Our Lyft driver was the first indication that we’d find plenty of tasty things to eat in Vancouver. He spent the entire 30 minutes of the drive from the airport to our lodging telling us where to find the best of everything.
Unfortunately our time was limited, so we didn’t get to try everything. But everything we ate was phenomenal, with the exception of one pizza that was just a mediocre meal. Vancouver offers plenty of options for people who love food and plenty of inspiration for people who want to bring the flavors of this city to their own dinner table.
Vancouver boasts a vibrant and diverse food scene reflecting its multicultural population. Dim sum, lusciously rich Italian pasta, and fragrant curries make choosing where you’ll eat as difficult as what to eat.
In addition to flavors from around the world, there is easy access to locally produced foods. You’ll find a great selection of restaurants and markets offering seasonal produce, artisanal cheeses, and fresh fish.
The neighborhood surrounding Commercial Drive has drawn immigrants for generations. Often referred to as Little Italy, this area shows off its Italian influence in fare like pasta, gelato, espresso, wood-fired pizza, and a sweet little grocery store that looks like it’s straight out of Italy.
We stopped at Marcello Ristorante & Pizzeria for pasta and gnocchi the first night and what a treat that was. The food was amazing and the staff efficient and courteous. We especially enjoyed that we found ourselves seated next to two separate parties conversing in Italian, one comprised of a half dozen nonnas out on the town in their finest.
Visiting the Italian grocer offered us a chance to pick up some cold cuts and breakfast items to nosh on at our lodging. The Milano style salami? To die for with its rich and smoky flavor. There was also plenty of dry pasta, cookies, sweets, and sumptuous fruit spreads. It was like taking a trip to Italy without the long-distance flight.
Hailing from Quebec, poutine isn’t exactly a Vancouver-centric option, but since this was our first foray into Canada, we had to try it. It’s (excuse me, Canadians) an odd combination of French fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy.
I can imagine that some people love the heavily flavored greasy goodness of this dish, but while I’m glad I sampled it, I’d probably not order it again!
Try this homemade poutine recipe to see what you think!
Grab a Cup to Go
The neighborhood surrounding “The Drive” is made up of stately older homes. If you’re like me and like to peer into other people’s gardens, grab an espresso to go and have yourself a little walk.
This was by far our favorite spot during our time in Vancouver, and we returned several times to sample various food options.
Granville Island Public Market
Everybody talks about Granville Island Public Market as a must-see spot in Vancouver. I was, if I’m honest, a little underwhelmed, despite the fact that there were so many options for filling our bellies.
We were there on a Saturday and it was massively crowded, making it difficult to traverse, so my first suggestion would be to avoid it on the weekend when locals are out picking up their fresh fruits and veggies for the week. At the very least, go in the afternoon when the crowd seemed to clear out a bit.
The food on offer is swoon-worthy, though. From jarred products like local honey and maple syrup to baked goods (with some gluten free options, yay), cheeses, and sandwiches, there’s a little something for everyone. It’s a great place to pick up food products to take home as souvenirs or to get fresh items for taking along on your next adventure.
We took a break from the crowd to enjoy an absolutely amazing lunch at Alimentaria Mexicana. We sat outside where we could people watch from the comfort of our seats while we enjoyed tacos and a beer. Seriously some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.
Food to Go
The crowd dispersed a bit after lunch so we had an easier time accessing the many vendors and picked up some cheeses and desserts from a specialty bakery to take back to our lodging.
We followed the advice of so many guidebooks and made our way to Gastown. Meh. The Steam Clock was certainly fascinating, but the area surrounding it turned out to be one tchotchke shop after another.
Heading back to our lodging, though, took us through Greektown. We hopped off the bus and wandered into The Parthenon, a Greek market and deli. Apparently, all I need is a good market to be content.
This one had plenty of packaged foods available as well as a deli with fresh meats, hot meals to go, and some baked goods. We were at the end of the trip so we opted for some takeout, including more of that Milano salami we fell in love with in Little Italy.