Best new restaurants to try in Vancouver this winter

by Michelle Hopkins

Where is everyone eating right now? Whether you're a vegan, must have poke weekly or religiously seek out Mexican dishes, here’s a selection of new Vancouver restaurants that should be on your must-try list this winter. [Photo courtesy of Bells and Whistles/Thomas Bullock]

Best new restaurants to try in Vancouver this winter

Bells and Whistles

Every neighbourhood needs an Americana roadside bistro – and Vancouver’s hipster Fraserhood just got theirs. Bells and Whistles, which opened in October 2017, is a new project by the team behind such award-winning restaurants as Wildebeest, Bufala and Lucky Taco. The atmosphere is so welcoming that everyone from the community mingles comfortably. A cross between a beer hall and restaurant, Bells and Whistles offers juicy, messy burgers, fried chicken (that a true Southerner would approve of) and soft serve ice cream handcrafted on the premises.

Railtown Cafe

As the weather cools down, many of us seek out comfort food. Railtown Cafe’s Granville Street eatery, which opened in September 2017, is the fourth location for the popular cafe chain. The new location offers the same organic, local and seasonal ingredients that the restaurant group has become known for. It’s already a hit with locals in the business district, and is worth a visit for anyone who craves some hearty comfort fare, such as a Reuben or smoked turkey sandwich, alongside a steaming bowl of soup du jour. Or if you crave greens, there is a dizzying array of choices, which will have you coming back more than once a week.

La Cantina Vancouver

La Cantina Vancouver, which opened in October 2017, is the sibling to two of Whistler’s hottest restaurants – Mexican Corner and La Cantina. The decor alone is a must see – and the food (with influences from CEO Pepe Barajas’ South American origins) includes a spicy Mexican beef soup, tacos and burritos. But there is great culinary pleasure to be had by lesser-known dishes such as Luchador salad or the Mayan-style cochinita (pork). Mixing street food with casual dining, in arguably one of the funkiest eateries downtown, makes La Cantina Vancouver worth a repeat visit or two – or three.

Poke Time

In case you didn’t know, poke is fast becoming a craze to hardcore Vancouver foodies. Poke is a Hawaiian salad crafted with fresh chunks of raw fish, mixed with veggies, herbs and spices, typically served on a bed of rice. Vancouver’s newest kid on the block is Poke Time, which opened its third location in the late summer days of 2017. Here, you can sink your teeth into one of five colourful bowls piled high with fresh fish, tofu and veggies. Or, build your own bowl, creating your own signature dish with various proteins, four sauces (aioli, wasabi, sriracha or chili) and tasty extras like mango, avocado and pineapple.

The Black Lodge

What do two former social workers know about restaurants? It seems like quite a bit. The Black Lodge’s second location on East Broadway is the brainchild of partners Claire Wyrostok and Brad MacKinnon. The Black Lodge’s new spot opened in October 2017 and keeps with the original location’s Twin Peaks-inspired, relaxed cabin vibe, in a much larger, woodsier space. The plant-based menu is fun and innovative, and even a carnivore might be fooled by the seitan drumsticks, veggie Philly cheese steak sandwich or the BLT with homemade veggie coconut bacon. The creative menu here will inspire meatless Mondays for months to come.

Autostrada

Getting its moniker from an Italian motorway, Autostrada is a new pasta eatery on Main Street and 32nd Avenue, scheduled to open in January 2018. Executive chef Lucais Syme, who gave us Cinara, cut his teeth at some of Vancouver’s most celebrated restaurants, including stints at Blue Water Café, Cioppino’s and La Buca. His intimate 30-seat trattoria showcases eight different and beloved pastas, all made in-house, as well as a selection of charcuteries like salumi, terrine and vitello tonnato, with a selection of vegetarian dishes like salads and risotto.

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