Featured Vancouverite: Sierra Skye Gemma

I’m from all over, including cities across Southern California; Andros Island, The Bahamas; Maui, Hawaii; and Portland, Oregon. I’m not a military brat either — believe it or not, my parents used to be missionaries.

How long have you been a Vancouverite? Six glorious years

I’m a writer and freelance editor. I mostly write non-fiction, and have written for WestCoast Families, The Vancouver Observer, Fringe Magazine, and Beyond Robson. I also publish a food blog called Vancouver Bites! I generally work at night in my pajamas, and during the day I am an Executive Editor of PRISM international, Western Canada’s oldest literary magazine. You can learn more about me at www.sierraskyegemma.com.

During your culinary explorations in Vancouver, where have you discovered the best Mexican food, breakfast, and burger in the city?
Mmm, I love food, particularly Mexican food, which is so hard to find in Vancouver. That said, it is possible! La Taqueria has the most authentic tacos, along with a daily special. You’ll find all kinds of tacos there like de lengua (beef tongue), de cachete (beef cheeks), carnitas (shredded pork), and pollo con mole (chicken in a chocolate sauce). La Taqueria is only a taco shop, so for the full restaurant experience, I recommend La Casita or the vegetarian Mexican restaurant Bandidas.

Great breakfast is much easier to find in Vancouver, and there are lots of places that I love, especially along Main Street. Right now, I’m really into Habit‘s weekend brunch. If you are a vegetarian, they have the best huevos rancheros in Vancouver, if you are a meat eater, don’t miss their bacon and sausage. They also do home fries right — crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Just make sure to be there by 10 or 10:30 am, before people start waking up from their hangovers.

I’m also somewhat of a burger aficionado. When I announced on Vancouver Bites! that I was going on a mission to find the best burger, a friend asked if I would consider veggie burgers, to which I replied: “Veggie burgers? Oh hell no. This is all about the hot beef injection. I’m gonna die of a cow hormone overdose.” That overdose is probably going to happen at The Market Grill, a little burger shop on the east side of the Granville Island Public Market. Most of the ingredients are locally sourced, and the meat arrives daily from a Granville Island butcher. My favourite burger is the Market Special, which is comprised of a beef patty, sautéed mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and secret sauce.

Best way to meet new friends in Vancouver:
When I first moved to Vancouver, I had a very tough time meeting people because I was shy. I soon realized that I was going to have to make the first move. Most people out there are not actively looking for new friends — they already have friends. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to be your friend, it just means that they haven’t realized it yet, so it’s up to you to help them figure it out. This can happen anywhere if you just talk to people. My best results have come from participating in a shared activity, like classes, community events, festivals, and book clubs.

Favourite Vancouver event:
One of the things that I love the most about Vancouver is the opportunity to celebrate different cultures. The local festivals always have fantastic food and entertainment, but my favourite is the Afro-Brazilian Block Party, which is hosted by Axé Capoeira, a martial arts and dance academy in the Downtown Eastside. The event is held every year on Granville Street during the month of July and features a capoeira tournament, Afro-Brazilian dance performances, including Samba, a Carnival-style parade, and food. Oh boy, don’t forget the food! The ABBP is one of the few places I can get a coxinha, which is a Brazilian snack of stewed chicken and spices packaged in fried dough (nom nom nom). 

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