The Best Restaurants in Vancouver, British Columbia

  • 01 of 06

    Do Vancouver Restaurants Deserve Their Reputation? Just Try The Sandbar

    Vancouver waterfront dining at Sandbar restaurant
    Sandbar restaurant is one of Vancouver's most popular hangs. ©vancouverdine.com

    Vancouver Has a Lot Going for It, Including Wonderful Restaurants Like The Sandbar

    You've heard the raves about Vancouver, Canada's super-cool West Coast destination. The hyperbole is justified. Vancouver visitors are wowed by its spectacular harbor setting, its amazing urban forest (Stanley Park), and its sensational seafood.

     In this story, we pick the best restaurants in Vancouver, for seafood and more. 
    • Check out Vancouver's official travel site
    • And its restaurant directory

    A Great Place to Start Your Vancouver Dining Adventure: The Sandbar 

    Why eat at The Sandbar? Because it could exist nowhere but Vancouver, and makes you an instant insider.

    The Sandbar perches on the waterfront at Granville Island. If the name sounds familiar to a foodie like you, it's because the island is home to Granville Market, Vancouver's center for local foodstuffs and for waterfront dining and drinking. 

    Of all Granville Island's waterfront restaurants, The Sandbar has the best...MORE location on False Creek. This urban waterway is Vancouver's aquatic backyard. It's crisscrossed by little ferry boats that whisk locals and visitors around, and by Vancouverites enjoying the water on private boats, kayaks, and standup paddleboards.

    The Buzz at The Sandbar

    "Buzz" is what you get in two forms at Sandbar. First, its buzzy reputation: it's a place that every Vancouverite knows and that many visitors have on their "must dine" list.

    But The Sandbar's atmosphere is buzzy, too. It is a very social place, with a festive mood that overtakes you. Live music happens seven nights a week. It's impossible not to get into the happy vibe at Sandbar. This is a place that Vancouverites (and in-the-know visitors) come to for a good Vancouver time.

    Indoor-Outdoor Fun at The Sandbar

    The restaurant is  built on several levels, like a ship. It is largely indoor-outdoor. The best tables are on the outdoor patio or upstairs facing the waterfront, where you are close to Vancouver's nautical soul.

    Come Here to Catch Vancouver's Vivid Sunsets and Magnificent Night Sky

    The Sandbar is a choice spot to catch Vancouver's dramatic sunset. With its location north of the United States, sunset comes later in Vancouver. In late spring through the summer, sunset doesn't happen until 10 o'clock at night. After the sun goes down, the sky turns a breathtaking, luminous dark blue, with the Vancouver skyline glittering before you. 

    What to Order at The Sandbar

    It's easy to order at The Sandbar. It's is a seafood restaurant that does amazing things with fish and shellfish. You can order confidently. But here are some menu superstars:
    • Japnese sushi chef Hoshi's luscious creations from the sushi bar (you can also sit there)
    • Dungeness (Pacific Northwest) crab cakes, plump and delicious
    • Fried oysters
    • Alderwood-grilled or cedar-plank-roasted salmon with coconut rice
    • Any crustacean from the live tank: B.C. Blue-shell mussels, Alaska king or Dungeness crab, Atlantic lobster
    • Miso-marinated sablefish (also called black cod), B.C.'s signature local fish, a richly textured delicacy)
    • What to drink? Crisp white wine from British Columbia's rising Okanagan wine region

    Find Out More About The Sandbar Restaurant in Vancouver

    • The Sandbar website 
    • On Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
    • 604.669.9030
    • The Sandbar's visitor-friendly sister restaurants: Teahouse in Stanley Park, Seasons in the Park, and Cardero's

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  • 02 of 06

    The RawBar in the Lobby Lounge in The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver

    Sushi Chef Taka Omi of The Rawbar at Vancouver's Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel
    Chef Taka creating super sushi at The RawBar in Vancouver's Fairmont Pacific Rim. ©Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

     

    Why Get Your Sushi Fix at The RawBar Lobby Lounge at The Fairmont Pacific Rim?

    Because you're feeling glamorous and you're craving sushi, and only the best will do. You belong at The RawBar Lobby Lounge, Vancouver's see-and-be-seen sushi spot. Grab a coveted seat at the sushi bar or a table for two in an elegant corner of The Fairmont Pacific Rim's luminous white marble lobby.

    What to Expect at The Lobby Lounge RawBar 

    Be ready for imaginative, delicious sushi from Tokyo-trained master Taka Omii... in great surroundings! To drink, many patrons start with a cocktail from Pacific Rim celebrity mixologist, Grant Sceney. Then they move on to sake from an extensive list.

    What to Order at The obby Lounge RawBar 

    Sushi! It's fantastic: sparkling-fresh, perfectly cut and rolled, imaginatively composed. Don't expect sushi rolls like everyone else serves. Chef Taka does things his own way--and British Columbia fish, like steelhead trout and sablefish.

    You can order by the...MORE piece, but Chef Taka's innovative maki (handmade) rolls are the way to go. rolls are the way to go. It's hard to pick favorites. Some to consider:
    • Bacon and smoked sablefish miso soup
    • Wagyu Beef salad
    • Lobby Lounge Roll (with tuna, trout, scallop, crab, mango, and more)
    • RawBar Roll (with scallop, crab, caviar, shiso leaf, and more)
    •  Splurging? Chef Taka will include every one of his featured sushi fish--at east a dozen-- in a unique "everything roll"
    • Feeling like sashimi? Let Chef Omi compose the Lobby Lounge Ice Bowl
    • See the sushi menu 

    Respecting the Fish

    There's more to love about The RawBar: it is Vancouver's first 100% Ocean Wise seafood bar, certified by the Vancouver Aquarium.

    More About The RawBar at The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver

    • The Lobby Lounge website  and sushi menu

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Vij Restaurant in Vancouver

    Chef Vikram Vij, Vancouver superstar
    Chef Vikram Vij, one of the world's most celebrated indian chefs. ©Courtesy of Vij's

    Why Dine at Vij's in Vancouver?

    Vikram Vij is a supernova star of Canada's celebrity-chef scene. His innovative signature restaurant, Vij's, finesses riffs on Indian dishes that you've never even imagined.

    To get a table at this no-reservations eatery, be prepared to stand in line, eating complimentary chat (snacks).

    Vij's is dark, intimate, and richly decorated with Indian crafts. Women chefs cook in a partially open kitchen, filling the restaurant with the perfumes of lemon, ginger, coriander, and cumin.

    What Vij's Food Is Like (Don't Read If You're Hungry)

    Chef Vij's accomplished crew combine spices and sensibilities from every Indian state to achieve what the boss likes to call Indian fusion. His spin on even the most prosaic, familiar dishes makes you taste them in a new way. Rather than the usual potato and peas, Vij's samosas are filled with minced lamb and beef exotically sautéed with fennel, clove, and sumac.

    Dishes to Try at Vij's

    ...MORE Grilled coconut kale on pearl barley pilaf
    • Jackfruit in black cardamom and cumin curry
    • Rajasthani-style spicy goat with spiced vegetables
    • British Columbia pork tenderloin in tangy cayenne and ginger curry
    • For vegetarians: sautéed vegetables Kalonji (Indian five-spice) style, with brown rice and black chickpea pilaf

    Critic's tip: If you don't have the heart to wait for a table, Chef Vij's next-door restaurant, Rangoli, serves a more casual and less showy version of his cuisine.

    Find Out More About Vij's Restaurant in Vancouver

    • Vij's website
    • On Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram
    • Vij's sister restaurant in Vancouver, My Shanti  and the vegetarian diner, Rangoli
    • Phone 604.736.6664

    This restaurant entry was contributed by Luxury Travel Guest Author Max Jacobson

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  • 04 of 06

    Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca in Vancouver

    Cioppino's restaurant in Vancouver
    Vancouverites, like most people, love Italian food. And Cioppino's is the most popular trattoria in town. ©Max Jacobson

    Why Dine at Cioppino Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca in Vancouver?

    Cioppino's is one of trendy Yaletown's draws. Vancouver Magazine named this fashionable eatery "Vancouver Restaurant of the Year" and its chef/owner Giuseppe 'Pino' Posteraro "Chef of the Year."

    Cioppino's interior is dark, clubby, and urbane. But on Vancouver's luscious spring and summer days, its outdoor patio is the place to be.

    It's in the Name: And Cioppino's Enoteca Is the Place to Order Wine

    Chef Posteraro's wine cellar is one of the best in Canada. His cave, along with Enoteca, his wine shop next door, stock thousands of labels. Cioppino's wine list runs 62 pages. No wonder the restaurant draws serious oenophiles.

    Cioppino's menu will be especially impressive if you opt for dishes such as justly renowned porcini and chestnut soup, or linguine alle vongole with Baynes Sound Manila clams and a buttery sauce.

    But diners can go off-menu, too. Regulars simply...MORE let Chef Posteraro whip up whatever the market or the sea brought him that day. The resulting cascade of off-menu dishes rivals any tasting menu in Canada.

    What You Might Eat at Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca

    Chef Posteraro might serve you:
    • Riviera-style garbanzo-flour crepes with black or summer truffles
    • Haida Gwaii halibut from the waters of the Queen Charlotte Islands
    • Fraser Valley duck two ways: confit and dry-aged duck breast

    Critic's tip: If you ask the sommelier for wine pairings, most pours will be from British Columbia's Okanagan region. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

    Find Out More About Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill in Vancouver

    • Cioppino's website
    • On Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
    • Phone 604.688.7466

    This restaurant entry was contributed by Luxury Travel Guest Author Max Jacobson

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Secret Location Restaurant in Vancouver

    Secret Location in Vancouver
    Psst! Secret Location is a chic place in Vancouver's hipster Gastown. ©Secret Location

    Why Eat at Secret Location? Its Fab Cocktails and Snacks Are No Secret!

    Secret Location is a luxury concept store like you'll find in Paris. Vancouver's own Secret Location, in the rapidly gentrifying Gastown section, sells high-end home décor, fashion, and men's gear.

    Tasting Room, the other half of the store, is one of the hippest, most talked-about, and most accomplished tables in the Queen City.

    Secret Location Is Fashion-Forward

    The Tasting Room's haut-design dining room is minimalist, done mainly in Mod white, with a tantalizing semi-open kitchen. The clientele is in the know and ultra-chic; you'll see more label action in one evening here than all week around town.

    Credit for the Tasting Room's resounding buzz goes to Venezuelan-raised Executive Chef Jefferson Alvarez, who is ably assisted by Pastry Chef Kira Desmond. The restaurant serves -- or rather rethinks -- lunch, offering wild boar sandwiches and biodynamic risotto. At dinner, Chef Alvarez really lets...MORE loose.

    Does a violet-infused foie gras with almond crumble strike your fancy as an appetizer? Or perhaps an entrée of ostrich crusted with semolina cake. Or Chef Alvarez's secret charcuterie, which changes daily. See if you can Tweet it first.

    Critic's tip:The Tasting Room's afternoon coffee and pastry service is super-chic. Try the seductive Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: banana and olive cake with blonde chocolate, pineapple, and passion-fruit sorbet

    Find Out More About Secret Location

    Tasting Room at Secret Location's website
    • On Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
    • Phone 604.685.0090

    This entry was contributed by Luxury Travel Guest Author Max Jacobson

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Fisherman's Terrace Restaurant in Vancouver

    Chinese restaurant in Richmond Vancouver, Fisherman's Terrace
    Fisherman's Terrace serves faily-style, but you'll want it all to yourself. ©Tourism Richmond

    Why Eat at Fisherman's Terrace in Vancouver's Chinatown

    Simple. Fisherman's Terrace is spoken of reverentially by Asian food fanatics. And rightfully so. I think that North America's best Cantonese dim sum restaurant is Fisherman's Terrace, found just outside Vancouver's city limits. It beckons foodies to Richmond, a largely Asian district known for its Chinese-style night market.

    Fisherman's Terrace is overwhelming in every sense....in a good way.
    • It's vast and bustling, serving thousands of diners daily on two floors
    • It's cacaphonous.../this is not a romantic little bistro!
    • And over-lit; as my Cantonese friends say, "Turn up the lights and eat!"
    • And its dim sum and seafood dishes are delicious almost beyond belief

    What to Order at Fisherman's Terrace

    Let me tell you about dim sum, one of China's many gifts to the world.
    • Dim sum means sweet and savory pastries, buns, noodles, and other bite-size dishes. eaten in the morning or early...MORE afternoon tea
    • This cuisine originated in China's Canton (Guangdong) province and adjacent Hong Kong

    Traditionally, dim sum is served piping hot from a rolling cart. But at Fisherman's Terrace, diners order from an extensive dim menu. The kitchen serves more than 60 beautifully prepared types of dim sum. Here are some that are hard to find in other dim sum restaurants.

    And you'll find dim sum's greatest hits here, done here as well as anywhere, and that includes Asia:
    • Sticky rice dumplings
    • Pork and shrimp steamed dumplings
    • Black-bean spare ribs
    • Sautéed pea shoots, in season
    • Bo lei tea, a deep, earthy brew (called pu erh in Mandarin)

    Some Hard-to-FInd Dim Sum Dishes You Can Find at Fisherman's Terrace

    • Durian, Southeast Asia's pungent fruit, in sweet pastry
    • Tripe and mushroom in "supreme sauce"
    • Goon tong gao, which translates to "half soup dumpling." It's so juicy, it comes in a bowl
    • Chiu chao fun gor, rice-flour dumplings with minced meat and vegetable

    Insider Tips for Making the Most of Fisherman's Terrace

    • Aberdeen Centre parking is a nightmare, so take a taxi or (even better) the efficient SkyTrain light rail from downtown Vancouver (the train you may have taken in from the airport)
    • Absolutely set aside some time to a stroll around Aberdeen Centre, an all-Chinese mall.  You might even stay until dinner at one of the mall's many regional Chinese restaurant • Richmond is Chinese food heaven, with hundreds of authentic Chinese restaurants serving dishes from every corner of China. Many are on Alexandra Road, or Wai Sek Kai - Food Street – to locals

    More About Fisherman's Terrace Restaurant in Richmond, Vancouver

    • Fisherman's Terrace Web page

    This entry was contributed by Luxury Travel Guest Author Max Jacobson