Vancouver is an incredibly beautiful and diverse Westcoast seaport in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The city is known for its active outdoor lifestyle—from the beach to the bunny hills, the locals like to boast—and edgy charm. Lonely Planet recently awarded Canada the top country for travel 2017, praising the country for its “inclusiveness and impeccable politeness”.
What makes the food in Vancouver so incredible is the sheer number of organic farms, wineries, and proximity to some of the world’s best sustainable and locally caught game and seafood around. Farm-to-table eating has never been so easy. Now while San Fransisco may have its sourdough bread and Chicago its deep-pan pizza, Vancouver’s cuisine is a medley of multicultural flavours adopted from all corners of the earth—much like the city’s varied population. There’s no one particular Vancouver food, but it’s more the way it comes: Westcoast foodies like to eat good food AND know the provenance of ingredients.
Here are five of Refined Travellers’ favourite farm-to-table spots in Vancouver that are sure to having you blogging about them:
Executive Chef Trevor Bird was made famous when he got to the final round on Top Chef Canada. He may not have won the popular cooking competition but the outcome was even better. Fable—the name of which actually comes from “farm to table”—was conceived during the show, and has gone on to be a firm local favourite of those wanting great food at reasonable prices. Chef Bird serves up locally sourced and seasonal food straight from the farmers’ fields to your table. Delicious must-haves include the creamy “canned” tuna dish poached in olive oil and served with toast fingers, and the slow-cooked ling cod with marinated zucchini, almonds, olive oil hollandaise. SeaChoice, Living Oceans and other top North American seafood organisations have labeled lingcod as a sustainable seafood choice.
Chef groupies can now enjoy Chef Bird and Mission’s Curtis Luk battle it out on the fifth season and first all-star Top Chef Canada. Bird made it all the way down to the elimination round, winning the “Quickfire Challenge” with six amazing dishes in 35 minutes: tomato salad with fresh ricotta, roasted brussel sprouts with bacon, chili flakes and parmesan, spaghetti squash salad and brown butter vinaigrette, slow-cooked salmon with hollandaise and roasted asparagus, baked potato and bison striploin.
1944 West 4th Ave
+1 (604) 732 1322
Mission is farm to table with a healthy lean towards sustainability. You’ll also find interesting “nose to tail” options on the menu as well. This philosophy of not wasting any meat was coined by London restauranteur Fergus Henderson in his 2004 book, The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating.
If you’re going to kill the animal, it seems only polite to use the whole thing.
Top Chef Canada All Star Curtis Luk and his team butcher their own meat, forage for wild mushrooms and are now planning to make their own cheeses. Even the drinks are fresh from the garden—the Under Milk Wood cocktail is made with fir, nettle, and meadow grass cordial foraged from a local garden.
Mission offers the chef’s five-course tasting menu for CDN $70 (US $56), with local wine pairings for an extra $38 (US $30).
2042 West 4th Avenue
+1 (604) 739 2042
Kitsilano is the the original hippy beach hangout neighbourhood in Vancouver, and Bishops is the original “locavore” eatery—farm-to-table food before this was even a thing. Chef and proprietor John Bishop has served presidents, prime ministers and celebrities, but this septuagenarian treats everyone who dines at the restaurant like a rock star. Bishop’s is committed to serving local, seasonal Pacific Northwest cuisine. Chooks are sourced from the fourth-generation Rossdown poultry farm, which provides the award-winning restaurant with locally grown, free run chicken and turkey, and fresh veggies come from Hannah Brook farm. This small local farm specialises in salad and wild greens grown with artisan spring-fed water with minimal use of fertilisers.
House specialities include crispy chicken pot pie with spinach and creamy BC morel sauce, and organic lettuces with pistachio, radish, crispy pancetta and simple black currant dressing.
2183 West 4th Avenue
+1 (604) 738 2025
Every October, Forage Executive Chef Chris Whittaker says he likes to head to the remote mountains near Prince George, the largest city in northern BC, for some huntin’ and fishin’. “I’m pretty proud to be a guy that is from Canada and that can sort of fill the freezer when I need to,” he’s said in interviews. Chef Whittaker believes in running an eco-friendly and zero-waste operation that reduces water and energy while serving up sustainable and local dishes. All seafood is recommended by the Vancouver Aquarium’s OceanWise program, which makes it easy for diners to make responsible seafood choices. Enjoy smoked duck, cherry compote and duck liver mouse, followed by gin-soaked blueberries and creamed goats cheese puff, all with a friendly and convivial ambience. Half of the proceeds of Forage filtered bottled water goes towards an experiential program for students at a 420-acre ecological reserve and education facility in Squamish, BC.
One TripAdvisor guest said Forage even beat out the Fairmont Hotel—renowned for its afternoon high tea—for the most perfect pot of tea-leaf brew.
1300 Robson Street
+1 (604) 661 1400
Upscale, contemporary, regional and seasonal—even the restaurant team is home grown: Executive Chef Quang Dang was raised in Calgary, Alberta; restaurant and wine director Owen Knowlton is a native of Ontario; pastry chef Rhonda Viani was born and raised in Vancouver; and restaurant manager Giovanni Giardino started in the hospitality industry in Winnipeg. West continues to accumulate awards yearly, most recently silver at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, 2015–2017 and Top 100 Best Restaurants in Canada (OpenTable), 2015–2016. West steps it up with a pre-theatre menu that includes wild B.C. salmon, Fraser Valley braised pork and local side stripe prawns.
West is one of the 45 restaurants participating in the First Annual Pride Crawl Fundraiser, celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ+ community July 14–August 6. Drinks and funds will be raised in support of the Dr. Peter Centre, which provides care for HIV–positive British Columbians and offers a 24-hour specialised nursing care residence and supportive housing program.
Partial proceeds of the pride-themed cocktails will go to the centre: it’s a party with a purpose.
2881 Granville Street
+1 (604) 738-8938
Top Chefs agree that Vancouver’s food scene is one of the best in the world. Diners are spoiled for choice when it comes to organic, regional and seasonal foods in this Westcoast foodies’ heaven.
Written By: Adriane Rysz