Well, it was one heck of a year when it came to eating and drinking as restaurants and patrons adapted to COVID-19 restrictions.
But despite it all, a collection of impressive new eateries joined Vancouver’s culinary scene this year.
Looking back at all the restaurants and bars that opened in 2020, we think those businesses certainly deserve kudos for starting up during such a challenging time for the industry.
Some serious players came on the field in 2020, including well-known chains and local creations like nothing else we’ve seen (or tasted) before.
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Some were seriously buzzworthy — like all the Popeyes Chicken locations — while others were simply top-notch neighbourhood spots that instantly felt like home.
We’ve decided to focus on the latter for our annual best new Vancouver restaurants roundup because if there’s one thing 2020 taught us foodies, it’s to support local whenever possible.
These new establishments and concepts got us excited to dine in our city over the past 12-ish months.
Here are Vancouver’s best new restaurants of 2020.
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Published technically opened in December 2019, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best new restaurants in Vancouver. The Main Street eatery has now become synonymous with globally inspired, creatively plated dishes and top-notch cocktails. Something we haven’t tried is Published’s brunch service, so that’s at the top of our list for 2021.
Address: 3593 Main Street, Vancouver
Described as “An Unexpected Love Story” between Italian fare American BBQ, Say Mercy was an exciting addition to Vancouver’s food scene this year. This spot came to us from the same team that brought us Powell Street gem The Mackenzie Room, and Say Mercy has the same inviting atmosphere as its sister spot. It also has a vibrant patio situation worth checking out too.
Address: 4298 Fraser Street, Vancouver
This restaurant took over the 1,500 sq ft space of Nomad at 3950 Main Street — right across the street from popular vegan sister spots The Acorn and The Arbor. This neighbourhood is one with a lot of vibrancy and personality, and it’s clear before stepping into Old Bird that the culinary destination brings its own custom blend of pizzazz to the block, its slogan is “Chinese food with attitude,” after all.
Address: 3950 Main Street, Vancouver
This aquamarine truck offers patrons a dreamy signature fish-n-chips made from North Pacific Hake, an Ocean Wise sustainable fish caught off the coast, coated in a light beer batter with dill and herbs. Catchweight’s fish-n-chips are served with housemade tartare sauce, lemon, and malt vinegar — a true trifecta if you ask us. Find this gem parked outside Ressurection Spirits (and do yourself a favour and go inside for a cocktail if you do).
Address: 1672 Franklin Street, Vancouver
You may recognize the name, as this is the second Sula location in the city serving up delicious family-inspired Indian eats. In contrast to its enchanted garden-inspired sister spot, Sula Main Street has a different look and all-new dishes inspired by owners Sharath Vittal and Nitesh Shetty’s hometown of Mangalore, a coastal region in the southern part of India. Think seafood, lots of delicious seafood.
Address: 4172 Main Street, Vancouver
We are super fans of Superbaba. The concept, which was operating as a food truck in Vancouver up until recently, has taken over the former address of Kam’s Bakery at 2419 Main Street in the heart of Mount Pleasant. Superbaba’s Vancouver storefront is currently offering unreal Middle Eastern food for grab-and-go. And don’t sleep on the fries here, seriously.
Address: 2419 Main Street, Vancouver
This spot was named after celebrated Vietnamese food stall owner Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh, who was made even more famous by late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain after he visited her for an episode of No Reservations. Lunch Lady offers daily noodle rotations (bún bò huế, bún thái, bánh canh cua) along with some traditional Vietnamese brunch items.
Address: 1046 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
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We loved this concept pivot from the Juke Fried Chicken/Beetbox team. Chickadee took over the dining room of Juke’s 182 Keefer Street space where it offers handcrafted cocktails (and awesome cocktail kits) from acclaimed Bar Manager Sabrine Dhaliwal. Chickadee also has the full Juke menu of eats up for order as well, including our favourite melt-in-your-mouth chicken fritters.
Address: 182 Keefer Street, Vancouver
If you’ve yet to dine at Potluck, run don’t walk. This 3424 Cambie Street restaurant offers Chef Justin Cheung’s take on Southeast Asian street food, and trust us when we tell you you’re going to need to try this grub and please come hungry because they aren’t messing around with portions. We are seriously here for everything about Potluck, and we also start with a nostalgic Milo Dinosaur to sip on every dang time.
Address: 3424 Cambie Street, Vancouver
This eatery opened at 901 Homer Street inside a four-story brick building first constructed in 1910. The team behind Tutto, which means everything in Italian, first opened the 6,000 sq ft restaurant to greet its first guests in August. This room has a great vibe and the chef’s tasting menu will give you a bite of everything Tutto has to offer.
Address: 901 Homer Street, Vancouver
The highly anticipated eatery is brought to us by industry vet Chef Christopher Lam, and it’s located at 1869 Powell Street in the former location of Bistro Wagon Rouge, which closed in Fall 2019. If you’re a fan of creatively prepared offcuts and killer cocktails make a reservation, you won’t regret it.
Address: 1869 Powell Street, Vancouver
It’s not very often you find that sweet-spot-of-a-restaurant where you could eat its menu any day, any time, but we feel like Do Chay is one of those places. This plant-based Vietnamese concept was an instant hit when it opened on Kingsway last year, and now, its shiny new Yaletown location is open and operating. The 1269 Hamilton Street outpost boasts the same style of modern Vietnamese eats as the OG eatery does, but offers a very different vibe.
Address: 1269 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
The rise of ghost kitchens has happened before our eyes, and one of our favourite concepts operating under this format is Yasma. Brought to us from the same folks behind Kitsilano’s Dark Table, Yasma aims to bring flavours and dishes of the Levant region to Vancouver. This spot offers diners a great selection of Syrian and Lebanese dishes made with fine imported spices and locally sourced, halal, in-house butchered meats. And let us tell you, the lamb burger is life-changing.
Address: 2611 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
Bring on the new Italian food, always. This concept comes to us from the fine folks at Autostrada Hospitality and it officially opened to the public in September. Located on the ground level of boutique hotel OPUS Vancouver, Capo and the Spritz has taken over the space formerly occupied by La Pentola and OPUS Bar. The business operates as one destination with two different rooms to choose from: Capo, or the Spritz. We are big fans of the Gnocco Fritto Bomba, especially when paired with burrata.
Address: OPUS Vancouver — 322 Davie Street, Vancouver
Small but mighty, this casual sushi joint is an absolute delight and a fantastic addition to downtown Vancouver. Located at 1348 Hornby Street (previously Sushi Hiyori) the charming new sushi spot and Japanese grocery store is owned and operated by Chef Taka Omi and his wife. Chef Taka recently wrapped up just over two decades as the sushi chef at Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Lobby Lounge RawBar.
Address: 1348 Hornby Street, Vancouver
This year Le Tigre officially returned to the streets of Vancouver, and we were stoked about it. The much-loved concept, originally brought to us by the folks at Torafuku, had been off the scene since its OG truck retired in May 2019. Now, Torafuku Chef-Owner Steve Kuan and former Sous Chef Jace Yun, have teamed up to reintroduce Le Tigre with a whole new vibe. If the Kickass Rice Bowl from here isn’t a staple in your diet then are you even a true Vancouver foodie?
Address: Location rotates daily
From rolling your own dessert joint to slurping up noodles prepared street food-style. If you’re heading in to dine at downtown Vancouver’s newest culinary destination, Street Auntie Aperitivo House, buckle up — a meal here is an immersive journey. Owner Yuyina Zhang drew inspiration for the new addition to the city’s Entertainment District from her childhood experiences growing up in Yunnan Province, China, where street food vendors are referred to as “Street Aunties.”
Address: 1039 Granville Street, Vancouver
Another food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar we are thrilled about. This much-loved purveyor of Korean street eats has been offering up its grub at Burrard and Pender since 2017, and it just opened its first counter-service eatery in Gastown at 60 West Cordova Street, the former location of Tuc Craft Kitchen.
Address: 60 West Cordova Street, Vancouver