Vancouver: Must-Visit Restaurants & Cafés

I visited Vancouver last October and to this day, I still think about the amazing restaurants and cafés the city is home to. Planning a visit to Vancouver? Here’s what not to miss.


Restaurants


Meat & Bread – If you visit any restaurant in Vancouver, let Meat & Bread be it. Their porchetta sandwich is hands down the best sandwich I’ve ever had. Juicy pork, crispy cracklings, house made salsa verde, fresh bread… you’re guaranteed to fall in love after one bite. There are 4 locations across the city: Cambie, Pender, Broadway, and Robson. Some locations also offer site-specific sandwiches (but honestly, after that description, why would you try a different sandwich?)


Porchetta sandwich from Meat & Bread Vancouver

Jam Café – The mother of all brunch spots in Vancouver is Jam Café. Loved by locals and bloggers alike, this spot is known to always have a line outside its doors no matter what day or time you visit. When I visited on an early weekday morning, I still had to wait for a seat. The wait is well worth it (and in my case, the line moved pretty fast). Jam Café serves a wide menu with a southern twang. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but I’d recommend adding on their house made cornbread and one of their eclectic mimosas (because you deserve it)! There are two locations in the city.


Mexican-inspired brunch from Jam Cafe Vancouver

Chinatown BBQ – Vancouver’s Chinatown is the largest in the country, and the third largest in North America (following San Francisco and New York). As Vancouver has a large Chinese population, the Chinese restaurants in the city are next level. One of my favourites is Chinatown BBQ, not far from the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Specializing in BBQ, I’d suggest trying their ‘Two BBQ Items on Steamed Rice’ platter (especially the roasted pork + BBQ duck) or ‘Four Treasures Chef’s Plate’.


Vancouver Chinatown BBQ traditional Chinese food and tea with date

JapadogJapadog is a Vancouver cheap eats staple I fell in love with during my visit to the city. These kitschy Japanese-inspired hot dogs are delicious, and eating them are a rite of passage for Vancouverites. I like to go for their Okonomi with shaked fries on the side. You can catch their carts or food truck across the city, or head to their Robson St restaurant.


Vancouver Japadog Japanese hot dogs and fries

Tacofino – Ever hear too many good things about something and begin getting skeptical of it? (Do I have trust issues?) That’s how I felt when I was looking up places to eat and saw the long list of bloggers and reviewers raving about Tacofino. Well, after visiting myself, I can 100% say the hype is well deserved. Tacofino’s tacos are by no mean cheap, but they’re so flavourful that you’ll keep wanting to order more (trust me on this - my partner and I ordered two more rounds). Despite the moderate price tag, you won’t regret giving Tacofino a try. (P.S. On a tight budget? Visit during their Happy Hour from 3pm-6pm daily) There are multiple locations across the city, and all have an effortlessly cool west coast vibe.


Tacofino Taco Bar Vancouver taco plates

Vij’s Restaurant – Opened by astound Canadian chef Vik Vikram, Vij’s serves elegant Indian fare that melds traditional methods with locality. At the restaurant, expect excellent service (including free chai tea and tasters) and beautifully presented small plates. Perfect for a night out, these Indian delicacies are worth the splurge of getting a few different things to share. If planning to dine-in, a reservation should be made beforehand.


Pakoras from Vij's Restaurant Vancouver

Cafés


49th Parallel Coffee – If you’re a speciality coffee fan, you may recognize the name 49th Parallel from bags of coffee sold at local cafés. Well, the famous Canadian roaster is based in Vancouver, so when in the city, checking out one of their locations (there are three in total) is a must-visit on you trip. Along with excellent coffee, their cafés all serve Lucky Doughnuts (and what pairs better with coffee than doughnuts, right?)


49th Parallel Coffee and Lucky's Doughnuts

Revolver – Looking for the city’s best espresso? Look no further than Revolver, a café that stresses quality and simplicity in each cup of coffee it brews. Serving fair trade coffee from across the globe, options (ex. bean varietal) vary daily, and coffee is brewed fresh to order. P.S. The coffee shop serves more than just espresso (if you’re more of a latte fan), but I would recommend giving it a try!


Daily espresso from Revolver Vancouver

Nemesis Coffee – When visiting Nemesis, expect to be amazed by their modern space, cool staff, and dedication to quality coffee brewing. The café is popular amongst locals to gather or work, and its customers seem just as stylish as the shop itself. As for coffee and food, there is a simple, well-crafted menu to choose from. For coffee, I’d suggest a pour over or an americano. For food, I’d recommend staying for brunch (<$15) – especially if it’s their cauliflower hash!


Brunch at Nemesis Coffee: french toast brulee, featured pour over, the "raddest" cauliflower hash

Purebread – Pastries. Pastries. Pastries. It’s hard not to drool when you see the selection of buttery baked goods at Purebread. Would I visit just for their coffee? Probably not. But for their pastries - heck yes. There’s a large selection of sweet and savoury options to choose from, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Visit them at one of their three locations across Vancouver.


Full pastry case at Purebread Vancouver

MatchstickMatchstick has five cafés across the city. Championing quality, sustainability, and community, the café places as much emphasis on their coffee as they do their staff and customers (read their beautifully written About Us page). Along with serving amazing coffee from across the globe (I’d recommend their pour over), they also offer a variety of baked goods and eats.


Clockwise: pain au chocolat, featured pour over, double chocolate sea salt cookie, house made hot chocolate from Matchstick Vancouver

Cartems Donuts – The coffee at Cartems is pretty standard (although their house made almond milk is a nice touch), but the doughnuts are so good that I visited three times within my weeklong stay in the city. Cartems values fresh, local ingredients and makes their doughnuts from scratch every day. Flavours are always rotating (such as a parmesan-crusted one like below), and vegan and gluten-free options are also available. Grab a treat at one of their three locations across the city.


Cartems Donuts featured and regular flavours