Vancouver, BC is gaining more and more renowned for its incredible food. In 2014, Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards named Vancouver one of the top 15 Best Cities for Food in the World; in 2016, The Culture Trip did the same thing. So it's no surprise that Vancouver is a top destination for foodie travel.
But if you're new to foodie culture--or just really love to eat well when you travel--trying to figure out where to start in Vancouver can be daunting. Which is where I come in: This guide covers the "beginner" basics of Vancouver's foodie culture, from celebrity chefs and best restaurants to local foods, food tours, and the biggest annual Vancouver food festivals.
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Vancouver Celebrity Chefs & Their Restaurants
If you're traveling to Vancouver, chances are you want to take in at least a few of its most famous attractions, like Stanley Park. Similarly, if you're traveling to Vancouver for food, you want to try at least one celebrity chef restaurant.
The most famous celebrity chefs in Vancouver and their restaurants include:
- Vikram Vij, who is best known for his flagship restaurant Vij's, which is a must for foodies. It's not just one of the best Indian restaurants in Vancouver, it's one of the best restaurants in the city, period.
- Hidekazu Tojo, who is famous for his omakase ("leave it to us") dinners at Tojo's Restaurant, arguably the best sushi restaurant in Vancouver.
- David Hawksworth, who opened Hawksworth Restaurant in 2011 and quickly became a big-name celebrity chef. This one is perfect for foodies who want to experience haute Canadian cuisine.
Tip: Though these celebrity chef restaurants are more expensive than most Vancouver restaurants, they're much less expensive than similar celebrity chef restaurants in New York or London. Don't dismiss them as "too expensive" until you've checked out the prices yourself!
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Best Vancouver Restaurants for Foodies
Not all famous restaurants in Vancouver are about the food; some are about reputation or incredible views. But if food--delicious, unusual, stylish, fresh, local--is your focus, then these are the restaurants to try.
- Top 5 Vancouver Sushi Restaurants - because you must have sushi in Vancouver
- Vancouver Best Seafood Restaurants - because, again, you can't be a foodie in Vancouver and not sample the local seafood
- Vancouver's Best Farm to Table Restaurants - if you want to taste local flavors, these restaurants are a great place to start
- Vancouver's Best Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurant - there are two restaurants on this list I highly recommend: The Foundation and The Naam.
- You should also make sure to eat Chinese food here; Condé Nast declared our Chinese food the best in the world (yes, better than China). Use the annual Vancouver Chinese Restaurant Awards to find the best restaurants.
Want even more? Best of Vancouver Restaurants
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Vancouver's Best Foodie Destination: Granville Island
If you're a foodie, then you must visit Granville Island. It's as simple as that. Not only is Granville Island home to the largest fresh, local foods market in Vancouver--the Granville Island Public Market--it's also a mecca for fresh seafood, restaurants, and multi-ethnic prepared foods.
Here's the foodie itinerary for Granville Island:
- The Granville Island Public Market is a must-visit, selling a huge array of local foods of every type, from locally-made pâté and charcuterie, to French pastries, English pot pies, Italian pastas, and smoked salmon. See also: 5 Favorite Foods at the Granville Island Market.
- Edible Canada, located just outside the Public Market, is another must-visit for foodies. This bistro / retail shop focuses on Canadian cuisine, and is perfect for finding souvenirs to bring home. You can also book culinary tours, here (see below).
- Dine at one of Granville Island's top seafood restaurants, which range from fish and chips to high-end spots with stunning views of Downtown Vancouver.
- Stop by the Artisan Sake Maker Tasting Room to sample artisan sake made with local ingredients.
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Vancouver Foodie Tours & Street Food
Foodie tours are definitely a thing in Vancouver. For newcomers, travelers and beginner foodies, these are my recommendations for the best Vancouver culinary tours:
Continue to 5 of 6 below.
- Edible Canada & Vancouver Foodie Tours offer four of the best Vancouver food tours: Granville Island Market Tour, Gastronomic Gastown Tour (of historic Gastown), Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour, and World’s Best Food Truck Tour (Vancouver loves its food trucks).
- Swallow Tail Vancouver Food Tours offers multiple tour options, including Wild Foraging BC Rainforest tour, a Vancouver Wine Tour, and a "Canapé Crawl."
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Vancouver's Biggest Annual Food Festivals
If you can schedule your trip to Vancouver to coincide with one of the big, annual Vancouver food festivals, you will not be disappointed!
- Dine Out Vancouver - Every January, Tourism Vancouver hosts the biggest food festival of the year, Dine Out Vancouver. Though it began as a restaurant festival (and still offers set-menu options at top restaurants), the festival has grown to encompass all aspects of Vancouver's foodie culture and includes food tours, special events, tastings, and more. Events sell out quickly, so grab your tickets early!
- BC Spot Prawn Festival & BC Halibut Festival - Both these festivals happen in May and celebrate two of Vancouver's favorite local, sustainable seafoods, the sweet BC spot prawn and fresh halibut.
- Steveston Village Salmon Festival - On Canada Day (July 1), Steveston Village grills over 1200 pounds of wild salmon filets over open fire pits.
Learn more: Vancouver's Top 5 Annual Food & Wine Festivals
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Local Foods: Seafood, Chocolates, Gelato & More
Want to buy fresh seafood to prepare yourself or take home (frozen)?
- Complete Guide to Eating Local in Vancouver
- Where to Buy Local Seafood in Vancouver - you can buy local seafood right off the boat!
Want fresh, local produce, honey, and prepared foods?
- Vancouver Farmers Markets - fresh produce and some local, artisan packaged goods
Have a sweet tooth?
- Vancouver Best Hand-made Ice Cream & Gelato using seasonal, local ingredients
- Best Vancouver Chocolatiers using seasonal, local ingredients
First time in Canada?
Need a drink?