Eat The City: Hamilton and Helmcken

Rodney'sRodney’s Oyster House

1228 Hamilton St, 604-609-0080.

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.

 Most ordered
Freshly shucked pan-seared Fanny Bay oysters.

Chef’s pick
Slapjack chowder.

My favourite
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. 


Rodney's OystersRodney's OystersSlapjack Chowder








Salsa & Agave's Soft TacosSalsa & Agave

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.

Most ordered
Chicken enchiladas.

Chef’s pick
Pozole (a soup of chicken stock, corn, pork, and seasonings.

My favourite
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.

Blue Water Cafe

1095 Hamilton St, 604-688-8078.

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.

Most ordered

West Coast sablefish with miso-sake glaze, baby bok choy, edamame, quinoa, and shiitake mushrooms.

Chef’s pick
Red sea urchin and Qualicum Bay scallop mousse—winner of the 2008 Gold Medal Plates competition.

My favourite
The seafood tower is a can’t-miss feast.


1133 Hamilton St, 604-688-7466.

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.

Most ordered
Pappardelle with veal cheeks.

Chef’s pick
Anything he invents on the spot—recently, quail with foie gras.

My favourite
Vitello tonnato—finely sliced veal with an exquisitely subtle tuna sauce.


1079 Mainland St, 604-602-0835.

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.

Most ordered
Spaghetti with Kobe meatballs.

Chef’s pick
Bone-in rib-eye with lobster/bacon-loaded baked potato.

My favourite
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:

Hamilton and Helmcken

We’re scoured a variety of neighborhoods for the best restaurants. Check them out here:

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Granville and Broadway

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Keefer and Main