Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Budget-friendly restaurants in Vancouver

Kentucky burgoo with biscuits at Burgoo restaurant
A bunch of foodies were asking on the TripAdvisor Olympics forum for some Vancouver restaurant recommendations.

Listing the proverbial favourites such as Vij's, Tojo's, C, Bishop's, West, etc. the topic eventually evolved into budget restaurant recommendations. Budget relatively speaking, of course. Not "UBC student" budget, but "Maybe we'll do Market tomorrow" budget.

There was one person who was planning to visit 20 of Vancouver's crème de la crème restaurants, yet somehow they had Stepho's on their list. So I wrote:

As a local, I don't know if I'd recommend lining up at Stepho's. It's famous because it's cheap and the portions of food are huge, but that's about it. That's why people line up - for the quantity. Don't waste your time.

My personal favourites for budget:

East is East (on Broadway in Kitsilano). A really cozy exotic atmosphere (pillows, tapestries, etc) - great smoothies and a nice selection of Indian/Afghani curries and stews which you have on a platter with rice, lentil soup, salad, or rolled up into a roti. Excellent chai (which they'll give you a sample as you walk in). Very friendly staff.

Nuba (two locations downtown) Their Gastown location is more of a sit-down where their Seymour St location is more of a take-out, but very fresh, tasty Lebanese food.

Babylon Cafe (locations on Robson & Granville and on Denman Street by English Bay). Lebanese take-out. They have arguably the best chicken shwarmas in the city!

Falafel Maison (Robson at Richards) another Lebanese take-out, smaller portions than Babylon Cafe but more authentic ingredients and run by a very friendly family. (Edit: It's apparently closed now?! It's currently closed for renovations, *phew*)

Japadog (hot dog stand on Smithe and Burrard ) A bit of a novelty to have a hot dog with Japanese toppings, but very tasty. A tad more expensive than your typical hot dog, but worth it.

Legendary Noodle (on Denman in the West End) A tiny hole in the wall with cozy ambiance where they make their own noodles. Not fancy, but very comforting.

Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe (at Howe and Robson) Cafeteria-style but classy with an always changing selection of hot entrees, gourmet salads, paninis, homemade sandwiches, and the best selection of fresh, homemade desserts downtown! Oh yes, they also do wine by the glass.

Burgoo (several locations) They do comfort food so well here - Kentucky burgoo with biscuits (as immortalized in my photo above), ratatouille, lamb tagine, etc. Rustic, cozy atmosphere. Best visited after being outside in the cold.

Go Fish (on the seawall around the corner from Granville Island) Sustainable seafood takeout shack (with some outdoor seating) located across from the wharf of fishing boats. The people who run Go Fish also run Bin 941 & Bin 942 tapas restaurants in Vancouver. Fish tacos, chowder, fish & chips, salmon burgers (on Portuguese buns with wasabi mayo, coleslaw, etc). Tasty stuff!

Oh, and not really "budget" but on Davie Street, consider a meal at La Brasserie for French/German food - very reasonable prices, excellent food, great staff.

Also, a trip to Vancouver would not be complete without a visit to an izakaya restaurant of which there are many.

So those were my immediate "budget" recommendations.

Knowing there will be thousands of foodies infiltrating Vancouver in, oh, a MONTH, what would you recommend for a tasty meal that won't break the bank?


Unknown said...

How can you not have a pho place in that list?! Pho Tan on Main is the best in town. And Au Petit Cafe just up the street has the best Vietnamese subs.

Robyn said...

Because I'm lame... I'm actually a newbie to pho! How crazy is that? I love Vietnamese food, but I really haven't explored Vancouver's pho scene. Will have to try both Pho Tan and Au Petit Cafe. Thanks for the recommendations!

Erin said...

I strongly agree with your recommendation of "Go Fish." I bet many people pass it by expecting it to be standard fish n chips fare-- and it's appearance as a small shack by the commercial fishing docks doesn't exactly scream out high-quality food. But I highly recommend it. Their fish tacones are unreal. I strongly recommend this one!!

Thanks for the restaurant recommendations!

Colene said...

You've got some excellent choices on that list! Go Fish & Nuba, yum!

For lunchtime, I'd suggest Finch's Tea & Coffee House on Pender. The baguettes are SO fresh and tasty...and the decor is so awesome!

La Taqueria on Hastings is also authentic and tasty tacos. $2.50 ea or $9.50 for four.

Like you said, there's tons of izakaya places particularly in the West End (Kingyo, Gyoza King, Guu, Hapa Izakya)...but there's also tons of ramen places. Kintaro is really popular, but I kinda prefer Motomachi Shokudo just a handful of stores down.

Like Michael said, Pho Tan & Au Petit are awesome. The subs are so good at Au Petit and it's always so packed there at lunchtime. Watch out because sometimes the subs sell out because they're so popular.

Blogger said...

I think Falafel Maison's gone. Last time I walked past (about a week or so ago), the sign was gone and it was all boarded up. I never did get to compare them to Kebabylon.

Good news is, a few doors down Japadog is opening its first restaurant!

Robyn said...

Good point Erin! BTW - we have to go to Go Fish together! It's been too long.

Colene, I love Finch's! :) I used to go there when I worked nearby. I think it was their pear, brie and walnut sandwich that I loved so much. The only downside was that they were usually soooo slooow (esp when you're on a short lunch break).

Haven't been to La Taqueria yet, but walked by and eyed the place. I really crave tasty Mexican food and have only heard good things about it.

Good call on the ramen on Denman. That should be next on my list. I don't think I've ever been to ramen specialty shop yet, although I'm a big fan of udon, so, I guess, what am I waiting for?


Falafel Maison's gone?!!! I was just there eating outside before the U2 concert in late October! Bah!

(Quick sleuthing online suggests that they own 3 other Falafel King/etc. places throughout downtown and the West End. Shall scout them out and see if they're the same).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information

EatDrinkVictoria.com said...

The last time I was in Vancouver was for the Winter Olympics and spent a lot of time in Yaletown at all the restaurants. I'll be back in Vancouver next month and will definitely be checking out some of the places you recommend. Thanks!