6 Local Eateries That Every Foodie Needs To Try in 2018
Vancouver is consistently having incredible restaurants, cafes, and eateries added to its directory. Vancouverites, alike, have a strong palette for a plethora of flavours—be it international, seafood-inspired, dessert, or healthy. The truth is, us Vancouver foodies, enjoy trying new things, right?
If this rings true, then you don’t want to miss out on the best openings of the past year. Each of these locations was brand new in 2018. Given their successful debuts, we recommend you use this list a “let’s eat here” bucket list for 2019.
Unless you are absolutely a non-meat eater, there’s no excuse for not having gone to The Downlow Chicken Shack.
Located on Commercial Drive, it has quickly grabbed the attention of chicken lovers for its unbeatable Nashville–style hot fried chicken.
You will want to try the Chicken on a Bun, which is essentially a huge fried chicken sandwich with pickles and DL special sauce on a bun, but we can assure you it’s not just a run of the coup chicken sandwich.
First off, the chicken itself, marinated, buttermilk drenched and deep-fried, and then coated in a signature blend of spices, it will quite literally kick you in the throat if you don’t expect it; slightly aggressive but extremely flavourful. Side note, if you like it really hot, you can give get a “side of milk.”Second, their DL sauce is a signature in-house sauce, creamy, tangy and incredibly addicting.
If you go, might as well go all out and ask for the “Fries on the Downlow” special fries dish (on their secret menu), which is layered with signature hot chicken, coleslaw, pickles, cheese, and DL sauce (trust us, you won’t get enough of this sauce).
Noteworthy: Burger lovers may want to drop by ‘The Drive’ for their Monday pop-ups, which showcases only their burgers – called Downlow Burgers.
Yes if you are a vegetarian – look away. Otherwise, get up and try this place (you may seriously be the only one who hasn’t yet).
Have you ever been to Cuba? If you haven’t, don’t worry – Tocador’s taste, vibe, drinks, and flavour will instantly transport you to Havana. Capturing the essence of the Cuban spirit, charisma, and charm.
Contrary to what you may believe, Cuban food is inspiring and full of flavour. Whether eating a Cubano sandwich (simply heavenly smoked ham and swiss with pickles) or sharing Gambas Fritas (battered and fried prawns in a ginger-infused sauce), you will enjoy the crisp taste of Cuban culture. The idea is sharing your food and eating together. The menu even hosts an item called “COMIDA CON ACERES”. This is a new dish that the kitchen creates daily, essentially is a large share plate to promote the spirit of eating together. We love the idea of having something new every day.
For those that enjoy a cocktail, and if you visit here we highly recommend you do, they have curated some authentic and unique mixes to quench your palate. Your server will be able to make suggestions, but one of the popular ones is “The Bird Conspiracy,” a tangy citrus cocktail with a hint of Absinthe (don’t worry it’s not too strong). Another popular drink is the “Tocororo,” a ginger-beer infused with paprika. Drinks also include weekly punches, flights of rum as well as tropical features.
One of the best reasons, though is the experience, due to the team. The staff is happy, why wouldn’t they be, it’s mini Havana. They will help make you feel right at home, make recommendations and extremely accommodating. It’s no wonder this small little eclectic place is becoming a favourite hangout for locals.
While this restaurant already exists in Delta, this is the first location to come across two bridges into the city of Vancouver.
Offering traditional Indian dishes and authentic flavours, but in a swanky setting is the goal and they do it so well. The food is well executed menu bound to leave your palate pleased and the belly full. Popular dishes include Spicy Chicken Bites, Fish Pakora, Tandoori Lamb Chops, Coconut Prawn Curry, and, of course, Butter Chicken. There is enough on the menu to keep coming back and try more!
What’s truly unique and touching is the backstory on this Indian Bistro.
Avtar Saini, moved to Canada in 1994, coming with a wealth of experience in managing restaurants in India. He opened up Tasty Sweets and Restaurant in Surrey, and it gained popularity. He had a vision to build a greater restaurant where people will flock to and truly get treated like royalty. However, he passed away in 2010 before he could make his vision a reality. To continue his legacy, son and son-in-law, Inder Saini and Manjit Basutta, opened the first Tasty Bistro in Delta in 2011. The stone tables and marble truly captured the royalty in Avtar’s vision.
Mama Mia! Pepino’s is a must-try for any true Italian-food loving pasta connoisseur. When they say simplicity shows elegance, it’s quite true. The dishes are quite signature to the authenticity that is Italian gourmet at its best. So if you are into low-carbs, gluten-free, vegan-only, this is likely not the spot for you. This is true to the soul classic Italian cuisine that will leave your heart and belly full.
Some favourites include the: Spicy Rigatoni Vodka, Chicken Piccata, Spaghetti with Butter & Cheese, as well as the House Lasagna….there really are no words. Though anything you try, you truly cannot go wrong with. Pepino’s has gotten rave reviews for their food, however, was there any doubt given its owners?
Paul Grunberg and Mark Perrier and Craig Stanghetta, are a dream team if you will in Italian eateries. They opened the uber-successful Italian restaurant, Osteria Savio Volpe about three years ago with massive success. In addition, for those that are familiar with ‘The Drive’, you will notice that Pepino’s is housed in the previous “Nick’s Spaghetti House,” a long-running favourite of locals. Grunberg, Perrier, and Stanghetta wanted to ensure that its legacy carried on, staying true to its roots.
Nestled in the heart of Gastown, is a charming new restaurant which specializes in a truly elegant seafood experience. West coast living and seafood go hand-in-hand, true, and Coquille takes it to another level by highlighting the seafood itself. Take their BBQ Branzino, for example, fresh and quality, presented simply, crusted to perfection and served with Brussel sprouts, highlights the beautiful natural tastes of what good seafood is.
The fine seafood experience coupled with the fact that Coquille is brought together by the same team behind L’Abattoir, you know they won’t disappoint. The name says enough, and the experiences speaks for itself.
Although quite pricey for relatively small portions, we suggest coming for happy hour (between 3 pm to 6 pm, and after 9 pm) and then splurge on one of the Seafood Platters, which gives you a mix of delicious options. Just be sure to make reservations first.
If a coffee shop making pastries and sandwiches is your scene, then you have to check out the cute eatery and super cool cafe that is Their There. Right in the heart of Kitsilano. With an impressive resume of owners, Chef Mike Robbins and Jeffrey Parr, same owners of the renowned AnnaLena, also in Kitsilano; be sure that their pastries and lunch options will not be your average.
A fan favourite pastry is their signature Paris Brest, combining hazelnut and chocolate, filled with creme and real hazelnuts…absolutely airy, delectable heaven. The menu is also evolving as new treats are often added, so even regulars are never bored or expecting the same ol’. And if you are in the mood for a sandwich, may we suggest the Smoked Meat Breakfast Sandwich—a clever play on classic smoked meat sammies, with an egg on it, some sauerkraut and sprouts, yes, oh yes it’s good.
The really cool part? They transform into Hundy at night, which hosts mouth-watering, and large, burgers filled with ample cheese and lettuce, just the way nature intended burgers to be eaten.
This space itself is uber trendy. 2300 sq foot, long and thin, looking right onto 4th through big windows, a large bar area with a communal table in the back, makes this place look rather cool, in fact. It’s just a fun place with a relaxed vibe to go and hang with a friend. However, if you want to kick it up a notch, they also offer local beers and wines.
Christina is a local freelance writer/blogger, passionate about exploring cafes and eateries in Vancouver. Her passion for food stems from her educational background in Food, Health and Nutrition from UBC. Christina is also a mom to two toddlers, who you may often see her with grabbing "coffee" on Main Street.