“This is Vancouver, where the culinary bar is raised higher and the restaurants are more trendsetting than anywhere in the United States.”
~Tan Vinh, Seattle Times
Vancouver is such a cosmopolitan melting pot, that its no surprise that its food would reflect the same diversity. While I was visiting, I sampled a huge number of different types of cuisine, ranging from Jamaican to fast-food Thai, and it was all awesome. Below are three of my foodie favorites.
Jamaican Food at Calabash Bistro
One doesn’t necessarily think Jamaican food in Vancouver, but Calabash hit the spot. We went for dinner, and in addition to strong drinks like the Dark and Stormy, Calabash can make you custom rum dishes with any number of their Caribbean rums, hailing from places like Antigua to Cuba to, of course, Jamaica.
I really wanted everything, so I decided to get a couple of small dishes to get a flavor of the place. I elected to get the Patties, Free-Range Jerk Chicken Skewers, and Jerk Fries.
First up were the patties. The crust was flaky and rich, which was a great start. The meat itself was well seasoned and was pretty darn good. I have to admit that I am spoiled in the patties department from a local place in LA, but I digress. And the Jerk dipping sauce was excellent.
Then came the Jerk Chicken Skewers and the Jerk Fries. OMG it was delicious. The chicken skewers were tender and well seasoned. They were perfectly grilled and slathered with the jerk sauce. And the fries…wow. They were seasoned with the jerk spice that the meat is marinated with and it was heaven. We devoured them.
Between the strong drinks, the jerk chicken and the jerk fries, Calabash is a winner. I never would have expected Vancouver to have a right proper Jamaican restaurant. And they have performances at the restaurant as well, which also features a diverse art collection.
Maple Donuts at Forty Ninth Parallel
Oh course while I was in Canada I had to get something maple-y and sweet! And I was informed that Lucky’s Doughnuts were all of that and more. Game on.
There are a few places in Vancouver that sell Lucky’s donuts, so we hit Forth Ninth Parallel for a sampling. Parking is ridiculous in that area, but once we finally made it in, I was overwhelmed with options. They had maple long johns, salted caramel, and even a PB&J donut. After some deliberation, I decided on two donuts to try throughout the course of my stay.
The first was the old fashioned donut. And boy oh boy was it delicious. Even later that evening it was the most moist donut I have ever had, hands down. I was actually kicking myself for not getting a second one for the next day.
And of course, with it being Canada and all, my second choice was the apple bacon fritter with a maple glaze. The big chunks of bacon atop the apple fritter was rich to say the least. Add in the maple glaze and it made me understand the maple raze in Canada. It was fantastic, and so rich I ate it in two sittings.
Overall, grade A for Lucky’s Doughnuts.
Pulled Pork Pancakes at Red Wagon Cafe
Yes, you read that right. Pulled. Pork. Pancakes.
I was told about these before I arrived and it was the whole reason for going to Red Wagon, a small café with bottomless mimosas and a line down the street. I had to see it and try it for myself.
And I am so glad I did. I got the dish eggs (and cheese) on top and it was like the leaning tower of pancakes. So how did it work? Between each layer of pancakes was a layer of perfectly seasoned pulled pork in a sweet-and-savory barbeque sauce.
It was like a party in my mouth! The mix of flavors was so unique. I would have never thought it would work together, but oh it did. The pancakes were light and fluffy and the maple syrup added an additional element of sweetness. I almost cannot even describe it. Sweet, salty, tender meat and fluffy pancakes all combined for an awesome delight. And it was so filling that I had leftovers to go. All of the dishes looked good and the line outside let me know that Red Wagon was legit. It is a spot that is not to be missed.
All in all, the food of Vancouver really surprised me. I had heard it was a great foodie city, but I had no idea it would be so diverse. The only thing I didn’t get that I really wanted was seafood. We had planned on it, but after a long day, I just ran to a local grocery store by the hotel and grabbed some dinner to heat up in the suite. And even that was good! Vancouver is a foodie city, through and through, so if you love to eat, it can’t be beat (hey, that rhymes).