Vancouver restaurants for an alternative Thanksgiving meal

Tired of turkey? Sick of stuffing? Why not mix it up this holiday weekend and celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family in a not-so-traditional setting. From Spanish tapas to seafood to spaghetti, we’ve got plenty of inspiring ideas for folks who are looking for an alternative to the usual turkey dinner. [Photo courtesy of Cuchillo]

Cuchillo Restaurant

261 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1G3

Trade turkey and stuffing for tacos and ceviche and you might never go the traditional route for Thanksgiving dinner again. Cuchillo (or “knife” in Spanish) is a funky pan-Latin eatery tucked away on the border of Gastown and Railtown – look for the glowing purple neon skull if you’re having trouble finding the front door. Serving Spanish, Peruvian and Mexican street food, the menu features tasty snacking plates (don’t miss the yucca fries and grilled corn), ceviche, tacos and regionally inspired meaty mains. Order a few dishes to share and make it a real party with a tequila tasting flight.


958 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2W1

Skip the labour-intensive home-cooked meal; Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to try a trendy spot with minimal crowds. Clement Chan has earned plenty of praise for his award-winning Le Tigre food truck and his buzz-worthy restaurant on the edge of Chinatown is a must-try. Here, pan-Asian dishes are packed with bold flavours that are sure to wow. Round up a gang of adventurous eaters, grab a spot at the communal table and order an array of sharing plates. Chicken liver fried rice, rye-and-gochujang-glazed chicken wings, and fiery sweet chilli squid are just some of the ambitious options.

Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar Co

150-1055 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9

Happy Shucksgiving, oyster fans! Switch up your usual holiday celebrations this year with fresh shellfish from Chewies. Oysters are sourced locally in B.C. and from the East Coast, with the selection changing daily. The slippery suckers are served ice cold, accompanied by lemon, horseradish and homemade sauces. Alternatively, opt to have your oysters pan-fried or broiled in bourbon chilli butter. The diverse Southern-inspired menu also features fish and seafood dishes (bouillabaisse, chowder, gumbo, jambalaya) and red meat options like beef short ribs. You’ll find Chewies outposts in Coal Harbour and Kitsilano, both aptly located close to the water.

Anatoli Souvlaki

5 Lonsdale Ave, North Vancouver, BC V7M 2E4

Tuck in to delightful Mediterranean fare at this North Van institution and you’ll be thankful you swapped stuffing for spanakopita this year. The family-run eatery has been in business for more than 30 years, charming locals and visitors with its fresh, flavourful Greek food. Keep things festive with a glass of Helen’s famous sangria to start and then order up savoury plates of moussaka, souvlaki, crispy calamari, baked orzo and flaming saganaki cheese. There’s even a children’s menu for little ones with mini-sized meat skewers and pita pizzas. Downtown diners can check out Anatoli’s sister restaurant, The Greek, in Yaletown. Opa!

Octopus Garden Restaurant

1995 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1C9

This Kitsilano sushi spot doesn’t necessarily come with all the flash of other fine dining options in the city, but the cozy restaurant is renowned for its authentic Japanese cuisine. For a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience, make reservations ahead of time for the traditional Omakase tasting menu. Omakase literally translates as “to entrust,” which means head chef Sada-san will prepare a unique multi-course meal for your party with fresh ingredients. If you prefer to order a-la-carte, the regular menu features assorted maki rolls, tempura, sashimi and nigiri. Be sure to try the chef’s signature Nomu Uni shooter.

Phnom Penh Restaurant 1996 Ltd

244 Georgia St E, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z7

Who needs turkey when you can stuff yourself with marinated butter beef and hot and crispy deep-fried chicken wings? The menu at this beloved hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown draws inspiration from Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine and offers a unique alternative to your usual humdrum holiday dinner. The dining room might not be fancy, but the food is outstanding and the bustling restaurant’s rambunctious atmosphere will make you feel like you’re all part of the family. There’s usually quite a wait for a table at this affordable hotspot, although the crowds might be slightly thinner over the holiday weekend.

Zeitoon Restaurant

1615 Lonsdale Ave, North Vancouver, BC V7M 2J5

Premium ingredients, generous portions and reasonable prices keep diners coming back to this contemporary-yet-casual Middle Eastern restaurant with locations in North Van and downtown. Specializing in Persian cuisine, the menu here is heavy on grilled meat skewers served with fragrant white rice. You’ll also find a number of true Iranian delicacies such as ghormeh sabzi stew, dolma (stuffed vine leaves) and shirazi salad.

Espana Restaurant

1118 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2M8

Throw tradition out the window and enjoy a holiday meal as the Spaniards would at this cozy cantina in the West End. Vancouver diners have been flocking to España ever since 2012 to savour authentic tapas plates paired with Spanish vino and cava. Gather friends and family to nibble on tasting boards adorned with cured Serrano ham, grilled chorizo and 12-month aged manchego cheese. If you want something a little heartier, opt for the daily paella special. For dessert, you’ll forget all about your pumpkin pie cravings after you’ve sampled the doughy churros drizzled with rich dulce de leche sauce.

Tourism Vancouver’s annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary festival will see some of the city’s hottest restaurants serving an array of mouth-watering prix-fixe menus. If you want to take your significant other for a special meal, plan a date night at one of these romantic eateries. [Photo courtesy of Boulevard/Leila Kwok]
Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary event will see some of the city’s top restaurants serving mouth-watering prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner. If you’re looking for a kid-approved spot with a casual atmosphere and plenty of choices for picky eaters, book a table at these family-friendly restaurants. [Photo courtesy of Bufala]
Tourism Vancouver’s annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary event provides foodies with a great opportunity to eat at Vancouver’s most acclaimed restaurants for less. If you want an upscale meal in an elegant setting, these high-end spots deliver a great bang for your buck. [Photo courtesy of YEW Seafood + Bar]
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