Heading north of the border to explore the rich culinary landscape of beautiful Vancouver, B.C. means you better come hungry. Here are a few spots you don’t want to miss.
When you’re home based minutes from the Canadian border, it’s no big deal to head north for a day trip to a city that’s famous for its eclectic cuisine. Amtrak’s run between Seattle and Vancouver — an incredibly scenic route — is due to begin again in late September.
Filling out the vaccination info on the ArriveCan app made the crossing quick and easy. Head to the truck crossing in Blaine, skip the Peace Arch, if possible. The agent who looked at our passports asked what we had planned and when we said lunch at Nightingale, he said “that’s a great place.” Yes, best border crossing ever.
But first, Granville Island Public Market.
Wander and feast
Walking into the public market on Granville Island is a full-sensory experience. Serious shoppers wheel carts through the busy stands while sweets fans line up for a fix at Lee’s Donuts and Muffin Granny. Stop by JJ Bean Coffee for a cuppa or grab some of the fresh fruit sold at the produce stalls.
My grownup kiddo and I found a seat outside to enjoy our morning treats with a sun-drenched view of False Creek and the heart of the city beyond. If you’ve got more time, hop one of the water taxis across the body of water and explore the neighborhood that once hosted a world’s fair.
Award winning chef David Hawksworth opened this 166-seat restaurant on West Hastings in 2017, a followup to his exquisite fine dining spot across from the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The space is sometimes described as casual and, yes, pizza is a popular menu item among the lineup of salads, small plates and large, shareable entrees. But the experience falls into the high end without the attitude category. Service was gracious and attentive without ever feeling stuffy. And the food coming out of the busy kitchen was… dare I even go there?… perfect.
We started with the roasted mushroom pizza, a pie embellished by Fontina, arugula pesto and garlic confit. The crust was just the right kind of chewy and deeply flavorful, the toppings well seasoned.
Next up, we put together a little surf-and-turf course with steak tartare toast slathered in a parm aioli and the halibut ceviche, accompanied by avocado, lime, cilantro, puffed tapioca, both sublime and impossible not to finish.
Even though we were kind of stuffed, we still had to order dessert. The pineapple meringue on a pretty piece of carrot cake showed the pastry chef’s clever twists on a classic and the pretzel gelato accompanying the excellent espresso cake drove home that messaging. Give the diners what they crave and throw in something surprising. Well done.
Before you go home…
Of course, we were tempted to stay longer. You cannot truly enjoy the full flavor of this beautiful city in a quick day trip, but dipping in for a memorable meal is pretty special, too.