The 11 Top Restaurants
Hugged by the coastal mountain range on one side and the waters of the Pacific Ocean on the other, Vancouver isn’t your average big city—it’s more like a big playground, with activity and outdoor exploration at the core of its culture.
So when Friday night rolls around, you won’t find Vancouverites in line for a new nightclub or spending hours at the pub. Instead, they’ll settle into a cozy restaurant with a good meal, so that they can rest up for a weekend on the move.
With a population hailing from diverse backgrounds and access to a variety of ingredients, you’ll discover a wide range of innovative, resourceful and downright delicious cuisine here.
Between the institutions that serve up the catch of the day, the purveyors of farm-driven fare, the unique fusion takes and the inventive Asian food, there’s undoubtedly something for everyone to enjoy. See what stands out for you from my list of favourites below.
From the moment your fork hits your lips, it will be easy to understand why Hawksworth tops almost every list as the best upscale dining in Vancouver and often ranks as one of the top restaurants in Canada.
Specializing in Pacific Northwest dishes, they’ve long been loved for their plates of fresh seafood and regional meats. To test out all of the province’s greatest hits, opt for the “BC Journey Menu” which features crab, cod, rabbit and bison paired with seasonal vegetables.
Located in trendy Gastown, stop by this hip restaurant any time of the day for a thoughtfully prepared meal amid driftwood sculptures, patterned tile floors and hanging light fixtures capped with mason jars.
Their weekend brunch sees everything from the classics like eggs and peameal bacon to decadent buttermilk and ricotta pancakes.
As for dinner, a French-inspired carte offers small bites likes tartare and terrine and heartier options like Steak Diane and honey-glazed duck.
It’s all about the ocean at this long-standing staple in Vancouver’s vibrant Yaletown district.
Built within a former warehouse, the exposed wood beam ceiling and brick walls are accented by tables draped in white linen, red leather chairs and contemporary glass ceiling lights—evocative of the Pacific’s waves—creating an ideal balance between industrial and elegant.
Committed to using only sustainably sourced seafood, you’ll find a curated list of coastal species as well as the chef’s acclaimed “Seafood Tower” gracing the menu.
Nightingale specializes in elevated takes on Canadian favourites—think flavourful salads, homemade pasta and topping-heavy pizzas.
An impressive list of craft beers and cocktails, the lively atmosphere and the chic Art Deco decor also make it a great spot to gather for a casual aperitif.
Bring the Whole Family West
From the ‘little Britain’ feeling of Victoria, B.C.’s capital, to the wild nature along the coastline, with its sparkling tidal pools, sunken ships, old-growth forests with centuries-old trees, our Vancouver Island Family Adventure will leave you wanting more of Canada’s ‘best coast’.DETAILED ITINERARY
Vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can convene over farm-to-table meals in an inviting and minimalist setting at this organic restaurant in Kitsilano.
The chefs let the ingredients do the talking, serving locally sourced fish, meat, fruits and vegetables with simple dressings.
Their light weekend brunch swaps out typically heavy breakfast foods for cheese & meat boards and creative salads.
Chef Andrea Carlson and her team draw inspiration from the valleys, mountains and ocean to execute refined dishes through foraging (like their braised forest mushrooms) and produce from nearby farms.
They serve entrées you can keep all to yourself, but the best route is to order several small plates and share with friends over a bottle from their selection of all-natural wines.
Japanese meets Italian in the sleek dining room of this Chinatown haunt that’s renowned for their imaginative fare, fusing ingredients like stracciatella and seaweed without a moment’s hesitation.
While they offer fantastic wines and spirits to accompany their world-melding creations, I suggest going with one of their expertly crafted cocktails. Mezcal with ginger chestnut honey vermouth and a toasted sesame rim, anyone?
For a new way to sushi, visit Miku—a waterfront restaurant that specializes in Aburi sushi, where the fish is partially grilled rather than served raw.
You can give it a taste by ordering a Kaiseki: the traditional Japanese tasting menu that includes a sublime presentation on delicate pottery. À la carte options are also available to sample as you’d like.
In an intimate room permeated with Japanese zen, experience omakase—a culinary performance where Chef Masayoshi Baba carefully assembles works of art with nigiri sushi at his whim.
Be sure to make a reservation for this dinner that doubles as a show as there are only two seatings available per evening: one at 6 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m.
Taking cues from the osteria’s of Italy, choose from a menu of wood-fired meats, charcuterie planks and handmade pasta ranging from traditional spaghetti and meatballs to veal tagliatelle.
The stylish and warm sepia-toned salle, the banquet seating and the wafting heat and aroma from the open-flame oven invite you to linger over your meal in true Italian fashion.
Chef JC Poirier brings his home province to British Columbia, serving up a blend of Quebecois and French haute cuisine in a charming dining room that’s reminiscent of the classic bistros of France.
Vancouver’s privileged location make it perfect for outdoor activities: bike riding, walking, hiking and tracing the seawall—the stone border that lines Stanley Park and a favourite jogging spot for Vancouverites.
There’s also an array of cultural sites that are worth working into your itinerary. Here’s where we suggest checking out.
Head to Lynn Canyon for a less-crowded (and free!) alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which tends to garner more attention from tourists.
The views here are just as spectacular, stretching over a deep gorge of rushing water and lush forest.
Make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes as there are tons of stunning trails to explore within the park.
This market is a must on any trip to Vancouver, brimming with gift boutiques, food stalls, gourmet shops selling specialty items, art galleries, craft breweries, distilleries and more.
Even without spending a dime, it’s worth a wander for the sights and smells and to check out the boats stationed along the dock. Make the journey by water taxi to add to the experience.
Here you’ll find the artwork of Bill Reid, one of the country’s (and arguably—the world’s) most celebrated sculptors whose work celebrates the Indigenous cultures of the West Coast.
You may already be familiar with his awe-inspiring piece, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, the Jade Canoe, which can be seen upon arrival at the international terminal in the Vancouver Airport. We recommend allocating at least two to three hours of your day to check out his work at the Museum of Anthropology.
An insider tip: after your visit, there are fantastic hiking trails in the UBC endowment lands if you want to give your legs an extra stretch.
These adorable tugboat-style watercraft are both a novel and affordable way to get around the city. Visit their website for dock locations and the available sites to check out along their routes.