New Vancouver Restaurants To Try This Fall

Coconut rice cakes at Do Chay; Photo sourced from restaurant

Even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vancouver’s restaurateurs have soldiered on, intrepidly opening establishments that further the vibrancy of this city’s eating and imbibing scene. The breadth of the new offerings attests to the diverse expertise and backgrounds of the teams behind these ventures. Here are some new places to add to your must-try list:

Elevated Mexican

Pulpo en mole blanco; Photo Credit: Lindsay Lee

The highly anticipated Ophelia (165 West 2nd Ave.) fills a largely untapped niche in the city: upscale Mexican dining. The establishment is named after and takes its inspiration from Executive Chef Francisco Higareda’s mother, who instilled in Higareda a passion and talent for cooking. Folkloric design accents highlight the refined whimsy of the kitchen, like in the pulpo en mole blanco, which features corn crusted octopus, with chorizo, cilantro rice, braised kale and zucchini, and white mole. Other dishes, like the taco de arrachera (grilled skirt steak) with roasted bone marrow, equally illustrate expert grounding in authentic Mexican cuisine melded with Higareda’s training in Michelin-star restaurants in Spain and France. Tequila and mezcal flights, as well as Mexican interpretations of classic cocktails round out the elevated dining experience.

Southeast Asian Street Food

Photo Credit: Darren Chuang

The city’s palate just got livelier with two new southeast Asian establishments. Potluck Hawker Eater (3424 Cambie Street) channels the energy of street fare, drawing from Malaysian, Thai, and Filipino culinary traditions. The use of ingredients is bold, with high octane flavours, as evidenced in the fried chicken wings, with fish sauce caramel, chili flakes, coriander, sesame, and fried shallots. Counter-style service and dishes that invite family-style eating (e.g. a whole braised and deep-fried pork hock) keep dining warmly convivial.

Turmeric fish; Photo Credit: Niko Myyra

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh was affectionately dubbed “The Lunch Lady” by the late Anthony Bourdain when he was touring Ho Chi Minh City and sampled her vendor offerings. Victoria Tran formed a friendship and partnership with the famed cook and was determined to bring her memorable dishes to Vancouver. The resulting Lunch Lady restaurant (1046 Commercial Dr.) features her famed noodle soups, like the phở gà (free range chicken noodle soup) at lunch, as well as evening dishes that showcase the range of Vietnamese street food, like turmeric ling cod with scallions and dill, served on a sizzling skillet, and accompanied by vermicelli, peanuts, and fresh herbs.

Casual and Fun (With Craft Beer)

Fried chicken wings; Photo Credit: Meighan Makarchuk

A couple of new spots have injected some much-needed playfulness into what has been, let’s be honest, a pretty grim six months. BeSIDE Forage (1300 Robson St.), a reference to the popular farm-to-table restaurant next door, focuses on dining that’s simple and tasty. Counter service keeps the ordering relaxed, while the menu focuses on well-executed comfort food, like fried battered ling cod, fried chicken wings, Caesar salad, and ice cream sandwiches (chocolate peanut butter ice cream between chocolate chip cookies). It’s all delicious–plus locally and sustainably sourced. Local beer, fun tunes in an airy room, and the option for quick grab and go meals make BeSIDE a no-fuss, accessible option.

Fancy Burger; Photo Credit: Jonathan Norton

Bells and Whistles has garnered a loyal following for its quality-forward, hip take on the conventional sports bar. The opening of a second location (4497 Dunbar Street) has seriously jazzed up the Dunbar dining and drinking landscape. Based on the enthusiastic response from the community, Bells and Whistles seems to have chosen a winner spot. Order the Fancy Burger (hand-formed beef patty with goat cheese, herb-roasted mushrooms and onion, tomato, sprouts, and truffle and basil aioli), a side of golden onion rings, and a frothy local beer–and you’re set for catching the big game.


Black truffle tofu (image sourced from restaurant)

Vancouver has long led the way with numerous establishment that offer innovative vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Two recent openings have been generating considerable buzz. The first is the launch of the second location of Do Chay (1269 Hamilton St.), which just won “Best New Restaurant” at Vancouver Magazine’s 2020 Restaurant Awards. The renovated space (previously House Special) is bright, airy, and inviting, as is the menu, which showcases plant-based Vietnamese classics, like a vegan pho with avocado, yuba, yu choy, broccoli, oyster mushrooms, and rice noodles in a flavourful vegan broth. Other creations exhibit the inventiveness of the kitchen, such as a lovely dish of crispy tofu, with scallion ginger black truffle sauce, sweet soy, and pickles.

Aburi lox oshi; Photo Credit: Hakan Burcuoglu

MILA (185 Keefer St.), which bills itself as “plant based, flavour focused,” recently opened in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, the home of its sibling restaurant, Virtuous Pie. Menu creations show a global, specifically Asian influence, with items like bao buns with hoisin tempeh, pickled onion and cucumber, sambal aioli, cilantro, and crispy shallots. The aburi carrot lox oshi with shiso and serrano pepper is already receiving rave reviews from diners.


Finally, based on the pedigree of their teams, two very recent launches are bound to offer skilled renditions of Italian food. Capo & The Spritz (350 Davie St.), located in the OPUS Hotel and run by Autostrada Hospitality, is a happy marriage between a neighbourhood pizzeria and cocktail bar. Simplicity and high-quality ingredients are the mantras, with a roast chicken sandwich with cappucio and salsa verde for lunch, and a classic Margarita pizza on the dinner menu, as well as a handful of pastas (e.g. bucatini cacio e pepe). Classic cocktails, like Nonna’s negroni, can be sipped at The Spritz.

Photo sourced from the restaurant

Another award-winning restaurant group Kitchen Table has taken the helm of and reopened giovane café (1038 Canada Place Way) in the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. The space has been reimagined as an Italian market with pastas and handmade sauces; a café with espresso, pastries, and grab-and-go meals (e.g. a mortadella sandwich with pistachio pesto, arugula, and fontina); and the pop-up location for Pastificio di Luigi, which serves items like fried polpette (meatballs) and ricotta and pea ravioli in white wine cream sauce.

Overall, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Vancouver’s restaurant scene remains incredibly exciting with these many recent openings, and many more to come.

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