Eaters Gotta Eat: Kissa Tanto and Meo Co-Owner Tannis Ling’s Fave Places to Eat

She started Bao Bei, too, but there's only so much room in one headline. Here's where the acclaimed Vancouver restaurateur loves to grab a bite.

Style and substance—that’s what you get at every restaurant touched by the hand of Tannis Ling. It’s omnipresent at Meo, Chinatown’s lavishly cool new step-back-in-time cocktail bar; same with Michelin-starred Kissa Tanto upstairs, and modern Chinese mainstay Bao Bei nearby. With this trifecta of culinary jewels in her back pocket, does Ling actually eat anywhere else? You bet.

Photo: Mark Yammine

Where Restaurateur Tannis Ling Likes to Eat in Vancouver

Bar Haifa

410 W. Georgia

The savoury-sweet Labneh Brûlée starter with harissa and feta is Ling’s must-order at this new-ish Middle Eastern spot. Smash the brûléed sugar covering, slather the dip on warm pita and you’re good to go. “It’s got a tasty cheese vibe going on,” she says. “I also love the sunchoke karaage, and they have a great smelt dish. Not enough people eat smelt these days! In Chinese cuisine, we eat little crispy-crunchy fish with peanuts as a snack. At Haifa, they deep-fry the smelt and serve it with toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce.”

a table covered in middle eastern food
Bar Haifa

Lucky Taco

1685 Yew St. and 8547 River District Crossing

“I love their quesa birria,” she says of Lucky’s taco with braised lamb shoulder, pickled jalapeno, cilantro and a little rich consommé. “They also have a delicious margarita called a Mezcal Inferno with verdita, which is a mix of pineapple, cilantro and lime juice. It’s really herbaceous and tropical, then smoky with the mezcal.” 

Lucky Taco. Photo: Jonathan Norton

Bún Chả Cá Hoang Yen

5155 Victoria Dr.

This beloved Vietnamese spot is a family-fave destination for its famous
Bún Chả Cá fish cake soup in aromatic dill broth. “I also have a trick,” Ling divulges. “They recently started offering the soup with crab broth—so you can switch out the fish broth with crab broth. It’s really thick, filling and so delicious.” Noted.

Cadeaux Bakery

172 Powell St.

“Normally I don’t like cake, but my friend who runs Cadeaux makes the best in the city. It’s the only cake I eat.” Her go-tos: carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and Black Forest cake with Chantilly cream and tangy sour cherry compote. “Usually I don’t even like chocolate and fruit, but it’s not too sweet and very moist.”

The Keefer

135 Keefer St.

I usually drink wine, but if I’m drinking cocktails, I find myself at The Keefer because they’ve kept their program really up to date,” says Ling. “Recently I had a delicious bitter melon cocktail there. I’ve had a bit of an obsession with bitter melon juice. It sounds disgusting, but it’s actually dessert-like with a caramelized sugar profile. It’s a little hard to work with, so being able to make a cocktail out of that takes real talent.” 

an artful cocktail
Keefer Bar

The Pie Shoppe

1875 Powell St.

Yes, there’s pie, but there’s also “one of the best pizzas in the city. They always take the seasons into consideration and they always offer a nice big salad. The last pizza we ate there had nettle, feta and pistachio on it… delicious. They have classics like margherita and pepperoni with spicy honey.”

Sushi Hil

3330 Main St.

Mount Pleasant’s Sushi Hil omakase menu is fast becoming a fave around town. “The foie gras chawanmushi stood out to me… I usually find foie gras too rich, but they use just a tiny bit and it gently flavours the rest of the egg custard. It was absolutely delicious.”

a selection of japanese lunch items on a tray
Sushi Hil.

The Fish Man

8391 Alexandra Rd. #1170, Richmond

Here, it’s all about the stir-fried conch. “I don’t think it’s on the menu but it’s on their Fresh Sheet all the time. It’s done in a very classic Cantonese way with green onion, a little bit of soy and shaoxing—very simple, very good.”

Fish Man. Photo by Mark Yuen.

Alvin’s Garden

4850 Imperial St, Burnaby

Ling heads to Burnaby for their tea-smoked duck and a side of spicy cauliflower. “They’re quite famous for the cauliflower, which comes in a big wooden barrel. It’s delicious with mostly Hunan flavours, garlic and a lot of pickled chilis.”

Bar Tartare

54 Alexander St.

Everybody’s loving Juice Bar’s new iteration, Bar Tartare, with its stellar wine list and laid-back vibe—Ling included. “With the menu always changing, it’s never boring. I also love the atmosphere, how casual it is. Lindsay [Otto] who runs it is great. And they always offer different wine options to try before you settle on one.”

Kam Wai Dim Sum

249 East Pender St.

Steps away from Kissa Tanto and Meo in Chinatown is Kam Wai, a local fixture which has been open for over 30 years. “They do great, affordable dim sum and the staff eat there almost everyday. I always go in for the congee.”

Say Hey Cafe and Deli

156 E. Pender St.

“Best sandwiches in the city, hands down.” Ling orders The Doofer, packed with spicy roast turkey, aged white cheddar, bacon, shredduce (shredded lettuce, obvs), finely shaved red onion, smoky chili mayo, crispy fried onions and parmesan. 

Bench Bakery

1641 Commercial Dr.

“The baking is top-notch and the bread is some of the best in the city—I was there this morning. The loaf I bought was still warm.” On the weekends she gets the marble rye, on the weekdays a country loaf; sometimes she grabs their frozen puff pastry to make savoury pies at home. 


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