Best Seafood Restaurants in Vancouver: Enjoy the Pacific Northwest's Bounty
By Natasha John
Vancouver Local Expert
Fresh seafood is literally within arm's reach in Vancouver, and local restaurants take advantage of what's available. Albacore tuna, Dungeness crab, multiple types of wild salmon, clams, oysters and mussels are just a few of the Pacific ocean's bounty that you will find on menus around town.
Yaletown's Blue Water Cafe is the place to go when you're looking for a spectacular dinner with all the bells and whistles. This fine dining restaurant has the best of both worlds by offering diners a raw bar that will satisfy your sushi and oyster cravings, and a standard menu with warm and satisfying dishes.
Vancouver is known to have some of the best sushi in the world and there are a tonne of great options to choose from. For something that's unique to Vancouver, make sure to try Minami or its sister restaurant, Miku. They have a few tricks up their sleeve you won't find elsewhere.
For something a little lighter on your wallet and more casual, Go Fish! is a delicious choice. On a hot summer day, a trip to Go Fish! is a must. Don't mind the long line-up during peak hours because it's worth the wait.
If you feeling extra Canadian while you're in Vancouver, fresh oysters and a huge Caesar (the drink, not the salad) will qualify you as an honorary Canadian. Rodney's Oyster Bar is the place to quench your thirst and ease your hunger.
10 Raincity Grill
A sophisticated yet casual West End restaurant with amazing views of English Bay and Stanley Park. The Pacific Northwest tastes extend to both the menu and the wine list. The creative cuisine takes advantage of fresh local ingredients and features organic vegetables, artisanal cheeses and salmon fished specifically for the restaurant. Opportunities to taste a variety of eclectic items are provided by early bird specials and also the "spoons" small servings of ceviche, tataki or salads. Save room for blueberry pie when it is in season. If you have room, try one of their tasting menus. They offer a regional, 100 mile and early bird option to choose from. (604-685-7337)
Chambar is a favorite amongst locals for many reasons. The ambiance is refined, yet sultry and the room is filled with people tucking into delicious food and savoring sips of craft cocktails on any given night. The menu has a Belgian focus, but is edges more along the lines of fine dining without being pretentious. Not only are they well known for having fabulous cocktails and wine, but they have a large array of Belgian beer that pairs perfectly with much of the food. When it comes time to sink your teeth into the nosh, the Congolaise mussels are out of this world. These mussels have a slight heat from smoked chili, but are cooled down with tomatoes, creamy coconut milk, fresh coriander and plenty of aromatic spices like fennel and cumin. The lamb tagine is another dish you will find yourself longing for as you dream about the lamb shank that's braised with honey, figs, cinnamon and cilantro, served with cous cous and zalouk. (604 879 7119)
8 Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
For over 25 years, Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House has been a favourite Oyster Mecca for locals and visitors alike. The extensive oyster has over 20 kinds of oysters from both the East and West coast. If oysters aren't your thing, you will still have plenty to choose from on their classic menu. With the freshest seafood, exquisite service and only steps from Robson Street, Joe Fortest Seafood & Chop House is solid choice to dine at. Old school charm is brought out through rich decor of dark woods, crisp linens and shiny silverware. The rooftop patio has recently been redone and is the perfect spot to sit and enjoy something cold, paired with one of the many delicious small plates. The service at Joe Fortes is hands down, some of the best in Vancouver and each guest is carefully looked after. (604-669-1940, 877-669-5637)
7 Minami Restaurant
Nestled in Yaletown is Miku's sister restaurant, Minami, and both are owned by Seigo Nakamura. Seigo is no stranger to the industry and his family has run a number of successful restaurants in Japan for many decades. An experience at Minami will elevate your taste buds and bring an entirely new experience of Japanese cuisine to your palate. They focus on Aburi style sushi, which is seared with a flame and charcoal filter, leaving a smoked aroma and just enough of a sizzle that brings out the natural fats and flavors of the fish. It's unlike any other sushi you've had and is a must try! They also use this technique on some of their entrees, like the Aburi Prime Rib that's tender, juicy and packed with so much flavor. There are plenty of other non-Aburi appetizers and main dishes on the extensive menu. If you're a fan of sake, you will be in your element at Minami because they have an extensive sake menu. (604.685.8080)
6 Rodney's Oyster Bar
Rodney's Oyster Bar is one of the best places to eat in the city. As you step into the casual restaurant, you will feel as though you have been transported somewhere outside Vancouver because of all the nautical East coast decor. The bartenders and servers are an all male team and provide stellar service and much entertainment. They offer a simple menu made with fresh ingredients, mainly from the sea. Oysters are their specialty and you can get them on the half shell or pan-fried. An array of condiments are presented to flavor the shucked gems, along with the classic condiments. If oysters aren't your thing, try the crab cakes and the clam chowder. The crab cakes are served with a lovely simple salad and it's big enough for two to share as an appetizer, or one as a main. Don't ask for mixed drinks, unless it's their signature Caesar. They only sell beer and wine here. (604 609 0080)
5 COAST Restaurant
COAST Restaurant is where seafood lovers go to indulge and get spoiled by the ocean's bounty. Freshly shucked oysters, an array of tempting appetizers and beautifully crafted dishes are what COAST prides themselves on. They also take their service and atmosphere just as seriously have put as much thought into the design of the restaurant, as they have into the menu. Everything is supremely fresh, which is exactly what you want, especially when it comes to seafood. The Seafood Tower is a wonderful way to start your meal, or be enjoyed as a meal, and comes with everything you could possibly want; mussels, oysters, crab, sashimi, prawns and lobster adorn this impressive multi-layered dish. (6046855010)
4 Go Fish!
This brilliant blue corrugated steel shack beside False Creek regularly puts out a variety of fried fish including cod, salmon and halibut, accompanied by crispy chips and a tangy slaw with a hint of Asian dressing. On any given day you'll find devotees lining up to order and sit at the outdoor picnic tables that create the "dining room," even when the temperature dips. The secret? The light, non-greasy batter uses local beer from the Granville Island Brewery and the fish are so fresh they're practically still flopping. The location of Go Fish! is easily accessible by foot, Seawall, water taxi or bus. (604-730-5040, 604-730-5039)
3 C Restaurant
Spectacular views and top-notch seafood in a waterfront setting are the hallmark of this award-winning downtown restaurant. Appetizers include an innovative taster box filled with soft shell crab, halibut sashimi, grilled Monterey Bay squid, and ahi tuna tartare. Among the creative entrees are the quince and ginger barbecued eel, octopus and bacon wrapped scallops, and the Bay of Fundy monkfish tournedos. A raw bar and dim sum lunch are also featured. Business casual attire. They take great care in making sure that their seafood is ethically sourced and sustainable, so you can feel good about what you're eating. After a delicious meal, step onto the Seawall that's directly in front of the restaurant and enjoy the ocean views during an evening stroll. (604-681-1164)
2 Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar
The fish and seafood are wild here, not only referring to their origins in the rivers and seas of BC and beyond, but in the way they are presented. A full raw bar is the stage for master sushi chef Yoshi Tabo to work magic on nigiri, sushi rolls and sashimi as well as provide a foundation for the Blue Water Tower a triple-tiered seafood dish topped with a whole Dungeness crab. Other menu items feature Yukon arctic char, BC sablefish or Queen Charlotte Island halibut prepared in eclectic ways. Be sure to save room for desserts such as the carmelized wasabi cheesecake created by the pastry chef. (604-688-8078)
1 YEW seafood + bar
Exceptional fine dining and stellar service are the hallmarks of this excellent restaurant inside the Four Seasons. Special features include a contemporary raw bar, a pastry chef that creates pure magic in the kitchen and a solid wine program created by Emily Walker. YEW has a seafood heavy focused menu created by Chef Ned Bell, which makes sense when you look at what the Pacific Northwest has to offer. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always be sure that there's an abundant amount of choice when it comes to the types of seafood, and land lovers will be pleased with the options available to them. The bar and lounge area makes for an inviting place to relax and unwind. (604-689-9333, 604-844-6715)
About Natasha John
Natasha is not born and raised in Vancouver, but calls this beautiful city home. After jumping around Canada, Texas, Arkansas and the UK, she has her feet firmly planted in Vancouver's beaches. Majoring in English Lit, writing has always been something that she has enjoyed. Curious by nature, education has not finished for this aspiring Third Party Mediator, and she is on the road to completing her certificate at the JIBC.
Not one to take things for granted, the awe-inspiring mountains paralyzes her gaze on a daily basis. The Seawall is a magnetic tease that eventually wins over on summer days.
Read more about Natasha John here.