Vancouver has stealthily been gaining renown as one of the top foodie destinations in the world. So it's no surprise that the city has its share of big-name celebrity chefs (with their own restaurants, of course).
All of the celebrity chefs and their restaurants on this list are worth a visit. True, these (famous) restaurants are relatively more expensive than other Vancouver eateries, but they are far less expensive than the celebrity chef restaurants of, say, London or New York City. And, if you're traveling from the US, a strong US dollar makes them an even better deal.
Hidekazu Tojo & Tojo's Restaurant
Vancouver's Hidekazu Tojo invented the California Roll. That alone would earn him a spot on this list, but this is one celebrity chef who doesn't rest on his laurels. Instead, he keeps wowing locals, guests, and other celebrities with his famous omakase ("leave it to us") dinners at Tojo's Restaurant.
Tojo's Restaurant is the best sushi restaurant in Vancouver, which is saying a lot in a town where sushi is as ubiquitous as the rain.
Tojo's Restaurant - 1133 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Vikram Vij & Vij's Restaurant
Vikram Vij is one of the most famous celebrity chefs in Vancouver; he's a culinary star throughout Canada, and has a growing reputation in the US, too. The owner--along with his wife, Meeru Dhalwala--of five restaurants, Vij has published two cookbooks and has his own line of take-home meals. He was also a judge on Chopped Canada.
Vij became famous for his eponymous Indian-fusion restaurant Vij's, described by The New York Times as one of "the finest Indian restaurants in the world.” While Vij's is one of the best Indian restaurants in Vancouver, its also simply one of the best restaurants here, period. Because it's Indian-fusion--traditional Indian ingredients and flavors combined with cutting-edge technique--it's not like any Indian food you've tasted before.
Tip: Vij's doesn't accept reservations, so be prepared to wait over an hour for a table. You can cut wait times by arriving as early as possible (the restaurant opens at 5:30pm, so get there by 5pm) and by going in the middle of the week.
Vij's - 3106 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC
David Hawksworth & Hawksworth Restaurant
David Hawksworth is one of Vancouver's youngest celebrity chefs. A native of North Vancouver, Hawksworth practiced his craft at Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe before returning to Vancouver to helm West Restaurant (one of the most lauded restaurants in the city).
In 2011, Hawksworth opened Hawksworth Restaurant to incredible acclaim; he was also the youngest chef to be inducted in the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame. Serving seasonal, Canadian cuisine in a haute cuisine atmosphere, this is fabulous choice for foodies looking for a fresh experience.
Hawksworth Restaurant - Rosewood Hotel Georgia, 801 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
Rob Feenie & Cactus Club
Rob Feenie is one of the most famous celebrity chefs in Canada. Not only was he the host (for five seasons) of The Food Network's New Classics with Rob Feenie, he is also the author of three cookbooks, and the first Canadian to win Iron Chef America (in 2005, defeating Chef Masaharu Morimoto).
A Vancouver native (he grew up in Burnaby, BC), Feenie was the founder, co-owner and executive chef of Vancouver restaurants Lumière and Feenie's until 2007. Since 2008, he's been the lead chef and culinary visionary for the popular Cactus Club restaurants, a chain of casual Canadian bistros that are super popular in Vancouver.
Cactus Club is, by far, the most casual eatery on this list. If you're a hardcore foodie, you can skip this one; the cuisine is tasty, but hardly unique. On the other hand, they make a great veggie burger for under $16, it's family-friendly, and the chain owns some of the best real estate in the city (the Yaletown location has a gorgeous weekend crowd, and the one at English Bay Beach is as close to the water as you can get).
Cactus Club - multiple locations throughout Vancouver
Ned Bell & YEW Restaurant
Of the Vancouver celebrity chefs on this list, Ned Bell is arguably the least famous nation-wide, though he is extremely famous in Vancouver. Born in Okanagan, BC, Bell was a former student of Rob Feenie's (see above) who is now the Executive Chef at YEW Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.
The award-winning YEW Restaurant is one of the best restaurants for Pacific Northwest Cuisine in Vancouver, especially local seafood. Chef Bell is a vocal advocate for sustainable seafood; his non-profit Chefs for Oceans supports a National Sustainable Seafood Day for Canada.
YEW Restaurant - Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, 791 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC
Bonus! Vancouver's Most Famous Restaurateurs: Mark Brand & Sean Heather
Restaurateurs are different from chefs. Obviously--as evidenced by many of the names on this list--chefs can and do own and operate their own restaurants. But every city has its own list of famous restaurateurs who aren't necessarily chefs; many may simply be great business people with great taste.
I'm including two of Vancouver's most famous restaurateurs--Mark Brand and Sean Heather--on this list because these are people who have had a huge impact on Vancouver's foodie renaissance, even if they aren't creating the food itself.
Mark Brand is the owner of several Vancouver restaurants and bars, including The Diamond (one of Vancouver's Top Cocktail Bars) and the iconic Save on Meats. Brand's efforts to save Save on Meats were chronicled on the reality show Gastown Gamble.
Sean Heather is a Vancouver legend; he's the owner of multiple restaurants and bars in historic Gastown, including The Irish Heather (the best Irish pub for adults in Vancouver), the Salty Tongue Cafe, and Salt Tasting Room.