by MATT NAPIER
Let me start off with a simple statement: I love food. Some might even say that I’m IN love with food. Now, having grown up in what many people consider to be one of the great culinary capitals of the world (Italy), this shouldn’t come as a big surprise. When you grow up eating Italian pizza, pasta, risotto, gelato and so much more, you’ll find it quite difficult to not become a bit of a foodie. “What’s a foodie?,” you ask. It’s an English slang term to refer to a person who has a strong interest in food and cooking.
Now, where was I? Ah yes… After years and years of living in a culture that is centred around food, I began to travel, exploring local menus wherever and whenever I got the chance. From Thai som tam and Argentinean steak, to Moroccan tajines and Costa Rican gallo pinto, there were always delicious flavours to explore.
When I finally moved to Vancouver four years ago, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. But I must say, this is a city that does not disappoint! No matter what kind of food you are looking for, you’ll find it here. There is no way I can cover all the good food options in one blog post (after all, there are probably a million great places that I still haven’t tried yet), but hopefully this is a good start for anyone looking to find a tasty bite to eat in the days to come.
If you’re looking to impress someone, whether it’s your parents or a beautiful date, there are a couple of great places that come to mind.
Top of Vancouver (photo) beats any place in the city for views. Located at the top of the Harbour Centre (downtown), the breathtaking views during dinner are always changing as this restaurant slowly rotates a full 360°. To be honest, what you order from their menu may not matter much here as you’ll be fully captivated by the sun as it sets between the buildings of downtown Vancouver.
Alternately, you may want to try Vij’s, an Indian restaurant that has become well-known by food-lovers all over North America. It’s located on Granville Street (just outside of downtown). This place is so popular that waiting an hour to get a table is normal. But trust me… it’s well worth it! Anything you try here is truly amazing, though the marinated lamb popsicles are particularly impressive.
Neither of these options are cheap, but they are certainly worth going to for that special occasion.
If you’re one of those people who think everything in Vancouver is outrageously expensive, there is some hope. There are a number of places around town that are more reasonably priced.
One of the city’s most popular spots is Stepho’s Greek Taverna on Davie Street (downtown). You’ll see a long line outside their doors any day of the week at any time of day. Their prices are good, and their portions are even better. Once you make it inside, be sure not to miss their appetizers. Their saganaki (fried cheese) is delicious! When it comes to main dishes, it’s hard to go wrong, but if you like lamb, then you’ve got to try some roast lamb, as it may just be some of the most tender meat you’ve ever had.
If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, you can also try one of the city’s many Ethiopian restaurants. Harambe (photo) (on Commercial Drive) is a good choice. Sit down and try a completely different kind of cuisine, consisting of a type of flat bread called injera, with multiple different kinds of stewed meats and vegetables along with it.
And if you’re here in the summertime and are looking for some cheap snacks, don’t forget the Richmond Night Market (near YVR Airport) on weekend evenings. Here you’ll find an endless supply of various kinds of food at cheap prices.
In a city the size of Vancouver, there are usually a few unusual or unique restaurants as well. Perhaps my favourite restaurant here is The Afghan Horsemen (photo). As you are sitting the floor, surrounded by cushions and Middle Eastern decor, it becomes quite easy to forget that you are so close to Granville Island. Their food is delicious and served on large platters for sharing with friends. And here’s one more piece of good news: these platters include a wide variety of their specialties, so choosing from their menu is a lot easier.
If you’re looking for a walk on the stranger side, you might want to check out Dark Table (West 4th Avenue). It offers 3-course meals with a twist: you eat in complete darkness. This place is all about a unique experience, letting all your other senses take over for the evening. It may not be as cheap as some other options, but certainly worth trying out.
We all know those days when all you want is a nice drink, whether it’s an ice-cold beer or a glass of Merlot. You can find all kinds of places in Vancouver for a good drink, but a couple of particularly good options are The Galley Patio & Grill (photo) (Jericho Beach) and The Salt Tasting Room (Gastown).
The first is a beautiful relaxing spot by the beach, where you can sip your beer as you enjoy one of the most beautiful views of downtown Vancouver that you can find.
The Salt Tasting Room is a fantastic place for wine-lovers. Pop in here for some wine and cheese, wine and meat or just a glass of wine. Either way, I expect you’ll be happy while you’re here.
As I warned at the beginning, this is only the beginning of what this city has to offer in the food department. Now go and let Vancouver bring out your inner foodie!