Up until now I’ve been writing about my travels in sort of a ‘guide’ kind of way. I love to inform people not only about specialty foods (whether it be dietary or specific to the region) but I feel like I’ll switch it up and start writing more ‘diary’ entries. The reason I think this’ll work with some of my future travels is a) I don’t know what you’re into, and this is what I’m into. Why should I impose what I think you should eat and b) I don’t think it’s honest to assume I’m an expert of what’s cool in the area. Maybe it’d be different if I was writing about Ottawa, Montreal or dare I say New York City (however despite me going there almost every 2 years, it is CONSTANTLY changing).
I was in Vancouver for 5 days and this is what I ate.
I didn’t have a photo, but I brought a homemade scone on the airplane with me as well as some nuts as a snack. Sorry nut allergy people on planes ☹. Water was key here and complementary coffee for my 7am flight out of Ottawa. I was surprised at how short the flight felt. I’m so used to my vacations being in far destinations across the ocean. Also, Ottawa is notoriously shitty at having convenient non-stop (affordable) flights to anywhere.
I was hungry getting off the plane and was happily surprised that as I exited the last stop on the sky train, there awaited a PALEO CAFÉ. Café Festal btw, complete with breakfast and GRAIN FREE PIZZA. I mean, I knew that Vancouver was up to date on the health food scene (call it a hunch) but this just set the tone for my food journey through this city.
I settled into my friend’s apartment and after a good nap, we went for a li’l jaunt to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Not VERY immersive into nature but cool to check out if you’re into a very ‘we’ll hold your hand through this’ look into the rainforest of North Van.
After scarfing down some plantain chips, my friend took me to La Catrina. I found out that Vancouver has a love of Mexican Food. You can find places like Mescaleria’s, mom and pop style take out taco places and higher end Mexican dining experiences. If you’ve been following my travels, you know that I love Mexico. This place didn’t disappoint.
We took a long walk from the beach to downtown and I quickly realized that the dining scene is heavily influenced by Eastern Asia. Yelp is very popular (and mega reliable, I hear) in Vancouver so my friend fired it up on his phone and took me to a new bubble tea place. I had never had ‘Mousse’ bubble tea (sans tapioca pearls) but it was fucking fantastic. I still dream about this oolong / rose black tea blend from 45 Degree Bubble Tea.
I crashed pretty hard after the day was up, but I was already formulating a game plan to bike most of the time I was in Vancouver.
I really tried to make the most of each day I was there. I got up early (jet lag vibes) and found a place in Chinatown to rent a bike. I highly recommend Union Street Cycles. At one point my bike tire had popped and they were quick to fix it. Fortunately I was close by when it had happened. Anyway, they were very casual and provided me with lights and a helmet. They don’t have it online but ask for a weekly rate while you’re there. It didn’t cost me much. BIKE WHILE YOU’RE IN VANCOUVER.
On my way to the epic Sea Wall, a 8ish km bike path around Stanley Park, I went to Gastown and went to the very popular Birds and the Beets. While I have been ok with the occasional sourdough bite here and there, I decided to opt for asking for their breakfast sandwich on greens instead of their infamous bread. This coffee was excellent with it too.
After touring the park by bike, I absolutely had to have lunch at Granville Island Public Market, a large covered food and craft market that exceeded all my expectations. It was one of the best indoor market’s I’d ever been to. I had lunch at the Stock Exchange (soup place.. get it?) but also grabbed some salmon jerky, SMOKED TUNA LOIN SLICES (best damn tuna I’d ever had), Swedish style prepared herring, smoked oysters, smoked mackerel and a flax seed salmon roll to-go. SEAFOOD. HEAVEN.
Near by is a fish and chips stand called Go Fish. Again, I was not in the mood to gluten myself but I hear this place is excellent. A bit out of the way but probably for a good reason. It’s also right beside a sustainable fish market. Damn, I would love to cook here…
I kept biking down to Kitsilano Beach and further and further until I couldn’t take it anymore! I was really starting to feel it so I turned back and had to grab something quick from a random café (which – by the way – a lot of organic grocery stores have their own little cafes inside.. it’s quite a brilliant idea I’d love to see more of here in Ottawa). Coincidentally, a theater on Granville Island had a performance of The Rocky Horror Show going on. So I grabbed a cocktail at the Distillery on the island (try their rose gin!) and then headed to the show. Oh, and I say coincidentally because I’ve started to perform in the shadow cast of Ottawa’s production of the picture show. We perform once. per. month. More on that to come on the blog.. stay tuned.
Phew. I really crammed in a lot already. The misty cold rain was starting to set in but I was determined to still keep biking. I went vintage shopping through Gastown (I can’t say enough about Community Thrift & Vintage) and went to East Van Roasters for a ‘drinking’ chocolate. They’re a bean to bar chocolate company with incredibly high quality chocolate. They don’t fuck around.
I grabbed breakfast at the infamous Jam Café. It is an institution here in Vancouver (originally from Victoria) and is notorious for its lineups, even on a weekday so go early! I had their Farmers Skillet. Ah-mazing, although making it gluten free meant I didn’t get the piles of toast it came with. Next time I’ll go I’ll just grab something that’s already gluten free so I don’t miss out on a big portion of the meal. Also, for a ‘diner’ sort of vibe, their coffee was really really great. I was becoming really impressed with the quality of food and coffee I was finding all over the island. My friend had their benedict on biscuits… mmm.
Full disclosure, I get really angry when I’m happy about things. Don’t ask.
I continued my biking journey and went up main street to do some shopping. Quite a bike ride considering it was uphill in the light rain. I wasn’t feeling it but I was determined to keep to going so I could end up at Anh & Chi for a late lunch. This is a Vietnamese restaurant that, according to their cute neon sign inside. has been around since 1938!! Wow. It shows because this Vietnamese food was the best I had ever had and probably will until, perhaps, I go to Vietnam one day. I had their Street Side Platter, classic street food that you roll into rice paper rolls as you please, complete with an abundance of fresh herbs, rice noodles and sauce. Oh, and a very interesting green tea that almost tasted creamy without any milk. It was lovely on this cold rainy day.
I wanted to crash hard but I hopped over to Vogue Theater to see, my girl, Lily Allen perform in concert. I’m glad that she was playing because I had missed her when she was on the East side of Canada. Lovely place to see a show. I don’t even remember what I had for dinner, I think I ate some of the smoked fish I purchased the day before.. or I was way too full from lunch.
I was supposed to head to Victoria for the weekend but I was convinced that there were closer hikes and more to see in Vancouver that actually seemed more of interest to me. I bussed over to Horseshoe Bay and took a ferry over to Snug Cove (best name ever) on Bowan Island. On the way to the bus however I stopped off at Matchstick Coffee Roasters. I had a little pumpkin seed brownie leftover from East Van Roasters that I snacked on before heading on my adventure.
I was really starting to feel burnt out but I let the beauty of the land take me. I randomly went on the first bus on the island I saw when I got to Snug Cove and it was a bus that a lot of tourists just take to see the sights. I realized how hungry I was after a couple of stops and came upon a little shopping street just off the ferry port. I’m so glad I took this random trip because I came upon an amazing place called Artisan Eats Café & Fine Foods. I had a huevos rancheros and shared some parmesan fries with some locals who were wondering why I was by myself! That was nice of them because truffle fries are one of my faves. And then, I hiked the lake.
Okay, so I keep mentioning I was tired because when I got back to town, I had some oysters and drinks with my pal before heading to karaoke. I CLEARLY had not drank enough water this trip and/or consumed enough calories because after drink 1 I was already starting to feel a hangover coming on. I ignored that feeling and kept on keeping.. on. It was a fun night.
First was happy hour at Oyster Express.
Then a nice quite hang and cocktail at Soap.
What was cool about that place was that during the day it runs under a different name and as a lunch place. At night they fire up the neon sign and have a cocktail party. Brilliant idea.
Then came the gluten free beer at a TWIN PEAKS THEAMED BAR called The Black Lodge. Super cool place with cool people and weird cocktails. My friend’s was good but it was the only one that looked like it wasn’t overdone with ingredients. A folly of some bars I’ve noticed. I hadn’t had a gluten free beer in a while, mostly because they aren’t very good, but this one rocked my world.
Karaoke ensued at 12 Kings, a place I would not recommend going to if you want to sing a song cause it never happened despite 2 separate lineups just to sign up (???!?!!!), someone getting ID’d because the DJ didn’t believe that person was the actual singer of the song and other weird BS. I won’t even bother getting into the sleaziness of the DJ(s) / regulars but if you don’t want to sing and just want to watch a shit show and dance the night away to passionate singers, this is the place for you.
Uhh so I was beyond hungover. This was pure dehydration. I couldn’t move and just writing about it makes me feel woozy. I definitely learned my lesson when it came to STAYING HYDRATED while working out, people, and not drinking when you’re already depleted.
Yes, I did have a few more drinks than I usually do but it was spaced out over 7 hours. I will never do this to myself again. My friend got me some gravol, warmed up some bone broth for me and I slowly slipped away at that and some kombucha. It took me until 4pm to figure out that you can’t CHUG water when you’re this dehydrated, the body can’t take it. The only way it can absorb sodium back into the body is when slow sipping of salt water / broth is accompanied with some glucose, something I tend to avoid on my keto way of eating. While I was contemplating hospitalization (it was that bad) I read a medical article online that informed me of this. I’m so glad I did. Sadly, all I could think about how I was missing out on my last full day in the city.
I actually recovered a lot quicker than I thought I would and managed to step out for some sushi at an adorable small Japanese run sushi restaurant called Ginger Sushi. To the dismay of many of my Instagram followers, they thought I hadn’t had sushi on my trip. I knew I had to have it because of how famous Vancouver is for it and this place did not disappoint. My friend had a bento box and I had a real crab rainbow roll, OYSTER nigiri (which by they way I didn’t like as much as I did as a concept) and a salmon egg nigiri. BOOM. Recovered.. and crashed.
Steveston had my name calling. It is another little coastal beach near Vancouver, sourth of Richmond, with its own fisherman’s wharf. Boats legitimately come in and out of here selling whatever they pick up that day. It was such a cute place. I wandered, slowly and BY FOOT, around the pier and took into the last bit of BC beauty. Fish and chips was my last indulgence in the area. I went to Dave’s Fish and Chips since they offer pan fried gluten free options. HOWEVER this was when I decided to gluten myself because I absolutely had to try the oyster appetizer option. I was a little disappointed with it because it didn’t have a traditional thick fluffy batter but was a cornmeal dredging instead. It was still delicious though and was pretty much the size of my fist.
As and FYI, you can head to a fish market inside a store while there and have some fish packed up for you for air travel in specially designed insulated boxes. My friend had Pajo’s fish and chips, a stall right by the water. We lunched and then said our goodbyes.
Peaceful, gourmet, diverse, beautiful, expensive, clean, bike friendly. I can’t wait to come back here again.. Special thanks to my mans for the thoughtful birthday gift and for Kevin and Noelle for being amazing tour guides & hosts & friends. <3