If I had to sum our trip to Vancouver up in a few words, ‘meat, cake and beer’ would do the trick. We ate. A lot. Most of it was sugar. All of it was delicious. To me, a successful holiday means arriving home knowing that you couldn’t have fit in even one more meal, and I think we managed that in Vancouver. From afternoon gelato to late night patisserie, we ate whenever, wherever, whatever we wanted and it was glorious. (Prue Leith says that if you’re going to eat something, it should be worth the calories, and I agree.) If you’re heading to Vancouver and fancy indulging, here are 6 of my favourite Vancouver spots that are guaranteed to keep you full and happy.
556 Beatty Street
Go here for: Decadent waffles, insane pancake stacks and the lightest biscuits.
So good we queued 40 minutes for brunch. Twice. Thankfully they seat based on the number in your party rather than moving tables around to suit the next in the queue. (We resisted the urge to shout ‘Screw you, table of 4’ as we smugly marched past the top of the queue.) If savoury is your thing, try the Buttermilk Biscuit Melt, and add sugar cured bacon. The biscuit is the lightest I’ve tried, and the bacon is life-changing. If you have more of a sweet tooth, check the specials board to find out what indulgent creation they’ve come up with. Otherwise, get the pancakes. Don’t attempt the triple stack alone. That would be madness. A single pancake is more than enough for one, or go for two if you’re extra hungry. Either way, double chocolate is the way to go – studded with chocolate chips and topped with a generous pool of spiced chocolate sauce. Epic.
Meat & Bread
370 Cambie Street
Go here for: Piles of moist, juicy meat in crusty bread
Meat & Bread does exactly what you’d expect, and it does it well. It was on my must-visit list before we landed in Vancouver, and the first clue that I’d made a good decision was that it was recommended to us by our Airbnb host. The second clue was the first sight of porchetta being carved as we walked through the door. Order at the counter and watch as they smear crusty bread with vibrant salsa verde and pile it high with juicy pork and crackling, then grab a seat at the communal table and enjoy. The grilled cheese is also excellent if you’re not in the mood for a monster sandwich.
159 West Hastings Street
Go here for: Peanut Butter Shorties
Also on my pre-Vancouver to-do list, Purebread is a family bakery whose counter practically groans under the weight of their freshly baked daily selection of pastries, brownies, cookies, breads and more. Go when it’s quiet (if it’s ever quiet) if you want to take a good look (and why wouldn’t you?) at their selection before you order. Or don’t, and just order the Peanut Butter Shorty. It was mentioned on the (super annoying) episode of The Baker Sisters I watched on the plane, so I knew it had to be special. Buttery layers of shortbread, peanut butter ganache and chocolate dipped in salted peanuts – it’s completely drool-worthy. (I’ve recreated my own peanut butter shorties at home. Recipe here.) Purebread is also a great option for breakfast, and it’s difficult to look beyond the Almond Croissant. The whole bakery smells like butter so it’s no surprise that their croissants are flaky, buttery and completely delicious.
Strathcona Beer Company
895 East Hastings Street
Go here for: Laid back local beer scene
Strathcona is a quiet residential area about a 25-minute walk from Gastown and you’d be hard-pressed to find many tourists hanging around the area. While local craft beer is widely available in bars and restaurants throughout Vancouver, Strathcona Beer Company’s taproom is worth a visit for a truly local feel. Since our Airbnb was located in Strathcona, we strolled over for a couple of afternoon pints, and ended up staying for dinner. The taproom has a gorgeous, modern, industrial feel, with a dedicated takeout counter and an inviting food menu featuring generous salads and delicious pizza. In true Sweet and Meat tradition, we shared a meat pizza, with soppressata, capicola and pepperoni providing a savoury, salty kick, and pineapple adding sweetness. Their ‘All That And Then Some’ pale ale was the perfect accompaniment with a nice citrusy flavour and relatively light hoppiness which didn’t battle with the spicy kick from the pizza for dominance of your taste buds. As an added bonus, the music playing there was a really great mix of 70s and 80s indie and alternative classics.
Juke Fried Chicken
182 Keefer Street
Go here for: The crunchiest fried chicken you’ll ever eat
I have a love/hate relationship with fried chicken. It can be greasy and underseasoned. When it’s good though, it’s hard to beat and Juke ticked all the fried chicken boxes. Their chicken coating is super crunchy and moreish (and gluten-free), with moist, juicy chicken within. We shared 5 pieces (a dangerous number to share between two) and added half a rack of sticky ribs. The ribs were fine, but the sauce became a little sickly. (If they’re too sickly after only a quarter you’ve added too much sweetness.) Stick with the chicken.
La Casa Gelato
1033 Venables Street
Go here for: 238 flavours of gelato
My husband is diabetic, so I’m on a lifelong mission to find sugar-free treats for him wherever we go. (It makes me feel less guilty when I’m inhaling my third brownie.) La Casa Gelato was the first place I came across in my sugar-free search. With 238 flavours of gelato currently on offer, it’s no surprise that they had a decent sugar-free selection. The sugar-free pineapple was a little sweet, and the coconut was somewhat lacking in coconut flavour, but the sugar-free chocolate hit the spot. I tried the chocolate fudge (238 flavours and I still go for chocolate) and it was dark, fudgy and delicious. La Casa Gelato isn’t exactly convenient if you’re staying downtown, but it was less than a 10-minute walk from our Airbnb. If you go, don’t forget to take a picture in front of the pink wall.
Check out my guide to eating in Seattle. Spoiler alert: it’s mainly sugar.