Vancouver’s top casual fine-dining restaurants

Craving a gourmet meal, but without all the pomp and circumstance that come along with white-tablecloth establishments? Try these not-so-fussy fine-dining restaurants, which offer artful and celebrated dishes in relaxed spaces that welcome all walks of life. It's award-winning cuisine, without the attitude. [Photo courtesy of The Mackenzie Room]

The Mackenzie Room

1
415 Powell St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1G7

An unexpected gem on a somewhat-seedy strip in Railtown, The Mackenzie Room will surprise and delight, while making you feel right at home. Boozy punch bowls and shabby-chic furnishings give the restaurant a best-friend’s-dinner-party vibe, but chef Sean Reeve’s masterful cooking is anything but ordinary. Check out the chalkboard menu for the daily farm-to-table dishes on offer – although it might require some deciphering. With tongue-in-cheek names like Louisiana Tim Bits and Boar’n Supremacy, elevated dishes are as fun to order as they are to eat. Dining with a group? Ask for the multi-course tasting menu – you won’t regret it.

Bishop's Restaurant

2
2183 4th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N7

A veteran on the Vancouver dining scene, celebrity chef John Bishop’s intimate Kitsilano bistro offers West Coast dishes inspired by quality, local ingredients, such as halibut from Haida Gwaii and steelhead salmon from Lois Lake. The award-winning restaurant also offers beautiful desserts and super fresh appetizers including mussels and oysters – all served on casual tables settings evocative of a quiet New York bistro.

L'Abattoir

3
217 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J2

This incredibly stylish, effortlessly cool bistro offers West Coast fare with a heavy French influence. Seated at intimate tables amidst moody lighting, white brick walls and breathtaking design elements – such as intricately wood-carved light fixtures – you’ll feel as if you’ve discovered the latest Parisian hotspot as you enjoy exotic dishes including an excellent braised veal cheeks and delicious cheese and olive plate. Creative cocktails add flair to any meal, as does a well-matched wine from L’Abattoir’s extensive list.

Ask For Luigi

4
305 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1C4

Be sure to arrive early to this quaint Railtown trattoria, which does not take reservations but offers seats on a first come, first served basis. Put your phone number on the list and head to nearby Crab Park for a stroll; like your mother when you were young, your server will call you when your table’s ready. Handmade pasta is king here, and is served in a variety of ways including linguine with simple tomato sauce or stuffed with Italian cheese and the best in local meats.

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

5
163 Keefer St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X3

Bao bei means precious in Chinese, and that’s just what this narrow, eclectic restaurant is to those who adore its traditional Chinese fare with modern French and Taiwanese twists. Bao Bei’s bumping soundtrack and stylish decor makes it a perfect spot to fuel up before a night of dancing, so head here with a group and order plates to share – and don’t leave without tasting the hot and gooey steamed buns; they’re a must have.

Meet on Main

6
4288 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5V 3P9

Comfortable and cozy, Meet on Main offers a crowd-pleasing menu that combines gluten-free and vegan fare with just the right amount of grease. Hand-cut in house, a variety of French fry dishes will do just fine on their own, but a greener dish such as the organic quinoa and roasted yam salad will add a healthful twist, if you like. Craft cocktails are excellent here, as is the long list of local beers and refreshing non-alcoholic drinks including kombucha and a spicy house-made ginger shrub beer.

Farmer's Apprentice Restaurant

7
1535 6th Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6J 1R1

Nestled in the heart of South Granville, Farmer’s Apprentice feels as if it’s literally attached to a small organic greenhouse – that’s how fresh the produce tastes. Ethically sourced set menus (one veg, one meat) rotate daily and include anything from smoked trout to sprigs of thyme and spinach sprinkled over chilled soup or braised local meats. Eclectic and rustic decor and easy breezy wait staff only add to the effortless bohemian atmosphere.

Homer St Cafe & Bar

8
898 Homer St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2W5

This upscale Southern-style brasserie – located inside a beautifully restored Yaletown heritage building – is known for its mouth-watering chicken dishes, made from whole chickens roasted in a fire-engine red oven behind the bar. Served on a breezy patio with cracked new potatoes and green salad with fried egg, it’s a casual summer meal perfect for any southern belle or beau.

Vij's

9
3106 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2W2

Diners are happy to line up around the block for celebrity chef Vikram Vij’s authentic and nourishing curries any night of the week. Tables tend to fill up right when doors open at 5:00 pm, so arrive early to be one of the lucky ones to make the first seating. But if you’re running late, don’t worry; wait in the equally inviting bar to enjoy a cup of warm chai and snacks while browsing a menu packed with curries, naan breads, pakoras and other modern Indian delights.

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