Vancouver: The Ultimate Insider's Gourmet Tour
48 hours in Vancouver is more than adequate time to create your own gourmet tour in this incredible city. Follow a culinary odyssey meant for those visitors in the know.
Flying into Vancouver is breathtaking: on a clear day you can literally see forever. In the winter, snow covered peaks rise majestically on the city’s North Shore. And year round, the sparkling blue Pacific, the city’s boat-filled harbors and the container ships in Burrard Inlet will ignite the hunger of any tourist.
One of the most densely populated cities in Canada, Vancouver is also one of the most ethnically diverse. You'll hear multiple languages spoken as you walk along the streets. Gastown was the original settlement where a tavern was built in 1867. As development expanded along the waterfront, the population grew. In 1886, the name was changed from Granville (see below) to Vancouver. Shortly afterwards, the railway came to town, taking advantage of the seaport and expanding trade to the Far East, Europe and the eastern portion of Canada. Vancouver is a Mecca for tourists, and it is consistently ranked as one of the top cities in the world in which to live.
Stay at the Metropolitan, a downtown luxury boutique hotel. With its feng shui design, fully equipped fitness center with pool and ultra-luxe tech-equipped rooms, the Met has it right. It’s also perfectly situated for easy access to all that Vancouver has to offer.
The best starting point for any gastronomic tour is Granville Island. This Vancouver landmark, once an industrial area, is now an urban masterpiece. It boasts a thriving ecosystem and the latest in art, restaurants, markets and public space.
Begin at Masa Shiroki’s Artisan SakeMaker, the first boutique premium sake winery in Canada. After fermentation, Masa’s unfiltered sakes are hand-pressed and hand-bottled. His saying of “well-crafted sake is as good as fine wines” will ring true as you taste for yourself.
Throughout Granville’s Public Market, pass succulent displays of the freshest salumi, cheeses and vegetables. And every Thursday throughout the summer and into September, the Farmers Market has all the freshest ingredients from the local farmers and purveyors.
Try Tojo’s, one of Vancouver’s oldest and most popular Japanese restaurants. Settle into a spacious booth and let the knowledgeable staff do the ordering for you: Stuffed smoked sablefish with matsutake mushrooms and the Northern Light Roll with tempura shrimp, yam and pineapple. The backdrop: A vertical tasting of five premium sakes. Don’t miss the Matcha Tea Crème Brulée for dessert.
Famed chocolatier, Thomas Haas creates his sweet masterpieces in North Vancouver’s warehouse section. At his patisserie, enjoy cappuccino and freshly baked croissants as you drool over the deep dark delicious Valrhona chocolates and decide what to buy to savor another time.
In Vancouver’s historic Gastown, dimly lit with charming street lamps, Salt Tasting Room offers unique wine parings with a choice of charcuterie, artisanal cheeses and luscious condiments. Put together your own tasting plate that can include such stellar options as local goat feta and rosemary-marinated olives matched with a 2004 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. Choose wild boar chorizo and cornichons to compliment a 2003 Sicilian Cusumano Insolia. Salt is located on Blood Alley—not to be feared as the name implies—it’s well worth a visit to this cobblestoned corner of the City.
At Chambar, the hot Belgian bistro, you’ll be seduced by the flawlessly concocted cocktails. House-made roasted pineapple purée enlivened the Pisco and medium-dry sherry in the Pineapple Express. Pair with small plates of ostrich carpaccio and mussels cooked with ripe tomato, smoked chili and cilantro, with a hint of coconut cream and lime.
Don’t miss the third largest Chinatown in North America. (San Francisco is second.) As you walk through the crowded streets, nibble on roasted pork ears and tongues and then sampled onion cakes, hot off the griddle.
Taking a break from the otherwise nonstop culinary pleasures is essential. Visit the famed 1,000 acre Stanley Park. Or take in some culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is really the city’s museum located in the old court house.
Vancouver is a treasure not to be missed. Just a short plane ride from San Francisco, there really is no excuse not to visit.