- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
With an estimated 2,000 restaurants and hundreds of cafés and coffeehouses, Vancouver is a gastronomical delight. The city is home to more than 60 different cultures, so don’t be surprised to find a smorgasbord of ethnic restaurants.
The local specialty is west-coast or “fusion” cuisine, which combines fresh Canadian produce, such as local seafood and seasonal game, with Asian flavors and ingredients, usually in a healthy, low-fat way.
Vancouver has no tourist-oriented, San Francisco–style Fisherman’s Wharf, but however and wherever it’s prepared, seafood will always dominate local menus. Pacific salmon, halibut, snapper, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, and squid are all harvested locally.
One thing that will soon become apparent to first-time visitors is the amount of coffee consumed by Vancouver locals. Specialty coffeehouses are everywhere, but nowhere are they as concentrated as along Robson Street.
Starbucks alone has more than 85 Vancouver outlets, including two sitting kitty-corner from each other on Robson Street, along with two others on that same street. Blenz is equally well represented throughout the city, with three cafés on Robson Street.
Rather than diving straight into Starbucks, I recommend trying one of the local places. It’s only a cup of coffee after all. My pick for coffee and a light snack is the Bread Garden, with 20-odd cafés scattered throughout the metropolitan area. One central location is a half block off busy Robson Street at 812 Bute Street (604/688-3213). It’s open 24 hours a day and is always busy — so much so that patrons often need to take a number and wait for service. The coffee is great, as are the freshly baked muffins and pastries. Salads and healthy sandwiches are also available.
Gastown’s best coffee is roasted at Smart Mouth Cafe (131 Water St., 604/569-1480). The café’s striking yellow and black interior, daily papers, great coffee, and inexpensive light snacks make this a pleasant escape from touristy Water Street.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition