The Scout 25

The Scout 25 is what you should feel confident giving to anyone who asks “Where should I eat in Vancouver?” It’s our list of the city’s best, most consistent, and most essential restaurants. It’s decided four times a year by an esteemed panel of local restaurant industry veterans and food experts. No bullshit. No politics. Just delicious.

THE SCOUT 25 | SUMMER 2016

– in alphabetical order –

* asterisks signify restaurants that were also named to the previous edition of the Scout 25

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 – home to innovative and highly imaginative chefs Rob Clarke and Brian Luptak – 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 Street | 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 confidence 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.

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.

Au Comptoir* | 2278 West 4th Ave | Kitsilano | 604-569-2278 | www.aucomptoir.ca
This newcomer made an immediate impact in Kits by serving up classic Parisian cafe fare with style. Waiting table are young, first-time co-owners Maxime Bettili and Julien Aubi. With the help of chef Daniel McGee, they honour their homeland with superb treatments of croque monsieur (et madame), tartare de boeuf, duck confit, steak frites with roquefort — the whole neuf yards. Clever wine list. Smart staff uniforms.

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 Joël 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.

Bishop’s | 2183 West 4th Ave. | Kitsilano | 604-738-2025 | www.bishopsonline.com
The idea of “local” food came to fruition at this cushy West Side icon where gentleman-owner John Bishop has held quiet court since 1986. What’s most remarkable about his eponymous eatery is how it has continued to thrive – even improve – in a city that is now so seldom seduced by fine dining. High service standards continue to impress as much as the menus, which change often to reflect BC’s varied bounty.

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 cheffed by Deniz Tarakcioglu, whose light touch with Levant-leaning Mediterranean fare keeps packing them in, and line-up be damned (it’s well worth the wait). Pro-tip: if the weekend brunch queue gets you down, opt to sit at the bar, where seats pop up often. Bonus: exceptional coffee.

Chambar* | 568 Beatty St. | 604-879-7119 | Crosstown | www.chambar.com
The casual, cool, perennially stylish Belgian-Moroccan hybrid expanded last year by moving two doors south, multiplying its seating capacity, and adding sumptuous 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. See: Chambar Effect.

Cinara* | 350 W Pender St. | Downtown | 604-428-9694 | www.cinara.ca
The cooking at co-owner/co-chef Lucais Syme’s smaller, more intimate restaurant (see also La Pentola) 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.

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.

Hawksworth* | 801 West Georgia St. | Downtown | 604-673-7000 | www.hawksworthrestaurant.com
David Hawksworth’s eponymous, Munge & Leung-designed 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 won Gold at BC’s Gold Medal Plates in 2014.

Hy’s Steakhouse | 637 Hornby St. | Downtown | 604-683-7671 | www.hyssteakhouse.com | An unapologetically WASPY-aspirational remnant of a bygone era complete with thick carpets, wood-panelled walls, and gilt-framed baronial portraits. A local institution since the 50’s and home to some of our most professionally-minded (not to mention senior) service staff. 2016 renovations gave it a swanky upstairs bar. Caesars are still made from rolling carts and the Chateaubriand is sliced and French-served tableside. Best steakhouse in town.

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. Weekend brunches kick ass.

La Mezcaleria* | 1622 Commercial Dr. | The Drive | 604-559-8226 | www.lamezcaleria.ca
At once exotic, youthful, fashionable, and totally down to earth, this hopping taqueria and Mezcal bar on The Drive is a sensory delight of good-looking patrons, vernacular decor, crave-worthy flavours, and intoxicating smells. Must haves: magically restorative tortilla soup; revelatory queso fundido with chorizo; serrano-laced snapper ceviche; achiote-spiced and pineapple-sweetened Al Pastor tacos; Mezcal flights. Bonus: new brunch service is awesome.

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.

Miku | 70-200 Granville St. | Downtown | 604-568-3900 | www.mikurestaurant.com
Vancouver is very much a sushi city with offerings ranging from strip mall holes-in-the-wall to sumptuous, well-orchestrated temples dedicated to the raw art. One of the more reliable and reputable establishments on the high end is Seigo Nakamura’s ground breaking waterfront stunner, Miku, which doesn’t always play by the rules. The sushi is done “aburi” style, meaning it gets a blowtorch kiss of flame before the plate and palate.

Osteria Savio Volpe | 615 Kingsway | Fraserhood | 604-428-0072 | www.saviovolpe.com
This casual, 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) or the large format steaks. The all-Italian wine list is short but adventurous. Bonus: 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.

Royal Dinette | 905 Dunsmuir St. | Downtown | 604-974-8077 | www.royaldinette.ca
Chef Jack Chen oversees the clean, creative but carefully considered locavore cooking at this good looking downtown hotspot frequented by the assorted bigwigs and office tower workers of the Financial District. Excellent wine and cocktail programs buttressed by a solid craft beer selection, all backed up by a smartly dressed, daily-trained team invariably well versed in the farm-to-table menus that change often.

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.

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 pappardelle in smoked quail ragu and addictive smoked castelvetrano olives. Good soundtrack serenades the professional service. Near the top of the standings in the brunch big leagues. Getting better with age. Bar program second to none.

VOTE!

Check out the reader rankings of the results here

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IN

Hy’s, Ancora, Bishop’s, Miku, Royal Dinette, Torafuku

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OUT

Latab, West, Supermarine, Espana, Blue Water Cafe, Nook

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HONOURABLE MENTIONS

(Multiple votes) Les Faux Bourgeois, Kirin, CinCin, Campagnolo, Motomachi Shokudo, Pizzeria Farina, Nicli Antica Pizzeria, West, Fable, Le Crocodile, Pidgin, Mackenzie Room, Minami, Homer St. Cafe, Juniper, Latab, Blue Water Cafe, Espana, Masayoshi, Tableau, Nook, Tacofino, Bistro Wagon Rouge, Farmer’s Apprentice.

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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 2016 edition, six restaurants changed (a record!); nineteen remained the same. The panel included two journalists, two restaurateurs, two executive chefs, one chef de cuisine, one sous chef, one pastry chef, two general managers, and three gourmands.

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

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was .