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Tim Pawsey

5 Alfresco Favourites

By TIM PAWSEY

Soft-shell crab and To Kill Ya martini, at Lift. (Photo: KK Law)

Soft-shell crab and To Kill Ya martini, at Lift. (Photo: KK Law)

Patio culture truly blooms in June, albeit with heaters and blankets to ward off early-summer-evening chills.

Lift Bar-Grill-View An expansive rooftop deck and lower waterside patio lure with sweeping harbour views along with progressive West Coast fare.

Gotham Downtown’s best-kept secret is a compact, discreet private garden, populated with oversized parasols to keep the martinis chilled—and a fireplace to keep the clientele warmed.

Wild Rice Hop on the SkyTrain for an easy 30-minute trip to New Westminster, where this riverside room serves contemporary Chinese-fusion fare with casual flair.

Pier 7 The SeaBus spirits you across the harbour close to this dockside North Van room, where upper- and lower-deck patios grant impressive vistas of the working port and downtown.

The Teahouse This impressively transformed, one-time officer’s mess boasts a dramatic deck overlooking English Bay, near Third Beach, on the shores of Stanley Park.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Best Bites on Robson

By TIM PAWSEY

An assortment of  mouth-watering North African dishes at Fez Café. (Photo: KK Law)

An assortment of mouth-watering North African dishes at Fez Café. (Photo: KK Law)

Myriad flavours contribute to the multicultural feel on the west end of Robson Street. At welcoming Fez Café Bistro, nibble on lunchtime omelettes, baba ghanoush or hummus, or linger over a dinner of couscous royale or merguez, brochettes, lentil soup, lemon sole and more. The North African decor is beautiful, with live music Friday through Saturday evenings. (No alcohol served.) Find authentic Korean at Jang Mo Jib, which means “mother-in-law’s house.” Head to Guu for lively home-style Japanese, or to Tavola for fresh-made Italian pasta and small plates.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Pubby Plates at Steamworks

By TIM PAWSEY

Tropical tuna poke, at Steamworks. (Photo: KK Law)

Tropical tuna poke, at Steamworks. (Photo: KK Law)

Steamworks Brewing Company was so named because it shares the same steam source as the famous Gastown Steam Clock, immortalized on its labels. The beers are fresh and vary seasonally, with faves such as a refreshing pilsner or subtle jasmine IPA. Plentiful pubby plates range from seafood chowder, spinach and crab dip, and mushroom caps to tuna pokes, fish ’n’ chips, and filet mignon. All are offered in the dining room upstairs, the lounge downstairs, or outside on the bustling patio.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Eclectic Bites at Chinatown’s Sai Woo

By TIM PAWSEY

Have a seat at the long bar at Sai Woo. (Photo: KK Law)

Have a seat at the long bar at Sai Woo. (Photo: KK Law)

A nod to a 1930s chop suey house of the same name, Sai Woo sports a long bar, cozy booths, red brick walls and a soaring ceiling. Chef Douglas Chang balances East and West with smart, often dazzling tastes, such as pork jowl with pea agnolotti and Jinhua ham broth, sablefish with lotus root, vegetarian “sausage” with crispy tofu, and irresistible Coca-Cola chicken wings. Tempting drops? The Sai Woo Sour and the Beijing Sling, as well as tall and refreshing kombucha, on tap.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

15 Notable Newcomers

By TIM PAWSEY

Gyonza Bar + Ramen. (Photo: KK Law)

Gyonza Bar + Ramen. (Photo: KK Law)

Vancouver’s dining scene is dynamic and constantly changing, as these pace-setting newcomers from 2014 prove. (New restaurants that are 2015 Where To Dine Award winners are not included on this list)

THE ABBEY Creative West Coast fare, good pints and well-sourced wines are the order of the day at this stylin’ gastropub on Gastown’s edge.

AMICI MIEI This simple but smart family-run room offers fresh-daily house-made pasta plus a host of traditional Abruzzo dishes.

ARC The Fairmont Waterfront’s flagship room curves graciously around the main floor, serving regionally inspired specialties.

AU COMPTOIR Go early to get a seat at this popular Parisian-inspired bistro on West 4th Avenue.

ASK FOR LUIGI This cozy no-nonsense spot in Railtown consistently over-delivers Italian-inspired fare.

THE BELGARD KITCHEN Railtown’s multitasking brewery and winery is also home to a well-run casual restaurant serving regional fare.

BISTRO WAGON ROUGE Locals pack into this reinvented docklands diner for bistro classics and great local brews.

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

BOULEVARD KITCHEN & OYSTER BAR The Sutton Place Hotel’s stylish room lures with contemporary seafood specialties, from caramelized jumbo scallops to roasted sablefish and more.

CINARA Modern European tastes are served in a relaxing but sophisticated early-20th-century room.

GYOZA BAR + RAMEN Find a clever update on traditional ramen and gyoza in a warmly refurbished heritage setting.

LEFT BANK This lean-lined room sports an airy feel to go with modern French-inspired West Coast plates, live music and a laneway heated patio.

MY SHANTI Vikram Vij’s latest (in Surrey) is a bold and tasty salute to the regional cuisines of his native India.

PIZZA FABRIKA This fun pizzeria on Robson’s west end is bare-bones but welcoming.

STEEL TOAD BREWPUB & DINING HALL The impressively restored former Opsal Steel Building is home to a spacious pub and microbrewery with worthy plates and pints.

THAI CUISINE BY MONTRI Find perfect pad thai, chicken satay and wok-cooked crunchy greens, smartly matched with spice-worthy wines.

2015 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s

Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s. (Photo: KK Law)

Fueled by a wealth of flavours, Vancouver celebrates a bounty of fresh ingredients, from myriad seafood species to specialty farm-raised meats, along with winning wines. Every year, Where’s globetrotting readers weigh in on those tastes that left their mark well beyond the trip home. These accolades reinforce the city’s rep as an international culinary destination driven by diversity and a merging of influences through multicultural respect and understanding. (more…)

2015 Where to Dine Awards: Vancouver

By TIM PAWSEY

Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s

Pacific octopus with Tuscan beans at Cioppino’s. (Photo: KK Law)

Fueled by a wealth of flavours, Vancouver celebrates a bounty of fresh ingredients, from myriad seafood species to specialty farm-raised meats, along with winning wines. Every year, Where’s globetrotting readers weigh in on those tastes that left their mark well beyond the trip home. These accolades reinforce the city’s rep as an international culinary destination driven by diversity and a merging of influences through multicultural respect and understanding. (more…)

Indian Flavours Shine at Sitar

By TIM PAWSEY

Lamb korma (front), tandoori platter (L) and butter chicken (R), at Sitar. (Photo: KK Law)

Lamb korma (front), tandoori platter (L) and butter chicken (R), at Sitar. (Photo: KK Law)

In the centre of Gastown, across from Maple Tree Square, long-running Sitar serves traditional Indian fare, from goat masala to butter chicken and more. An extensive menu travels through mainstays such as mulligatawny soup, tandoori chicken, lamb tikka, fish korma, and a wealth of vegetarian dishes. Insiders opt for the set dinners of generously portioned three courses for two, including the Punjabi and Mughlai. Don’t miss the homemade kulfi, served with ice cream, pistachios, saffron and nuts.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

5 Garden Delights

By TIM PAWSEY

Shaughnessy Restaurant is nestled in VanDusen Botanical Garden. (Photo: KK Law)

Shaughnessy Restaurant is nestled in VanDusen Botanical Garden. (Photo: KK Law)

Welcome, springtime! Grab a garden-side table at these destinations both leafy and tasty.

1. Shaughnessy Restaurant (pictured) Enjoy locally inspired lunch, brunch, dinner or afternoon snacks, right in the heart of VanDusen Botanical Garden.

2. Horizons Restaurant Marvel at the panorama of Burrard Inlet and glimpses of downtown over albacore tuna tataki or hazelnut-crusted rack of lamb at this window-wrapped room atop Burnaby Mountain.

3. Seasons in the Park Combine Fraser Valley chicken or bone-in rib-eye from the wood-fired grill amidst the tranquil surroundings of Queen Elizabeth Park, with downtown and mountain views.

4. The Teahouse Walk the seawall after a lunch of smoked salmon flatbread or Brome Lake duck confit at this landmark in Stanley Park, overlooking Ferguson Point.

5. Hart House Restaurant Savour West Coast specialties such as pan-seared scallops, sous-vide steelhead or beef tenderloin with smoked-marrow pomme purée at this mock-Tudor mansion in the midst of verdant Deer Lake Park.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Baja North: Tacofino’s Taco Bar

By TIM PAWSEY

Tacofino's new Taco Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

Tacofino’s new Taco Bar. (Photo: KK Law)

Latino meets Tofino at Tacofino, an immensely popular spot that had its genesis in a food truck on the surfers’ paradise of Vancouver Island. Head to Gastown for their newest endeavour, Taco Bar. The delicious Mexican-inspired treats include kabocha squash and cauliflower tostada, lamb birria with preserved lemon zest, glazed beef rib with chilaquiles, super salsas, marvellous margaritas and more. Enter this capacious, century-old space, which sports plenty of booths and images of old Tofino scenes, off Blood Alley, near Gaoler’s Mews.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Entertaining Appetites

By TIM PAWSEY

Fresh Italian mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, teardrop peppers and local beets, at Lupo. (Photo: KK Law)

Fresh Italian mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, teardrop peppers and local beets, at Lupo. (Photo: KK Law)

Pre- and post-theatre or hockey haunts abound—all with an eye on curtain- or puck-dropping time. Lupo caters to more formal tastes with polished Italian fare such as lamb shank ossobucco or rib-eye Fiorentina, served with flair in a charming, late-Victorian-era home. For more casual bites and good craft beers and spirits, head to the Yaletown Brewing Co. For post-game late-night bites, try expansive and upbeat Earls in Yaletown for myriad flavours, from kung pao noodles to Santa Fe Cajun chicken salad, with key lime pie for dessert.

5 Seawall Rewards

By TIM PAWSEY

TWB dishes up seafood salad with mussels, clams, squid, scallops and shrimp (front), along with gnocchi du jour (L) and crispy calamari (R). (Photo: KK Law)

TWB dishes up seafood salad with mussels, clams, squid, scallops and shrimp (front), along with gnocchi du jour (L) and crispy calamari (R). (Photo: KK Law)

These shoreside haunts are perfect for pampering after a brisk walk.

TWB — The Wine Bar (pictured) This compact, well-equipped bistro dispenses well-chosen wines by the glass and small plates with a Gallic twist. At the foot of Davie Street.

Cactus Club Cafe Smart tastes include “Iron Chef” Rob Feenie’s tuna tataki, and the ravioli and prawn trio. At Vancouver Convention Centre West and English Bay.

Go Fish Savour fish ’n’ chips and other fresh seafood at this bare-bones outdoor eatery close to Fishermen’s Wharf.

Ten Ten Tapas Find locally inspired creative small plates matched with local wines, craft beer and cocktails—plus live music Thursday through Saturday. Under the Burrard Street Bridge.

Tap & Barrel These spacious emporia offer solid pub fare with a plentiful selection of FreshTap BC wines by the glass along with an extensive offering of BC pints and cocktails. At Vancouver Convention Centre West and Olympic Village.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com