First Time in Canada? 5 Canadian Foods to Try in Vancouver, BC

Unique Foods Worth Sampling

One of the best things about travel is experiencing new and different cuisines. Sushi in Japon, Ragu alla Bolognese in Italy, feijoada in Brazil--wherever you travel, there's always at least one native dish you just have to try.

If it's your first time in Canada, why not taste Canadian foods that are quintessentially Canadian? Start with these five famous Canadian foods.

Note: Since my focus is on Vancouver, BC I explain where to find these Canadian foods in Vancouver, but these are national dishes that you'll find across the country.

  • 01 of 05

    Poutine

    Quebec Fast Food poutine
    ••• WoodenDinosaur/Getty Images

    Poutine is the (unofficial) national dish of Canada. It originated in Quebec but is eaten everywhere

    Poutine is French fries topped with cheese curds ("squeaky cheese") and brown gravy. It's basically Canadian comfort food; pair it with beer, or knock back a few first for a truly authentic experience.

    In Vancouver, one of the best places to try poutine for the first time is Belgian Fries on Commercial Drive. Belgian Fries was featured on The Food Network Canada's You Gotta Eat Here

    You can also find great poutine in Downtown Vancouver at Mean Poutine (718 Nelson Street) and in the West End (near Stanley Park) at La Belle Patate.  

  • 02 of 05

    Nanaimo Bars

    Nanaimo bars
    ••• Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

    A Nanaimo Bar is a Canadian dessert bar with three layers: a crumble-wafer bottom, custard-flavor butter icing middle, chocolate top. Of course, there are also endless flavor variations--peanut butter Nanaimo bars, mint Nanaimo bars, even gluten- and dairy-free Nanaimo bars.

    The name Nanaimo refers to Nanaimo, BC, a city on Vancouver Island, just off the coast of Vancouver. If you're in Vancouver, you can do a day trip or weekend getaway to Nanaimo and gorge yourself on Nanaimo bars on their Nanaimo Bar Trail

    You can also find Nanaimo bars at bakeries throughout Vancouver, including Bonchazz Bakery (426 W Hastings Street) and the Granville Island Public Market.

  • 03 of 05

    Everything Maple

    Maple products at Edible Canada, Vancouver, BC
    ••• Edible Canada

    The maple leaf is the symbol of Canada and Canada is the world's largest producer of maple syrup (most of it comes from Quebec and the eastern provinces). So, naturally, there are lots of foodie treats made with real maple. 

    The best place in Vancouver for maple treats--everything from real maple syrup to maple candy--is Edible Canada on Granville Island, where you can find a variety of maple products, perfect for sampling and for bringing home as gifts or souvenirs. 

  • 04 of 05

    Smoked BC Salmon

    Finest at Sea, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC
    ••• Finest at Sea, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC. Finest at Sea

    Walk into any high-end tourist shop in Canada and you'll likely find smoked salmon from British Columbia, usually packaged in a cedar or bentwood box and decorated with BC First Nations art. That's doubly true in Vancouver, where the salmon is local and a staple of Pacific Northwest Cuisine.

    In Vancouver, you can find great smoked salmon at Finest at Sea, which has a location on Granville Island and another in Kerrisdale; try their candy salmon nuggets.

    You can find gift boxes of smoked salmon on Granville Island, Meinhardt's (3002 Granville Street) and at Costco (yes, Costco).

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Bannock

    Salmon and bannock burger at Salmon and Bannock, Vancouver
    ••• Salmon and bannock burger at Salmon and Bannock, Vancouver. Salmon and Bannock, via Facebook

    Bannock is a griddled bread (or "biscuit-type" bread) that is a staple of Canadian Aboriginal cuisine. You can sample bannock yourself at Vancouver's Salmon n' Bannock Bistro (7-1128 West Broadway), one of Vancouver's Best Pacific Northwest Restaurants.