When I was in grade six, my science teacher had us practice public speaking by researching a given topic and presenting a one minute speech to the rest of the class. The goal of these speeches was to hit as close to sixty seconds as possible (and the grade was given out of 60, where each second over or under was a point deducted). The content didn’t matter; in one instance someone informed the class, in a perfectly paced speech, how the name of their topic (some sort of insect) was spelled.
My first one of these presentations was on a daddy long legs, and I almost fainted (perhaps a relative of the spider was not the best choice). My knees went to jelly and I had to lean back against the chalkboard to steady myself. I stared into space and whispered about spindly legs and swiveling eyes for a total of 58 seconds.
In university, through an engineering discipline designed to promote presentation and reporting skills and my (happily forgotten) involvement in student council, I started to enjoy speaking in front of others. Since then, I’ve been told a few times – and I’m not sure if this is a compliment – that I present much like an airline stewardess (flight attendant? Is that what we’re calling them these days?) going through the pre-flight emergency instructions. One of my (many) ex-office-roommates said it was partly because I had a very calm vibe; she thought I would probably be quite authoritative and yet comforting in a stressful situation.
Which (I would apologize for the rather lame segue here but you should be used to it by now) I suppose is why I’m often asked by tourists for suggestions on what to see or do or try in Vancouver. And while I have nothing but love for this city, I am always stuck for an answer.
Having finally put some further thought into the matter, I really only want to recommend places to eat. The following are my you-absolutely-must-eat-here favourites:
Belgian, romantic, delicious. They also have the longest beer list I’ve ever seen (try the Kwak, if only for the way it’s served). If I was on death row, I would want my last meal to be from here. They are part of a group that owns/operates The Dirty Apron Cooking School and Deli (from which I have taken multiple brilliant classes) and Medina Cafe (also fabulous).
Note: Chambar will be closing at some unknown (to me) point in time to relocate to open at some unknown (to me) point in time. Check their website before you go.
2. Seasons in the Park
I generally have a rule against gimmicky restaurants who lure tourists in with a view and serve mediocre-at-best food, but Seasons in the Park has a stunning view of downtown and the food is brilliant. Last time I was there I had the best oysters of my life – I don’t know about all that aphrodisiac business but I would have kissed the chef to get more.
Like Chambar, Seasons in the Park is one of a group of great restaurants: The Teahouse (which I haven’t been to since my dad’s wedding reception ten plus years ago but I’m sure it’s still lovely); Sandbar (another great place for oysters, and a bit more casual); and Cardero’s (also wonderful. I’m running out of complimentary adjectives).
3. The Eatery
For the younger crowd. The Eatery is loud, dark, and may contain scenes of nudity. It is the original (as far as I know and choose to believe) creator of the deep friend California roll (Cap’n Crunch roll), and was the locale of my first encounter with a deep fried mars bar (washed down with some sugary cocktails that are only appealing to 19-year-olds). We frequented this restaurant a lot when I went to UBC; it may only make this list because of my nostalgia, but it makes the list nonetheless.
I have a deep, dark secret. That I am now going to post on the internet.
I have never been to Vij’s. I have, however, heard raving reviews from everyone who has gone. I have also taken a cooking class (at The Dirty Apron, of course) from Vikram Vij himself, and am so inspired by him and his team and their food. Words don’t do him justice. I would eat soil with a worm on top if Vikram Vij promised me it would be good.
Go to this restaurant. (Or Rangoli, which is his as well but slightly more casual). Take me. Then all will be well with the (first) world.
In the last few years, Vancouver has developed a great variety of food trucks. While I could write a whole post on foodtrucks, Tacofino is my favourite. It’s generally parked by the Art Gallery (with a second truck focusing on burritos at Burrard and Dunsmuir). Go there. Order two (or three or four) fish tacos. Find some stairs to sit on and dig in. Lick your fingers when you’re done.