611 Gore Ave., Downtown Eastside
Katie Ruddell was in charge of brand strategy and marketing at Lululemon before opening Kokomo in the heart of Chinatown—essentially to cater to her own health food cravings. The vegan fare is gluten-, dairy-, and nut-free, accommodating all dietary restrictions but without compromising on taste. The modern décor creates a pleasant lunch setting, but be sure to come early, as Kokomo fills up fast. Order the Coastal Macro Bowl (the vegan spot’s most popular dish, and for good reason), which includes brown rice, roasted squash, and edamame hummus.
YEW Seafood + Bar
791 W. Georgia St., Downtown
Yew is an upscale fish restaurant committed to sustainability, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a stellar weekend brunch. Chef Weimar Gomez prepares fish in every possible iteration—lobster bisque, crab salad, seafood risotto, roasted salmon, and tuna tartar to name a few. The restaurant itself is grand and elegant with sky-high ceilings, and a heavy use of wood.
120 W. Hastings St., Gastown
Wildebeest is intent on defining contemporary Canadian cuisine using the best the land has to offer. The menu is protein-heavy, but scant on chicken and beef. Expect bison steak, braised goat, and venison lasagna, and a re-imagined surf and turf of tender pork belly with seared scallop and pickled daikon. Canadian die-hards will appreciate the Wildebeest iteration of poutine—duck sausage, chicken gravy, and cheese curds. The cavernous space is dark, moody, and romantic, softly lit with tea candles and a few candelabras in the same vein as nearby Diamond Bar.
958 Main St., Downtown
The restaurant incarnation of a former food truck, Torafuku serves modern Asian food designed for sharing. Taking inspiration from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam, expect bold flavors in a range dishes from ramen to spicy calamari. While the main body of the restaurant is super minimalist, with a mix of booth-style and stool seating, a polished stone floor, and zero ornamentation, all the action happens in the back. There, you'll find a commissary and the original Le Tigre food truck that started it all for owners Clement Chan and Steve Kuan.
The Farmer’s Apprentice
1535 W. 6th Ave., Fairview
As the name suggests, this is a laid-back, relaxed spot for a casual farm-fresh meal. Committed to serving only organic produce, The Farmer's Apprentice has three set menus to choose from for dinner based on whether you’re an herbivore, an omnivore, or going with the chef’s menu, which features a mix of both. Plates could be winter greens with quince and pear, or crab, salsify, and leek. For a little more selection try their excellent weekend brunch. The fish cakes with salsa verde and perfectly poached eggs or the za’atar dusted rice bowl with eggs and cauliflower are flavorful and filling. Get the buttermilk biscuits on the side to keep you going all day.
Sushi Bar Maumi
1226 Bute St., West End
Maumi's eight seats bring the authenticity of the thousands of teeny sushi bars found throughout Japan to Vancouver. Chef Maumi Ozaki presides over his establishment nightly and his rules are clear—no kids, no booze, and a hard-and-fast seating schedule. However, despite the seemingly strict parameters, the seafood—imported daily from Japan—is so spectacular in freshness, preparation, presentation, and price, all is forgiven. The ten-course omakase menu, priced at approximately $35 a person, is the best deal in town.
Rodney’s Oyster House
1228 Hamilton St., Downtown
Classic port-city seafood chowders, steamed shellfish, and hearty mains like pan-fried oysters, garlic shrimp, and Atlantic lobster, are the claim to fame at this low-key seafood restaurant. One of the few spots where you can actually see your catch before it’s cooked, Rodney’s is truly a from-the-line-to-your-plate kind of place. Come with a crowd, order a few dishes to share, and expect big portions and lots of flavor. There's a second location in Gastown.
915 Main St., Downtown
Pizzeria Farina looks like a modern, almost Scandinavian café with white painted brick walls, a menu written on parchment paper that's suspended from the ceiling, and seating that's a mix of one long communal table and a few smaller ones with high stools. The pizza dough itself goes through a three-day ferment, and once cooked is thin, crispy, and blistered in all the right places. Chef J.C Poirier is making Neapolitan style pizzas with just a few topping options—ratatouille, mushrooms, fennel sausage, and salami, with the requisite mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce.
Osteria Savio Volpe
615 Kingsway, Mount Pleasant
Savio Volpe takes Italian food back to basics with strictly house-made pasta dishes like potato gnocchi with gorgonzola and whole wheat orecchiette, plus, a small but mighty mains offering (we've heard amazing things about the meatballs). This spot doesn’t try too hard—there are no cocktails available, the wines are Italian-only, the coffee is good, and the gelato is hand-made in small batches to delicious results. The space is all wood—tables, chairs, and walls, with red-tile floors and an open kitchen that's best enjoyed from the bar.
Nelson the Seagull
315 Carrall St., Downtown Eastside
Built into what looks like a former warehouse—all high ceilings and exposed brick—Nelson the Seagull is one of the most satisfying and atmospheric breakfast spots in town. The menu is short, simple, and crafted to celebrate the traditional sourdough bread baked daily by co-owner Jonthan Sneglar. Each dish is cooked to perfection and holds its own—healthy muesli, avocado toast, and soft-poached eggs served atop crunchy, buttery toast, with great coffee on the side.