Best Casual Chain 2015

Best Casual Chain winners of Vancouver Magazine's 26th Annual Restaurant Awards

Best Casual Chain winners of Vancouver Magazine’s 26th Annual Restaurant Awards

  • Gold: Cactus Club Cafe
  • Silver: Hapa Izakaya
  • Bronze: Earls
  • Honourable Mentions: Joey, Guu

 Ambitious expansion plans (including a debut Toronto location this year) haven’t robbed Cactus Club Cafe (Gold) of its leading edge; it remains “head and shoulders above” in its category, say our judges, thanks to executive chef Rob Feenie and sommelier Sebastien Le Goff, who see no reason why the masses shouldn’t have the chance to eat and drink like urban sophisticates. The short-rib sandwich is an exquisite mess, made to feel highfalutin with an accompanying glass of B.C. cab franc. Hapa Izakaya’s (Silver) four Vancouver locations are as consistent as can be, and the chainlet’s stunningly generous happy hour menu (scores of half-price dishes, plus discounted wine and draft beer) makes it ultra-affordable to get one’s fill of ebi mayo and agedashi tofu. The Test Kitchen program at Earls (Bronze) has played no small part in improving its game, although the results are only available at select locations right now. Once service standards catch up to the menu, it could be unstoppable. Honourable Mentions: Joey, Guu