Vancouver had a banner 2015 for restaurant openings as fresh places to eat and drink cropped up all across the city. We’ve got the scoop on the best of these newcomers to put on your Vancouver itinerary for plenty of great eating in 2016.
Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio
Seafood with a water view? Yes, please. And when that fish comes with Peruvian and Japanese flavors? Even better. In a window-lined space overlooking False Creek, start with a pisco sour or a “chicha libre,” which adds rum to the Peruvian purple corn drink known as chicha morada. Then dive into the crudo menu of sashimi, ceviche and creative sushi (try the pickled mackerel) or go directly to the panca-glazed sablefish with yams and roasted fennel, or the signature Ancora Glacier, a sampler of oysters, ceviche, tartare, crab causa, mussels, Peruvian escabeche, poached prawns and sashimi.
Chef-owner David Gunawan, who runs the tiny, wildly creative Farmer’s Apprentice, has gone bigger and bolder at his new downtown dining destination. At Royal Dinette, the look is chic Parisian brasserie, and the vibe is lively and fun. The imaginative dishes start with small plates, like burrata with pear and quince jam, or octopus with nahm jim (Thai-style dipping sauce), to pair with funky cocktails such as the Blues Traveler (locally produced aquavit, with sake, Suze, lime and rosemary bitters). When you’re ready for something more substantial, try a housemade pasta (perhaps the squash agnolotti) or the West Coast sablefish with scallop dashi, kabocha squash, oyster mushrooms and seaweed.
The classic is back. Longtime restaurateur Umberto Menghi ran his Il Giardino restaurant for more than three decades before closing it to make way for a new downtown development. Fortunately, Menghi couldn’t stay away long, opening a new Giardino up the road from the original Hornby Street location. Updated Italian cuisine — from a salad of creamy burrata, arugula and pomegranate to spaghettini carbonara and hand-cut grilled veal chops — takes you to Tuscany, while the solicitous service and a lengthy wine list help you savor the journey. Linger over an espresso and sweets like the lemon-ricotta-filled cannoli or the warm chocolate fonduta with chestnut crème anglaise.
Though AnnaLena is named for chef Michael Robbins’ grandmothers, there’s nothing old-school about this tasty new bistro that spins local ingredients into the latest food trends. It’s worth crossing the bridge to the Kitsilano neighborhood for the kale salad that’s amped up with fried cauliflower and pickled radishes; the buttermilk fried chicken paired with maple wasabi; or the roasted duck breast that comes with coffee-celeriac purée, farro and foie gras cream. AnnaLena’s charmingly named house cocktails are also worth a try, such as the Absolutely Darling made with Absolut, Lillet, cardamom, ginger and fresh lemon.
WildTale Coastal Grill
For a region focused on the sea, Vancouver has surprisingly few straightforward seafood restaurants where you can get great grilled fish with interesting accompaniments. Enter WildTale, a stylish seafooder in Yaletown. Begin your experience with a glass of B.C. wine and something from the raw bar, whether it’s fresh oysters (East Coast, West Coast or fried) or Hawaiian-style ahi tuna poke with avocado and jalapeño. Then see what’s on the fresh-catch menu of simply grilled fish — just the thing for a memorable Pacific Northwest culinary voyage.