The Summer 2017
Scout 25 has just been released. It’s what you should feel confident giving to anyone who asks “Where should I eat in Vancouver?” It’s our list of Vancouver’s best, most consistent, most essential, and most representative restaurants, and a key facet of Scout’s seasonal GAMEPLAN project. It is decided four times a year by an esteemed panel of local restaurant industry veterans and food experts who each submit a list. No politics. No bullshit. If you don’t see your favourite restaurant here, check the list of honourable mentions at the bottom and note that many of the establishments therein have cracked the list in previous seasons. Either before or after ranking the results below (by picking your favourite three), explore each restaurant in detail here…
Acorn | 3995 Main St. | Mount Pleasant | 604-566-9001 | www.theacornrestaurant.ca
Vancouver's vegetarians are fortunate to have this innovative, conscientious, good-looking eatery on their side, and so are those who are red in tooth and claw. The cooking is so interesting and the results so palatable that the fact that there is no meat on the menu is inconsequential. The kitchen is in lockstep with the local seasons, as is the idiosyncratic cocktail program. Tables are hard to come by, but the service is mercifully swift.
Ancora | 1600 - 2 Howe St. | Yaletown | 604-681-1164 | www.ancoradining.com
An exciting and especially good looking new Japanese/Peruvian fine dining entry from the same group that gave us Cibo, Uva, and the Beach Bay Cafe. Executive Chef Ricardo Valverde and Sushi Chef Yoshihiro Tabo collaborate in the most delicious ways, dreaming up stacked platters of sustainable sashimi and ceviche that relish in the bounty of our shores. Though the interior is breathtakingly attractive, the seawall patio steals the show.
AnnaLena | 1809 West 1st Ave. | Kitsilano | 778-379-4052 | www.annalena.ca
Owner/chef Michael Robbins is quickly becoming a real star in BC's culinary firmament. Here, with the attitude and patience of an established artist and the skill-set of a forward-thinking chef twice his age, he has carved out a niche that lets him interpret modern Canadian cuisine as he likes. The results are invariably as nice to look at as they are a pleasure to consume. Bright and breezy room with garage door frontage and playful motifs throughout. Great cocktails.
Ask For Luigi | 305 Alexander St. | Railtown | 604-428-2544 | www.askforluigi.com
A small, simple, charming, home run hitting Italian joint from chef J.C. Poirier, whose fine dining skills are expertly cloaked by uncomplicated cooking. The restaurant's Rockwellian, eastern seaboard aesthetic comes across loud and clear in the tight seating (some of it rickety), black and white chessboard flooring, and wooden wall panels, but its made modern by plenty of natural light and modish service staff.
Bao Bei | 163 Keefer St. | Chinatown | 604-688-0876 | www.bao-bei.ca
A smash hit from its first service back in 2009, this self-styled Chinese Brasserie has since kept its cool with consistently imaginative (and invariably tasty) French-inflected Shanghainese cooking from chef Joel Watanabe and an atmosphere that has yet to shed a single glint of its cozy, transportive patina. Menu changes are cause for mourning (then celebration). Nightly line-ups best endured with a cocktail.
Bauhaus | 1 West Cordova St. | Gastown | 604-974-1147 | www.bauhaus-restaurant.com
When he first opened Bauhaus a couple of years ago, first time restaurateur Uwe Boll rubbed the restaurant community the wrong way with ugly braggadocio, but the adventurous, highly skilled cooking by his chef, Stefan Hartmann, drowned out the bombast with genuine artistry, revealing the German-inspired eatery to be among Vancouver's best. Hartmann has since moved on, but deliciousness continues with a new team in place.
Burdock & Co. | 2702 Main St. | Mount Pleasant | 604-879-0077 | www.burdockandco.com
Former Bishop's executive chef Andrea Carlson's modern, affordable, and attractive expressions of BC ingredients. The small and minimalist (but nevertheless comfortable) dining room seats a nightly cross-section of neighbourhood locals and visiting gourmands. Vegan and vegetarian dishes tempt amidst the meatier options. Only "naturalist" (organic, biodynamic) wines crack the short but exemplary list.
Cafe Medina | 780 Richards St. | Downtown | 604-879-3114 | www.medinacafe.com
Recently moved from its original Crosstown address (where it was umbilically connected to Chambar), this new and improved daytime-only looker is now cheffed by Jonathan Chovancek, an irrepressible dreamer who had no problem reimagining the much-loved menu of honed originals to fit its new location and direction (which we hope will one day culminate in dinner service). Line-up be damned. It's well worth the wait.
Cinara | 350 W Pender St. | Downtown | 604-428-9694 | www.cinara.ca
The cooking at co-owner/co-chef Lucais Syme’s small, intimate restaurant is Northern Italian in heart and soul, but he and partner Gillan Book allow for pan-European flavours and traditions to occasionally take starring roles. The small dining room is calm and capable. The mostly Italian wine list is amplified by a short selection of original cocktails worth trying. Without a doubt one of the most mature, reliable eateries in the city.
Chambar | 568 Beatty St. | 604-879-7119 | Crosstown | www.chambar.com
The casual, cool, perennially stylish Belgian-Moroccan hybrid expanded this year by moving two doors south, multiplying its seating capacity, and adding excellent breakfast and lunch options to its CV. From perfect waffles dipped in lavender chocolate to Mussels "Congolaise", the kitchen earns most of its praise by sidestepping tradition (with excellent results). Superb cocktail and wine programs. Home to the Chambar Effect.
Cioppino’s | 1133 Hamilton St. | Yaletown | 604-688-7466 | www.cioppinos.wordpress.com
VPN-certified pizzerias and cool trattorias might abound today, but there wasn't much in the way of "mentionable" Italian in Vancouver a decade ago (see also CinCin, Il Giardino). Chef Pino Posteraro's legendary Yaletown icon has held the milieu's fort down in this city down for 15 years. Today, the sprawling celebrity-magnet dishes outstanding food that almost always shines above the rest. It's expensive, but worth every cent.
Farmer’s Apprentice | 1535 West 6th Ave | South Granville | 604-620-2070 | www.farmersapprentice.ca
Tucked away under a mixed use mid-rise, chef David Gunawan's tiny South Granville restaurant is the ultimate rope-a-dope, luring in comfort-seekers with its cool vinyl collection, casual service, and rustic coziness and then ensnaring their senses with sharply West Coast-focused dishes employing ingredients that were often in the ground just that morning. Bonus: stellar weekend brunches.
Hawksworth | 801 West Georgia St. | Downtown | 604-673-7000 | www.hawksworthrestaurant.com
David Hawksworth's eponymous, gorgeous restaurant on the ground floor of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia raised the bar for hotel eateries in Vancouver by attracting a discerning, well-heeled, and largely local clientele out of the gate. Deep wine list. Superlative cocktails. Excellent service. Best of all? Ambition, and lots of it. Note: Chef de Cuisine Kristian Eligh will represent BC at the Canadian Culinary Championships in February.
Kissa Tanto | 263 East Pender St. | Chinatown | 778-379-8078 | www.kissatanto.com
Named the best new restaurant in Canada by enRoute Magazine, this gorgeous, jazz-inspired Italian/Japanese hybrid is the follow-up to Chinatown’s popular Bao Bei (and is very much its equal when it comes to food, cocktails, service and atmosphere). Fills up nightly with bar stools welcoming walk-ins. Arguably the most creative menus in Vancouver — there is bona fide genius in the pastas!
L’Abattoir | 217 Carrall St. | Gastown | 604-568-1701 | www.labattoir.ca
A reliable, modern, stylish, formality-free den of French-inspired West Coast fine dining in the heart of casual Gastown. Exacting co-owner/chef Lee Cooper's knack for artful presentations often inspires diners to clog Instagram with their unequal renderings. Home to an always interesting list of wines and some of the best cocktails in town. Bonus: new weekend brunch service.
La Quercia | 3689 West 4th Ave. | West Side | 604-676-1007 | www.laquercia.ca
Far from the madding crowds of downtown, the West Side gem is worthy of the trek and the reservation (which you'll most definitely need). Chef/owner Adam Pegg has a savant-like affinity for the cuisines of Northern Italy, so dishes here often have an ethereal, dream-like quality to them, especially in fall and winter. Tip: Pegg's casual walk-in spot L'Ufficio is right next door (different room, same kitchen and chef).
Maenam | 1938 West 4th Ave. | Kitsilano | 604-730-5579 | www.maenam.ca
Owner/chef Angus An's modern, sophisticated takes on the cuisine of Thailand is one of the best things to happen to Vancouver's culinary scene in the past 25 years. Dinner is always an impactful affair, with each dish - from the ling cod decked in a multitude of spices to the selection of aromatic curries - lingering like bold statements. Shockingly affordable tasting menus and uncommon wine pairing opportunities.
Nightingale | 1017 W Hastings St | Downtown | 604-695-9500 | www.hawknightingale.com
Stylish, sophisticated and well served by a veritable army of well trained staff, chef David Hawksworth’s voluminous second restaurant is a welcome addition to the city’s Financial District. The more casual first floor bar and lounge (with double height ceilings) caters to a largely corporate crowd while the second storey is more intimate (albeit with the action of an open kitchen). Mediterranean theme leans heavy on Italy, with delicious results.
Osteria Savio Volpe | 615 Kingsway | Fraserhood | 604-428-0072 | www.saviovolpe.com
This casually sexy, Italian-themed restaurant is designer Craig Stanghetta’s first ever foray into ownership. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s the best-looking looking eatery to open on the East Side in many years. Chef/co-owner Mark Perrier’s constantly changing menus are designed with sharing in mind. Aim for any of the pastas (made in house daily). The all-Italian wine list is short but adventurous. Excellent soundtrack.
Phnom Penh | 244 East Georgia St. | Chinatown | 604-682-5777
No restaurant typifies Vancouver's melting pot more deliciously than Phnom Penh, the Cambodian-Vietnamese-Chinese family institution in Chinatown with the perennial line-up. The wait is worth it, with lemon-garlic fried chicken wings, green onion oyster pancakes, Chinese sausage fried rice, and butter beef being the chief rewards. A bland interior design gives the flavours extra pop. The anti-Stephos.
Pidgin | 350 Carrall St. | Gastown | 604-620-9400 | www.pidginvancouver.com
A hugely creative and endlessly interesting fixture on the Downtown Eastside spinning predominately Japanese flavours with local and European accents. New Executive Chef Wesley Young is just making his mark with a new menu for Fall, but you can expect dishes to be elegant without being precious, pairing as appropriately with the tapped sake and soju as they do with Craig Stanghetta's striking design.
Torafuku | 958 Main St. | Main Street | 778-903-2006 | www.torafuku.ca
This loud, sleek, pan-Asian fun-fest has got serious game on both the food and cocktail fronts. The irreverent willingness of the kitchen to take risks sets Torafuku ("Lucky Tiger") apart, but while co-owner chef Clement Chan and his crew indulge in experimentation, taste is the ultimate arbiter of what makes it onto the menu. Ideal avenue of attack is to arrive with several friends who are willing to share.
Vij’s | 3106 Cambie St. | West Side | 604-736-6664 | www.vijsrestaurant.ca
New location already firing on all cylinders. Possibly the best known and most universally respected restaurant in Vancouver, Vij’s is as famed for its innovative twists on traditional Indian fare as it is for its nightly line-ups and no reservations policy. Requires several visits to get to know, and we envy anyone who gets to try it for the first time. Try the wine marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream and saag paneer. Inspired wine list.
West | 2881 Granville St. | South Granville | 604-687-6880 | www.westrestaurant.com
Once the mightiest power in Vancouver's restaurant pantheon, West went through several chefs after the long reign of David Hawksworth, leaving it - in the public's eye - a little rudderless for a spell. Its reputation has since stabilized with Quang Dang at the helm, who regularly conceives of some of Vancouver's most beautiful dishes. Fantastic wine list backed by deep skills at the bar. Top tier service.
Wildebeest | 120 West Hastings St. | Gastown | 604-687-6880 | www.wildebeest.ca
This informal, good-looking, good-times charmer with high standards does it all, from roasted bone marrow, chicken gravy poutine, and bison carpaccio to sous vide steelhead and addictive smoked castelvetrano olives. Good soundtrack serenades outstanding cocktails and professional service. Near the top of the standings in the brunch big leagues.
(Multiple votes) Au Comptoir, Birds & The Beets, Bishop's, Bistro Wagon Rouge, Blue Water Cafe, Boulevard, Campagnolo, Cinara, CinCin, Dock Lunch, Espana, Fable, Gotham, Homer St. Cafe, Hy's, La Mezcaleria, Les Faux Bourgeois, Juniper, Kirin, Le Crocodile, Mackenzie Room, Masayoshi, Minami, Miku, Mission Kits, Motomachi Shokudo, Nicli Antica Pizzeria, Nook, Pizzeria Farina, Royal Dinette, Tableau, Tacofino. IN
Farmer’s Apprentice, West, Cinara
Mission Kits, Mackenzie Room, La Mezcaleria
(Multiple votes) Au Comptoir, Birds & The Beets, Bishop’s, Bistro Wagon Rouge, Blue Water Cafe, Boulevard, Campagnolo, Cinara, CinCin, Dock Lunch, Espana, Fable, Gotham, Homer St. Cafe, Hy’s, La Mezcaleria, Les Faux Bourgeois, Juniper, Kirin, Le Crocodile, Mackenzie Room, Masayoshi, Minami, Miku, Mission Kits, Motomachi Shokudo, Nicli Antica Pizzeria, Nook, Pizzeria Farina, Royal Dinette, Tableau, Tacofino.
ABOUT THE SCOUT 25
The Scout 25 was inspired by the website
Eater, which offers widely respected lists that detail the top 38 restaurants in every city it operates in. The “Eater 38” is an invaluable tool for food-loving travellers wary of online review sites. When the website closed its Vancouver outlet in 2014, we decided to develop our own version.
The Scout 25 is, of course, very different. Our list is developed in consultation with over a dozen people of prominence working in the restaurant industry – the idea being that no one is a better judge of restaurants than the people who toil in them. Our panelists are free to disclose their involvement at their leisure, but we don’t publicize or promote their identities so as to keep the focus on the restaurants rather than the individuals who judge them.
The list of restaurants – and the group that decides it – changes four times a year, on the first day of each season. How much it changes, of course, is up to the panelists. For the Summer 2017 edition, only three restaurants changed and twenty-two remained the same. The panel included three writers, two restaurateurs, two executive chefs, one sous chefs, one line cook, two servers, one sommelier,. one GM, one bartender, and one citizen-gourmand.
Only establishments that have been open for more than 6 months are considered (new locations notwithstanding)
THE NEXT SCOUT 25 WILL BE RELEASED AT THE START OF FALL: SEPTEMBER 22, 2017