Explore Like A Local: Vancouver Dining

by Matt on November 28, 2011

I’m going to lay it all on the line, be completely honest, and just bare my soul for you here. I am dreading writing this post. Why? Because it’s too good. I mean, the food of Vancouver is just too good. Too good for me to find enough words to describe it, too good to not sound like a broken record as I try to find ways to tell you about it.

Perhaps I should just start with Paul.

Paul Done rocks. No other way to say it. And homeboy is TALL.

This is Mr. Paul Done, Food Lover and PR Consultant Extraordinaire. See that beer? That’s a local craft beer enjoyed on the first day of a 2-day quick tour throughout Gastown, Yaletown and Kitsilano, not to mention a few other Vancouver neighborhoods and city sites. This man knows his city, knows his food, and kept me entertained beyond words. He was the perfect companion to take me on my tour and the kind of guy you just want to be around. And that beer was only one of the many glasses of beer, wine, and endless plates of food and tastings we had as we ran around Vancouver, both on foot and in a car.

Beer, wine, cheese, charcuterie. SALT IS MY DREAM COME TRUE.

And before I go any further, you do realize you can enter to win my itinerary, right? Correct. You can stop by and visit these places too, but only if you’re up for it. Because the level of awesomeness just kept overdoing itself again and again throughout my time in Vancouver.

Breakfast at Cafe Medina. GO, JUST GO. Trust me. Not like I need to tell you how awesome it is. Everyone knows.

Here’s what I’m not going to be doing in this post: I’m not going to be reviewing every single place I went to. That’d just be nutty. And unnecessary. Besides, I don’t do restaurant reviews. What I can hope to accomplish here is to convey the level of happiness, comfort, skill, and “right-on”ness (I made that up) that comes from the Vancouver culinary scene. It’s vibrant, youthful, daring, traditional, intelligent, focused, and meaningful. It’s both a culinary warm hug and a quick cheeky pinch.  Just enough to wake you up, I mean.

I dream of having Big Lou's Butcher Shop in my neighborhood. I really do.

It’s people who care about what they do and how they do it. It’s about an attention to detail that never feels fussy or stifling, and it’s an elegant casualness that is right up my alley. Vancouver has easily become a favorite spot for me and I can’t wait to return.

Nelson The Seagull and a view of Vancouver at dusk

And if you go, you simply must pay a visit to Granville Island Market. Walk around, check out the shops, snack a bit, eat some more, buy some gifts for friends and family, it truly is a fantastic way to spend some time.

Meat & Bread, 370 Cambie Street

Below is my list of places we visited. Some were more comprehensive than others; we sipped and nibbled at a few, I stuffed my face at others. But I can tell you that I’d easily return to every single one of them in a heartbeat, no hesitation.

I spent a lovely afternoon at Thierry Patisserie, 1059 Alberni St. Photographer John Sherlock was in the back shooting for the website. Double score!

Remember that you can enter to win one of three different Explore Like A Local Itineraries. Will you go the explorer route and select Mike’s trip and backpack your way through the National Parks of Québec? Or will you shop your way through Toronto? I know you really want to eat your way through Vancouver, right? Just be prepared to bring an empty stomach and have your mind blown away.


The Greedy Pig, 307 West Cordova Street

The Dirty Apron Cooking School and Delicatessen, 540 Beatty Street

Big Lou’s Butcher Shop, 260 Powell Street

Salt Tasting Room, 45 Blood Alley

Meat & Bread, 370 Cambie Street

The Irish Heather, 212 Carrall St

Save-On Meats, 43 West Hastings Street

L’Abattoir, 217 Carral St.

Boneta, Courtyard of 12 Water Street

Cork & Fin, 221 Carrall Street

Two Chefs and a Table, 305 Alexander Street

Nelson The Seagull, 315 Carrall Street


Bitter (opening soon and it’ll be gorgeous, I had a sneak peek) 18 West Hastings

Café Medina, 556 Beatty Street

Oakwood Canadian Bistro, 2741 West 4 Avenue

The Flying Pig Bistro, 1168 Hamilton Street

C Restaurant, 1600 Howe Street

Granville Island Market/ Edible Canada at the Market, 1596 Johnston Street

Thierrys Patisserie, 1059 Alberni St


Some scenes from Sav-On Meats. Great space!



Running through Yaletown and Kitsilano on a rainy afternoon. Also, please visit Oakwood Canadian Bistro. You must.


I cannot express my gratitude over meeting these gracious folks who make eating in Vancouver a very special thing. Clockwise Boneta's Neil Ingram, Chef Thierry Busset, Mike Shea of Oakwood, Chef Michel Laurent of Granville Island Market.


A very special thanks to the St. Regis Hotel for such excellent service and a wonderful room to lay my head (and rest my full belly) while in Vancouver. St. Regis is located at 602 Dunsmuir Street  in downtown Vancouver, BC. You can find them online here.