Vancouver’s Best Poutine? – You make the call

Photo: Remy Scalza

Vancouver is earning a growing reputation as one of the world’s top culinary cities, with authentic international cuisine, daring fusion and restaurants that bring together fresh West Coast ingredients in innovative new ways.

Often left off the list of the city’s culinary accolades, however, is its fantastic poutine.  For those unfamiliar with the dish, poutine traditionally consists of French fries topped with cheese curds and then covered with gravy.  It’s good old-fashioned, down-home comfort food – not healthy in any sense but decadently delicious.

Now, I know that poutine originated in Quebec.  In fact, the word poutine – according to some French fry scholars – traces to a French word meaning “hodgepodge.”  But I’ve had some top-notch poutine over the years in Vancouver: thick fries, rich gravy, fresh cheese curds — the real deal.

I’d like to hear what you think about Vancouver’s poutine scene?  Do you have a favorite poutine joint?  Maybe a cheap dive that’s open late, making a perfect end for a night of carousing?  Or a restaurant that looks all prim and proper but actually serves up a mean plate of fries?

Please help me out on my quest to find the city’s best poutine by leaving a comment below.

To get the ball rolling, I’ll make the case for an unlikely suspect: The Backstage Lounge on Granville Island.  Now, the Backstage Lounge is probably best known as a bar and late-night music venue, not as a restaurant.  Inside, the atmosphere is dark and welcoming, with that classic pub smell of spilled beer and nachos.  The main bar area offers a great selection of craft beers on tap, and outside there’s a fantastic patio that overlooks the waters of False Creek and the Granville Street bridge.

The menu actually has a pretty diverse selection of burgers and pizza, but I’m here for the poutine.  At $9.95, it’s not cheap.  And the description on the menu – “our poutine is the best around” – sets the bar pretty high.  The potential for disappointment is all too real.

But Backstage’s poutine lives up to its billing and then some.  The fries come out in an oversized bowl, big enough to feed even the hungriest poutine fiend.  The gravy is still steaming and the cheese curds – white and fluffy – are slowly melting.  Fries are thick, hand-cut and golden brown.  The whole package works marvelously – I devour the plate almost without noticing, consuming a whole day’s calories in a matter of minutes.

Of course, that’s just my view.  I know that like religion and politics, poutine is a deeply personal subject.  So let me know what you think.  Does Backstage Lounge really serve the best poutine around?  Or are there better and cheaper options out there?

Remy Scalza

Follow Me Foodie created a video series all about poutine in Vancouver! Full series here.

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48 Responses to Vancouver’s Best Poutine? – You make the call

  1. I have yet to find authentic poutine here. Making it at home is the best option.

    Most places I tried get the gravy wrong, and have horrible curd.

    http://www.labrasserievancouver.com/ is supposed to be good. (would like to try).

    Back-stage lounge poutine, sounds good, but the gravy doesnt look right.

  2. Take it from a former Montrealer: La Belle Patate on Davie Street has the only authentic poutine I’ve ever seen in Vancouver. They fly the curds in from la belle province!

    • Patryn

      Why would they fly in cheese from la belle province? That’s akin to a steakhouse flying in meat from Denny’s.

      • Halcie

        La Belle Province = nickname for the province of Quebec; not necessarily the food chain.

  3. check out the gnocchi poutine at Relish.

  4. Nancy von Euw

    I know this isn’t in Vancouver but there is some great poutine at Anna’s Dairy Bar in New Westminster. Anna is from Quebec and she has the curds flown in from Quebec!

  5. I love Poutines! Actually thats my food weekness. Having never been to quebec I can’t really compare to an authentic one. I just know what tastes really good! I know there are several cheese curds, but I actually prefer the non authentic one. I like my cheese to stick to my fries, and I think the traditional one doesnt really melt. I just recently started food blogging, so here are the poutines I’ve tried if you want to check them out http://charlesandstephanie.blogspot.com/search/label/Poutine

  6. La Brasserie on Davie Street – so yummy!!

  7. Stephanie W

    Belgian Fries is pretty good. I don’t know if it’s authentic or not, but it’s relatively better than some. http://www.belgianfries.com/

  8. From another Montrealer the”Only” authentic poutine in Vancouver is La Belle Patate, period everything else is just fries and gravy. Here is a good review I found.

    http://thepigandprincess.com/2010/05/02/la-belle-patate/

  9. Lillian

    Fritz’s Fry House on Davie….the line outside tells it all!

  10. Mr.Ed

    Not “traditional” poutine, which some people will scoff at, but the Pulled Pork Poutine at Memphis Blues BBQ is incredible! Pulled pork, cheese, Memphis Blues BBQ sauce on their seasons fries. I could eat 10 lbs of this stuff!

  11. Henry Ho

    New York Fries is good for me. :)

  12. Tam S

    Zako’s Deli – 500 W Broadway is pretty darn tasty. They do a fine smoked meat. as well. A bit of a secret and it’s very reasonably priced.

  13. Technically not Vancouver proper but Annie’s on 6th in New Westminster is run by a Quebec family. Fantastic poutine and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches as well. Delicious.

  14. I have to go with Fritz for all around gooey poutine goodness.

    If you prefer a more authentic poutine then La Belle Patate wins hands down.

    But I’m also going to give Costco an honourable mention because I really do love their fries.

  15. Fun post.

    The best poutine in Vancouver is at my house (but sadly it happens only when i come back from a trip to montreal with real “fromage en grain” (Cured cheese / never been refrigerated.))

    To make a great poutine you need the perfect ingredients and sadly the few cheese suppliers that makes “fromage en grain” in BC charge a premium… the cheese alone is double what it cost in Quebec.

    Secondly, you need FRESH cut potatoes to make your fries, they must be done nice and crispy.

    Last the brown gravy must be made from Turkey drippings, anything else is just sub standards..

    The few Vancouverite restaurants who come close to making a real Quebecois Poutine, are often hit and miss; change of staffers, change of taste, cheese was refrigerated, shitty gravy, frozen potatoes!

    Now a days, we see all sorts of variation and 14$ fancy excuse of a poutine like the “fois gras gravy poutine”..

    Perhaps our BC quasi poutine chef should try to master more traditional Quebec poutine first before bastardizing something that is already perfect in its simplicity…

    IMO

    @scales

  16. Crave on Main Street has short rib poutine with foie gras mayo. ‘Nuf said.

  17. Tim

    Frenchies on Dunsmuir between Richards and Homer. The owner is Quebecois and has Quebec flags all over the front of it. They also have great smoked meat sandwiches.

  18. my vote for poutine goes to Boneta

  19. Not overly traditional, but I love The Whip’s vegetarian poutine.

  20. Mark

    I have had poutine from quite a few place and have to say that La Belle Patate is by far my favorite place…For me it is their AUTHENTIC cheese kurds which are brought in from the Okanagan. I was once told that real French Poutine that the cheese is not supposed to melt…Although, I love gooey and stringy cheese – the Cheese at La Belle Patate was amazing! Making La Belle Patate the best place for poutine on my list.
    I bet even Prime Minister Jean Poutine agrees!

    • Mark – Thanks for the advice – a bunch of people, including some from Montreal, have recommended La Belle Patate. I think that’s first on my list to try.

  21. Annies in New West is by far the best poutine in Vancouver!

  22. Tania

    Hello! True Montrealer turned Vancouverite here. Fritz is pretty amazing after a night out. but you should also try the pulled pork, truffle oil Poutine at Nu Restaurant!! mmmmmm poutineeee.

    • Tania – Thanks – A lot of people have recommended Fritz – gonna have to check that one out

  23. Milan

    Try Corduroy in Kits

  24. If you’re in the Tri-Cities area, try St.James’ Well in Port Moody.

  25. Thanks for the outpouring of suggestions and emotions on poutine. Looking over the comments, here are some clear winners for the city’s best poutine:

    La Belle Patate (on Robson)
    Fritz’s Fry House (on Davie)
    Annie’s (in New Westminster)

    And here are some of the more avant-garde poutines being served in the city:

    Nu Restaurant: Pulled pork poutine with truffle oil.
    Crave: Short rib poutine with foie gras mayo.
    Relish: Gnocci poutine
    Memphis Blues BBQ: Pulled pork poutine with cheese and barbecue sauce

    • Pascal Cormier

      I found your blog and after reading it all I would like to say thanks for trying my poutine and making me one of the best poutine in Vancouver. I am the owner of La Bele Patate. I did see a little mistake its on Davie St and not Robson. Corner of Bute and Davie. Here to please the poutine lovers. Thanks again for your blog enrty.

  26. Andrew is right: Boneta is the best poutine I’ve ever had.

  27. Without doubt…La Belle Patate on Davie…even people who thought they hated poutine (like me!) will become addicted. Squeaky cheese–it’s all about the squeaky cheese!

  28. I’ve tried poutine at 15 local spots in Vancouver. My current favorite traditional poutine is Salade de Fruits. Best curds…probably La Belle Patate.

  29. Best poutine -> Frenchies @ Dunsmuir street….

  30. Pingback: Canada’s Contribution to World Cuisine: Poutine | RemyScalza.com: Independent Journalism

  31. anon

    Costco has the best cheap poutine. Order it to go, and they will give you the poutine in a large box! It’s $3.99….although HST messes it up now

  32. Pingback: Come Hungry to The Festival de la Poutine Nov. 19 | Canada - Vancouver Furnished Apartments & Vacation Rentals | Vancouver | Whistler | Montreal | Modern Accommodations

  33. deanna

    I second The Whip on Main, I haven’t been to a ton of places because I’m new to Vancouver, but that’s one of the best I’ve had (and vegetarian too!)

    • The Whip’s got my vote, too – Not just for the poutine, but for the beer and overall atmosphere.

  34. carson drayson

    anybody know where we can buy cheese curds locally in the lower mainland so we can make poutine at home???

    • I’ve seen them at Choices supermarkets. Sometimes you can also find them near the deli counter/specialty cheese area of grocery stores.

  35. vancouver foodie

    For a quick grab and go, I love Mean Poutine on Nelson st. Sooo good! I lived in Montreal for years and felt no one could beat the poutine there but Mean Poutine is as close as it gets to authentic! The best part is they are always open when I get off work late at night so I can just grab one on my way home. Beware though: the portions are MASSIVE! its a pig out fest… so far Philly cheese steak and fried chicken are my fav! try it…

    • Thanks – I think Mean Poutine just opened. It used to be called the Dogfather, if I remember right, and just serve hot dogs.

      • Vancouver Foodie

        yeah, they still have hot dogs…

  36. Dale Mikes

    Hello, First, I would say that La Belle Poutine is not great at all — Ive been there 4 times because it is close by, but the fries are usually quite soggy and the curds are ALWAYS quite hard and not melted at all. if you get it to go your fries are so soggy in 10 minutes can barely eat it. I really wish they would search on the internet how to make thin, crispy fries — there is a trick to it, not just plop some frozen fries in days old oil…… you get my drift Will try Bonneta and that Brassier or whatever its called in Davie, sounds real good. Honestly, for $4bucks Costo is pretty dam good

    Why doesnt anyone have thin, crisp, yam fry poutine with melted cheese curds and amazing gravy — a few fried onions to boot !!!!!

  37. David

    Definitely gonna try la bell Patete, Imhave had fritz, and I have had belgian fries and many other places, so far me Costco wins hands down, huge portion, great fries and gravy and the cheese curds don’t melt so I guess that makes telhem authentic :p You can buy cheese curds at La Grotto De Fromagio on commercial.

  38. TaraGarofano

    I make my poutine at home. I am lucky enough to have my cousin in Montreal mail me out St. Huberts gravy when I run out. I get my curds on Comercial Drive at the La Formiga Grotta..These Italians make the best curds this side of Quebec.. When we get together for Poutine at my house its Like we are all back in Montreal..My girlfriend compares my fries to La Flures..If you want real Poutine and french fries in paper bag.. Annies out in New West is about as authentic as you get.. she offers steamies with all the toppings and hand make burgers where yes they toast the bun..T

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