Vancouver is synonymous with its environs—a city nestled between sea and sky. Its moderate (if rather rainy) climate offers the freshest ingredients from season to season, and the dining scene has exploded over the past five years with chefs and restaurateurs taking advantage of the bountiful local ingredients. Of course, the biggest source of inspiration is that epic coastline. For some coast-to-table fare, here are a handful of places to sample that salty seafood across town.
1095 Hamilton St.
Serving up consistently fresh and pure dishes, executive chef Frank Pabst is devoted to sustainable and wild-caught seafood at this crown jewel of the Vancouver culinary scene. The open kitchen provides gripping entertainment for Food Network fanatics, while the dining room still feels austere enough to satisfy the serious foodies. It’s lauded by critics and repeat customers alike as the place to sample seafood while in Vancouver, so you’ll definitely want to try any of the seafood towers as well the rotating chef specials—Pabst is notorious for making magic out of the daily catch.
801 W. Georgia St.
This namesake culinary destination by chef David Hawksworth feels equal parts neighborhood bistro (where the servers greet you with a familiar nod) and special-occasion spot that you look forward to returning to again and again. The ever-changing menu is a contemporary take on ingredient-led cuisine, especially from that treasure trove of an ocean. Order the pan-roasted scallops in caramelized yogurt, then stop by Prohibition right next door for a nightcap after your meal.
15 W. Cordova St.
What started with humble beginnings as a food truck serving simple Baja-inspired tacos to the local surf crowd in Tofino has now spawned a second outpost in Gastown. It’s a great place for some cold beer, which is always craft brewed and native to British Columbia. The nachos are a house specialty, but you won’t want to leave without sampling their Pacific cod tacos.
263 E. Pender St.
Kissa Tanto is a jewel box of a restaurant and definitely a local hot spot. Successfully marrying two romantic cuisines, Japanese and Italian, it is inspired by Tokyo’s jazz cafés from the 1920s. This sexy little boîte is the perfect place for a lovers’ tryst, with candlelit tables, plates meant for sharing, and an exotic cocktail list. The sablefish and lasagna are standouts, but it's really hard to go wrong with anything served up by chef Joel Watanabe.
181 E. 16th Ave.
Toshi is a beloved neighborhood Japanese restaurant that only serves dinner (doors open at 5 p.m.). Thanks to their no-reservation policy, getting a table is a democratic process. If luck is on your side, it can be a great spot to satisfy any sudden sushi cravings, as the service is swift and efficient. For the busy nights and peak hours, put your name on the list and then take a wander along charming Main Street while you wait for your turn to try the off-menu box roll. It’s worth the wait!
1505 W. 1st Ave
When you’re craving fish and chips, it’s hard to do better than the classic Vancouver chippy from the ramshackle blue trailer at Fisherman’s Wharf on Granville Island. Local lore has it that their fish is some of the freshest in town, purchased every morning off the fishermen’s boats that drive by the island. The batter is light and crispy and doesn’t overpower the fish (choice of salmon, cod, or halibut), and the French fries complete this holy combination. On a nice day you can grab a seat right outside and enjoy the sea views, sounds, and smells.