Well, what a year. The results you see on the following pages were tabulated in late February for our usual May publication, but we all know too well about best laid plans in 2020. The intervening months have been brutal on the industry but we hope this issue—the 31st Annual Restaurant Awards—gives us pause to marvel at the accomplishments of every establishment on these pages, despite it all, in the face of these tough times.
Vancouver Magazine's 2020 Restaurant Awards Winners
Boulevard. Photo by Leila Kwok.
Restaurant of the Year
845 Burrard St., boulevardvancouver.ca
The logical conclusion to six years of focus, not insignificant expenditure and a whole lot of passion: ladies and gentlemen, Boulevard is the best restaurant in Vancouver. READ MORE ▸▸▸
Andrea Carlson. Photo by Clinton Hussey.Chef of the Year
Andrea Carlson, Burdock and Co
2702 Main St., burdockandco.com
Even as they tighten their bowties and polish their silver, many restaurants shy away from the modifier “upscale,” fearful that diners in uber-casual Vancouver won’t show up. Bollocks, we say—this category represents the dining experience at the very top of its game. Take Gold winner Boulevard, where dining unfolds like a symphony with maître d’ Brian Hopkins greeting you at the door, GM JP Potters stopping by your table, Isaac Olivier helping you with the perfect bottle and then chef Roger Ma and his team wowing you with dishes like the now-famous clay-baked salmon. There’s a little less pomp at Burnaby’s (sadly, now closed) the Pear Tree, which nabs Silver, but the attention to detail both in service and cooking was near flawless in what turns out to be its final dance (at least in this location): “A restaurant that continues year after year to deliver consistency and excellence. There is not a dish that chef Jaeger prepares that I don’t love,” said one judge. And the final spot on the podium goes to Hawksworth, the restaurant that for many defines the achievement this category represents: a beautiful contemporary room where you’re taken care of from the moment you cross the threshold until you float away after the meal is over.
GOLD: Boulevard, 845 Burrard St.
SILVER: The Pear Tree, closed
BRONZE: Hawksworth, 801 W Georgia St.
Scott Jaeger. Photo by Carlo Ricci. Lifetime Achievement Award
Scott Jaegar, The Pear Tree
His restaurant sadly closed this year, but Scott Jaeger has had a career of a lifetime... and our judges know there's still plenty more to come. READ MORE▸▸▸
Producer of the Year
Zaklan Heritage Farm
How does a tiny, 1.5-acre micro-plot of dirt that’s been in owner Doug Zaklan’s family for over 90 years hope to make an impact on the behemoth that is the Vancouver dining scene? Well, for starters, he and partner Gemma McNeill grow 40 different types of vegetables in over 300 heritage varieties on said 1.5 acres (they practice “intensive cropping,” which means they will regularly grow three crops in a single bed in a season, all without chemical fertilizers or pesticides). And then you let a few chefs—Savio’s Phil Scarfone was an early adopter—try your wares and watch their eyes widen. Now their client list is a snapshot of these awards—Nightingale, Savio, Farmer’s Apprentice—and they have a name recognition unheard of in the farming business. So, that’s how.
Do Chay.Best New Restaurant
At first blush, our Gold winner, Do Chay, seemed like a longshot for this award. Sure, its modern interiors and modern menu appealed to the cool kids right off the bat, but our judges usually see through such puffery. But one by one, they reported back that the always-packed vegetarian Vietnamese spot on Kingsway is not only better than they thought, but downright impressive in its ability to conjure new and surprising flavours from a cuisine that has no shortage of authentic practitioners in this town. Following closely in second is Hastings-Sunrise’s Dachi, a small bright spot that serves as a de facto clubhouse for off-duty industry types who are drawn to the killer wine list and a kitchen that works magic with a small-plate format. Snagging Bronze was the polarizing Sushi Jin. Some judges loved the edomae (classic nigiri) focus and the devotion to high-end ingredients, while others found the flavours oddly sweet and not what they were expecting for what seems a traditional room.
GOLD: Do Chay, 1392 Kingsway
SILVER: Dachi, 2297 E Hastings St.,
BRONZE: Sushi Jin, 750 Nelson St.
Do Chay.Best Vegetarian
A few years back we had concerns that there weren’t enough new vegetarian spots opening to make this a competitive category. Uhm, our bad. Proof positive is newcomer Do Chay, sweeping in and snatching Gold from the Acorn, which is now widely considered one of the best vegetarian spots in North America. Our judges appreciated Do Chay’s ever-present cleverness, starting with its now-famous Ish sauce, a vegan take on the ubiquitous fish sauce that’s a staple of Vietnamese cuisine. That and the fact that the lineup-inducing Kingsway spot is almost fully vegan only underscored their decision. And while Silver may be a small step down for the Acorn, the crew doesn’t seem to be sweating it. Shira Blustein’s Main Street staple continues to be so inventive and thoughtful that it almost seems criminal shoehorning it into a category other than “most awesome.” Rounding out the roster is Powell Street’s Aleph Eatery, a homey Palestinian spot that likewise seems to be flavourful first, vegetarian second.
GOLD: Do Chay, 1392 Kingsway
SILVER: The Acorn, 3995 Main St.
BRONZE: Aleph Eatery, 1889 Powell St.
Stem Japanese Eatery. Photo by Tanya Goehring.Best Japanese
We’ve long considered Italian as the perennially most competitive category , but has Japanese expanded from years of Tojo’s domination to become one of the most dynamic and exciting areas in all of Vancouver dining? Yes, and in Burnaby too, because that’s where you’ll find Gold winner Stem Japanese Eatery, tucked away on a nondescript street near Metrotown. But looks can be deceiving, because inside exists the most accomplished one-two combination since Hall met Oates. Chefs Yoshi Maniwa and Tatsuya Katagiri keep the atmosphere light at the small room, but the cooking, the wine and the sake service are the absolute best in the business. A more hushed mood pervades at Silver winner Yuwa, coincidentally where the Stem team got their start. The south-Kitsilano room is all luxury and class, with a category-leading wine list (courtesy of mother-daughter combo Iori and Miho Kataoka) and an elegant approach to cooking from chef Masahiro Omari, with a deft touch used on dishes like kanpachi carpaccio. And in third, the laser focus of Masayoshi, the omakase-only ode to chasing sushi perfection on Fraser Street that is as compelling as the ballet for the lucky diners.
GOLD: Stem Japanese Eatery, 5205 Rumble St., Burnaby
SILVER: Yuwa, 2775 W 16th Ave.
BRONZE: Masayoshi, 4376 Fraser St.
Meet the front-of-house all-stars who take dining experiences to the next level.
Top row, left to right:
Stephanie Jaeger, The Pear Tree
She shares the lifetime achievement with husband Scott (but here’s an extra nod as a FOH legend.)
Tiago de Souza Jensen, Burdock and Co
“Always a touch a of magic,” said one judge of this veteran of St. Lawrence and Nightingale.
Jeff Parr, AnnaLena
Is he the secret to how AnnaLena manages to be low-key and simultaneously packed?
Bottom row, left to right:
Eric Griffith, Alta Bistro
One part affable ski bum, two parts dialled-in somm of Whistler’s most on-point room.
Danielle McAlpine, St. Lawrence
Air traffic controllers have easier jobs managing expectations than this first face you see at St. Lawrence.
Isaac Olivier, Boulevard
In a big, imposing room, Olivier brings an air of fun and lightness to our Restaurant of the Year.
Via Tevere.Best Pizzeria
Holy déjà vu. Despite this being a perennially competitive category (it would be easy to reel off a dozen possible contenders for the throne), and despite having a new slate of judges working this category, we nonetheless have a mirror image from last year. Via Tevere, our Gold winner, has now officially entered icon status, given that they were at the birth of Vancouver’s pizza renaissance and they’ve continued to stay on top, year after year, thanks to creating “perfectly crusted pizzas that are creatively but sparingly topped, well textured without being chewy—and certified Napolitana authentic,” according to our judges. Scoring Silver again is the lo-fi rabidly loved Main Street sliver that is Pizzeria Farina, which managed to keep its spot all while opening a new location on the North Shore (which debuts with an Honourable Mention) and mastering a casual vibe while dishing out some serious Neapolitan pie. And again taking Bronze is Bufala, the restaurant that put Kerrisdale on the culinary map and still, six years in, is the hardest table to snag in that well-heeled neck of the woods (and which opened a hopping North Van spot this year as well).
GOLD: Via Tevere, 1190 Victoria Dr.
SILVER: Pizzeria Farina, 915 Main St.
BRONZE: Bufala, 5395 West Boulevard
Looking for the year’s biggest upset? Well, it’ll be tough to beat this one. Last year we took a pause on this category, in large part because chef Angus An’s Maenam had a stranglehold on the Gold for as long as anyone here can remember. But this year it’s his Kits neighbour, Unchai—opened by two of his former employees—that snags the top spot with a dedication to ultra-authentic dishes like the lineup-causing pad ki mao, a stir fry to end all stir frys. Finishing only a few points behind is the aforementioned Maenam, which, although now part of a mini Angus An empire (Fat Mao, Sen Pad Thai, Freebird, Longtail Kitchen), still delivers the most refined and ethereal take on Thai dishes in the city (and, likely, the country—maybe even the continent). Nudging onto the podium is another (sadly, now closed) west-side spot, Jitlada, a sliver of a room at Broadway and Granville that delivered a dose of consistency and classics to the faithful.
GOLD: Unchai, 2351 Burrard St.
SILVER: Maenam, 1938 W 4th Ave.
BRONZE: Jitlada, closed
Downlow Chicken.Best Casual
Strip away all the trappings, like fancy (or any) servers, detailed wine lists and St. Marie-designed interiors, and you have the casual restaurant. Either the food is good, or the restaurant empty. And the food at Gold winner Downlow Chicken Shack is so insanely tasty that we doubt the place has ever been open and not busy. Vancouverites line up for a tour de force of fried chicken: and while Nashville hot is the house specialty, a recent detour into jerk sandwich gave one of the judges a moment of stunned reverie with its pure flavour. Second-place winner HK BBQ Master essentially invented the idea of lining up for the cheap and cheerful in town and, thanks to Seth Rogen and David Chang (who popped by the restaurant on the Netflix series Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner), the Richmond temple to BBQ duck and pork has ascended to new levels of busy that we’ve yet to develop words for. Rounding out the order is the gorgeous simplicity of downtown’s Chancho Tortilleria, where new nicer digs have not lost the soul of our best Latin spot: steel tray, fresh housemade tortillas, perfectly slow-roasted pork. Lord, it’s good.
GOLD: Downlow Chicken Shack, 905 Commercial Dr.
SILVER: HK BBQ Master, 4651 Number 3 Rd., Richmond, 604-272-6568
BRONZE: Chancho Tortilleria, 560 Davie St.,
There are few categories tougher for the uninitiated to crack into than the true Korean eatery, but our judges agreed that you can do no better than longtime standard bearer Hanwoori. The Metrotown strip mall location isn’t inspiring and the food can be pricey, but once inside you’re treated to an event that blends the fun of tabletop cooking with dishes like oxtail and bone marrow soup (kkori gomtang)—a bubbling cast-iron cauldron of Korean comfort food—that are the best in town. Taking second is Robson’s Joong Won, which won’t win any prizes for decor but was a welcome surprise for our panel: “Leave your name and go for a stroll—the food is well worth the wait” was their consensus. And third place goes to the OG that is Broadway’s Royal Seoul House, perhaps the city’s most iconic Korean spot: still rock solid, and a great intro for newbies to what classic Korean is all about.
GOLD: Hanwoori, 5740 Imperial St., Burnaby
SILVER: Joong Won, 1329 Robson St., 778-379-4222
BRONZE: Royal Seoul House, 1215 W Broadway
Bauhaus. Photo by Hannah Haaz.Best European
This is a new take on an old category (the ominously named “other European”) and its goal is to capture some of that continental flair that’s neither French nor Italian. And there can be no better poster child representing the need for this than sadly now-closed Gold winner Bauhaus, Uwe Boll’s labour of love with a stated aim of bringing true Michelin-star experience to a city where people wear Lululemon to fancy dinners. In our judges’ eyes, he nailed it—the room may be airy and light, but the high-level fare—think veal with ramp pesto and herbed spaetzle—coming from chef Christian Kuehnel (who cut his teeth at London’s Dinner by Heston Blumenthal) was transportive. We hope to see Herr Boll’s high-wire act open in a new location soon. In second is the Belgian-by-way-of-other-influences force that is Chambar. Nico (BOH) and Karri (FOH) Schuermans’ room celebrated its 15th anniversary last year but it still manages to capture the verve (and crowds) of a place that just opened. And in the Bronze spot is Como Taperia, the ode to the tapas parlours of Barcelona and Madrid that’s hands-down the vibiest spot in town. So much so that it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and overlook the stellar small plates emerging from the Main Street haunt’s small kitchen.
GOLD: Bauhaus, closed
SILVER: Chambar, 568 Beatty St.
BRONZE: Como Taperia, 201 E 7th Ave.
St. Lawrence.Best French
Gallic purists might scoff, but there’s support to the idea that authentic Quebecois cooking as practiced by JC Poirier is closer to true French cooking than any other spot. What’s beyond debate is that Poirier is a chef at the absolute top of his game, overseeing a kitchen that turns out dishes like pot-au-feu and vol-au-vent that are utterly revelatory for the lucky few who manage to snag a reservation at the Powell Street room that is Gold winner St. Lawrence. Playing the role of French brasserie to perfection is Silver winner Au Comptoir where, like a true Parisian boîte, the specials change, carafes of muscadet are ordered at lunch to pair with an endive salad, and a relaxed easiness that eludes most Vancouver spots reigns supreme. Bronze goes to longtime champ Le Crocodile, where insiders know that, despite the staid exterior, the kitchen inside is near flawless in its preparation of classics like the sublime Alsatian onion tart.
GOLD: St. Lawrence, 269 Powell St.
SILVER: Au Comptoir, 2278 W 4th Ave.
BRONZE: Le Crocodile, 909 Burrard St.
Best West Coast
Okay, we’ll be frank: this is always a tricky category—how do you capture the locavore, farm-to-table vibe that’s long been our city’s culinary calling card? You call it West Coast and let the judges loose. This year they gave the #1 nod to the maximalist approach of Boulevard, where sourcing the best local ingredients doesn’t mean that the resulting dishes are twee or spare. Instead, chef Roger Ma crafts the region’s bounty—fish, vegetables and meat—into showstopper dishes that elevate what the area has to offer. Taking Silver is chef Andrea Carlson’s Burdock and Co, frequent Gold winner in the category in years past and in some ways what most people consider the archetype of a West Coast restaurant: sustainable, thoughtful, delicious, caring. Those modifiers could also be used for Bronze medallist Mak N Ming, the Kits spot with an amazing chef’s menu that’s frequently a journey of the Lower Mainland’s greatest hits prepared by the deft touch of chef Makoto Ono.
GOLD: Boulevard, 845 Burrard St.
SILVER: Burdock and Co, 2702 Main St.,
BRONZE: Mak N Ming, 1629 Yew St.
Best Latin American
Ten years ago this was a moribund category, hallmarked by Vancouverites longing for “real” Latin food. What a difference a decade makes—we now have all tranches covered, from sophisticated moles to pinche tacos, and this year the judges decided that Gold goes to the chill atmosphere of Ernesto Gomez’s Chancho Tortilleria. It may have moved to bigger digs around the corner, but a no-nonsense approach to slow-roasted meat pervades: you have only three slightly different options (or one veggie), and it’s served on a tray that’s suitable for a prison riot. Oh—and it’s flipping delicious every single time. Slowly slipping its casual roots is Silver winner La Taqueria, where high-end ingredients, a serious Michelin-starred chef and a killer cocktail program have helped it expand to five locations (and a sixth in Victoria), all with slightly different menus. And Bronze goes to La Mezcaleria, the two-outpost enterprise that creates heaven in a bowl with its queso fundido variations.
SILVER: La Taqueria, several locations, lataqueria.com
BRONZE: La Mezcaleria, 1622 Commercial Dr.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Rinconcito Salvadoreno
For the past few years this category has been a two-operation race, with the twin powerhouses of Cactus Club Cafe and Joey duking it out for the ability to replicate the high-end experience in a growing variety of locales. But this year... nothing’s changed. Cactus Club again takes Gold, Joey, again Silver. The judges continue to marvel at Cactus’s ongoing ability to create a memorable dining experience, be it watching the seaplanes land while tackling a tuna stack at Coal Harbour or a crispy tofu bowl in Nanaimo, the service (thanks to Sebastien Le Goff) and food (Rob Feenie and team) work seamlessly. And Joey should take solace knowing that second place in Vancouver is essentially second place in North America for upscale casual, but one gets the impression the company is too busy dominating new markets—North Van’s Joey Shipyards last fall and, later this year, Houston, Miami and Manhattan Beach—to have much time for handwringing. Notching third is truly local phenom Tacofino, whose new Kits spot makes sure that all the citizens of Lotusland are never far from on-point Mexican food.
GOLD: Cactus Club Cafe, several locations
SILVER: Joey, several locations
BRONZE: Tacofino, several locations
Year in, year out, this is an insanely competitive category with a dozen spots that on any given year might crack the top five. Want proof? Last year, legendary chef Pino Posteraro found himself off the podium for the first time in years (and on his restaurant’s 20-year anniversary, to boot). But you can’t keep a good legend down, and his Cioppino’s is back on top, where it no doubt feels comfortable (in his newly spiffed up room no less). There may be a new fresh pasta spot opening every week, but the judges flock back to the classic and fastidious preparations that come out of chef Pino’s kitchen (a kitchen, we might add, that he helms nearly every night of the year). The same themes—focus, chef in the kitchen every night, insane attention to detail—also describe chef Adam Pegg, whose La Quercia notched Silver this year for its near-perfect encapsulation of regional Italian dining. Taking Bronze is the most gregarious of the bunch: the always (always) packed Osteria Savio Volpe, where the buzzy vibe and collegial atmosphere belie the high-level cooking coming from the open kitchen.
GOLD: Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill and Enoteca, 1133 Hamilton St.
SILVER: La Quercia, 3689 W 4th Ave.
BRONZE: Savio Volpe, 615 Kingsway
Elisa. Photo by Leila Kwok.
Last year saw the very well-funded Elisa debut with an impressive 2nd place finish, despite the fact it had only been open a few months when the voting commenced. And this year its upward trajectory continues, snagging the top spot for TopTable with a very modern take on what a steakhouse is. For starters, despite the myriad of bovine selections, from Wisconsin Holstein to Japanese A5, it actually sort of knocks the non-steak items out of the park too—like a roasted chicken that’s the best in the city. Throw in a first-class bar program (created by current Bartender of the Year Katie Ingram) and a wine list that’s not quite as punitive as the genre usually dictates, and you can see why they’re wearing Gold. Second place goes to longtime champ Hy’s—still the epitome of what a great steakhouse is—great meat, a minimum of fuss… and cheese bread. Bronze goes to Hy’s fancier sibling, Gotham Steakhouse, which (like Elisa) skews a bit more modern while making sure you’re never far from a killer Cali bab or Bordeaux first growth to go with your celebration of striploin.
GOLD: Elisa, 1109 Hamilton St.
SILVER: Hy’s Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar, 637 Hornby St.
BRONZE: Gotham Steakhouse and Bar, 615 Seymour St.
My Shanti.Best Indian
Of all the elements in the Vikram Vij empire—an empire that, in some form or another, has owned this category—it’s South Surrey’s My Shanti that has best held our judges’ attention for the past few years. It wins Gold again this year (for the fourth time) in part because of what the judges describe as an amazingly consistent focus on the best ingredients and technique. Taking Silver is last year’s surprise winner, Swad, which continues to please our judges with its cozy neighbourhood vibe and its broadly appealing menu of regional Indian cuisines. Third place sees a tie between the legendary Vij’s, which needs no introduction (but where you can finally make reservations) and the much more casual Dosa Corner, the Fraserhood spot where the eponymous Punjabi specialty is the order of the day.
GOLD: My Shanti,15869 Croydon Dr., Surrey
SILVER: Swad, 1734 Marine Dr., West Vancouver
HONOURABLE MENTION: Sachdeva Sweets
It’s safe to say that, but for the orange elephant in the room, Mott 32—the genre-disrupting spot that happens to be located in that hotel (“adjacent!” they say) that begins with a T and ends with Rump—would have been on this list when it first opened. It arrives this year at the very top thanks to recognition that its extraordinary dishes—applewood-smoked Peking duck, Maine lobster har gow, Iberico pork hot and sour dumplings—expand the confines of traditional Chinese fare. That it also has our Sommelier of the Year, Robert Stelmachuk, creating the most interesting pairings in town is just gold leaf on top.
The surprise Silver winner is newcomer New Fishport Seafood Bistro, whose nondescript Southeast Marine Drive location is greatly enhanced by the presence of Sam Leung, Dynasty’s longtime chef who plays the classics—he’s a maestro with king crab—like Cole Porter. And, speaking of Dynasty, the West Broadway spot is rewarded with Bronze for year-in, year-out being the city’s most reliable interpreter of seafood showstoppers like pan-fried lobster with ginger and green onions.
GOLD: Mott 32, closed
SILVER: New Fishport Seafood Bistro, 620 SE Marine Dr.
BRONZE: Dynasty, 108–777 W Broadway
Mr. Red Cafe.Best Vietnamese
This category has seen a raft of new, modern rooms enter into the fray, but it’s the homey, reliable, always on point standby that is Mr. Red Cafe that holds on to first place for yet another year. Both the Kitsilano and East Hastings locations channel that “you’re-part-of-the family” vibe when you enter and while prices have crept up in recent years—the famed bánh mi is now $7—they’re still a steal compared to the competition. All of the above could also be said about our second-place finisher, which is not surprising given that Hanoi Old Quarter is the new Victoria Street spot from Mr. Red’s Rose Nguyen and Hong Duong. The menu pretty much borrows the Northern Vietnamese dishes from Mr. Red’s menu, but when that means more of the divine bún cha hà nôi, a meatball and pork-belly wonder, then who cares? Rounding out the order is another newcomer: Richmond’s swanky Co’m. If the above two are a cozy couch, Co’m, with its slick design and Glasfurd and Walker branding, is B&B Italia. Luckily the food is likewise on point—and with a proper cocktail program to boot.
GOLD: Mr. Red Cafe, 2131 E Hastings St.
SILVER: Hanoi Old Quarter, 5207 Victoria Dr.
BRONZE: Co’m, 120, 7688 Alderbridge Way, Richmond,
Blue Water Cafe. Photo by Leila Kwok.Best Seafood
Two giants duked it out for top spot in what is, in some ways, a defining category for a coastal city. This year it’s the iconic Blue Water Cafe reclaiming the Gold medal that was its birthright for so many years. They did it the way only a perfectly humming kitchen can—cranking it up a notch, tightening the focus, nailing the service. Only a millimetre behind in Silver is Boulevard, now iconic in its own right, where chef Roger Ma fully hopped into the big shoes of chef Alex Chen and proved that the depth of Boulevard’s kitchen seemingly has no limits. In third spot is Ancora, which sits on hallowed seafood ground (C Restaurant was the former occupant) and continues to impress with its high-end sushi service and its melding of Peruvian and Japanese influences when it comes to its inventive fish dishes.
GOLD: Blue Water Cafe, 1095 Hamilton St.
SILVER: Boulevard, 845 Burrard St.
BRONZE: Ancora, 1600 Howe St.
Longtail. Best Pan-Asian
The promised food revolution is coming a bit slower to New West than had been predicted, but Angus An’s uber casual Longtail Kitchen, though it may look like your run-of-the mill food court outpost, has consistently wowed our judges since opening. It takes Gold again this year with its ability to capture all that is great in this category: a low price point and dishes like the Singaporean cereal crab or the epic noodles of traditional Malaysian char kway teow.
Taking Silver is Ugly Dumpling, also the Silver medal winner for Best New last year, a jewel box of a room on Commercial that cranks out one of the most eclectic, ever-changing menus in the city in a kitchen so tiny that it defies belief.
Rounding out the podium is Gastown’s Pidgin, a spot that flies under the radar—but not for our judges, who love chef Wesley Young’s fantastically precise take on Asian-French cooking.
GOLD: Longtail Kitchen, 116–810 Quayside Dr., New Westminster
SILVER: Ugly Dumpling, 1590 Commercial Dr.
BRONZE: Pidgin, 350 Carrall St.
Things have been hopping in the capital city for the last little while, with a slew of new rooms (many delayed by COVID, unfortunately) opening. But, for the second year in a row, the Gold goes to the decidedly low-fi Wild Mountain, comfortably ensconced in equally low-fi Sooke. Run by longtime residents Oliver Kienast and Brooke Fader, the menu follows the seasons, artfully moving from fresh English pea soup to housemade charcuteries as the weather changes. It’s become the definition of “Worth the Drive.” Coming in second is arguably the buzziest new room on the Island: Nowhere, a new spot from the team behind the beloved Hanks. An ever-changing menu and a combination of elevated cooking (think mini grilled cheese with caviar) and understated prices have made this the toughest reservation in town. Bronze goes to long-time fave Part and Parcel, which is happiest in full casual mode with counter ordering and a sleepy Quadra Street locale that’s the very definition of a perfect neighbourhood hangout.
GOLD: Wild Mountain, 1831 Maple Ave., Sooke
SILVER: Nowhere *A Restaurant, 1001 Douglas St.
BRONZE: Part and Parcel, 2656 Quadra St.
Waterfront Wines.Best of the Okanagan
Well, let’s make that an even dozen, shall we? That’s how many straight years Mark Filatow’s Waterfront has topped this category. So, what’s the secret? Perhaps it’s that, while Filatow embraces the crazy local bounty like so many of his other colleagues, he consistently aims just a little bit higher than the competition in terms of ambition and theme—while by no means formal, Waterfront still seems a lock for a special dinner, while never lapsing into stuffy (you can stop by and pay $20 for a burger and a glass of rosé at happy hour). Finishing second may be the strongest challenger that Waterfront has seen in a while—the new Home Block at CedarCreek: a gorgeous, purpose-built room in the winery overhauled by a healthy dose of von Mandl money. Here, chef Neil Taylor has been transplanted from Vancouver to play with a swanky new wood-fired grill that makes this spot airy in the summer and cozy in the winter. Bronze is a tie between Liquidity Bistro (now also owned by Mr. von Mandl) and Tinhorn Creek’s popular Miradoro, helmed by Geoff Van Geest.
GOLD: Waterfront, #104 1180 Sunset Dr., Kelowna
SILVER: Home Block at CedarCreek, 5445 Lakeshore Rd., Kelowna
HONOURABLE MENTION: Row Fourteen
Alta Bistro.Best Whistler
It’s a repeat for the team from Alta Bistro, who have always shied away from the flash and dash of the main village and instead built a loyal following of those who appreciate the restaurant’s non-resort ethos. That means a non-hokey approach to local cuisine, a wine list that skews esoteric and a vibe that blends professional service with the “I’ve skied all morning” brand of friendliness that Whistler is known for. The silver is shared between two different stalwarts: the first is Araxi, a multi-time gold winner in this category for its rabid attention to detail and its perfect fit for the well-heeled traveller. And then there’s the Grill Room at the Chateau Whistler, a spot that under the direction of chefs Isabel Chung and Derek Bendig continues to defy expectation for a large resort dining room at every turn.
GOLD: Alta Bistro, 4319 Main St.
Best of the Neighbourhoods
Hats off to these local heroes: the best local spots in every Vancouver's 'hood. READ MORE▸▸▸