What to Eat in Vancouver: 13 Treats You Should Not Miss
Contemporary Canadian cuisine doesn't have the international cachet of Italian, Chinese, or Japanese food. In fact, it doesn't even have the popularity of American food. That doesn't mean it isn't delicious. It just means that eating in Canada can be a voyage of discovery.
Located on the West Coast, Vancouver is a young city and, as such, hasn't had a lot of time to build up a unique food culture of its own. Most traditional Canadian dishes tend to come from the more eastern provinces like Québec and Ontario. But that's precisely what makes Vancouver's food scene so exciting. Eating here is like witnessing a new food culture coming into being, influenced by the constant waves of immigration that come to this ever-growing city, bringing their culinary traditions with them.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Vancouver, and get ready to explore the city's food scene. Dishes here are always evolving, thanks in part to the best food trucks in Vancouver that keep pushing the boundaries of local diners. You'll find these street food vendors all over the city at places like the Granville Island Public Market, the PNE, and near some of the city's beaches.
Of course, in this coastal city, seafood is always a good option. But Vancouver is also an incredibly vegetarian-friendly place, and the best vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver make it easy to eat well without eating meat.
Ultimately, whatever you like to eat, you can find it here. But chances are it will be given its own local spin, deconstructed, reinvented, and turned into something completely new.
Vancouver Food: Salmon
Vancouver may be a young city, but that doesn't mean there aren't some ancient traditions you can sample today. The First Nations have lived in this area for millennia, harvesting the bounty of land and sea, and some of their traditional dishes have made their way onto menus in the city. One of the most iconic is smoked salmon.
The rich, fatty taste of wild salmon pairs perfectly with the smoky flavor imparted by traditional cedar-plank cooking. This simple dish is elevated to an art form at places like Salmon n' Bannock, where the fish is wild-caught and line-caught sockeye salmon from British Columbia. Order it as part of a platter with other traditional First Nations dishes like bannock (a type of fried bread), or get it on its own with some simple sides.
Vancouver Food: Poutine
Poutine may have originated in Québec, but this dish of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds has been adopted by the whole country as a national dish. And there's no better place to eat it than Vancouver.
This city has whole restaurants dedicated to this dish, like La Belle Patate, where you can get traditional poutine as well as more creative takes on the dish like the Vietnamese-inspired "Pho Poutine" or the "Donair Poutine" made with spiced beef, tzatziki sauce, and tomatoes.
No matter where you go in Vancouver, you're sure to find a good plate of poutine. But for the ultimate experience, head to Frites Alors! in Gastown. This Québec-based chain is all about perfecting this one dish, and they do it better than anyone else in the city.
Vancouver Food: Dim Sum
Dim sum is a Cantonese tradition that has been adopted by Chinese communities all over the world, and Vancouver is no exception. This city has some of the best dim sum in North America, thanks to its large population of Chinese immigrants.
If you're new to dim sum, the best way to try it is to go with a group of people and order a bunch of different dishes to share. That way, you can try a little bit of everything. And there are plenty of great places to do that in Vancouver, where Chinese food is never far away.
One of the most popular dim sum restaurants in the city is Hong Kong Lounge II, where you can find all the classics like steamed dumplings and chicken feet done to perfection. For something a little different, check out Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, where you can get dim sum with a view of the city's skyline.
No matter where you go, make sure to order at least one steamed pork bun. These little buns are one of the most iconic dim sum dishes, and they're absolutely delicious.
Vancouver Food: Sushi
Sushi is another dish that originated in Asia but has been adopted by cities all over the world. And Vancouver does it better than almost anywhere else.
This city's proximity to the Pacific Ocean means that you can find incredibly fresh seafood here, and that makes all the difference when it comes to sushi. If you want to try some of the best sushi in Vancouver, head to Tojo's Restaurant.
This unassuming sushi spot may not look like much from the outside, but inside you'll find some of the most creative and delicious sushi in the city. The menu changes frequently, so there's always something new to try, but make sure to order the "OMG Roll" if it's available. It's made with tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, and cucumber wrapped in soy paper and served with a sriracha-mayo dipping sauce. It's as good as it sounds.
Vancouver Food: Pho
Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that has become one of the most popular dishes in the world. And in Vancouver, it's become a firm favorite. This city is home to a large Vietnamese population, and as a result, you can find some of the best pho in North America here. If you're looking for a great bowl of pho, head to Pho Tan Hoang.
This no-frills spot may not look like much, but it's one of the most popular pho spots in the city. The beef noodle soup is the star of the show here, and it's served with a side of fresh herbs and bean sprouts that you can add to taste.
Vancouver Food: Curry
Curry is another dish that may not have originated in Canada, but the city of Vancouver offers some amazing curry options that would make India proud.
If you're looking for a great curry dish, head to Vij's Restaurant. This Indian spot is one of the most popular restaurants in the city and for good reason. The menu features a variety of different curry dishes, all of which are incredibly tasty.
No matter what you order, make sure to get a side of naan bread. This traditional Indian bread is perfect for soaking up all that curry goodness.
Of course, if traditional curry doesn't appeal to you, you can find plenty of more modern twists on it in Vancouver. Try a butter chicken pizza from Papa Day's to experience a fusion of two of the world's great culinary traditions: Indian and Italian cuisine.
Vancouver Food: Fish and Chips
This may be a classic British dish, but British immigration to Canada has made it a firm favorite in Vancouver as well. Whole-fried fish served with thick-cut French fries is the perfect food to enjoy along the waterfront, especially when it's made with local ingredients.
For the best fish and chips in Vancouver, head to Go Fish Ocean Emporium. This spot is located right on the water, so you can enjoy your meal with a view of the ocean. The fish is sustainably sourced, and the fries are cooked to perfection.
Vancouver Food: Japadog
This Vancouver company has become famous around the world and a favorite haunt of celebrities when they're in town. The Japanese hot dog company started out as a hot dog cart but now has locations all over the city.
If you're looking for something a little different, try one of Japadog's unique hot dog creations in downtown Vancouver. The menus change frequently, but some of the most popular items include the Terimayo (topped with teriyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and seaweed) and the Kurobuta (topped with Kobe beef, BBQ sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise).
No matter what you order, make sure to get a side of fries. The Japanese-style fries are cooked in tempura batter and served with a variety of delicious dipping sauces.
Vancouver Food: Seafood
We already mentioned salmon and fish and chips, but Vancouver has such an abundance of great seafood restaurants that it deserves mentioning again. Iconic creations like the Seafood Tower from Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar put a contemporary spin on classic seafood. You could also head to Granville Island Public Market and try seafood fresh off the boats.
There's really no bad seafood in Vancouver. But if you're looking for something truly special, make a reservation at St. Lawrence. This restaurant specializes in Atlantic Canadian seafood, and the menu changes daily to ensure that everything is as fresh as possible.
The lobster is the star of the show here, but whatever you order, make sure to get a side of the poutine. This dish of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Trust us; poutine pairs nicely with all that seafood goodness.
Vancouver Food: Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Vancouver is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in North America, so it's no surprise that there are plenty of great vegetarian restaurants to choose from. For a casual meal, head to The Naam. This Vancouver institution has been serving up vegetarian fare for over 40 years, and it's still as popular as ever. The Naam is located in Kitsilano, a short distance from downtown Vancouver and you can easily stop at the Granville Island Public Market on the way.
If you're looking for something a little more upscale, check out Heirloom Vegetarian. This restaurant sources all of its ingredients from local farms, so you can be sure that everything is fresh and seasonal. The menu changes frequently, but you can always expect to find creative dishes like roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and grilled portobello mushrooms with balsamic glaze. You can also check out their sister restaurant, Heirloom Juice Co.
Vancouver Food: Fried Chicken
It's hard to imagine a city in North America further removed from the culture of the southern US. But fried chicken is a dish that knows no boundaries. In Vancouver, Downlow Chicken Shack flies the flag for Nashville hot chicken in the city, and it has quickly become a local favorite and one of the best places to eat fried chicken and chicken wings in the city. Whether you're looking for spicy chicken wings or a delicious fried chicken sandwich, Downlow Chicken Shack offers amazing food with a southern twist.
Vancouver Food: Liege Waffle
The proud creation of local favorite Medina Cafe, the Liege waffle is a must-try when you're in Vancouver. This Belgium-style treat is made with pearl sugar and yeast-risen dough, and it's served up hot and fresh all day long.
You can get your Liege waffle plain or topped with anything from fresh berries to chocolate ganache. But the real star of the show is the caramelized sugar on top. It's crispy, chewy, and totally addictive.
This café is also known for its unusual and innovative toppings. Try milk chocolate lavender or white chocolate pistachio rosewater for a truly creative approach to this classic menu item.
Vancouver Food: Ice Cream
No matter what time of year it is, you can always find a great place to get ice cream in Vancouver. Locals love Earnest Ice Cream, and it's not hard to see why. This small-batch creamery churns out some of the city's most creative and delicious flavors, from classic chocolate to more unique offerings like Earl Grey & Lavender or Salted Caramel Ash, plus a great range of ice cream sandwiches.
If you're looking for something a little different, check out Mister Artisan Ice Cream on the downtown Vancouver border in Yaletown. This Taiwanese-style ice cream is made with all-natural ingredients and served up in a traditional shaved ice form. The resulting product from Mister Artisan Ice Cream is a refreshing and unique treat that's perfect for beating the heat on a hot summer day.
Vancouver's food scene is as unique and exciting as everything else about the city. Whether you're looking for classic Chinese food like fried rice and pork buns, Japanese seafood classics like salmon oshi sushi, European delicacies like foie gras, or delicious Mexican food, you'll find it all on the dinner menus of the restaurants in the city. True foodies will have a blast browsing the stalls at Granville Island Public Market, where you'll rub shoulders with the city's top chefs. And dining out in the city means you can try something different every single night.
Of course, all these calories can start to take a toll on your physique. But this health-conscious city has an answer to that, too. Check out the best hiking trails in Vancouver to burn off some energy and compensate for the eating you'll be doing in this city.