Islandist’s sister website Scout has been keeping track of Vancouver restaurant openings for a very long time. Of course, not all of the spots we preview are able to live up to their pre-opening hype, but most of them do. Today we isolate a baker’s dozen of these – our favourite new restaurants across the Salish Sea…
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This new Nigerian street food concept recently opened in the West End and is already making us drool with their oxtail and pork belly flatbreads, delicious jollof rice (a revelation), and sweet pof pofs. This is arguably the most unique food concept to open in Vancouver this year, and is worth
ORDER: Corn fritters and flatbread. Strong cocktail game too.
Located in the old Cinara address, this is the next iteration of the casual, Italian-themed original on Main Street. This one feels a little more refined and offers a larger menu of classic pasta dishes alongside table plates like Bistecca Fiorentina.
ORDER: Shaved veal with tuna mayo and capers, aka vitello tonnato.
Located at the top of the Mt. Pleasant rise just before Main Street connects with Kingsway, this Spanish tapas spot from veteran bartender Shaun Layton, Meat & Bread co-founder Frankie Harrington, and former Clayoquot Wilderness Resort chef Justin Witcher is a boisterous squeeze when it’s busy, which is nightly. The most fun entry on this list, no question.
ORDER: Jamon croquettas, shishito peppers, patatas bravas, basically everything along with a Chicharito cocktail.
We haven’t quite decided if we like the new location of this good looking Peruvian-Japanese hybrid more than the original on the False Creek waterfront, but the standards in the kitchen are just as high (same menu too) and the service is equally expert. It’s a stone’s throw from the water, so its sidewalk patio gets gentle sea breezes.
ORDER: The bar menu is one of Vancouver’s best, but if this is your first time do the four course Pescatarian Tasting Menu.
When the popular Their There cafe closes for the day, Hundy takes over. They sling some of the best burgers in Vancouver here, which is no surprise given that they’re the same people who gave us the award-winning AnnaLena. Bonus: free video games.
ORDER: Either the bacon cheeseburger or the fried chicken sando. Both are hugely satisfying.
Who knew there was a next level to the steakhouse? Toptable, naturally. Yes, the refined company (see also Cin Cin, Blue Water Cafe, West, etc.) has breathed new life into the classic concept, beginning with a sexy room and ending with a menu long on wood-fired options. Like all Toptable restaurants, it will only get better with age.
ORDER: Prime rib, proper wagyu, holstein ribeye, grass-fed striploin, 50 oz Tomahawks, and on and on. The selection is ridiculous. Also of note: excellent cocktails.
The good-looking next door neighbour to Pepino’s Spaghetti House (same owners) wears several hats, including Italian coffee house, exacting bakery and alimentari for quality basics (eg. olive oil, really good butter, San Marzano tomatoes, etc), but the real draw here is the fresh pasta, which is available to take home or simply (and masterfully) prepared for in-house consumption.
ORDER: Vanilla cream-stuffed donuts, cappuccino and whatever pasta suits your mood. It’s all good.
Bright and community-minded Fraserhood spot already renowned for its honest food, especially its baking. It’s brought to us from the same crew behind Farmer’s Apprentice, so the staff is made up of people who really care about what they do.
ORDER: Amazing bone broth and rotisserie chicken. Also of note: family-style dinners on Sundays.
A wonderful new addition to the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood from first-timers Miki Ellis, Stephen Whiteside and Tyson Viteychuk. The menu is an accessible celebration of the Pacific-Northwest and the drinks list is very versatile with plenty of sake, cider, cocktails, beer and wine.
ORDER: Country-fried steelhead with salted beets and a side of pork croquettes with pickled shallots.
One of the best meals we’ve enjoyed so far this year was at this sleek, modern European-themed restaurant on the seawall in Coal Harbour. They’ve just launched their brunch service and their new menu so now is a good time to get acquainted if you haven’t been yet.
ORDER: Short rib with polenta and a side of brussel sprouts.
The team from Gastown’s The Birds and The Beets launched this day-only eatery (8am to 5pm) in the old Roost spot on the edge of Chinatown back in September. They’ve quickly found a loyal following on account of their healthy, wholesome food and their fun, welcoming vibe.
ORDER: Ricotta pankcake with lemon curd, brown butter crumble and jam.
The old Merchant’s Workshop address went to a good duo when it shut last year: wine pro Van Doren Chan and chef Darren Gee, both first-timers. Their operation is simple and chef driven with a short menu that changes almost every day.
ORDER: Whatever the daily dumpling is and – if it reads right – the day’s “Staff Meal”.
While it’s true that every Tacofino location in Vancouver has its very own identity, their fifth and latest – tucked away on Mt. Pleasant’s rise – looks and feels very different from the rest, maybe even a little grown up.
ORDER: Gazpacho and grilled romaine with avocado, pickled onion and hibiscus egg.