By Uschi, Simon Fraser University, Canada
I am definitely a big foodie, so when travelling or visiting new places I am always excited about hunting down new eateries and trying out local specialities. The only quintessentially Canadian food I could find was ‘poutine’: French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. It originated in Quebec, and it’s so internationally loved here the Canadians even have whole festivals dedicated to it, and they serve it everywhere from fancier restaurants to the likes of Burger King. I can’t say I’m a massive fan as it’s very rich and heavy, but every once in a while it hits the spot. Here are a few other memorable food experiences I’ve had out here so far… to make your mouth water!
1001 W Cordova St
This is a renowned gelato shop situated in Yaletown, downtown Vancouver, and in the summer season its not unusual to see a long queue of people waiting for one of their heavenly cones. This is somewhere my mum had read about in her trusty Lonely Planet, and as a big gelato fan was desperate to try it out when she and my sister visited me in the summer. Definitely get the cone over the pot (soooo much better value, and who wants to be stingy on portion size when it comes to ice cream?). All their flavours are hand-crafted, and made with fresh locally sourced ingredients. They have all the classic flavours, as well as some more unusual ones like black sesame, matcha green tea, and Buko Pandan (a Philipino speciality made using young coconut and Screwpine leaves). The best thing is that you can try all the different flavours before you have to make the difficult decision of choosing. I went with the banana bread flavour, my sister with the dulche de leche and my mum with akbar mashti (an Iranian icecream, flavoured with saffron); I can vouch that they were all divine!! Definitely some of the best gelato I have had outside of Italy, and went down a treat on a hot summers day in the city.
Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant
1509 W 12th Ave
The best place to come for a birthday brunch! I went with my friend Lottie for her 23rd and we came across the place just by a chance google search, but it was such a good find! It’s all vegetarian and vegan (and lots of gluten free options). The restaurant is dedicated to using fair trade and local ingredients so you can justify the price by knowing you’re making an ethical choice (although no such justification is needed; the food is so delicious). Although there is an all day menu, I would say this is the best place to come for a brunch. I had the avocado eggs benedict ($19): ‘smashed avocado, dukkah, pickled cucumber and radish, two poached eggs, hollandaise on grilled baguette, served with house salad’ and Lottie had banana french toast ($16): ‘banana infused almond milk batter, topped with cashew cream, seasonal compote & fresh banana slices’. We also tried the grapefruit mimosa and ginger margaritas: I’m not sure it’s ever a good idea to have tequila before 12pm, but for a birthday… it’s more than acceptable.!! More of a splurge kind of place, so I would say save this place for a special occasion!
2781 Commercial Dr
Another great vegetarian/ vegan find serving Mexican inspired dishes. It’s located on the hipster-friendly Commercial Drive, where there are lots of cool bars and eateries. You can’t book, but unless it’s really busy, you won’t have to wait long for a table. All the vegetarian options can be made vegan: they replace the eggs with butternut squash and tofu scramble, and the dairy with Daiya cheese and house-made soy “sour cream.” I would recommend the burritos ($9.75) here; I have tried the ‘Ronny Russel’ which is roasted yams, guacamole, black beans, salsa verde, purple cabbage, and toasted pumpkin seeds, and the ‘Leona Gayle’ which has smoky-sweet chipotle tofu, pinto beans, roasted tomato salsa, romaine lettuce, cheese, and sour cream, and both have been absolutely delicious! You can also make the burrito gluten free by ordering it as a ‘burrito in a bowl’. A great place to come with a bunch of mates, before moving onto some of the bars along Commercial Drive, or trying out many of the different local beers at the numerous craft breweries in the area.
325 Cambie St
Although there is literally a Starbucks on every corner, if you’re a real coffee aficionado then a trip to Vancouver wouldn’t be complete without a cup of java at Revolver. Revolver is about two things: Coffee, and the experience that should go with it. This place even gets the seal of approval from several of my Aussie mates here, who have the bar set very high when it comes to coffee and can easily talk for half an hour about their different models of aeropress. Inside there is a relaxed minimalist/ industrial vibe with lots of wood, a big open communal table, and books to help yourself to. With a rotating menu of their favourite roasters from across the world, they pride themselves on their consistency, so every variable is meticulously measured and weighed. I ordered an almond milk latte and was mesmerised as the barista expertly drew the most intricate latte art on my drink I have ever seen.
Zero One Sushi
559 W Pender St
Although this post has featured predominantly veggie friendly places, I am actually a pescatarian and still eat fish very occasionally. One such occasion I make an exception is for sushi; vegetarian sushi really doesn’t cut the mustard (or wasabi, couldn’t resist). You can’t walk down a street in downtown without seeing a sushi bar, and the standard is very good and it’s all very pocket friendly. Zero One Sushi is really small and an unassuming restaurant, with minimal seating; and you can watch the chef assemble your orders right in front of you. Everything is super fresh, and fantastic value. I had avocado maki, spicy tuna roll, and the classic salmon nigri. I’m trying to be more adventurous when ordering sushi as there is so much selection here and it sometimes can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start. Specialties include, namako which is a sea cucumber and is served thinly sliced and tossed with green onions and ponzu sauce, and kanimiso which is crabmeat mixed with crab brains and is meant to taste like a deliciously rich crab paste. Maybe one for next time.