has foodie offerings for over 30 blocks. Some of the highlights include drinks at local brewery, Main Street Brewing, who have a great selection of beers constantly on tap.
For dinner, there really are too many options. Anh and Chi serves modern Vietnamese, while The Acorn is an awesome vegetarian restaurant and bar open late. Those with a sweet tooth should head to Sweet Revenge, a dessert-only restaurant with an epic, lip-smacking menu.
If you are looking for a cafe to wake you up or warm you up, 49th Parallel is top choice. Their coffee is used in many Vancouver cafes and they're also the team behind Lucky’s Doughnuts, which you can pick up in store. The S’mores doughnut has your name on it.
4. Eat Brunch at East Village
If you like brunch, then you will love the East Village. It's where my favourite brunch spot is located: Red Wagon Cafe. I've had many Vancouver brunches, but no diner does it better. It can get busy on the weekends, but I guarantee it is well worth the wait. I always order the Trucker Breakfast, while my friend prefers the Super Trucker but it's safe to say, you can't go wrong whatever you order.
East Village isn't all about brunch though; there's plenty more to discover here. For a treat, visit the Sweet and Savoury Pie Co which has drool-worthy homemade pies in abundance. Fancy something with a Mexican flavour? Get to Tacofino, which has undoubtedly the best fish tacos in town. Or if you fancy something Italian, Campagnolo Roma, next door, is where you need to go for an upmarket Italian feast.
5. Grab a Bite in Historic Gastown
Gastown is just on the edge of Vancouver’s downtown area. It's the city’s oldest and most historical neighbourhood, with cobblestone streets and fairy lights strung around the trees. It's a foodie mecca, so I obviously have a couple of favourites. For lunch, I highly recommend Meat and Bread. It serves exactly what the name suggests, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
For dinner, Peckinpah specialises in Southern BBQ; recommendations include racks of ribs, the pulled pork and beef brisket served by the lb. For dessert, try Soft Peaks Ice Cream, Vancouver’s first organic soft serve ice-cream shop, and their Mudslide is delicious. For drinks, go to Steamworks Brewing Company and order one of their fishbowl cocktails. You might need to share it with a friend as it's quite the size.
Gastown also has a lot of minimalistic, WiFi-enabled and light-filled cafes for business travellers and locals. Birds and the Beets and Prado Cafe are two very popular options, even if you don’t have a laptop.
Stay in the top-rated Loden Hotel, located a short journey form Gastown, in the harbour area for the perfect base to get around.
You might come to Vancouver for its natural beauty, but make sure you leave time in your travel schedule to enjoy a few of these foodie neighbourhoods. There are also so many food trucks roaming the city’s streets, but that’s a story for another day.