Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Local Time
The birthplace (and spiritual home) of tights–as–pants athleisure, Vancouver is all about the alfresco active lifestyle: Bike the Stanley Park Seawall, hike the Grouse Grind (nickname: Mother Nature’s Stairmaster) or day–trip to Whistler’s ski mecca. Refuel with the freshest sushi or some of the best dim sum this side of the Pacific.
where to stay
- The pristine outdoor pool of the Fairmont Pacific Rim in VancouverFairmont Pacific RimFor the perfect view
- The Halo Penthouse at the Loden Hotel in VancouverLoden HotelFor the ideal location
- The lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver exudes an air of luxuryShangri-La Hotel, VancouverFor understated luxury
- Wood furnishings and beautiful art pieces fill the suites of the Listel Hotel in VancouverThe Listel HotelFor the cultural angle
- Canadian art hangs on the walls of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia's lobbyRosewood Hotel GeorgiaFor the Canadian art
- Complimentary ping pong at the outdoor lounge of the Burrard Hotel in VancouverThe Burrard HotelFor the retro motel vibe
- Indigenous imagery decorates the many rooms of the Skwachàys LodgeSkwachàys LodgeFor the sweat lodge and smudge room
- The urban themed bar at the OPUS Hotel VancouverOPUS Hotel VancouverFor the upscale experience
Eat & Drink
The menu has just switched from dinner to late–night at this casual sibling to Published on Main, and the mustachioed duo next to us is pounding shots of amaro followed by Parkside pilsners. Scenes like these co–exist alongside the occasionally sublime – a dish of grilled sablefish and pickled vegetables in a subtle tom kha broth dotted with bright green herb oil, for example – and capture the contradictory essence of this place: part soigné bistro, natural wine bar and frontier saloon. Go with whatever the staff happens to be pouring for the night and be ready for anything from the delicious to the delirious. Longlisted as part of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2022.
The undertow of pungent, tangy and nutty flavours that permeate the menu at this home to modern Iranian cuisine starts with a Hop Plum Spritzer with a top note of acidic dried lime. It recedes and then rises with a starter of roasted cauliflower, spicy yogurt, hazelnut and sumac, and peaks in the chicken and barberry main. Iranian folk songs bounce off white walls while carved mashrabiya panels seem to let in a warm Kashan breeze. A boldly tattooed server batting baby blue eyelids reminds us we are in Kitsilano and brings our meal full circle with the gentle citrus and haunting floral note of the turmeric and orange cake. Longlisted as part of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2022.
Cross the unmarked threshold of this East Van den to find yourself greeted by a fermentation–mad inventor in the kitchen and a natural wine–loving sommelier. Many are first drawn to this 18–seat industry fave for the umami explosion that is chef Justin Lee’s steak tartare burger, seared on the outside then layered inside a brioche bun with fermented onion, Parmesan fonduta and pickled pearl onion. Try this and you will want to return for the five–course omakase tasting and wine pairing, which might include a plush 2020 Claus Preisinger Kalkstein blaufränkisch from Kelcie Jones’s stellar wine list. Longlisted as part of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2022.
Chorizo and Basque cider at Como Taperia Pours of on–tap vermouth and sherry zip by at warp speed as servers strive to keep up with the thirsty crowd at this jumping Mount Pleasant watering hole, named #2 on the 2019 Canada’s Best New Restaurants Top 10 list. Salty, addictive, traditional small plates of Madrid and Barcelona range from canned conservas (razor clams served with imported potato chips and Catalan Espinaler hot sauce) to whipped potatoes with a crispy–edged deep–fried egg (yolk still molten), finished with a bright orange slick of chorizo and pimentón. Still thirsty? Wash it down with a Bereziartua Basque cider, poured from on high in the flamboyant manner of the region.
Foie–gras filled French–Québecois cuisine at St. Lawrence Pacific Rim–, sushi– and downward–dog–oriented B.C. loves its foie–gras–filled French–Québécois cuisine. This cozy, teal–panelled spot excels at fat tranches of smoked–ham–studded pâté en croûte accompanied by two kinds of mustard and bottomless crocks of cornichons. Sautéed sweetbreads with mashed potatoes and morels are doused with a deep, savoury jus. The team weaves cheerfully between tables, bearing cocktails of fresh watermelon, pastis, gin and cherry liqueur, and brightly acidic natural wines.
Japanese–Italian pasta at Kissa Tanto Tannis Ling, Joël Watanabe and Alain Chow of Bao Bei tighten their hold on Chinatown with this tucked–away second–floor spot that evokes a 1960s Tokyo jazz club. The My Private Tokyo cocktail, a play on an amaretto sour, delights with its plum salt rim. Chef Watanabe’s cooking marries Japanese and Italian: Chewy housemade tajarin egg noodles, tossed in butter and miso–cured egg yolk, are topped with a medley of mushrooms, including shiitake and porcini. Tiramisu features whipped soy and plum–wine–soaked ladyfingers.
Family–style Italian meal at Osteria Savio Volpe This bright and clean–lined Mount Pleasant osteria, designed by Craig Stanghetta, proposes luxurious family–style Italian fare, like on–the–bone bistecca alla fiorentina cooked over fire. Chef Phil Scarfone works in an open kitchen preparing tortellini stuffed with new potato and green garlic; a pretty dish of white anchovy with radish and soft–cooked farm egg is served over a silky green sauce of blended herbs and bread. The wine list traverses Italy from top to bottom, and batch–made negronis are poured from wine bottles.
Buzzworthy cones at Rain or Shine Ice Cream With a weatherproof name, this ice cream shop has developed a coterie of year–round devotees who can’t get enough of their Salted Caramel, London Fog or Blueberry Balsamic. They also dutifully line up for waffle–cone “tacos” filled with two scoops of ice cream on Taco Tuesdays.
Pour–over coffee at Matchstick Vancouverites revel in the Pacific Northwest trait of treating coffee like it was cold fusion. The myriad spots that employ beakers and atomically precise measurements in search of the perfect brew are endless, but the Matchstick mini–chain excels at making a great cup. It also bakes some of the city’s best housemade bread.
what to do
Eco–friendly products at the Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples Open since 2011, the city’s first dedicated refill store is a favourite among eco–conscious Vancouverites looking to stock up on all–natural soaps, household cleaners, simple glass dispensers and DIY ingredients like beeswax and essential oils (it stocks over 800 bulk items). In recent years, the shop has moved beyond soaps, offering workshops, kitchen tools and local food products ranging from freshly milled flour to grains and legumes.
Vintage finds at Stepback This lifestyle shop in the heart of Kitsilano is a delightful mash–up of new and old. Shop well–priced and unusual taxidermy, antique wind–up toys, old CP Rail monogrammed dishware, medical charts and new pieces that recall the charm of yesteryear. (Think bicycle–print gift wrapping and apothecary jars.)
Japanese objects at Out & About West Cordova’s Out & About boutique lines airy shelves with quality everyday objects – think small–scale Muji – and specializes in Japanese–made and –inspired household items, like tea–party–ready pots and glassware.
Contemporary art at Rennie Museum Find one of the largest contemporary art collections in the country housed in the Wing Sang building, Chinatown’s oldest structure. Thanks to its patron, real estate marketer Bob Rennie – one of the top 200 collectors in the world – works from Rodney Graham (named to the Order of Canada) to Turner Prize–winning artists Martin Creed and Simon Starling can be viewed in an intimate setting with a private post–tour discussion. (Tours, for up to 15 participants, are free.)
Fresh local produce at Granville Island Public Market If Vancouver is a foodie’s paradise, then Granville Island Public Market is its mecca. Professional chefs, locals and tourists collide at one of the country’s best public food halls. Perched on the waters of False Creek, this is ground zero for 100–mile fare like terrines and sausage (Oyama Sausage Co. for juniper and wild boar charcuterie), fresh shellfish (the Lobster Man for local Royal Miyagi oysters) and small batch sake (Artisan Sake Maker for premium food pairings).
First Nations art at the Museum of Anthropology The Museum of Anthropology showcases the province’s best collection of native art in a stunning concrete and glass structure designed by Arthur Erickson, the city’s greatest architect.
Swimming at Kitsilano Pool Fresh off a $3.3–million renovation, Vancouver’s only saltwater pool is perched on the edge of Kitsilano Beach, so you can keep both the mountains and the city in your sights.