I get a lot of people who want to visit Vancouver or who are planning trips and want some advice. I know looking online in forums can be time consuming because everyone is different and reading a 50 year old’s opinion on Vancouver might be different than a 20 year old’s opinion on Vancouver. So 😉 for your reference I am 26 years old at the time this article is published. I might look young on the outside but I’m a little grandma on the inside so if you’re looking for the best places to party…you won’t find them in my post. BUT what you will find are my favourite brunch spots, coffee shops, lunch/dinner spots, happy hour because no matter how old, we all could do with a little extra $$ in our pockets at the end of the day. For food spots, I will list the general area in terms of location and cuisine since Vancouver is a large place that generally encompasses the surrounding areas although they aren’t always technically in “Vancouver”.
So let’s dive in shall we?
For some reason, Vancouver has either way too little brunch places or us Vancouverites love brunch that it’s SUPER tough to get in to a lot of the best brunch restaurants. I’d suggest going early and grabbing a coffee if you need to wait 🙂 . It’s totally worth it though…but then again, I love brunch.
- Chambar (Location: Chinatown) – my #1 favourite spot. I love the vibe, the lavender latte they make and that you can make a reservation!!
- Cafe Medina (Location: Downtown Vancouver) – This place is absolutely delicious. They do waffles as well as other more savoury skillets with a Mediterranean feal. I’ve only been a handful of times because the wait can be upwards of 2 hours but it’s delicious so I had to mention it.
- Yolks (Location: Cambie) – no reservations here but the wait is worth it. Go early and put your name and number down so you’re not hangry by the time you get a table. Chicken and Waffles …mmm
- Jam Cafe (Location: Chinatown) – huge portions & delicious food. Always has a huge line and they don’t let you put your name down and leave – boo!
- Red Wagon (Location: East Vancouver) – if you like pulled pork, you need to go here. They do pancakes with pulled pork and other yummy breakfast options. Again, there’s always a huge wait so go early and put your name down.
- The Gray & Olive Cafeteria (Burnaby) – this is the cutest little brunch spot. You order at the counter once they have a place to sit and then they bring you your food. We tried “The Kitchen Sink” and Chicken & Waffle. Both were absolutely delicious! The former was a bowl full of delicious greens, sausage & bacon and THE BEST potatoes I have had at any brunch spot (so crispy on the outside but perfectly cooked on the inside and some poached eggs. FYI – They only offer Chicken and Waffles on their Brunch menu during weekends and holidays.
Coffee Shops – all are vegan friendly with dairy free milk options:
- Milano Coffee (3 locations – Gastown is my favourite). They let you pick an espresso bean, for your latte rather than standard beans, which I love.
- Revolver (Location: Gastown) – fun, hipster vibe and good pour over coffee.
- Nemesis Coffee (Location: Gastown) – fun, vibrant spot.
- Forty Ninth Parallel Cafe & Lucky’s Doughnuts (Locations: Main & Kitsilano) – the creamiest cashew latte in Tiffany blue mugs. The doughnuts on the other hand are not MY favourite but everyone else seems to love them. If you want to see my recommendations for doughnuts, keep reading…
- JJ Bean (Many Locations) – better than Starbucks but not over the top in terms of environment.
- Honolulu Coffee (3 Location: Downtown Vancouver, Kerrisdale and Cambie) – A little taste of Hawaii in Vancouver.
- Platform 7 (Locations: Kitsilano & Hastings) – A funky spot with my favourite chai in Vancouver latte! Not too sweet, but just right.
& if all else fails, have no fear, it’s Vancouver…there is a Starbucks on practically every corner!
- Nectar Juicery (Many locations) – Organic cold pressed juices that are delicious! My favourites are: Courage (green juice), and Chill Out (carrot mix). The Devotion green juice is also tasty but it’s REALLY green with 0 sweetness so if that’s your thing, I like it!
- Glory Juice (Locations: Kitsilano, North Vancouver & Main St.) – More of a cafe with food options such as acai bowls, avocado toast as well as organic smoothies, cold pressed juices etc. ps. Their granola is to die for…and luckily for us they sell it and serve it on their menu!
- Body Energy Club (Many locations) – So this place isn’t really a shop per say. It’s more of a smoothie bar inside a supplement store but I love them because their smoothies are DELICIOUS, so reasonably priced and they do modifications, without charging you for things like switching to Vegan protein powder or switching out sweetened milk for unsweetened. My forever favourite is Maca Rush with Vegan protein powder and unsweetened almond milk. They also sell the protein they use in their smoothies as its their own brand. Super clean and minimal ingredients so it’s a great way to try and see if you like it!
Pastries/ Doughnuts, Bagels etc. (yes….this gets its own category):
- Cartems Doughnuts (Locations: Downtown Vancouver & Main St.) – Krispy Kreme has got nothing on Cartems friends! This place has the best doughnuts and they even rotate some feature flavours. I especially love them because in addition to their regular flavours, they also have gluten-free and vegan doughnuts in Vancouver that don’t taste vegan! My favourites are definitely the Earl Grey & Smoked Maple Walnut. I’d go early though because they tend to have slim pickings the later in the day you go.
- Rosemary Rocksalt (Bagels) (Location: Main St.) – They make their bagels fresh and you can watch them going in and out of the machine that cooks them. You can either buy a pack or sit inside and eat them for lunch etc. They have lots of cream cheese flavours to choose from or sandwich options. Since I don’t have dairy, I’ve never tried the cream cheese but have had the bagels on their own and holie hell, they are worth eating without anything even on them!
Ice Cream Shops (All have vegan options):
- Rain or Shine (Locations: West 4th & Cambie) – They have lots of flavour combinations – I’ve only tried their coconut chocolate chunk, which is coconut milk based, vegan and so good!
- Earnest Ice Cream (Locations: Vancouver @ Quebec St., Fraser St. & Frances St.) – Lots of flavour combinations & their vegan flavours change too. Tip: buy a pint, take it home and eat it. They let you walk straight to the front of the line if you’re buying a pint so if there’s a huge line, I highly suggest this. Plus, way more value in the pint than the per scoop price.
- Umaluma (Location: Chinatown) – all flavours here are vegan, which is heaven to me because I usually get to pick between 2 flavours at most. Their lavender is to DIE for!
- Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionery (Location: Burnaby) – This is like an old school ice cream parlour where you can get floats, sundaes etc. Last 2 times I’ve went, they carried vegan vanilla, which was tasty to get a float made from.
- Hapa Izakaya (Location: Yaletown, Cuisine: Japanese) – For a cheap meal here, go during Happy Hour, which they so cleverly call “Hapa Hour”. Otherwise the prices are reasonable and it’s absolutely delicious.
- Tacofino (Location: Gastown, Cuisine: Mexican) – This isn’t “authentic” Mexican food but they have the best damn tacos I’ve ever had. My favourites are the fish taco and the steak taco. They also have fun drinks on the menu that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
- The Union (Location: Chinatown, Cuisine: Asian-fusion) – The Union has delicious asian classics such as Banh-mi, curries etc. but made more modern and refined yet still SO comforting. Their drinks are fancy and strong, just how I like em! They also have drinking vinegars, which are non-alcoholic drinks and honestly I sometimes prefer these. Absolutely deliciously tart and sweet all at the same time.
- Nuba (Location: Kitsilano, Yaletown & Gastown, Cuisine: Lebanese) – If you like Lebanese cuisine, you NEED to try this place and especially Najib’s Cauliflower. It’s SO lemony, crispy and seriously I would eat buckets of cauliflower if I could eat it like this every day. I love getting the tasting platter because you get a bit of everything to try and it’s so fun for a date night.
- Turf (Location: Kitsilano, Cuisine: cafe fare) – I’m obsessed with this place. It’s a cafe that also has a studio attached to it so if you like to workout and eat, hit it up! Personally I’ve never taken a workout class here just because I don’t live or work in the area but I have eaten at their cafe and it’s absolutely delicious. They are a plant based cafe with protein options. My usual? Quinoa cakes & a turmeric golden walnut milk. SO good you guys.
- Virtuous Pie (Locations: UBC & Chinatown, Cuisine: Pizza) – A completely plant based pizzeria that has gluten-free crusts, ice cream for dessert and kombucha on tap. They make their pizzas with an assortment of nut-based cheeses. My favourites are definitely “Stranger Wings” and “Meatball + Chevre”.
- Hey Kokomo [Location: Chinatown or Kitsilano] – A completely plant based cafe that has delicious quick eats you can eat there or grab & go. The Kitsilano location is my favourite to grab a bowl and head down to the beach. It’s also their newest location! My go-to is the Coastal Macro bowl – it has some tempeh, a delicious sauce and keeps well because I like to grab and go!
- Meet [on Main, Meet in Gastown, Meet in Yaletown] – Has 3 locations, all cleverly named by their location. They are a comfort food vegan restaurant with tons of gluten-free options are very allergy aware. I love the Mac & Cheese Bowl, Hot Chiggin’ Things & the Sweet Chili Cauliflower! A lot of people rave about their burgers but I have yet to try those.
- Chickpea Restaurant (Location: Main Street & a food truck!) – A totally vegan restaurant, they have some of the best falafels I’ve ever had (with the exception of a place in Paris). Personally, I prefer the food truck because it just tastes more fresh to me but they are both good. I always get the pita wrap with falafels and devour the whole thing! They have lots of options and are inexpensive so definitely hit them up!
- Cactus Club (many locations – English Bay is my favourite because it’s right by the beach and fun on a nice day but can get quite busy) – Fun atmosphere, good price range and something for everyone.
If you’re planning a trip to Vancouver or surrounding area and have questions, please feel free to reach out at anytime via email or my socials @balancingandie!