The Vancouver melting pot is a foodie’s paradise. Its history of immigration can be seen in the culinary inventiveness that runs rampant throughout the city. Cuisines you never even thought to combine, or flavor profiles that you thought were too similar to be fused, with influences from Thailand, Cambodia, Japan… not to mention one of the largest Chinatown neighborhoods in North America.
Personally, I can’t wait to go back and try more of the fusion concepts in Gastown. Japanese-Italian fusion at Kissa Tanto—squid ink pasta with soy cured salmon roe? Lasagna with miso?—calls to me.
But that’s for next time. Here are a few of my greatest hits for one day of eating in Vancouver, Canada.
Breakfast: pastry heaven at Purebread
When I walked into Purebread, my jaw dropped. It’s truly what I imagine heaven to look like. Rows upon rows of pastries glistening in the cafe’s bright light, falling over each other and clamoring for space—the image of a veritable cornucopia. That display window is packed.
Always a sucker for a savory pastry, I opted for a bacon, chive, and cheddar scone. Every savory scone I’ve had since tries to live up to that one.
When I travel, I usually have a rule about not visiting the same place twice—too much to see, too much to eat! But I’d amend my policy to say that you could easily grab a pastry at Purebread every day while in Vancouver, and not be disappointed.
Lunch: Japanese hotdogs at Japadog
Japadog is a local street food vendor in Vancouver, and I love the novelty. Their signature dish, the terimayo hotdog, has teriyaki sauce, mayo, and seaweed. But the star here is the kurobuta pork hotdog (they sell a terimayo version with a kurobuta hotdog).
There is one Japadog storefront in downtown Vancouver, which is designed primarily for takeout (there’s almost nowhere to sit inside the restaurant). I took my terimayo hotdog to go and sat in Cathedral Square, overlooking the fountain, enjoying the beautiful weather and my picnic lunch. Perfectly satisfying, with crunch from the seaweed and fried onion, the terimayo is everything you’d expect from a hotdog with Japanese flavor. The seaweed imparted a sushi flavor, but in a way that really worked even though it was hot and meaty instead of cold and fishy.
This location also offers its take on poutine, the Canadian national dish, but I wasn’t impressed. Why have soggy fries when you could have their “shaked” fries, with flavors like consomme or nori?
Grazing at Granville Island Public Market
As with any major city I visit, if it has a market, I’m there. Granville Island Public Market is an indoor market where you could easily spend a couple of hours grazing.
The pickle stand, Kaylin & Hobbs, was my favorite—and what a treat for a pickle lover! Kosher dill, spicy dill, sweet, mustard, horseradish… so many different pickle flavors, all laid out for sampling. I almost bought one of each to take home, but my suitcase couldn’t hold them all.
Dinner: renowned Indian food at Vij’s
When I first went to Vancouver, there was one thing I was sure of: I would eat a meal at Vij’s before I left. I had read all about the game-changing Indian food at Vij’s. Celebrities and regular people alike waited in line for the chance to dine there. Nothing would deter me.
Chef Vikram Vij is a local celebrity in Vancouver. He has appeared on the TV show Dragon’s Den and is known for his entrepreneurship and passion for Indian cooking. In Vancouver, and all over Canada, he has cultivated a reputation for changing perceptions of fine dining Indian cuisine.
I had some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had at Vij’s. The lamb popsicles were a standout. The touch that put this experience over the top for me was that Chef Vij was working front of house that night as well. He went from table to table, paying personal attention to each guest. That’s something you don’t see every day.
When he stopped by our table, we got to chatting about Sri Lanka, and food, and how I had heard of his restaurant (I do an obsessive amount of food research before any trip). He then invited my friend and me to the opening of Indian Summer, a food and culture festival, the next day! We attended as his guests, and were lucky enough to sample some great food and drinks while also having an excuse to buy a last-minute dress on vacation.
Drinks at The Diamond
This cocktail bar with vintage vibes overlooks Maple Tree Square in Gastown. They do serve food, but the cocktails are the reason to go. The bartenders are great, and will help you figure out what you like and mix you a drink accordingly. Be warned, the boozy cocktails really are boozy. Drinking in Gastown also means you’ll be in an exceptionally great neighborhood for late-night food when the alcohol-induced cravings hit.