Discovering a new city is just as much about the food as it is culture, architecture, and attractions. I’m a strong believer that the best way to discover a new city is through its food and that is very true of Vancouver BC.
Not surprisingly, food is everywhere in Vancouver! A food-centric Asian night market, an island farmer’s market, an entire street filled with International foods! Vancouver has it all.
If you’re looking for the best food experiences Vancouver has to offer, check out our guide with the best foodie things to do in Vancouver.
You might be wondering what type of food to be expecting to find in Vancouver. Canada is known for a lot of great food specialties, but Vancouver has a flavor of its own.
Of course, you’ll definitely find plenty of poutine in Vancouver. We’ll tell you where to find the best of the best. You can also expect seafood, international cuisines of all kinds, especially Italian and Asian, plus all kinds of street food. My favorite is Japadog (see below).
In the guide below, we’ll show you where to find these great foods and what parts of town to hang out in to discover the best food.
Top Vancouver Foodie Spots
International Food on Commercial Drive
There are dozens of international restaurants on Commercial Drive. Known as “The Drive” to locals, this three or four mile stretch of road is dominated by International businesses and restaurants. You can get there on the Skytrain Expo and Millennium lines, getting off at the Commercial-Broadway station. And from there it’s an easy walk to where the majority of the businesses are located.
Commercial Drive is a great stop, no matter when you go. There’s always great food! But it’s even more exciting during an event, like the annual Carfree Day, when hundreds of people come out to walk The Drive.
It has been the neighborhood of choice for generations of immigrants to Vancouver and has significant Italian, Asian, Latin America, East Indian, and African communities, all of which are represented in the food choices. The Drive was once called Little Italy, so you can expect to find plenty of Italian restaurants and pizzerias along the Drive.
You’ll also passed by numerous Afghan, Thai, Mexican, Indian, South American, and dozens of other cuisines on Commercial Drive. I suggest you park at one end and just walk until you find something that looks amazing.
Where To Eat on Commercial Drive
Our choice for Italian food is Marcelo’s Wood Fire Pizza. The pizza is fantastic — cooked in their rather unique wood fire oven. We had the Ai Due Formaggi pizza which had tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, salami, baking cheese and mushrooms. Perfect crisp crust and just the right amount of toppings. But the real stand out was the pasta. We had the Tagliatelle Pasticiatti, which was a creamy meat sauce served over nice, al dente housemade pasta. It was quite delicious, though all of the pastas looked great, so I don’t think you can go wrong here.
Location: 1404 Commercial Drive
Downtown Vavncouver has a lot to offer in terms of food. Many of the main streets are packed with restaurants. There’s also a good bit of street food to be found downtown.
Our first stop is always the Japadog food cart. They now have multiple locations around Vancouver, but the main one is at Burrard and Smithe streets. Last time we were in Vancouver, we stayed at the Sutton Hotel on that corner and every time we walked past the hot dog cart, we’d start drooling. So many delicious choices!
Japadog cooks up not your average hot dog. They feature Japanese and Asian flavors to make delicious combinations like the Terimayo, their most popular dog, which is an all-beef dog topped with fried onions, teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo and seaweed. Or there’s the Oroshi, served with grated radish and a special soya sauce. Or the Yakisoba dog with soba noodles, ginger and soy sauce. We were too skeptical to try the salmon dog, but in hindsight I’m sure it was amazing.
You can’t go to Vancouver without a stop to Granville Island. Just a short water taxi ride away from the downtown waterfront, Granville is a food-lover’s paradise. Inside the Granville Island Public Market, you’ll find a little bit of everything. Bakeries, cheese shops, some of the best prosciutto and salami around at Oyama, lots of loose teas at Granville Island Tea Company, the clam chowder pot pie at A La Mode, fresh pasta at Zara’s Italian Deli. These are but a few of the food choices packed into the market.
If you venture outside the market and take a short walk west, you’ll run into the Granville Island Brewery, which was our next food stop. The brewery has regularly scheduled tours every day along with pints and taster trays of any of their beers you’d like to try. We got one of each. They have the typical offerings, like IPA and a Lager, but they also have some more unique offerings like the Maple Cream Ale and Raspberry Ale. I also really liked their Hefeweizen. Read about the other breweries to visit in Vancouver.
We didn’t want to miss out on Canada’s favorite appetizer, so we ordered the poutine, which was an appropriate match for our beer. I’ve seen some pretty interesting variations on poutine, which technically should just be french fries and cheese curds with a slathering of gravy on the top. Often times, it comes out with a different type of cheese or so covered in gravy that the fries are a soggy mess. I was excited to see that the Granville Island Brewery knows how to make a good poutine. Perfectly cripsy fries, plump pieces of cheese curds and just the right amount of gravy (made with their pale ale) to flavor the fries.
Our last stop was for brunch. One of the signs of a great city is the availability of great brunch spots. We hadn’t yet checked out the food scene in Gastown, so we made that our morning destination. Gastown is the city’s oldest neighborhood and has dozens of souvenir shops, coffee shops and restaurants. The choices are vast. But we settled on The Flying Pig on Water Street for brunch (they also have a location in Yaletown). I don’t usually choose lunch options during brunch because I love Eggs Benedict so much and can rarely get past that on the menu, but The Flying Pig had a couple of lunch items we could not pass up, so we ordered lunch with our mimosas and bacon Caesars.
Is our mouth watering in anticipation? We chose the Pulled Pork 4 Cheese Gnocchi and the Braised Beef Short rib Jumbo Macaroni. And let me tell you, we were not disappointed. In fact, long after our stomachs were bulging from having eaten too much, we all kept picking at the remaining gnocchi until the entire dish was gone. And it wasn’t a small dish! The Flying Pig turned out to be a fantastic brunch spot. And they have a nice outdoor patio to enjoy, as well.
Richmond Night Market
For dinner during the summer weekends, there’s nothing better than the Richmond Night Market. The market spans from May through October, and the long summer nights are perfect for hanging out and enjoying dozens of authentic International cuisine. It’s official name is Magical Candyland, which makes me love it even more. I was surprised at the choices.
Most of the Asian specialties that I can think of were represented. There was Dim Sum, Chow Mein, Crispy Duck, grilled Squid, rotatos, pulled noodles, bubble tea, all kinds of desserts like mango ice cream and the interesting IceCane, even pretzels and bavarian sausage was represented despite it being obviously non-Asian.
It’s fairly easy to get to the Night Market, especially if you take the Skytrain to the Bridgeport stop. There’s some parking, but later at night it gets filled up. We found that arriving right at 7pm when it opens was the best way to do it. The lines are shorter, the crowds are thinner and you’ll be able to actually walk through the aisles of food and make your choices without fighting crowds.
Where to Stay in Vancouver
We always choose to stay somewhere in downtown Vancouver, because of the easy walking proximity to just about everything. You can park your car and use your legs instead. Popular areas include Gastown, Yaletown and Downtown. No matter which area you choose, you’ll find some really great restaurants and bars within a block or two that exemplify the neighborhood.
Here are our recommended hotels:
Want to put together you’re own Vancouver BC food tour? Start with these great Vancouver food finds, and you’ll have a better grasp on the different foodie areas around Vancouver. Each of these Vancouver neighborhoods has many restaurants, bars and food stands that will tempt you with so many different dishes and flavors.
Have a favorite place you like to eat in Vancouver? Tell us about it!
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.