Highlighting cuisines from across Europe, Asia and the Americas, all with Pacific Northwest ingredients, Vancouver’s newest crop of restaurants enhances the city’s reputation as a diverse, multicultural metropolis. If you want to eat your way around the world in Vancouver, here are some of the new options:
Like many North American cities, Vancouver has no shortage of Italian restaurants, but Carlino, the recently revamped dining room at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver, is traveling to a less-explored region. Chef Mark Perrier is cooking foods from Friuli, the northeastern district where Italy meets Slovenia and Austria.
Heartier ingredients find their way into dishes like chicories sprinkled with salty chunks of pancetta and served over a walnut purée, or a creamy chicken liver terrine balanced with sharp, pickled onions. Any of the housemade pastas would be an excellent option, and at dinner, consider the fai tu feast, a chef’s choice menu presented family style.
Restaurateur Tannis Ling co-owns two other dining destinations in Vancouver’s Chinatown, the modern Chinese Bao Bei and the eclectic Italian-Japanese Kissa Tanto. She and her team have now opened a stylish Singaporean café and wine bar on the first floor of the building that houses Kissa Tanto, serving coffee, tea and light meals by day, and snacks and drinks on weekend evenings.
The eatery is known for its kaya toast, slathered with coconut jam; order it with soft-boiled eggs for dipping. You can also sample roti john, a curried omelet sandwich on milk bread, or seafood laksa with housemade noodles.
Not long after launching an Asian-inspired vegetarian restaurant where the menu draws from his Cambodian heritage, chef Chanthy Yen got a new job. He’s working in Ottawa as a personal chef for Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister. And while the country’s chief executive may not be dining on plates like crispy cassava with lotus root chips and mint purée or turmeric-scented agnolotti with locally crafted vegan cheeses in a fermented chili arrabbiata sauce, guests at Yen’s Yaletown venture can.
The chef is still consulting on Nightshade’s menu, which includes creative vegetarian sushi, too. You might find rolls of housemade kimchi, shiitake mushrooms, avocado and sambal, or sake-marinated yuba with yam tempura and hearts of palm.
Opposite the Public Market on Granville Island, Mexican Canadian chef Ernesto Gomez has launched Alimentaria Mexicana, a lively cantina and Mexican-inspired market. Gomez and his staff source ingredients from Canadian farmers and small communities in Mexico, which turn up in dishes like grilled halloumi in a charred tomatillo salsa verde, tostadas topped with locally caught cold-smoked salmon, and birria tacos.
Vancouver-brewed craft beer, aguas frescas and agave tasting flights are among the beverage options.
Downtown’s French-Vietnamese Linh Café is a far more elegant eatery than its simple name suggests, creating updated Francophone classics, from steak tartare and garlicky escargots, to boeuf bourguignon and cassoulet with slow-roasted salmon. The menu draws on chef/owner Tai Nguyen’s Vietnamese background, too, in dishes like gỏi cuốn (salad rolls stuffed with pork preserved in house) and phở bò (beef noodle soup).
Nguyen previously ran a more modest version of his café in a Kitsilano storefront before relocating to this window-lined space, a short stroll from the seawall and the Yaletown waterfront.
In a smart new corner dining room on Main Street, Zarak serves contemporary Afghan food, which you can pair with cocktails, such as the Ghazni (whiskey blended with chrysanthemum tea and pear), or spirit-free drinks, including the Parwan (which mixes passionfruit, pomegranate or apricot juice with fresh mint, lime, brown sugar and soda).
When you’re ready to eat, start off with aushak — dumplings packed with spinach and leeks, topped with yogurt and a sauce of split peas — and bolani, a potato- and herb-stuffed flatbread, then look for eggplant stews, chicken kebabs or slow-cooked lamb shanks.
It’s worth waking up for breakfast at Richmond’s glittery Bruno, which occupies an airy space on the first floor of Versante Hotel, near Vancouver International Airport. Executive chef Will Lew crafts big bold plates, even in the morning, when you might brunch on a decadent avocado toast heaped with prawns, burrata, a soft-boiled egg and ikura (salmon roe), or brioche French toast stuffed with passion fruit coconut cream and served with berry compote.
In the evenings, start with fresh oysters or local caviar, before moving on to balsamic-glazed Kurobuta pork belly, whole roasted sablefish paired with Pacific octopus, or a 52-ounce rib-eye with rich Gorgonzola butter. Can’t decide? Opt for the Bruno Board Experience, a world-roaming, multi-course romp through the menu’s highlights.