Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
163 Keefer St., Downtown
This is a second offering from revered Kissa Tanto chef Joël Watanabe, and it doesn't disappoint. Bao Bei swaps Japanese-Italian fusion for Chinese brasserie food, with the odd dash of Gallic flavor. The menu—all Taiwanese and Sichuan influence—is short, with dumplings described as "petits cadeaux" (little gifts in French) and small starters, adorably dubbed "schnaks." The kick-ass fried rice is, as described—a mouthwatering blend of pork belly, squash, and spicy peanuts. The wine list is unusually extensive for an Asian restaurant, and a lot of thought has gone into curating cocktails that compliment the food. We recommend a pre-dinner drink accompanied by a serving of spicy cucumbers at the bar.
Homer St. Cafe and Bar
898 Homer St., Downtown
Housed in one of the city’s most historic buildings, Homer St. Café specializes in the most tender, succulent rotisserie chicken you’ll find outside of France, paired with equally sensational sides. Order a half chicken and go heavy on the potatoes roasted in rotisserie drippings, vinegary coleslaw, smoky cauliflower dusted in chili, and baked chicken skins. If you’re only stopping in for a drink, the bar snacks give a real taster of the main menu—wings off the rotisserie birds, chickpea dip and plantain chips, or a full cheese board showcasing Canadian-made cheeses.
780 RIchards St., Downtown
Café Medina, with its Mediterranean-inflected brunch menu is not your typical brunch fare: You'll find spiced meatballs and poached egg-topped tagine, for example rather than your typical skillet potatoes and bacon. Down the street from the Vancouver Art Gallery (stop in after breakfast), the line can get long but the mascarpone flatbreads, bourbon-spiked coffee, and homemade kombucha are worth the wait. High ceilings, long communal tables, and spice-flavored craft cocktails only add to the effect.
200 Granville St., Downtown
Miku is the more sophisticated, grown-up alternative to sister restaurant Minami. Made even more special by the sweeping views of Coal Harbor, the strictly sustainably sourced menu is centered around the aburi-style flamed sushi owner Nakamura is revered for. What's more, the sake selection is one of the most notable in the city.
1118 Mainland St., Downtown
Although owner Nakamura has a small foodie empire in Japan, his Vancouver restaurants are personal passion projects, both named after his daughters Miku and Minami. Nakamura is credited with introducing the now very popular aburi-style flamed sushi to Vancouver’s fish-obsessed food scene in 2008. At Minami, not only is the sushi torched at the last minute, a piece of charcoal is simultaneously lit to impart a deeper, slightly smoky flavor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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