If you had to recommend Italian, French, German, Indian, and "meat & potatoes" cuisine to friends of a friend who are in town visiting for the Olympics, what would you recommend?
Last night my friend Ben sent me the following:
"I've got some friends going up to YVR for the big game. Can you recommend some good italian, french, indian, german, meat and potatoes kind of places to eat at? ideally within walking distance of skytrain line would be nice."
Not knowing his friends or their tastes other than above, I wrote back:
I'll throw some ideas out, but I'll be honest - I rarely eat at Italian, French, Indian, or German restaurants in Vancouver. I'm almost always eating west coast/seafood or Asian cuisine. But here's where I'd look (as I know these are often the most-talked about by foodies and food lovers).
Cioppino's in Yaletown
Cibo Trattoria on Seymour & Smithe
Italian Kitchen on Alberni (kind of uber-trendy)
Il Giardino on Hornby/Pacific (authentic Tuscan food in an old heritage house)
Cin Cin (upstairs on Robson Street)
Oh man, what constitutes as French these days? Places like Le Crocodile are old school and are supposed to be good. Chambar isn't really French, but it's Belgian and loungey and they do French style cuisine. Jules Bistro in Gastown for casual French bistro cuisine. Of course, most Vancouver "west coast" restaurants utilize French cooking techniques but use local ingredients... places like Bishop's, Rain City Grill, West, Lumiere, Market, Yew, etc. All highly rated.
I can't think of one single German restaurant in Vancouver. However, kill two birds with one stone... go to La Brasserie on Davie Street for a French/German bistro. Excellent food. Casual atmosphere but hip at the same time without being pretentious.
Meat and potatoes kind of places? There's always the Keg in their snazzy new Yaletown location. The Cactus Club, Milestones, and Hamilton Street Grill are also good spots for people seeking meat and potatoes.
Then I sent it off. Then I quickly composed a new message:
Oh crap, I forgot Indian.
Indian in downtown Vancouver blows chunks. It's just generic. Don't bother.
Go to Vij's in South Granville, Rangoli Cafe (their casual place next door), or they can try try Maurya on Burrard/Broadway which I've never been to, but my parents always go there. I've also heard good things about Akbar's Own, also on Broadway I think.
Or... if they're seeking super casual, I'm quite a big fan of East is East, which is out in Kits on Broadway. It's sort of a Middle Eastern/Indian/Afghani restaurant in a nice, intimate setting, and the food is unlimited. You get served a platter of your choice (butternut squash and mango curry, or lamb rogan josh curry, or eggplant tomato curry, chicken masala, etc. And you get a lentill soup, rice, and salad. And if you eat all your food and you're still hungry, they get you more food for free. :)
Then I sent it off. And then I composed a new message:
Oh crap. Walking distance of skytrain? Erm.. Ermmm.... well that kind of takes out my Indian recommendations, my Lumiere recommendation and Bishops. However, everything else is downtown, which is always walkable.
Then Ben wrote me back because his friend wanted to know what west coast and Asian restaurants I like, based on the quality of my previous recommendations.
Well, Japanese, especially izakaya, is sort of the quintessential Vancouver experience these days.
Kitanoya Guu - they have a variety of locations, recently opened one called Guu Garden on Nelson and Burrard. I'm also a fan of their location on Water Street in Gastown. It's authentic, completely run by Japanese chefs, the staff are all Japanese.
Hapa Izakaya on Robson (new location in Yaletown). More of a lounge... think dark black interior and gold light. Asian models as staff. The owner's Hawaiian/Canadian. A fun place to be if you're in a group.
Bistro Sakana - located in Yaletown. The interior is neither here nor there, but the food is great.
West coast/seafood... hrm. Well, most standard restaurants around here offer west coast cuisine... chains like Milestones do it well if you're seeking casual but tasty. Their Yaletown location is particularly good (more professional, good service, etc.)
Go Fish on Granville Island (well, just off Granville Island) makes a mean fish tacone but it's an outdoor shack. Refuel on W 4th is supposed to be great but I haven't been there yet.
Coast on Alberni is supposed to be fantastic - Josh was just there for dinner last night. I've eaten there before when it was in Yaletown, but their new location's supposed to be a celebrity wonder. Actually, a lot of what I recommended for "French" like Bishop's, Rain City Grill and West are all the top Vancouver west coast/seafood restaurants.
Down in Gastown there are a LOT of new places.... Boneta (amazing but pricey), plus many little lounges like Pourhouse or Six Acres (where you can get a tasty bite and a great drink).
And I've always been a fan of the Irish Heather. Not at all west coast, but when you're craving British comfort food like Guinness braised beef pot pie on a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy... it's where it's at. They also do a great bangers and mash.
Speaking of which, where's another meat & potatoes recommendation (Irish Heather). La Brasserie on Davie also makes a mean bratwurst on mashed potatoes as well . ;)
Then I sent it off. Then I wrote back:
Oh! And Japadog
And even that wasn't enough. I wrote him back once more:
Oh, and on the western end of Robson and along Denman are some yummy Japanese and Korean options... Kintaro for ramen, Kingyo for izakaya, Gyoza King for sorta izakaya, and... what did I have recently that I really liked.... ermm... Sura, for Korean. They're all in the West End part of Robson Street... Robson and Denman. That whole area is great for hole in the wall, busy, authentic Japanese and Korean.
So those were my spontaneous "off the top of my head" recommendations. However, I'm curious what your recommendations would be?