My little family spent March in Vancouver, where we played with friends, enjoyed an early spring and ate and drank so many amazing things. I’ve been asked by quite a few people where they should go to eat now. And while the scene is far too expansive and diverse for me to give you a comprehensive sense of the whole industry right now, there were some mega highlights and places of note, and I want to share the love, in no particular order:

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Killin’ it with grainy mustard at Greenhorn

Greenhorn

  • Had an outrageously decadent ham and cheese croissant here, along with a colourful (if slightly under-dressed) quinoa salad. The team behind the counter looks hard-working and organized, and a late-in-my-visit experience here made me sad we were heading home. I could see myself becoming a regular, in a good (delicious) and bad (take all my money) kind of way.

The Birds and The Beets

  • Yeah, yeah, you read about this place in Bon Appetit, but we stumbled upon it after beer and low-tide oysters (another fave) at the new(er?) Gastown location of Rodney’s Oyster House. I was initially surprised by how charming and breezy it was. That last adjective is literal, because it opens onto the street on both ends, and there was a lovely breeze heading through the cafe when we were there. They also tolerated our yelling, nap-less toddler as he waddled from end to end of the store, so bonus points for grace and the charred veg.
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Top-notch bufala dish at Savio Volpe

 

Savio Volpe

  • This was another late but magical addition to the trip. It’s family-style Italian, and very different from Campagnolo, another special Vancouver institution (get the ceci!). With one of the most focused fire-tending cooks I’ve ever seen (didn’t catch his name) and Mark Perrier, a chef with fabulous facial hair and an I’ve-got-this air of nonchalance and focus — one friend remarked at how slowly the cooks were moving, which is generally a good indication their mise is on point — it’s a comely addition to the city’s scene. I’m excited to see what comes out of this restaurant as it becomes more established.

The Lobster Man

  • Oysters from across the Pacific coast (and also the Maritimes, at way less than we pay out here, which makes my heart ache) in giant plastic bins. BYO lemon, hot sauce, shucker. Also a cooler if you’re going to be out for awhile. They’ll give you ice to keep ’em cold.
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Vegan cheesecake at The Acorn

The Acorn

  • Believe it or not, this was my first visit to The Acorn, which opened while we were still in the city and was much-hyped at the time. The line hasn’t lost its edge, because every dish that came out was meticulous and full of flavour, clearly why this place is on the vanguard of vegetarian cooking in the city. The halloumi dish is rich and multifaceted and splendid, and the cocktails were a couple of the best I’ve had recently. Get the Il Volando (Smoked Cinnamon Gin, Mezcal Infused Lava Rock, Earl Grey Oleo, Violet Gentian Bitters, Soda, Dehydrated Fennel Frond for $12. DONE DEAL.)

Savary Island Pie Company

  • Their Italian loaf (made with olive oil and a saline top crust) is so GD good I went back to NORTH VANCOUVER for another loaf. The lemon buttermilk pie is tart and addictive, as was an actual tart (butter) that, one day, was my entire lunch. (Non, je ne regrette rien.)  The veggie sandwiches with ham were perfect pre-hike (Lynn Canyon), and seriously just writing about it makes me want to go back to North Vancouver again. That good.
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Alex Hon’s braised pork belly “Kakuni,” smoked tea egg, burdock root, kale chip furikake at a Here/There popup at Revolver.

Revolver Coffee

  • Here I had a yummy bowl of porky goodness for Kobachi Sunday, a Here/There popup meal featuring Chef Alex Hon (West) and ceramicist Maggie Boyd. The Scandi-bare cafe was adorned with flowers and generally pretty magical. I gave up coffee awhile ago, but used to have a habit, and the folks at Revolver really know what they’re doing. Their new additional space is lovely and it’s a good spot to buy trendy coffee supplies.

Dock Lunch

  • This was the perfect locale for a late lunch meeting with two splendid boss ladies. We got the last three BLTs out of the kitchen and a slice of epic pie of the small daily fixed-item menu. The space is simple and charming and exactly the type of restaurant we need more of in the world. Low overhead, simple, well-loved ingredients and laid-back service, makes this place winner winner.

Honourable mentions:

We ran out of time to eat and drink all the things, so I also want to tip my hat to places I used to love dearly that are still going strong and a couple other places I loved but on which I don’t have anything particularly original to add to the conversation:

I’m back on the radio regularly starting May 4, where give the skinny on Milda’s Pizza & More, Fredericton’s new mysterious wood-fired pizza place in the bottom of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. Spoiler: I ate, and will eat, lots of pizza. Preview:

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