Originally written as a guest blog post for Got Saga.
With hundreds of restaurants in downtown Vancouver alone, plus the growing street food scene, it can almost be overwhelming deciding where to spend your hard earned cash. With so many choices, the list below is just a sample of some of the great deals out there.
Bargain Breakfast/Brunch – Twisted Fork Bistro
All items on the Twisted Fork brunch menu come in at $12. The price is the easy part, choosing what to order… that’s the hard part! How about asparagus scrambled eggs served with toasted sourdough and housemade jam, roasted roma tomatoes, rosti and sautéed spinach? Or how about banana-stuffed brioche French toast sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar and a side of maple syrup whipped cream? Or maybe gruyère baked eggs with sourdough toast, bacon, rosti and baked beans? The list continues! But with these prices, you can afford to go back and try more.
Twisted Fork Bistro, 1147 Granville Street (downtown), $12
Bargain Lunch – Coast Restaurant
Working downtown, it can be hard to find a decent, affordable lunch that isn’t from the food court and that can be delivered to my table and devoured before my lunch break is over. Coast Restaurant has got this down pat. For $13 you can dine in on their “His or Hers Lunch Box”. ‘His’ comes with New England clam chowder, fish and chips and a wedge salad, while ‘Hers’ comes with Manhattan clam chowder, tuna sashimi salad and a shrimp wrap. Don’t worry, no one will think you’re strange for ordering the ‘His’ if you’re actually a ‘Her’.
Coast Restaurant, 1054 Alberni Street (downtown), $13
Bargain Dinner – The Irish Heather
The Long Table Series is a weekly (several nights a week actually) dinner series held at the 40-foot communal table at The Irish Heather in Gastown. They serve up hearty home-style dishes for $15 to $17, such as roast suckling pig with apple-rosemary sauce, lasagna with ground fennel sausage, or slow-roasted leg of lamb with gremolata, mashed turnips and kale. All dishes are paired perfectly with an artisan beer or cider (included in the price). Settling in at the long table feels like sitting down to Mom’s Sunday dinner – with a new family of 45 joining you!
Long Table Series at The Irish Heather, 212 Carrall Street (Gastown neighbourhood), $15 to $17
Bargain Japanese – Guu
“Guu is Guuu’d”. It’s true – Guu IS good. No, it’s better than good – it’s great! A little piece of Tokyo right here in Vancouver, Guu serves up tasty sharing-style plates ranging from old favourites such as karaage (fried chicken), takoyaki (deep-fried octopus balls) and tuna sashimi, to more adventurous dishes like beef liver sashimi and pan-fried pork intestine. They also have daily specials with lots of unique and diverse choices. My favourite location of the three is downtown (on Thurlow Street) as the atmosphere is always enjoyable and the cries of “irashaimase” from the staff as you enter will always bring a smile to your face.
Guu, three locations: downtown, West End and Gastown neighbourhoods, plates starting at $4
Bargain Italian – La Quercia
La Quercia offers a five-course menu for just $43 per person. The courses are served “alla famiglia” style, meaning they are designed for sharing with everyone at the table. The menu changes quite often, and could contain anything from lamb ragu, sausage and pea orecchiette, beef cheek and potato linguine, or lamb with fennel and broccoli. La Quercia sources local and organic products wherever possible and has a great wine list to match their delicious menu.
La Quercia, 3689 West 4th Avenue (Kitsilano neighbourhood), five-course menu: $43
Bargain Sushi – Sushi Mart
If you’re looking for fresh, fast, top quality, affordable sushi, then Sushi Mart is the place for you. Place your order at the counter, grab a seat at the communal table and sip some complimentary green tea while your order is prepared. Miso soup comes free with all combo orders.
Sushi Mart, 1668 Robson Street (West End neighbourhood), rolls from $2
Bargain Malaysian – Banana Leaf
Banana Leaf Malaysian Cuisine serves up a seven-course menu for two people at $25 per person, which is great because I can never decide what to order from here – it’s all tasty! The tasting menu comes with papaya and pineapple salad, roti canai and vegetable spring rolls, chicken satay, sambal green beans, eggplant and tomato, abundance of seafood in gulai sauce, rendang beef and pisang goreng for dessert. You can also add wine pairings (three glasses) for just $18. If you have a minimum of six people in your dining group, Banana Leaf also offers other set menus at great prices.
Banana Leaf, three locations: West End, Kitsilano and Broadway neighbourhoods, seven-course menu $25
Bargain Vegetarian and Vegan – Sejuiced
Sejuiced is a lovely little juice bar that serves up both vegetarian and vegan fare. Fresh, locally grown and organic produce is key here. As well as smoothies and juices, they also offer sandwiches and wraps, quesadillas, soups, yogi bowls, salads, burgers, a breakfast menu and a tasty looking dessert display case (with items such as bliss balls, brownies and cheesecake).
Sejuiced, 1958 West 4th Avenue (Kitsilano neighbourhood), from $5
Bargain Mexican – Calli Restaurante Mexicano
Calli serves up traditional Mexican dishes like guacamole with tortilla chips, soups, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, taquitos and dishes with mole sauce. All main dishes come with side orders of red rice and refried beans, and there are a few that are also served with three corn tortillas (to make your own tasty tacos I assume!). You can also quench your thirst with a glass of horchata and finish off your meal with some hot Mexican-style chocolate.Calli Restaurante Mexicano, 1102 Davie Street (West End neighbourhood), from $4
Bargain “On-The-Go” – Vancouver’s Street Food Carts
Don’t have time to sit down at a restaurant, but still need something to fill you up? Look no further than a street food cart. Ranging in price and in style, you can pick up a pulled pork sandwich at Re-Up BBQ, some Korean-style tacos at Cartel Taco, an oyster po-boy at Fresh Local Wild or some hoisin pork belly slider steam buns from Roaming Dragon.
Vancouver Street Food Carts, various locations, from $4
Of course, this is just a small selection of what is out there! What are you “bargain eats” tips for Vancouver?