Known for its seafood and a passion for clean eating, Vancouver has grown into something of a foodie hotspot over the last decade. This year alone, Vancouver restaurants claimed 17 spots on Canada’s Top 100 list of Best Restaurants — an impressive feat, given that the city’s population, at around 600,000, is relatively small when compared to other major Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary.
The KHACHILIFE editorial team recently had the pleasure of delving into the restaurant scene to sample some of the city’s varied local and international fare. Here are our picks for creating a perfect day of eating and drinking the very best of what Vancouver has to offer.
For Breakfast: Small Victory
Small Victory opened two years ago in Yaletown and quickly found its niche in the neighborhood coffee scene. Specializing in artfully poured espressos, pastries, and rustic artisanal breads, this café’s fare makes for a decadent start to the morning.
Meals are served on branded wooden boards and the open concept kitchen, with ovens and bakers working in full view of the seating area, gives the Small Victory a cozy vibe that compliments the long, marble-filled layout and cavernous high ceilings. It’s the perfect place to get warm and dry on a rainy day in the city, surrounded by the sweet aroma of fresh bread.
Must try: The croissants. These buttery treats are definitely an indulgence, but their perfect, crispy flakes are worth every calorie.
For Lunch: Field & Social
Located downtown on busy Dunsmuir Street, Field & Social is a healthy, artisanal salad bar that works with local farmers to secure the freshest produce. Started by childhood friends Stephen Collins and Moe Samieian in 2015, this lunch spot caters to various dietary needs with plenty of vegetarian and vegan menu options. The customizable salad ingredients range from light to hearty, with fare such as pickled fiddleheads, farro, marinated Cremini mushrooms, and barrel aged sheep feta.
Similar to Small Victory, Field & Social is designed with marble and copper finishes. Patrons can either order food to go or enjoy it at banquet-style seating in this sleek, Scandinavian interior.
Must try: The Rustic Orzo. According to one employee, this is the most popular salad. It features a white balsamic and Genovese basil vinaigrette that is wonderfully light, enhancing the flavors of the fresh ingredients without competing for attention on the palette.
For Afternoon Coffee: Buro
Nestled at the corner of West Cordova and Water Street, the large glass windows on three walls of this café make it the ideal spot to sit and people watch in the historic Gastown neighborhood. Its relaxed atmosphere is also conducive to casual meetings or work sessions; settle in with a book or your laptop at any of the live edge wooden tables. The windows and large mirrors behind the coffee bar make this tiny space feel bigger than it is. If you’re in vacation mood, forgo sitting in; grab an iced Americano to go and explore the cobbled streets of Vancouver’s design district.
Must try: The Iced Cascara, A Coffee Cherry Tea. Sweet, but not too sweet; smooth, but not without a subtle kick. The coffee float is also a definite highlight.
For Cocktails: Lobby Lounge Bar At The Fairmont Pacific Rim
Situated in the hotel lobby, this lounge is another excellent people-watching destination. Head here after work or a day of exploring to relax beside the long, modern fireplace. The lounge is home to live music every evening, with musicians playing acoustic sets or crooning over the baby grand piano (an ivory color, which lends a touch of Old Hollywood class to the décor).
The Lobby Lounge, as it’s aptly named, also features stunning light fixtures that help to define the space; these, as well as the long planters filled with lush greenery, offer some privacy from the lobby’s thoroughfare of guests. The Lounge’s RawBar is renowned for its sushi, preparing seafood found locally around the Pacific Rim. It has also been named the city’s first 100% Ocean Wise sushi destination by the Vancouver Aquarium for its commitment to making responsible and sustainable seafood choices.
Must try: The Fairmont Martini. At first glance, this cocktail may seem like standard fare with your choice of olives, lemon twist, or a splash of lime cordial. However, it’s a classic choice for a classic venue, and is one of the smoothest martinis you’re likely to try.
For Dinner: Savio Volpe
We’ve saved the best for last. Located in Fraserhood near Robson Park, this Italian osteria is a delight in both atmosphere and culinary complexities. There’s a definite whimsy about the place, apparent from the moment you pass through front doors that are tall enough to accommodate storybook giants. This storybook quality is a motif carried throughout the restaurant, from sketches of foxes on the menu (the restaurant’s name translates to English as literally “Wise Fox”) to the pastiche of the artwork – think massive portraits of birds or veiled women with lighting sconces for faces.
The fare here is rich and flavorful, with many of its dishes prepared in a wood oven that tantalizes patrons with aromatic hints of the meals to come. As the menu suggests, the best way to experience the full range of this kitchen is to eat family style, ordering numerous dishes for the table and sampling each. The pastas are made in house with sauces that are hearty and nuanced. The half chicken, prepared on a rotisserie over the wood fire with rosemary and lemon, is a savory dish that is perfect for autumn.
Be sure to make a reservation; Savio Volpe is one of the hottest restaurants in the city right now, with bookings filling up at least two weeks in advance.
Must try: Anything on the menu. Chef Mark Perrier is often changing up the fare, offering a perfect excuse for regular visits.