1. Where to Stay
Experience the grandest recent addition to the city’s hotel scene at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia (from $270), which opened in July and has won accolades for its beautifully restored interiors. All of the Parisian-blue-and-silver-toned rooms have spacious bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, but ask for south-facing windows for views of the neoclassical Vancouver Art Gallery. Don’t miss the self-guided tour of the hotel’s art collection, with works by Alan Wood and Patrick Hughes, among others.
Request a room with a patio offering views of downtown skyscrapers at the Shangri-La Hotel (from $275), where all 119 units feature handsome wood-paneled entryways and floor-to-ceiling windows. Book a terrace table at the hotel’s Market by Jean-Georges; locals rave about the thin-crust pizza topped with shaved black truffles ($19) and handcrafted cocktails by bartender Jay Jones.
Find fresh produce and artisan goods outside your front door at the Granville Island Hotel (from $159), the only lodging option on the central Vancouver isle that’s home to a bustling market. The décor in all 82 rooms is polished, if a bit uninspired, but request a room facing the water for some of the best skyline views in the city.
2. Where to Eat
Splurge on the tasting menu ($175, $300 with wine pairings) at C, a top-rated seafood restaurant where a charming patio overlooking the harbor makes up for slightly dated interiors. Standout dishes from veteran chef Robert Clark include a white onion bisque poured over Pacific oyster, lobster knuckle, and spot prawn, all sourced from Vancouver’s ecofriendly Ocean Wise fishery.
Sample retro classics done right at the long anticipated deli-slash-diner Save-on-Meats, opened in July by Mark Brand, one of the city’s leading restaurateurs. On a sunny day, hit the takeaway window for affordable classic sandwiches like tuna melts ($7) and Rubens ($8), or take a seat in a booth and order the breakfast poutine ($8), an early-morning take on the Canadian staple topped with a fried egg.
Skip Chinatown and instead taste some of the city’s best Thai food at Maenam, a minimalist restaurant overlooking residential West Fourth Avenue. Join stylish young professionals savoring Chef Angus An’s piping hot prawn cakes ($10) and duck curry made with lychees, lime leaves, and cherry tomatoes ($18). Don’t pass on cocktails—the Siam Sunray ($9), made with vodka, lime, ginger, roasted coconut, and bird’s-eye chilies is equally spicy and refreshing.
3. What to Do
Find foodie paradise on Granville Island, where you can rub shoulders with grazers filling canvas bags with everything from fresh apricots and raspberries from the Okanagan Valley to British Columbia’s raw-milk cheeses and smoked salmon. Stop by the Granville Island Tea Company for housemade chai ($2.75) or whisked matchas ($3.75), a powdered Japanese green tea. At Oyama Sausage Co., pick up chorizo Pamplona (around $12 per pound) and wild boar salami (around $5 per pound) before cracking open Kusshi and Golden Mantle oysters ($16 per dozen) at the Lobster Man. The market is open daily, so avoid weekend crowds if possible.
Pick up chocolates, pastries, and cakes at three-month-old Thierry, the first standalone patisserie owned by celebrated chef Thierry Busset. Pair fluffy macarons ($2 each) with liquid chocolate—a grown-up’s take on hot cocoa made with hazelnut, caramel, or Basque chili ($7)—in the modern Parisian-style café space.
Navigate the city’s 30-plus food truck options by letting the savvy travel company Tour Guys lead you around on their Eat Your Cart Out walking tour, which takes place every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Guides will fill you in on Vancouver’s culinary history in between bites, which might include brisket or pulled pork sandwiches from Re-Up BBQ and JapaDog’s bratwurst with edamame, or karabuto pork topped with seaweed and Japanese mayo.
4. Insider’s Tip
Dine affordably and meet food-obsessed locals when you reserve a spot at the 40-foot communal table for Irish Heather’s long table series, which takes place several times a week. The $16 set menu is different every time—suckling pig with apricot and whiskey jus served alongside mashed potatoes and braised cabbage is one recent example—but it always includes a pint of artisanal beer.
5. Oddball Day
Spend a day exploring Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood and also its version of the Lower East Side, stacked with galleries, boutiques, lounges, and restaurants.Start with the mandatory photo op in front of Gastown’s steam clock—one of only seven clocks in the world powered by a steam engine—on the corner of Cambie and Water Streets. From there, stroll along neighboring blocks in search of haute fashion and home decor. At Obakki, shop for minimalist, architectural clothing by creative director Treana Peake. Orling & Wu is the place to buy fashionable housewares, such as Atelier NL’s clay plates and bowls, and bedding by Volga Linens. For lunch, make your way down the otherwise derelict Blood Alley to get to the 28-seat Judas Goat Taberna, serving the city’s best Spanish-style tapas—beef tongue with salsa verde, sablefish and heirloom tomato (from $3)—from a tiny open kitchen. Afterward, take in the area’s art offerings: Spirit Wrestler Gallery hosts cross-cultural exhibitions, while Baron Gallery focuses on contemporary pieces. Then wind down with a cocktail made with fresh fruit at Diamond, where the selection is divided into categories of delicate, proper, and notorious. Head to L’Abattoir for dinner, where the rich offerings include pan-fried sweetbreads ($14) and scallop-and-oxtail dumplings ($26). For a nightcap, try the Donald Draper ($10), a mix of bourbon, absinthe, and bitters.
Vancouver Magazine is the go-to monthly publication for locals, covering everything from in-depth city news to new restaurant and store openings.
Vancouver’s official tourism bureau website is better than most others, thanks to a host of knowledgeable bloggers that write daily posts on culture, restaurants, and entertainment events.
Gastown.org is a guide to everything the area has to offer, including shopping sales, dining specials, and new and annual neighborhood festivals.
Scout is an online food and culture magazine launched by Andrew Morrison, a trusted independent local food critic.