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A Look Inside ‘Lila’, Now Open on Main Street

Coolest and Best Independent Restaurants in Vancouver Scout Magazine

The last time I visited Lila (3941 Main Street) chairs were upturned, tables were being sanded and stained, and walls were being painted. But, between what I saw taking shape first-hand, plus descriptions provided by co-owners Shira Blustein (Founder of Acorn) and Meeru Dhalwala (Founder & Head Chef of Vij’s), it was easy to imagine where things were heading. However, it wasn’t until last week’s ‘friends & family’ service that I saw it all come together in a tangible way.

The Room

Though modern touches – like thoughtful lighting and a mural by co-owner and artist, Scott Lewis – add an edge to the space, Lila really capitalizes on the dark and lush tropical garden feeling of their hidden patio (tucked out back and easily one of the best outdoor dining areas on Main Street). A plethora of plants and vines make a nice match with the soothing greys and greens of the walls, rich wood tables and soft black of the seating. Overall, stepping into the restaurant from the busy flow of Main Street feels like taking a much-needed deep breath.

The Food

Lila co-owner Meeru Dhalwala with potato “tikki” (potato, chickpeas, tamarind chutney, spicy Westberry Blueberry Farm chutney, salted yogurt and chive flowers

There are several standouts on Lila’s modern Indian menu, including the cauliflower and potato pakoras with mango & mint chutney – a great way to start your meal, because they come out of the kitchen quickly and are a perfect snack to share with the table, and the accompanying chutney is fresh and versatile enough to pair with multiple subsequent dishes. Also a big hit: spiced beets and creamy fenugreek chutney with candied walnuts – surprisingly as complex as it was light and refreshing; side-striped prawns in coconut, green onion and ginger curry, served on a bed of rice – a lovely blend of not-too-hot spices, rich and perfectly layered to complement the prawns; and potato “tikki” with chickpeas, tamarind and spicy Westberry Blueberry Farm chutneys, finished with salted yogurt and a dotting of delicate purple chive flowers picked from the on-site garden. For a more substantial option (and substantially pricier one too, at $34), the rich and comforting marinated and seared arctic char on creamy basmati “risotto” was definitely a good call, and the serving was easily enough for two. Finally, came the Cardamom Panna Cotta, which was subtle and simple yet immensely satisfying…and light enough that I could have eaten ten!

The Drinks

Imalee and Adarak at Lila

Lila’s drink card fits nicely with its garden theme. Drinks are bright and juicy with tropical notes and Indian spices – ideal for sipping on the patio, surrounded by greenery. The Panch Puran Five Spice Mojito is a unique twist on a classic, made with aged rum, fresh mint, lime, simple syrup and a punch puran spice blend; while the Imalee and Adarak combines tequila, triple sec, tamarind, ginger and lime, and is aptly (and endearingly) described as “if a margarita went on her own spicy vacation”, making it an immediate favourite. Also available: great zero-proof options, as well as local beers and an expertly curated selection of low-intervention wines.

Lila is now open from 4-10pm nightly.
We recommend getting in there right away – but until then: take a flip through the pictures below …

Shira Blustein and Meeru Dhalwala are independently hard-working humans who are dedicated to serving honest, nourishing food. Seeing them collaborate creatively is not only inspiring but also a “win” for Vancouver. At Lila, you can trust that the food will be exceptional, thanks to the strong emphasis on sustainability and local sourcing that both women live by.

Neighbourhood: Main Street
3941 Main St

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