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How to Eat Like a Local in Vancouver

All-you-can-eat-sushi isn’t necessarily unique to Vancouver -- we’ve all seen our fair share of questionable bottomless sushi joints -- however delicious all you can eat sushi is most certainly unique to Vancouver. I think I can safely say that there’s no such thing as bad sushi in that city.

And the locals know it better than anyone. Time and again I was pulled by a local through doors that would be nearly impossible to spot without specialized sushi-goggles, and led into a heavenly sushi paradise. In this paradise it’s impossible to order the wrong thing, and you can finally find out, consequence free, what all of those mysterious items on regular sushi menus are. Then, next time you go for regular sushi you can take command of the order, flaunting your knowledge of obscure items and saying obnoxious things like, ‘oh, you don’t know what akagai is?’

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous (with both your palate and your wallet), you can head to the Blue Water Café + Raw Bar in posh Yaletown where swanky restaurants, bars and boutiques abound. Hungry guests can delight in ridiculously fresh plates of seafood prepared in wonderful and unexpected ways, and often described as “edible art.” Long story short, this is where famous people eat when they’re in Hollywood North. And it’s delicious.

Once you’ve had your fill of fancy cuisine, get comfy in the enormous line-up for Japa Dog where you can get a hot dog slathered in a laundry list of crazy toppings: seaweed, bonito flakes, and miso sauce, to name a few, on top of shrimp sausage, arabiki sausage, or a regular old wiener. Warning: this street meat requires two hands and a big appetite.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a local who hasn’t been on a Granville Island picnic. Here’s how you do it: head to the famous market, stock up on enough meat, cheese, fruit and chocolate to fill a backpack, and take it to the beach to watch active people burn calories while you stuff yourself. Heckling optional.

The West Coast is also known for its coffee. If you’re willing to suffer the overwhelming feeling that everyone is better than you for the sake of delicious coffee, head into Café Artegiano for fancy, hard to pronounce coffees that are almost too tasty. If you want to bring some West Coast joe back home with you, pick up a bag of Kicking Horse coffee -- a great line of organic, fair trade beans that can often be found obscuring the bottoms of mugs at good breakfast diners around the city. As a rule, if you see a Kicking Horse sign in the window, your search for a place to eat breakfast is over.

Finally a visit to Vera’s Burger Shack is a must. A Vancouver institution, this burger joint started as a family-run beach concession and hasn’t changed its recipe since 1977. They have burgers specially designed to stop your heart, loaded with cheese, salami, eggs and fried onions as well as (slightly) healthier options like a turkey burger, a lurkey burger (lamb and turkey) and a scrumptious spicy chicken burger.

Ultimately there’s no shortage of delicious foods to be found in Vancouver -- honourable mentions include ANYTHING in Chinatown, donairs on Davie Street, fish and chips on Granville Island. You’ll be sure to bring home a few extra pounds with your novelty mugs and souvenir magnets.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Toronto
Thursday, October 18, 2012
See more Tips from
Ainslie Hogarth