Weekend Getaway: Great Bites In Vancouver B.C.

By Leslie Kelly  |  December 6, 2013

There are signs on buses in Vancouver, B.C., encouraging Canadians to visit Seattle, a "foodie paradise." Well, the feeling's mutual. The trip to the Great White North is essential at least a few times a year, even when faced with a potentially long wait at the border. Some even make day trips to feast on dim sum in neighboring Richmond, or to stand in line early for a seat at Vij's, which lives up to its considerable hype. Here's a list of essential stops that should be added to every trip to this beautiful city, pictured here, looking south from the scenic seawall walk to Granville Island. 

  • Wow. Just wow. If David Hawksworth were cooking in New York City, his profile would be sky high. Even though he's racked up some impressive awards at his namesake restaurant across from the Vancouver Art Museum, he's still a bit under the radar in the U.S. One meal at the sleek, stylish space several years in the making in the historic Hotel Georgia and the most ardent "foodie" would confirm that Hawksworth is one of the top dining destinations on the West Coast. The knockout, ever-changing menu might include spot-on preparations such as hamachi sashimi, smoked passion fruit, jalapeño and a savory coconut sorbet, followed by a slow-cooked Atlantic lobster atop tajarin pasta, as well as an incredibly flavorful Theissen Farms pheasant with brown butter-tamarind vinaigrette. The gregarious chef delivers dishes in the dining room, so diners can offer instant feedback.

    801 W Georgia St.; Vancouver, 604-673-7000

  • La Pentola opened at the ultra-hip OPUS Hotel a little more than a year ago, and already it's attracted heaps of attention, recently named one of the best new restaurants in Canada. The approach is old Italian in terms of hospitality and offers deeply satisfying fare, from the exceptional pasta - don't miss the tender polenta gnocchi - to the succulent prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin, pictured here. Add a vibrant vibe and a fantastic wine list and it's easy to see how this Yaletown ristorante has become such a hit.

    350 Davie St., Vancouver; 604-642-0557

  • There's probably not another afternoon tea like the sumptuous repast served at the beautiful Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel's lobby bar. This mid-afternoon refresher comes with the option of ordering bubbly. Yes, please. The sparkler goes so well with finger sandwiches, served sushi-style: tuna takaki, a crab and cuke, along with a savory miso tofu. Traditional nibbles and a well-rounded selection of Asian and French sweets also are available. That means macarons share the plate with a pretty green matcha layer cake. It's all so delicious, it's almost impossible not to overdo. But pace yourself. There's dinner to consider. 

    1011 West Cordova St., Vancouver; 800-257-7544

  • Yaletown Farmers Market is seasonal, winding down on Dec. 19 this year. But until then, it's going strong on Thursday afternoons between noon and 4 PM, a lively mix of produce, eggs, dairy, honey and jams. Look also for outstanding pastries from Purebread Bakery in Whistler, just the kind of carbs you want to load up on for the drive home.

    Mainland Street, between Davie and Helmcken.

  • The Dim Sum Express food truck parks near Canada Place near downtown most weekday afternoons, though they take a break when the weather turns frigid. The soup dumplings sure take the sting out of the cold temps, five perfectly-formed pouches filled with juicy pork. Unbelievably cheap at $3.50, it's easy to be tempted to order more.

    Howe Street and Canada Place, Vancouver

  • A charcuterie-centric meat market, Oyama Sausage Company on Granville Island has stuff not seen elsewhere, especially the cured game meats such as venison and bison. The duck prosciutto soars and the wild boar mortadella is out of this world. There's also an amazing array of fresh sausages. Bring a cooler and load up on links.

    1689 Johnston St.; 604-327-7407