Hungry for spectacular mountain views and food that’s just as delectable? Visit these eight foodie neighbourhoods from Vancouver and Richmond through the scenic Sea-to-Sky Corridor to savour everything from divine dumplings and fragrant Persian skewers to thirst-quenching ales, overstuffed burgers, and the chocolatiest of cookies.
Please note that many of the restaurants listed are at various stages of opening—some have limited hours, others offer takeout only, and some are open for full service. Call ahead to reserve your seat at the table.
Perhaps the only thing we’re craving more than a dim sum feast right now is the ability to connect with other people. Luckily, the City of Richmond offers both with its traditions of (safe) communal dining. Richmond is famous for serving some of the world’s best Chinese food, and boasts more than 800 restaurants, with over half of them serving Asian cuisine, as well as food courts, supermarkets, and hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints. That’s a lot of choice, so if you’re unsure where to start, begin by following the Dumpling Trail. It features 22 stops and every sort of dumpling from crisply fried wontons to tender soup-filled xiao long bao. Bring your chopsticks, and your appetite.
In recent years, we’ve seen the area of Vancouver that stretches east from Cambie Street to Clark Drive and south from Great Northern Way (2nd Avenue) to Kingsway transform into a funky yet sophisticated and welcoming urban neighbourhood. With all those growing families and young professionals has come a world of dining : Italian (Savio Volpe), French (Les Faux Bourgeois), Indian (Vij’s), Japanese (Shiro), Mexican (Sal y Limon), Mediterranean (Nuba), British pub fare (The Cascade Room), Spanish (Como Taperia) and, of course, West Coast (Burdock & Co.). Graze the planet, no map required.
Since the end of the Second World War, The Drive has been Vancouver’s Little Italy. Now, a younger generation is redefining what that means (and sometimes that means food from other parts of the globe, too). The beloved Grotta d Formaggio cheese shop is still there, as are Café Calabria and Lombardo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, but they’ve been joined by trendy places like Sopra Sotto, Caffe La Tana, and Pepino’s Spaghetti House, a new take on the classic Nick’s Spaghetti House. If it hasta be pasta (and doesn’t it always?), The Drive is your destination.
Vancouver’s most historic neighbourhoods are home to the city’s most exciting collection of independent bars and restaurants. This is one of the best places to find craft cocktails (Keefer Bar, The Diamond, Clough Club) in a city that is justly famous for them. It’s also a great hood for casual cuisine made with anything but casual attention to detail—Juke Fried Chicken, Pourhouse burgers, Nicli Antica pizza, stuffed roti at Calabash, pub grub at the Irish Heather—as well as the French-influenced West Coast fare at one of the finest of the city’s fine dining destinations, l’Abattoir.
British Columbians have long ventured across the Lions Gate or Ironworkers Memorial bridges to enjoy North Van’s mountains, hiking trails, and bustling Shipyards District, with its shops, restaurants, and city view. But since 1979’s Iranian Revolution, this has also been home to the Lower Mainland’s Persian community and their lively produce markets, halal butchers, bakeries, and restaurants. Pop into Cazba, Zeitoon, or Yaas Grill House and enjoy savoury koobideh skewers and fragrant rice before swinging by Ayoub’s Dried Fruits & Nuts for some lime-and-saffron-scented pistachios for the journey home.
The municipality at the end of Howe Sound isn’t just a place to stop for gas or coffee on your way to Whistler. Squamish is a booming community that’s justly known as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada and, increasingly, recognized for its food scene. It’s surrounded by trails for hiking and biking, mountains for schussing, rivers for paddling, and a gondola for enjoying breathtaking views of the monolithic Stawamus Chief. All that activity sure builds up a thirst—and an appetite. Luckily, there’s the Squamish Craft Tasting Trail to satisfy it. It includes stops for coffee, kombucha, and kefir as well as cider, spirits, and, of course, beer at three of BC’s best breweries. Try the offerings at the Luz Tacos food truck outside A-Frame Brewing, the housemade pizza at Backcountry Brewing, and some dirty fries and a hemp fudge brownie at Howe Sound Brewing.
Function Junction is a best-kept secret, with its funky, artsy, boutiques, second-hand shops, and access to great hiking and biking trails. But it’s also a must-stop for a hearty breakfast at Wildwood Café, espresso and a new hoodie at Camp Lifestyle & Coffee, or baked treats at Purebread. Grab a salted-chocolate-rosemary “Adults Only” cookie for now, and a cheddar-jalapeño scone for the road, and a Nutella brioche for later, and . . .
Most summers, thousands of well-heeled visitors from around the world fill the restaurants, lounges, and patios at this legendary outdoor-fun destination. But this year, we can expect smaller crowds and lineups, which means Whistler will be more easily accessible to British Columbians. Besides hiking through ancient forest and speeding along some gnarly bike trails, you’ll be able to grab a seat at the community’s exceptional fine-dining restaurants, which specialize in top-notch local and seasonal ingredients, as well as epic wine cellars. Haute spots like Araxi, Alta Bistro, Bearfoot Bistro, and Hy’s Steakhouse are waiting to serve you. Be sure to call ahead and reserve a table.
At the end of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, before it becomes the winding Duffy Lake Road and heads into the Cariboo Chilcotin, the tiny mountain town of Pemberton nestles in the shade of Mount Currie. Famous for its high-altitude agriculture, Pemberton produces some of Canada’s best potatoes and other root vegetables, and one of the best places to enjoy them is at North Arm Farm, which has a charming café as well as a fresh produce market. In town, stop for gourmet burgers at the Mile One Eating House or the authentic curries at Barn Nork Thai Cuisine and breathe in the fresh, clean mountain air before the journey home.
Few places in the world are as scenic as the Sea-to-Sky corridor—or as delicious. Plan your summer accordingly.
Header image: Tourism Vancouver/Nelson Mouellic
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