1228 Hamilton St, 604-609-0080. Rodneysoysterhouse.com 
This place is serious fun, a carbon copy of the Rodney’s in Toronto. Actually, it feels more like Halifax than anything: the staff is genuinely friendly in a way that sometimes goes unappreciated here. It’s a low-key, no bullshit seafood joint. And they sure know their oysters.
Freshly shucked pan-seared Fanny Bay oysters.
Fish and chips for lunch on a Friday. Or really, chef’s-choice chowder and a pint of Guinness is a terrific way to wind down at the end of any day.
1223 Pacific Blvd., 604-408-4228
Simple and friendly, this bustling little Mexican spot (actually two spots, one sit-down, one take-out) is perfect for lunch. The secret is the freshness—just-made tacos, just-diced onion, the guacamole’s just-ripe-enough avocado and tomato.
Pozole (a soup of chicken stock, corn, pork, and seasonings.
I usually go for the soft tacos, especially the carnitas and the beef tongue, with either a Corona or a glass of horchata, that refreshing Mexican beverage made from milk, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon.
1095 Hamilton St, 604-688-8078. Bluewatercafe.net 
This place is all about choice: plunk down at the bar and nibble Yoshi’s superb sushi; or nab a booth in back and enjoy a quiet dinner for two—sushi, then steamed mussels, then sablefish; or reserve a big table for a goodbye office dinner or birthday celebration. The service and the seafood are always first-rate.
West Coast sablefish with miso-sake glaze, baby bok choy, edamame, quinoa, and shiitake mushrooms.
Red sea urchin and Qualicum Bay scallop mousse—winner of the 2008 Gold Medal Plates competition.
The seafood tower is a can’t-miss feast.
1133 Hamilton St, 604-688-7466. Cioppinos.wordpress.com 
A great Italian room, open and spacious, that deserves all the kudos it gets. Pino Posteraro oversees his domain virtually 365 days a year, and the service is as polished as the food, which is simple yet innovative. Deep, impressive wine list. Dining solo can be tricky in fine restaurants, but here you can sit comfortably at the bar with a plate of spaghetti vongole and a glass of Falanghina.
Pappardelle with veal cheeks.
Anything he invents on the spot—recently, quail with foie gras.
Vitello tonnato—finely sliced veal with an exquisitely subtle tuna sauce.
1079 Mainland St, 604-602-0835. Glowbalgrill.com 
It’s always busy, especially at brunch. Tourists adore it, as do couples on dates, and movie stars. The switch to steakhouse early this year makes it a cooler version of The Keg. What this room is actually selling, what it’s brilliant at, is not the steak but the sizzle.
Spaghetti with Kobe meatballs.
Bone-in rib-eye with lobster/bacon-loaded baked potato.
Desserts are excellent, especially the beignets.
Planning a visit to one of these restaurants? Click on this map to get a better idea of their locations:
We're scoured a variety of neighborhoods for the best restaurants. Check them out here:
Keefer and Main