I know that there are travellers who save major dollars on their travels by scrimping on food… I am not that traveller. Guys… come on! Don’t make me eat boiled pasta and tomato sauce! It’s not worth it.
Rant over. With our three nights in Vancouver, David and I were lucky not to have a single bad meal. We mixed it up between Vancouver/Canadian chains and small local restaurants, depending on our location around the city and how hungry we were at any given moment.
Vancouver-ites know how to do brunch. We had two standout brunches that I would definitely make a repeat visit to next time we’re in the city.
Thank you Urbanspoon/Zomato! This cute little breakfast/lunch spot, Medina Cafe, gets high ratings and has apparently won awards for best brunch in the city. I don’t know who is giving the award, but I do understand why. We arrived ten minutes before opening and were glad we did, as the lineup was a dozen people long already. There are plenty of tables inside, but it filled up fast.
Known for their skillets and their waffles, Medina Cafe did not disappoint. The coffee was perfection, my frittata of the day was scrumptious (hello morning goat’s cheese!) and David made good-food noise over his “fricasse” – slow cooked, braised beef, fried eggs and potatoes. Just enough spice for both of us. I only wish I’d had enough room for one of their legendary waffles. Lesson learned – if you visit, get a waffle to go and have it as a midday snack. Why… why didn’t I think ahead??? Don’t make my mistake.
Blink and you’d miss this darkly lit den of delightfulness at Twisted Fork. Two blocks from our accommodation and highly rated online, there was still a line up before opening. A short line, mind you, what with it being 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, but I can’t imagine what this place would be like around 10 a.m. The menu is short and sweet, but everything looked incredible. I eyed each meal that came out with a growing hunger in my belly.
They make fresh asiago scones every day that you can get with their homemade jam. While I skipped in favour of the Eggs Benedict, they both looked and smelled scrumptious. Portions are huge, so be prepared. Our eggs benny came on toasted brioche with sauteed spinach, potato rosti, spiced baked beans and with the filling of your choice (David opted for pork sausage while I went the portabello mushroom and caramelized onion route). Om nom nom. Again – get the scones to go. They would have made an incredible lunchtime snack.
Lunch / Dinner
We knew we were going to make a trip to Granville Island and last time I was in Vancouver I spied Edible Canada after I’d already eaten. In search of what I’d missed out on last year, it didn’t disappoint. The menu is full of locally sourced ingredients and everything is made with attention to detail. I had the Vegetable Tartine (an open-faced vegetable sandwich with goats’ cheese), and David indulged in the short-rib sandwich. Luckily both came with fries, meaning I didn’t have to brazenly steal David’s. Pregnant woman would have won out regardless.
Their drinks menu looked fantastic. David enjoyed the selection of locally brewed beers, while the sad pregnant girl stared longingly at the gin-filled cocktails… I’ll be back… with the baby on the outside and gin on my insides.
A great feature of Edible Canada is the food products for sale inside. From coast to coast, there were Canadian specialities to take home… not sure how long they’d last in my home, but that’s another story. Sadly, as we were traveling carry-on-only, we had to forgo the maple butter or the sinfully good balsamics and oils. Another time, Edible Canada, another time.
The Cactus Club
I know, I know, there are foodies out there that wouldn’t dream of going to a chain restaurant. Well… good food is good food, so there. We opted for the Cactus Club Cafe location next to Canada Place with the spectacular view of the North Shore mountains. Service and menu selection were surprisingly decent, but the food blew us out of the water.
My butternut squash and mascarpone ravioli came complete with crispy sage and truffle oil. David had definite food envy as I wiped that plate clean, but his peking duck sandwich was no slouch. His meal was more for the hungry traveler, filled with a ton of meat, but worth it!
We did not expect to find this place. All we were looking for was a small meal before our walking tour and from the outside, the Blacktail looked like a pub. Fine, we thought. Entering the restaurant we were quite surprised at how upscale the decor was. The menu is a gastronomical success! They have the oddest combination of foods, and based on our menu selection, I can only assume that each meal is as satisfying. We opted for the duck and waffles, a duck and foie gras mousse, piped onto homemade Amaranth waffles with bits of candied apple and icing sugar. It doesn’t sound like it should work… but it does. Try it, I dare you.
When the line up is outside the door, you know you’ve got to try a place. The walls of Bella Gelateria are covered with newspaper clippings of their international awards for their fare. Locals and tourists alike were jostling side by side, ready to order their creamy treat, because really… who gets sorbet? We both ordered the salted caramel, my second scoop was toasted pecan and David’s was banana bread. Both were phenomenal, don’t get me wrong, but I still feel that Calgary’s Fiasco Gelato beats out Bella Gelateria. Maybe Fiasco just haven’t entered these awards? I swear my belly is not biased. That said, the gelato was delightful and worth the line up!
This Granville Island bakery has an immense selection of goodies. Cakes, cookies, muffins, granola. You name it, they have it. In need of dessert, we split each a personal-size carrot cake and a mocha cake. Both were pretty spectacular. The icing on the carrot cake was a tad more stiff than I expected, but I won’t hold it against it.
I only wish I could go back to Stuart’s and slowly work my way through each treat… I’m officially adding this to my bucket list. That’s not weird, right?
On a Budget?
I totally understand that sometimes the budget must dictate your travels, especially in North America, so I’m compromising here. Want to enjoy the food of Vancouver without breaking the bank? Head to Granville Public Market and pack a picnic! We did this for dinner one evening by picking up a quiche, a salad and dessert. Oh, and David drank the beer… all the beer.
Combined, we paid about 35-40% what we would have paid going out for a meal with zero compromise on quality. You probably want to be staying somewhere with a kitchen to make this the most enjoyable (cold quiche is not my thing!), but that’s what AirBnB was made for.
So, my foodie friends, how about you? Do you indulge in the local food when you travel? If you’ve ever been to Vancouver, or are from Vancouver, what spots would you recommend?