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12 things to love about the Vancouver food scene

DH Vancouver Staff Jan 13, 2015 10:00 am

Vancouver has become one of the world’s premiere travel destinations, but the local food scene is a year-round feast for residents and tourists alike.

Here are 12 reasons to celebrate the Vancouver food scene.

1. The abundance of locally sourced fresh food


Berries at the Farmers’ Market in Kitsilano (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

“Farm-to-table” is definitely a food trend buzzword that’s worthy of retiring, but for many of Vancouver’s restaurants the practice itself is so ingrained it’s only recently they’ve had to actually point it out. The abundant agriculture of British Columbia, and the many regional growers and farmers, means our local restaurants are able to bring in the best in local, seasonal ingredients. Thanks to the iconic Granville Island Market, and regular farmers markets around the city, food lovers can find those ingredients to take home to their own kitchens, too.

2. Local seafood


BC spot prawns (Photo by Heather Joan/Flickr)

You say “erster,” we say oysters, fresh from B.C. waters! And spot prawns, clams, halibut, trout, cod, and that gorgeous B.C. salmon, to name a few. The seafood here is spectacular, and with so many sea huggers in the food biz taking part in the Ocean Wise conservation program, much of what ends up on the plate is sustainable to boot.

3. Fantastic Chinese food


Dumplings in Richmond (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

From Chinatown to Richmond, and many a strip mall in between, Vancouver has the varied and exciting world of Chinese cuisine on lock. There are even Chinese food awards in the city for the best of the best, whether it’s noodles, hot pot, Hunan, or dim sum.

4. Sushi, sushi, sushi!


Photo by Eric Fung/Flickr

Belly up to the bar in Vancouver…the sushi bar, that is…for some of the best in raw fish on the west coast. Some say the ubiquitous California Roll was invented in Vancouver, and while purists may shake off those bragging rights and stick to the straight sashimi, there’s a sushi spot for anyone and everyone in Vancouver.

5. Incredible ethnic diversity

Original Tandoori & Chat House

Indian food (Photo by lulun & kame/Flickr)

True, Vancouver has stellar sushi and crazy good Chinese, but in this city you’ll find Italian, Indian, Vietnamese, French, Greek, and Thai…sometimes even on the same block. You can start your day off with a British pub-style breakfast, find pho for lunch, snack on some authentic Italian gelato, and have a Grecian feast for dinner.

6. Street Food


Okinomo dog from JapaDog (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

Street food, particularly higher-end food trucks and carts, has exploded in popularity in the U.S. and Canada over the past several years. Vancouver has its own anchor in the trend, thanks to the innovative JapaDog, whose cart forever changed the state of street food in Vancouver, opening up the sidewalks for all future vendors to come. In Vancouver you can get a full egg breakfast, seafood laden-poutine, smoked salmon salads, and the requisite tacos, burgers, and sandwiches on the street, some even all-year round. There are even tours organized to showcase Vancouver’s incredible street food scene.

7. Craft breweries and distilleries


Photo by traveljunction/Flickr

Raise your pint glass of IPA in a toast to Vancouver’s hopping microbrewing scene. Beer here is a big deal, and it keeps getting bigger, with more local breweries opening up in Vancouver all the time. With a nod to veterans like Granville Island And now craft distilling is rising in the ranks in Vancouver, thanks to new provincial liquor laws, and local innovators who are bottling up their talents and getting their vodkas, gins, and liquers in our drinks.

8. Coffee culture


Photo via Milano Coffee on Facebook

The aroma of locally-roasted coffee beans isn’t drifting up to Vancouver from Seattle: Coffee culture is truly brewing here. Here you can skip the Starbucks and Tim Hortons (those there are plenty of those) and instead check out our independent coffee shops, roasters, baristas, and retailers for your fix.

9. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free made easy


Nuba (Photo by kris krüg/Flickr)

From meat-free to wheat-free, Vancouver embraces your specialty diet with open arms, and often notations on the menu or in display cases, or an entire restaurant or bakery, to help you get fed. Gluten free beer? Yes, of course Vancouver has it.

10. Patio season

Patios in Vancouver

Photo by Christopher Porter/Flickr

Admittedly less about the food and more about the dining (or drinking) out experience, Vancouverites are passionate about patios. A patio instantly ups a Vancouver restaurant’s draw, since it affords diners the chance to sit out and enjoy the sunshine with their meal or snack.

11. Spotlight on sustainability


Sustainability is on the menu at The Parker, a 2014 Green Award winning restaurant that produces less than a pound of waste per month (Photo via The Parker/Facebook)

It’s no secret that Vancouver is into being green. Way, way, way into being green. With a mission to be the Greenest City by the year 2020, Vancouver’s food scene puts a lot of emphasis on sustainability. Not only do many of our restaurants focus on using the best of local products (see numbers one and two above) but they also factor sustainability in their design, decor, and what happens to all the food that didn’t get eaten. Less waste overall just means more to love about food in Vancouver.

12. Events and festivals


Roasted pig at the 2014 West 4th Avenue Khatsahlano Street Party (Photo by Ted McGrath/Flickr)

There is a cornucopia of terrific food-focused events every year in Vancouver. Wear all white and sup in a secret location, concentrate on food carts, go all Greek, or make the most of a meat feast. There are chilli cook-offs and dumpling eating contests, or events that are all about celebrating cocktails or wine, or beer, or…you get the idea.


Featured image: Keenen Brown/Flickr

DH Vancouver Staff
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