After visiting Vancouver for the second time in the past few months I feel the need to share the delectable food experiences I have enjoyed while there. If you haven't visited the city recently, then you are missing out. The food scene is on par with the world's best cities. I should forewarn you that I am but one man and I certainly haven't eaten at every restaurant in town, but I do know good food, and with these choices you can't go wrong.
So, with that being said, here are my must try concepts, in no particular order.
1) Fable- meaning Farm to Table, this is the brainchild of Top Chef Canada Season 2 finalist, Trevor Bird. The roots of the concept actually came from his Restaurant Wars experience on the show. The food is inventive, playful, packed full of flavor, and without any sense of pretentiousness. The talented team prepares everything from scratch, and focus on allowing the great local fare to shine through. The room is warm and inviting, and the service is very attentive. If you can, grab a seat at the bar and watch the kitchen team work their magic. There wasn't a bad dish on the menu, but highlights for me were the Canned Tuna, the Parsley Crusted Sablefish and the Potato Crusted Chicken.
2) Meat + Bread- this place is a real gem! You know you're in for a real treat when almost every chef you meet tells you to visit a restaurant, and that was the case with Meat + Bread. As I approached the door I could see the line up spilling out onto the street. It almost made me second-guess the visit, but then I was hit with the waft. It was like a wall of deliciousness. The aroma of roasted porchetta and fresh baked bread was overwhelming. There was no turning back now. The concept is as simple as it's name implies. There are only ever four sandwiches, a daily soup and salad, but it's the simplicity that leads to their success. I settled on the meatball sandwich and I'm glad I did. It was served on ciabatta, slathered with house made sambal and padano. The meatballs were packed flavor and extremely moist. If you only eat one sandwich while visiting Vancouver, make sure it comes from Meat + Bread.
3) Vij's- what is there to say about this place? Chances are that if you have heard anything about food in Vancouver you have heard the name Vikram Vij. He has managed to take Indian cuisine and make it approachable and delicious for the masses, using spices and techniques from throughout India on locally sourced ingredients. What began as one restaurant has turned into a small empire, with a second restaurant, a food truck, packaged sauces and even a cookbook. One thing hasn't changed, and that's the quality of the experience. They open daily at 5:30, but get there early because they don't take reservations and there is almost always a wait.
4) Tacofino Cantina- this little food truck really packs a punch of great flavor. In fact, what started out as one truck selling tacos in Tofino has quickly morphed into three trucks and now a commissary kitchen to satisfy all your taco needs. All you need to worry about is where the Vancouver truck is situated. On my visit it was found on the corner of Robson and Howe and from what I understand, it's there most days. Keep a line on what they are up to by following them on twitter @TacoFinoCantina. The Fish Taco was a solid choice, and the Tuna Ta-Taco was a unique taste, but the star for me was the Pork Jowl Taco. Wash it down with a delicious Mexican pop!
5) L'Abattoir- this one was a complete surprise for me, visiting it because it was closer to my hotel than the restaurant I really wanted to try. Boy, am I glad about how my geographical situation worked out! This meal was definitely the highlight of a dining filled trip. Situated amongst the various loud and boisterous pubs and eateries of Gastown, this little gem could be missed if you're not looking carefully. The service was warm and hospitable and the room was welcoming. Standing out for me were the Warm Steelhead Salad and the Lemon Tart, although I hear it's coming off the menu. If it has, then try the Sticky Toffee Pudding. The guests beside were ready to eat the plate in an effort to enjoy just one more bite. To be honest, there was hardly a bite that I had that wasn't spot on.
Well there you have it. These are some of the tastiest meals I have had in my travels. Are they the absolute best Vancouver has to offer? I will let you decide. After all, I am only one guy and I'm sure there are many out there with differing opinions, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that you won't leave any of these places disappointed. So go eat and enjoy!
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