It's here! Our 29th annual celebration of the best restaurants in the city.

Our judging panel spent the year feasting their way through the city—from rooms with starched white tablecloths to joints with waxed-paper wrappers—to bring you the definitive list of the best places to eat right now. ra2018-019.jpg

Restaurant of the Year

St. Lawrence brings home Québécois comfort food—and a pair of Gold medal wins. READ MORE ▸▸▸

★★★

St. Lawrence 269 Powell St. stlawrencerestaurant.com ra2018-018.jpg

Chef of the Year

Chef Alex Chen employs precision and creativity in equal measure. READ MORE ▸▸▸

★★★

Alex Chen

ra2018-008.jpg Best Producer

All ingredients are important. Every chef will tell you so. But just between us, some are more important than others. Let’s take Lycopersicon esculentum, the tomato. When it’s good, it’s divine, and when it’s not, every cretin on Yelp will be able to name its inadequacies (and then shout them from the rooftops). That’s why Angus An, Andrea Carlson, Adam Pegg, Lucais Syme, David Gunawan and a host of other chefs trust Milan Djordjevich (a.k.a. the Tomato Man) to carefully pluck his perfect specimens, load them in his truck and twice weekly make the four-and-a-half-hour trek from his Stoney Paradise Farm near Kelowna (stopping only occasionally to fly-fish the Coquihalla River) to supply them with imperfect perfection. And while he’s at it, he’ll probably bring some superlative beans or perfect Coronation grapes. For a thoughtful cadre of Lower Mainland chefs, his Stoney Paradise is the farm in farm-to-table.

★★★

Stoney Paradise Kelowna facebook.com/StoneyParadise

ra2018-001.jpg

Best New Restaurant

With its homestyle Québécois cooking, JC Poirier's St. Lawrence won judges' (and Vancouverites') hearts this year. READ MORE ▸▸▸

★★★

St. Lawrence 269 Powell St. stlawrencerestaurant.com

★★

Botanist 1038 Canada Pl. botanistrestaurant.com

Mak N Ming 1629 Yew St. maknming.com Honourable Mentions YuwaFayuca ra2018-013.jpg

Best New Design

The design group Ste. Marie captures yet another Gold—they’ve won Best New Design for five out of the last eight years—for Botanist and its garden-meets-gold design. The transformation of the underutilized former Oru space into a bustling and beautiful art deco restaurant illustrates that principal Craig Stanghetta appears to have the Midas touch. “The material palette is rich in texture and executed beautifully,” says judge Denise Ashmore of Project 22 Design. Close second went to Scott Cohen for his design of Fayuca, a take on Northern Mexican design that won the hearts of the judges for its attention to detail. “The depth of consideration in the project was remarkable,” says judge and architect Marianne Amodio, “from the understanding of the history of the place to the investigation of traditional construction methodologies.”

★★★

Botanist 1038 Canada Pl. botanistrestaurant.com

★★

Fayuca 1009 Hamilton St. fayuca.ca

Honourable Mentions La GlaceLa Taqueria (Hornby), St. Lawrence

premiercrew.jpg

Premier Crew

They're the hosts, servers, sommeliers and bartenders that can make a dining experience truly magic. READ MORE ▸▸▸

★★★

Eryn Dorman Jen Mansell Julie Sopuck Michael Ziff ra2018-007.jpg

Lifetime Achievement Award

He may already own three Okanagan wineries, but this innovative proprietor is just getting started. READ MORE ▸▸▸

★★★

Anthony von Mandl ra2018-017.jpg

Bartender of the Year

At Grapes and Soda, Satoshi Yonemori brings fresh, innovative flavours behind the bar. READ MORE ▸▸▸

★★★

Satoshi Yonemori ra2018-016.jpg

Sommelier of the Year

As wine director for the city's Fairmont hotels, Jill Spoor has immeasurable influence over how we interact with wine. READ MORE ▸▸▸

★★★

Jill Spoor

Best French

This category encompasses two very different approaches to French cuisine. Emerging on top is the classical perfection of Michel Jacob’s Le Crocodile, with proper service, starched napkins and expert takes on classics like lobster thermidor. But coming up fast is the—gasp—elevation of Québécois cooking at St. Lawrence, a cuisine undeniably French in inspiration, but equal part habitant in execution. Rounding out the group is the note-perfect brasserie that is Au Comptoir, with its zinc bar and authentic Gallic vibe that imparts a little Pigalle savoire faire into crunchy Kitsilano.

★★★

Le Crocodile 909 Burrard St. lecrocodilerestaurant.com

★★

St. Lawrence 269 Powell St. stlawrencerestaurant.com

Au Comptoir 2278 W 4th Ave. aucomptoir.ca

Honourable Mentions L’AbattoirBacchus

ra2018-014.jpg

Best Upscale

Holy shakeup, Batman. Chef David Hawksworth’s eponymous restaurant has owned this category since its opening. But this year it’s the second act of Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, Alex Chen’s temple to all things seafood in the Sutton Place Hotel, that the judges felt had found its groove four years after opening. “The combo of Alex Chen and Roger Ma may be the best in town,” noted one judge. Grabbing Silver was the uncompromising take on Italian that is Yaletown’s Cioppino’s, where there’s “a focus put on every angle that’s without equal” in the city. And taking Bronze is Scott Jaeger’s Burnaby stalwart the Pear Tree, which year in year out our judges rave about in terms of offering consistency and service while delivering some of the region’s best dishes, far from the limelight of downtown Vancouver.

★★★

Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar 845 Burrard St. boulevardvancouver.ca

★★

Cioppino’s 1133 Hamilton St. cioppinosyaletown.com

The Pear Tree 4120 Hastings St., Burnaby peartreerestaurant.net

Honourable Mentions CinCinHawksworth

ra2018-009.jpg

Best Steakhouse

Once a diva, always a diva. Hy’s schools Vancouver in old-school style with its Gold-worthy steaks, legendary cheese toast and always-impeccable front of house. Sit at the bar and have a dirty martini while you wait for your table—and table-side service. Coming in a close Silver, Gotham reminds us all that a perfect steak, simply served with salt, pepper and untold amounts of butter, can be a work of art. And Bronze winner the Roof impressed judges with its modern and fun takes on steakhouse classics.

★★★

Hy’s 637 Hornby St. hyssteakhouse.com

★★

Gotham 615 Seymour St. gothamsteakhouse.com

The Roof 1032 Alberni St. glowbalgroup.com/the-roof

Honourable Mentions Black and BlueJoe Fortes

Best Italian

Everyone needs a vacation, and evidently that’s what last year was for Cioppino’s, because Chef Pino is now back in the very comfortable Gold Medal position thanks to some subtle tweaks to the menu and the fact that he’s the rare head chef who’s in the kitchen almost every night. Hot on their heels is last year’s Best New RestaurantSavio Volpe—whose more casual approach to relaxed-but-focused Italian has kept its reservation books packed since day one. Rounding out the medallists is Lucais Syme’s Cinara, a downtown spot beloved by those in the industry that’s at risk of losing its reputation as a hidden gem.

★★★

Cioppino’s 1133 Hamilton St. cioppinosyaletown.com

★★

Savio Volpe 615 Kingsway saviovolpe.com

Cinara 350 W Pender St. cinara.ca

Honourable Mentions CinCinAsk for Luigi

ra2018-012.jpg

Best Patisserie

We change the name of this category every year—it’s been Bakery, it’s been Last Course—but under any name, Thomas Haas just keeps winning it. Evidently his skill with cakes and chocolate and tarts is the real deal, because this marks his eighth win. But the footfalls of Christophe Bonzon and his Burnaby Chez Christophe are close behind—the former CinCin pastry chef wowed the judges with his rotating menu of delicate creations. And a surprise third is Dundarave’s Temper, helmed by Stephen Hodge, who, not surprisingly, spent a while working under Thomas Haas before opening his own spot a few years ago.

★★★

Thomas Haas 2539 W Broadway thomashaas.com

★★

Chez Christophe 4717 Hastings St., Burnaby christophe-chocolat.com

Temper 2409 Marine Dr., West Vancouver temperpastry.com

Honourable Mentions ThierryBeaucoup

Best Brunch

We’re willing to stand in the rain for it, so of course it deserves its own category. Burdock and Co. leads the fray thanks to its small but eclectic group of dishes. Crispy fried chicken with dill pickle mayo and a poached egg is something our judges swooned over. Yes, there’s avocado toast at Silver surprise Belgard Kitchen, but there’s also the infamous Belgard bacon, a skillet sizzler of maple-bourbon pork belly with maple caramel. We dare you not to drool. And Merchant’s Workshop more than earned its Bronze for chef/owner Doug Stephen’s clean yet comforting fare (hot chicken FTW).

★★★

Burdock and Co. 2702 Main St. burdockandco.com

★★

Belgard Kitchen 55 Dunlevy Ave. belgardkitchen.com

Merchant’s Workshop 1590 Commercial Dr., merchantsworkshop.ca

Honourable Mentions Café Medina, Au Comptoir

ra2018-003.jpg

Best Japanese

Chef Masayoshi Baba’s culinary focus is as sharp as his knives, and he wins Gold this year for his elegantly adventurous exploration of omakase dining at his eponymous Fraser Street restaurant. Masayoshi’s thoughtful expressions of seasonality combine grand theatrics with the most delicate detailing over the course of an exquisite gastronomic journey. Silver winner Kishimoto elevates the neighbourhood dining experience with chef Akira Kishimoto’s impeccably executed dishes that are elaborately plated with a sense of artful whimsy. Judges awarded pocket-sized Tetsu Sushi Bar with Bronze, recognizing the care, skill and attention that goes into crafting pitch-perfect sashimi and nigiri.

★★★

Masayoshi 4376 Fraser St. masayoshi.ca

★★

Kishimoto 2054 Commercial Dr. kishimotorestaurant.com

Tetsu Sushi Bar 775 Denman St.

Honourable Mentions Sushi Bar MaumiDosanko

Best Pan-Asian

Accented by a sense of delicious playfulness, Southeast Asian street food is vibrant, bold and lively. Longtail Kitchen tops the podium with a menu by Angus An and Justin Cheung that’s plucked straight from hawker stalls in warmer climes, featuring dishes like Malaysian laksa, Filipino Bicol Express and Singaporean cereal butter prawns. Chic and modern Torafuku wins Silver for its sharply executed lineup of sharing plates neatly paired with inventive cocktails. And Kissa Tanto’s elegant Japanese-Italian dishes set against a sultry supper-club backdrop garner the Bronze.

★★★

Longtail Kitchen 126-810 Quayside Dr., New Westminster longtailkitchen.com

★★

Torafuku 958 Main St. torafuku.ca

Kissa Tanto 263 E Pender St. kissatanto.com

Honourable Mentions Laksa KingFat Mao Noodles

ra2018-006.jpg

Best Thai

It’s fitting that earlier this year chef Angus An welcomed his mentor, the legendary David Thompson, to cook with him for a few nights at Gold winner Maenam, because the West 4th stalwart has quietly and easily become one of the finest Thai restaurants in the world. Not surprisingly, some of An’s competition came from himself, with his newly opened lo-fi, pad Thai-centric Granville Island spot, Sen Pad Thai, taking Silver. Sneaking in for third place is the criminally under-visited Jitlada, the Broadway and Granville room with an elegant and affordable take on Thai staples.

★★★

Maenam 1938 W 4th Ave. maenam.ca

★★

Sen Pad Thai 7-1666 Johnston St. senpadthai.com

Jitlada 1459 W Broadway jitlada.ca

Honourable Mentions Sawasdee ThaiKin Kao

ra2018-020.jpg

Best Vietnamese

Three Golds in three years means Mr. Red Café is doing something right, and that something is the Northern Vietnamese fare produced by owners Rose Nguyen and her chef husband Hong Duong. Dishes like the young rice cakes with ground pork and prawn have made Tuesday night lineups irritatingly common at both locations. Meanwhile, Chau Veggie Express repeats last year’s snag of Silver thanks to its vibrant and healthy vegetarian menu. And newcomer Bánh Mi Très Bon shows that Richmond has more than just great Chinese food, with its organic pho, house-made bread and Bronze-worthy macarons (yes, macarons).

★★★

Mr. Red Café 2680 W Broadway 2131 E Hastings St.

★★

Chau Veggie Express 5052 Victoria Dr. chowatchau.ca

Bánh Mi Très Bon 1840-4720 McClelland Rd., Richmond banhmitresbon.ca

Honourable Mentions Hái Phong, Bun Cha Ca Hoang Yen

ra2018-010.jpg

Best Ramen

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. This category has always been hotly contested and cause for long debate among our judges. Marutama topped this year’s list for its silky, deeply aromatic chicken-based and seaweed-laced broth. Well, that and the mega karaage chicken (squeeze the lemon slice over it; you won’t be sorry). No surprise that the lightly salted pork-based broth at the always-popular Hokkaido Ramen Santouka grabbed Silver (although those weird and wonderful green cream sodas might have lent a helping hand). Much-under-sung Ramen Danbo rounds out the podium thanks to its full-bodied and creamy tonkotsu.

★★★

Marutama Ra-men 780 Bidwell St. marutama.ca

★★

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka 1690 Robson St. santouka.co.jp/en

Ramen Danbo 1833 W 4th Ave. ramendanbo.com

Honourable Mentions The Ramenman, Motomachi Shokudo

ra2018-004.jpg

Best Indian

All that glitters is Gold for My Shanti as it takes top honours in this category for the second straight year. Vikram Vij’s eclectic menu reads like a culinary road map of his travels through India, showcasing specialties from lesser-known regions of the country with uncompromising flavour. Larger digs and a cocktail bar to lubricate late-night snacking contributed to Rangoli’s Silver award; judges praised Meeru Dhalwala’s value-driven slate of lush and hearty home-style dishes. Sachdeva Sweets wins Bronze for its hyper-authentic take on traditional Punjabi fare, ranging from tandoori and curries to chaat and a staggering array of desserts.

★★★

My Shanti 15869 Croydon Dr., Surrey vijs.ca/my-shanti

★★

Rangoli 1480 W 11th Ave. vijs.ca/vijs-rangoli

Sachdeva Sweets 118-7500 120 St., Surrey sachdevasweets.com

Honourable Mentions SwadApna Chaat House

Best Chinese

Vancouver and Richmond are packed with restaurants that practise the high art of Hong Kong-style Cantonese cuisine at stratospheric levels, but what sets Gold winner Dynasty Seafood apart is chef Sam Leung’s willingness to explore new ideas and flavours. The famous typhoon shelter crab with sticky rice is liberally dusted with garlicky toasted bread crumbs to provide lively crunch, spare ribs are braised with apple cider vinegar for rounded tart sweetness, Canadian lobster and crab tomalley is carefully extracted to serve as the creamy base for braised tofu. Silver winner Golden Paramount excels at dim sum in a classical style and will soon be moving to new, much fancier digs. And Bronze winner Hoitong Seafood is a tiny hidden gem that channels old-money Hong Kong with private-club-style dining.

★★★

Dynasty Seafood 108-777 W Broadway dynasty-restaurant.ca

★★

Golden Paramount 8071 Park Rd., Richmond restaurantwebx.com/GoldenParamount

Hoitong Seafood 8191 Westminster Hwy., Richmond restaurantwebx.com/Hoitong

Honourable Mentions Jade Seafood, Yue Delicacy

ra2018-015.jpg

Best West Coast

So what the heck is West Coast? Well, our judges know it when they see it. It’s that unique blend of locavorism, skill and a willingness to break the rules—three things that perfectly sum up Andrea Carlson’s approach to cooking at Gold winner Burdock and Co. Or it’s Chris Whittaker’s embrace of bison, game and other distinctly Western ingredients to wow the diners at runner-up Forage. And it’s definitely the nexus of seasonality and ingenuity that marks the tasting menu at third-place finisher Mak N Ming. See, it’s simple.

★★★

Burdock and Co. 2702 Main St. burdockandco.com

★★

Forage 1300 Robson St. foragevancouver.com

Mak N Ming 1629 Yew St. maknming.com

Honourable Mentions Bows and ArrowsRoyal Dinette

Best Latin

Looking at this list, it’s amazing to think that even a few years ago it was common to hear the whine: “We have no good Mexican in No Fun City.” Quality has never been a problem with Gold Medal winner Molli Café—the Saturday-only lamb consommé is legendary, and they create little low-key taco miracles daily—but their location on a tough-to-access section of Burrard has plagued them since day one (and they’ve noted they’ll likely be closing shop soon). The location of our Silver medallist, El Santo, is New West, and while that might have been a hindrance in years past, these days the Royal City’s food scene is hopping (thanks mostly to El Santo’s great mix of cocktails and casual Mexican made with top-quality ingredients). And our third-place finisher—the newcomer Fayuca—is the most ambitious of them all, with an intense focus on Mexico’s heretofore locally unknown cuisine from the north Pacific coast.

★★★

Molli Café 1225 Burrard St. mollicafe.com

★★

El Santo 680 Columbia St., New Westminster elsanto.ca

Fayuca 1009 Hamilton St. fayuca.ca

Honourable Mentions CacaoLos Cuervos

ra2018-011.jpg

Best Bar

In resurrecting this category, judges sipped their way through a broad spectrum of stand-alone spots offering choice libations. Gold winner Grapes and Soda has carved out a unique niche for itself as Vancouver’s first exclusively natural wine bar. Soulful and laid-back, it offers wine director Kieran Fanning’s thoughtfully curated list of artisanal organic, biodynamic bottles alongside bar manager Satoshi Yonemori’s impeccably nuanced cocktails. Upstairs at Campagnolo snags Silver for its speakeasy feel and a focus on classic cocktails crafted by the dynamic duo of Peter Van de Reep and Rob Scope. Bronze goes to the Narrow Lounge, which is (well, was) quite possibly the city’s best-kept bar secret; you’d enter through a graffiti-covered stairwell when the red light beckoned and be enveloped in its ultra-cool underground charm.

★★★

Grapes and Soda 1541 W 6th Ave. grapesandsoda.ca

★★

Upstairs at Campagnolo 1020 Main St., campagnolorestaurant.ca

The Narrow Lounge 1898 Main St. narrowlounge.com

Honourable Mentions UvaThe Shameful Tiki

ra2018-005.jpg

Best Seafood

After skirting around Bronze for a few years, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar has upset the status quo maintained by Blue Water Cafe since 2008 and earned its first Gold. Chef Alex Chen, in addition to being the first B.C. chef to claim the national title at the Golden Medal Plates this year, serves up a mean linguine alle vongole and has a dab hand with ling cod. Blue Water Cafe earned a more-than-respectable Silver for chef Frank Pabst’s consistently beautiful seafood, while the Peruvian-influenced shellfish platters at Ancora no doubt help maintain its podium standing.

★★★

Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar 845 Burrard St. boulevardvancouver.ca

★★

Blue Water Cafe 1095 Hamilton St. bluewatercafe.net

Ancora 1600 Howe St. ancoradining.com

Honourable Mentions Landmark HotpotOddfish

Best Dim Sum

Judges lauded Golden Paramount’s understated, meticulous dim sum presentation, awarding it Gold for chef/owner May Chau’s flawless execution of Cantonese classics. Chau takes a reductive approach, distilling each of her delicately crafted dishes to elegantly spotlight top-quality ingredients, such as steamed dumplings with crab and pork, and shatteringly crisp daikon spring rolls. Upscale Dynasty Seafood earns Silver for dim sum head chef Garley Leung’s refined exploration of inventive flavour combinations like flaky baked barbecue pork pies with lemon, and luscious crab, shrimp and tomato dumplings. Kirin in Richmond is singled out for Bronze, ever consistent in championing seasonal local products.

★★★

Golden Paramount 8071 Park Rd., Richmond restaurantwebx.com/GoldenParamount

★★

Dynasty Seafood 108-777 W Broadway, dynasty-restaurant.ca

Kirin 7900 Westminster Hwy., Richmond, kirinrestaurants.com

Honourable Mentions Yue Delicacy, Red Star Seafood (Granville)

ra2018-021.jpg

Best Chain

We live in a golden age of chains, in which even small operations are looking at expanding into multiple outlets—and if they need to look for guidance, they can do no better than this year’s Gold winner. There can be no doubt that Cactus Club Cafe’s mix of quality and consistency has it residing at the top of the profitability food chain in any number of Canadian cities (Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto), but it’s the home base with its mix of jaw-dropping locations (Coal Harbour, English Bay) and innovative cooking (Ash Street test kitchen) that delivers the top spot. Ironically, much the same could be said about Silver medallist Joey, which would win this category if it were up against anyone other than Cactus. Rounding out the group is the more local Tacofino, which added a Michelin-starred chef (Stefan Hartmann), and still packs ’em in from downtown to Yaletown to Hastings-Sunrise with a blend of casual Mexican fare that helped reinvigorate Latin cuisine in this city.

★★★

Cactus Club Cafe Various locations cactusclubcafe.com

★★

Joey Various locations joeyrestaurants.com

Tacofino Various locations tacofino.com

Honourable Mentions NubaThe Flying Pig

Best Pizzeria

The heady days of a new pizza spot opening every month are long behind us, and we’ve settled into the enviable position of being a city where you’re never more than a short walk from great pie. But the way our judges see it, no one is luckier than the residents of Commercial Drive, because they can stroll to Gold winner Via Tevere for the perfect combination of chew, char and cheese. Close behind are the Gastowners, who can feast on the “we don’t cut our” pizzas at Nicli Antica, and then those willing to cram themselves into JC Poirier’s tiny take on greatness—Pizzeria Farina.

★★★

Via Tevere 1190 Victoria Dr. viateverepizzeria.com

★★

Nicli Antica 62 E Cordova St. niclipizzeria.com

Pizzeria Farina 915 Main St. pizzeriafarina.com

Honourable Mentions Corduroy Pie Co.Bufala

ra2018-002.jpg

Best Victoria

It’s a repeat win for Cliff Leir’s stellar Agrius, which brings a mélange of elements—great bakery, killer cocktails and laser focus of locavorism—and serves them up in the capital city’s swankiest room. Taking Silver is Kunal Ghose’s two-location Fishhook, where the chef continues his mastery of all things seafood at an approachable price point. And ultra-quaint Quadra Street gem Part and Parcel takes Bronze with its low-key but serious food vibe.

★★★

Agrius 732 Yates St. agriusrestaurant.com

★★

Fishhook 2656 Quadra St. fishhookvic.com

Part and Parcel 2656 Quadra St. partandparcel.ca

Honourable Mentions Chorizo and Co.Pizzeria Prima Strada

Best Whistler

It’s happened only once before that Araxi didn’t win Gold (in 2009, when Bearfoot Bistro took the honours). This time, it’s thanks to chef Isabel Chung of Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s the Grill Room. Chung wowed the judges with her brilliant forest-, farm-, field- and fish-to-fork menu that includes the likes of cedar-cured ivory salmon with apple cream. Araxi and its new chef Quang Dang is still getting a lot of love with Silver, while Alta Bistro, the perennial hipster of the group, shows it can still medal with the best of them.

★★★

The Grill Room 4599 Chateau Blvd. fairmont.com/whistler/dining/grillroom

★★

Araxi 110-4222 Village Sq. araxi.com

Alta Bistro 104-4319 Main St. altabistro.com

Honourable Mentions Bearfoot BistroBar Oso

ra2018-023.jpg

Best Okanagan

There are three certainties in this world: death, taxes and that Mark Filatow’s Waterfront Wines will win this category (this year marks nine wins in a row). And while new restaurants continue to pop up, none can match Filatow’s blend of artistry and inventiveness all wrapped in a cloak of informality. Taking Silver is the resurgence of a classic—Rod Butter’s Raudz, one of the Valley’s pioneers and proof that its best days are still ahead. And rounding out the podium: the always classy Old Vines at Quails’ Gate winery.

★★★

Waterfront Wines 104-1180 Sunset Dr., Kelowna waterfrontrestaurant.ca

★★

Raudz 1560 Water St., Kelowna raudz.com

Old Vines 3303 Boucherie Rd., Kelowna quailsgate.com/dine

Honourable Mentions MiradoroFront St. Brasserie

ra2018-022.jpg

Best of the Neighbourhoods

These neighbourhood spots offer great food—and an insight into the locals who live there. READ MORE ▸▸▸