France’s influence on modern cooking is far-reaching; we owe credit to the French for techniques, ingredients, dishes, and terminology. For decades, the definition of fine dining–or, haute cuisine, if you will–in the US and Canada was the French restaurant.
Thanks to Julia Child’s love of French cooking, and her charming, fearless approach to mastering its dishes broadcast on her pioneering television series, French food made its way into every day homes. While the modern food scene in cities, such as Vancouver, have evolved drastically to embrace multicultural cuisines, there are still numerous restaurants serving up delectable French fare, from the classic croissant, to hearty rustic fare, to high-end haute cuisine.
If you want to eat your way through a roster of French classics, it’s not impossible to do in Vancouver. Here is your ultimate French food guide to Vancouver.
You think you know and love croissants, but unless you’ve had a buttery, flaky croissant made with the expertise and precision of a baker trained in the French tradition, you are missing out. Vancouver is home to several stellar bakeries, including many that have mastered the art of the croissant (or pain au chocolat), but you will get a real taste of France, and heaven, at Faubourg.
There’s a reason why you routinely spot French people picking up a fresh baguette on their way home for the day, every single day of the week: Bread is a really big deal in France. Give the bread ritual some love by picking up a French baguette at Baguette & Co.
Address: Locations in Kitsilano, West End, Mount Pleasant, and South Vancouver; check website for details
If you need help distinguishing your Chateaus from your Domaines and your Sauternes from your Cabernet Franc, the team at Marquis Wine Cellars will help you select the best French wines from their extensive and impressive collection for sale.
Address: 1034 Davie Street, Vancouver
Snails may be a pest in your summer garden, but cooked in butter and garlic and served up in a cozy French restaurant they are a delicacy. Among the many truly splendid dishes at Vancouver’s celebrated Le Crocodile is the hot appetizer Escargots Maison (escargot in puff pastry and garlic butter). Of course, this should be a mere gateway to the beautiful food at this acclaimed French restaurant. They offer set and tasting menus, as well as full a la carte menus.
Address: 100-909 Burrard Street (at Smithe), Vancouver
If you are looking for an incredible array of French cheese in Vancouver, there’s no better spot than a place that calls itself a the friends of cheese, aka Le Amis Du Fromage. Go immediately here if you want to try your hand at a few tres Francais cheese offerings, from an elegant cheese platter to hot preps like Raclette and Fondue.
Address: 1752 2nd Avenue West, Vancouver
Gorgeous, tempting rows of artisanal chocolates alongside decadent desserts is the calling card of Thierry, one of Vancouver’s best allies for fans of French patisseries and chocolatiers. Ogle the bevy of stunning sweets on offer at Thierry, from croissant to seasonal sweets.
Address: 1059 Alberni Street, Vancouver
BC is home to plump, succulent mussels from Pacific waters, which means many restaurants turn the mollusks into sensational, steaming bowls of Moules Frites–steamed mussels in savoury broth with a side of golden fries. Café Salade de Fruits offers Moules Frites in large and small bowls, with the diner’s choice of chorizo, curry, or goat cheese. Their lovely bistro menu also includes classic French salads, onion tart, steak, rabbit confit, frogs legs, steak, fish of the day, soup, and escargot.
Address: 1551 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver
For savoury traditional crepes cradling delicious fillings (like Smoked Turkey, Fig, and Brie with Basil) served with light side salads, as well as sweeter crepe concoctions like lemon and sugar, Le Marché St. George is the perfect, quaint, neighbourhood spot.
Address: 4393 St. George Street, Vancouver
Ah, the cheery, colouful, charming macaron. A sweet treat beloved by foodies around the world, the French tradition of this cookie-like pastry is strong in Vancouver. Direct from Paris, Ladurée opened in early 2016 in Vancouver, and was an instant sensation. Slip into its pastel clutches for a true nibble of Parisian life.
Address: 1141 Robson Street, Vancouver
Not all French food is buttery and heavy; take the lovely Salade Nicoise, with its classy , briny melange of tuna, olives, and greens. Les Faux Bourgeios is an award-winning neighbourhood bistro, serving up French comfort fare beloved by loyal diners. Their Salade Nicoise features confit tuna, artisanal greens, niçoise olives, capers, and anchoïade. For those seeking out that rich, substantial French food, fear not–the menu is packed with such dishes.
Address: 663 East 15th Avenue, Vancouver
That raft of melted cheese and croutons blanketing a steaming crock of rich, savoury, onion soup is such a perfect warmer-upper, and one of the ultimate French bistro dishes. Tableau Bar Bistro is stylish eatery that has a terse menu of bistro classics, including seasonal specials. Start off your meal with the onion soup, or make it the star of meal.
Address: 1181 Melville Street, Vancouver
There are fewer dishes that typify what bistro fare is than steak frites. It’s France’s answer to meat and potatoes. Jules Bistro in Gastown makes a beautiful Steak Frites. Order it a la carte, or as part of their table d’hote offering.
Address: 216 Abbott Street, Vancouver
La Brasserie in the West End has undergone a fairly recent rebirth, but they’ve held fast to their Franco-German roots. They make a lovely Steak Tartare: Finely chopped raw beef served with pickled veggies and salad. Order the burger, too.
Address: 1091 Davie Street, Vancouver
At Bistro Wagon Rouge, they are all about offering a set of classic dishes with seasonal tweaks shared classic chalkboard style. For the ultimate comfort eats, try their cassoulet–a slow-cooked white bean-based casserole.
Address: 1869 Powell Street, Vancouver
Fraser Street’s charming Batard boulangerie is a sweet spot for freshly-baked breads and other treats. Pull up a seat in their cafe and lunch on their daily selection of quiche, and enjoy an old fashioned French cafe experience right in Vancouver. Save room for dessert, as their baked goodies are stunning.
Address: 3958 Fraser Street, Vancouver
Ham, cheese, and bread, make for a dreamy sandwich combo, and the French have perfected this prime culinary feat in the form of the ooey, gooey Croque Monsieur, the snack darling of every sidewalk cafe. Vancouver’s elegantly chic Au Comptoir makes a beautiful Croque Monsieur, or its lovely ladyfriend, the egg-topped Croque Madame.
Address: 2278 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
You’ll find a plethora of iconic French dishes at Bistro Pastis in Kitsilano. In addition to their Boeuf Bourgignon (slow braised beef with pomme puree, glazed vegetables, and red wine jus), you’ll also recognize hallmark French dishes like Sole Meuniere, Coquilles Saint Jacques, Canard et la sauce a l’orange (Duck L’Orange), and Bouillabaise on their comprehensive menu.
Address: 2153 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver