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Where to Eat Vancouver

EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival

By SHERI RADFORD

EAT! Vancouver is Canada's largest food festival

EAT! Vancouver is Canada’s largest food festival

Forget your diet and remember to wear stretchy pants for the 2015 EAT! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival, taking place Apr. 26 to May 3. This feast for the senses brings together foodies, farmers, winemakers, craft brewers, distillers and artisans for eight days of eating, drinking, sharing and learning. Vancouver’s culinary culture is showcased in dinners with acclaimed local chefs, hands-on workshops, a pastry tasting and more. Good thing calories consumed while on vacation don’t count.

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

Kung Fu Tea at Shangri-La’s Xi Shi Lounge

By SHERI RADFORD

Tea sommelier Che Huadong performs kung fu tea

Kung fu tea by sommelier Che Huadong

Imagine afternoon tea. Did you think of boring old biddies in a stuffy room taking part in a dull tradition? Think again. Xi Shi Lounge recently added tea sommelier Che Huadong to its staff, and his specialties include two performance arts rarely seen outside China: kung fu tea—which is every bit as incredible as it sounds—and face-changing opera. You’ll never think of teatime the same way again. See Huadong’s full shows Sat. and Sun. afternoons, or enjoy shorter performances of just kung fu tea during afternoon tea services from Wed. to Sun.

All Hail the Checkmate Caesar

By SHERI RADFORD

The Checkmate Caesar, at the Score

The Checkmate Caesar, at the Score on Davie

“I came; I saw; I conquered.” Some strategizing is required before attempting to conquer a Checkmate Caesar. First, make sure you’re not a vegetarian. Second, bring a friend. And most important of all, arrive hungry. In a true feat of culinary engineering, this daring drink is garnished with a roasted chicken, a burger, a pulled-pork slider, onion rings, chicken wings, and a hot dog topped with both pulled pork and mac ’n’ cheese. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without dessert, so there’s even a precariously perched brownie. Find it at Score on Davie. Let the eating and drinking begin!

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

Food for Thought

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

A selection of Thai dishes, at Maenam

A selection of Thai dishes, at Maenam

There are plenty of reasons to dine out: first-class cuisine, stimulating company and, best of all, no clean-up required. Dining Out For Life gives us another reason to make a reservation. On Mar. 26, restaurants across North America raise money to support people living with HIV/AIDS by donating 25 percent of their sales to not-for-profits Friends For Life and A Loving Spoonful. Eateries range from mainstays such as Maenam (pictured) to newcomers like Nicli’s Next Door. Eating well and doing good—we’ll order that for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Weekend Brunch at L’Abattoir

By SHERI RADFORD

An array of brunch items at L'Abattoir

An array of brunch items at L’Abattoir

If you’re more of a late riser than an early bird, then this is for you. Every Saturday and Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., L’Abattoir dishes up mouth-watering meals such as buttermilk pancakes, poached eggs with smoked pork belly, and Dungeness crab cakes with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Can’t-miss selections from the bar include the Bloody Alley (a variation on the classic Bloody Mary) and the Bourbon Cinnamon Toast Milk Punch (with cereal-infused cream, bourbon and cocoa bitters). The early bird may get the worm, but it’s the sleepyheads and late risers who get the tasty brunch.

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

French Flair at Au Comptoir

By TIM PAWSEY

Bustling Au Comptoir, located in trendy Kitsilano. (Photo: KK Law)

Bustling Au Comptoir, located in trendy Kitsilano. (Photo: KK Law)

With eye-catching details such as a floor painted to look like tile, the West Side’s Au Comptoir faithfully recreates an authentic French bistro. Locals pack in for grilled skirt steak with Roquefort sauce, duck confit and oeufs en meurette. No reservations, so it’s best to go early as regardless of the time of day—breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner—this popular petit coin in the heart of Kitsilano is always busy.

For more by Tim Pawsey, visit hiredbelly.com

Tasteful Treats at ChocolaTas

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

At ChocolaTas, the decadent treats come in pretty souvenir tins

At ChocolaTas, the decadent treats come in pretty souvenir tins

If life is like a box of chocolates, we’d like it to be as sweet as ChocolaTas’ tinned confections. Landmarks such as the Gastown Steam Clock (pictured) adorn the outsides of the souvenir-worthy boxes, while an assortment of truffles and ganache in flavours such as whisky and pear, lavender, and champagne decorate the insides. So even if the treats disappear quickly, the tins will preserve memories of Vancouver long after the chocolates are gone.