In the Heart of the City: Downtown Vancouver's Best Restaurants

Vancouver is a city that loves its food and each neighborhood has something different to offer. For this downtown Vancouver list, we're looking at restaurants East of Burrard Street and West of Carrall Street.

Whether it's a special occasion or 'just because', every now and then it's nice to splurge on a memorable meal. When the moment strikes, head to Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. From the space to the music to the drinks and food, this gorgeous restaurant pulls out all of the stops. Bonus? Head downstairs to the Lobby Lounge for music and cocktails.

For over a decade, Chambar restaurant has been serving tasty Belgian food that's complemented with Belgian beer, craft cocktails, and a juicy wine list. Whether you're meeting with friends, going on a date, or dining solo at the bar, this buzzing restaurant suits.

Deco-inspired decor, soaring ceilings, and flavorful steaks can be found at Gotham Steakhouse. This old-school steakhouse has a time-tested menu and an incredible wine list with rare bottles that can be enjoyed by the glass, or bottle.

Regardless of where you end up, you're in good hands at any of these downtown restaurants.


Japanese owned and operated, Shizen Ya is a downtown Vancouver favorite. Sure, there are many options to choose from when it comes to Japanese food, but Shizen Ya's quality and price point make it a popular spot, day or night. The menu features the usual suspects like spicy tuna, salmon and avocado, dynamite and California rolls, but they also have some specialty rolls. The Natural Bomber roll uses fresh, real crab meat, whole wheat tiger prawn tempura, cucumber, greens and plenty of avocado and finishes it with their "creamy bomber sauce". They also have vegetarian and vegan options, along with rice-free rolls, gyoza, udon, teriyaki, sashimi, whole wheat tempura, salads and more. In addition to making all of their rolls with brown rice, they use organic and Ocean Wise ingredients. It's also worth noting that the service is lovely here.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: Shizen Ya's Sakura Blossom roll's filled with real crab meat, spicy tuna and avocado, and topped with wild salmon and a creamy maple drizzle. Tasty!

Natasha's expert tip: They have two locations, this one downtown and one on West Broadway. If the restaurants are full, grab some take-out and enjoy it at home.

Read more about Shizen Ya →

When it comes to cravings, MeeT in Gastown brings out the best of both worlds-comfort classics and healthy bowls. With a few locations around the city, this vegan restaurant is a local favorite. If you're feeling healthy, The Lovely bowl is heaving with ingredients that satisfy and nourish. It starts with a bed of brown rice and is topped with marinated tofu, wilted kale, roasted red pepper, broccoli, shredded carrot, toasted coconut bacon and almond satay sauce. Should that not be what you're in the mood for, check out their burgers. The Angry Burg is all kinds of delicious indulgence. They beer batter one of their burgers and toss it in a spicy buffalo sauce before stacking it onto a kaiser bun with guacamole, ranch dressing, lettuce and tomato. All burgers are served with fries and salad. They also have a bunch of appetizers, salads and poutines to choose from. Be sure to save room for dessert!

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: MeeT in Gastown's Angry Burg will satisfy any cravings you may have for Buffalo hot wings, minus the chicken.

Natasha's expert tip: They have a few locations around town so if this address isn't convenient, chances are one of the other ones may be.

Read more about MeeT in GASTOWN →

When you combine an incredible room, delicious food, hospitable service, and an envious wine list, you really can't go wrong. Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar checks all of these boxes, making it one of Vancouver's best steakhouses, and a great spot for a date. This high-end, deco-inspired restaurant has soaring ceilings and dim lighting that make for a sultry space. Throughout the restaurant, there's are plenty of cozy corners and intimate booths to enjoy your meal. From a fork-tender petite filet to a mouthwatering tomahawk steak that could feed a crowd, you'll find just about every cut of steak imaginable. Steaks are cooked to perfection on an infrared grill that cooks at 1800 degrees. It doesn't get much better when you pair your steak with classic sides, like creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, and a glass of wine. They have an intense wine list that boasts many delicious options.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: Gotham Steakhouse's dry-aged bone-in New York strip and extensive wine list are what dreams are made of.

Natasha's expert tip: Make a reservation as it's a popular spot.

Read more about Gotham Steakhouse →


Since 2007, Jules Bistro has been a local favorite for approachable French food. Born and raised in Dijon, France, owner and chef, Emmanuel Joinville, brings his skillful love of cooking to each dish he creates. After his apprenticeship and opening his own restaurant in Dijon, he ventured to Paris where he opened a small gastropub near the Eiffel Tower before moving to Vancouver and opening Jules Bistro. Set among Vancouver's cobblestone streets of Gastown, Jules Bistro serves traditional French dishes with West Coast touches. On the menu you'll find classic dishes like escargots bourguignonne, duck confit, moules frites and flavourful steaks served with your choice of sauce. For dessert, a sour cherry clafoutis with buttermilk-lemon sorbet does just the trick and is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Jules Bistro is open for lunch, dinner, happy hour and weekend brunch.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: Jules Bistro's duck confit is always a hit, making it a must order.

Natasha's expert tip: They're open for brunch so if you're looking to start your morning off in a romantic way, head to Jules Bistro.

Read more about Jules Bistro →

Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar
Photo courtesy of Blue Water Cafe

When it comes to fresh seafood and fine dining, Yaletown's Blue Water Cafe is another Vancouver institution that delivers the goods. Crisp white linens and attentive service prep you for a memorable meal. On the menu, choose from a beautiful selection of fresh seafood that's prepared in a multitude of ways. The raw bar will satisfy any sushi cravings, while the seafood on ice options make for wonderful starters. From freshly shucked oysters and caviar to the most jaw-dropping seafood towers, the dishes here impress. Move onto your main with something like their sablefish with a miso sake glaze, baby bok choy, edamame, quinoa and shiitake mushrooms with yuzu dashi from the principal plates. Wash it all down with a bottle from their ever-growing wine program. They carry over 1,000 labels and have a cellar of 14,000 bottles.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: The smoked sockeye salmon terrine is a Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar classic, and a must order to start your meal with.

Natasha's expert tip: They are known for their seafood towers that have an abundance of fresh shellfish.

Read more about Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar →

Hawksworth Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Hawksworth Restaurant

Chef David Hawksworth is well-known around the world for creating beautiful and delicious dishes. Through dedication, consistency and a love for food, each plate is a piece of culinary art that'll make for a meal to remember. The menu sources the best seasonal ingredients from local purveyors first and then from across Canada so there's always something new to look forward to. Located inside the gorgeous Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Hawksworth's dining room exudes sophistication and style, while the service is gracious and warm. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so diners can enjoy a lovely meal any time of day. If you're just popping in for drinks, they also offer a bar-dining menu that will curb your appetite while you sip on a hand-crafted cocktail in the lounge.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: Hawksworth Restaurant's tasting menu is worth the indulgence and the best way to sample the menu.

Natasha's expert tip: If your budget won't allow a full dinner, lunch is an excellent alternative.

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L'Abattoir is located in the centre of Gastown between historic Gaoler's Mews and Blood Alley. The restaurant was built in the 19th century and is the site of Vancouver's first jail. Originally buttressed to the city's main butchery and meat packing district, the name L'Abattoir pays homage to the neighborhood's colorful past. Set in a refurbished brick and beam building that combines classic French tile work with industrial fixtures, natural wood, and glass and steel finishes. The restaurant offers a bar and lounge setting, elevated dining room and a plush, sun soaked atrium. The menu showcases artfully prepared dishes that pay homage to French cuisine.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: L'Abattoir Restaurant's food is delicious, but it should also be noted that their cocktails are not to be missed!

Natasha's expert tip: If you want to save a bit of money, brunch is a more affordable option than dinner.

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Chambar's one of the few restaurants that's open first thing and closes late in the evening. This bodes well for hungry diners in search of a delicious meal any time of day. Whether you're here for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, the Belgian-North African cuisine brings beautiful dishes to the table. Business or pleasure, lunch at Chambar is a solid choice. The buzzing atmosphere and flavorful menu make this place a popular spot amongst locals. For food, tuck into hearty dishes like the short rib fricassee. This favorite dish is made with braised short ribs, balsamic cipollini onions, potatoes, watercress, fried eggs, and applewood smoked cheddar. It's rich and delicious. For something lighter, try the mezze platter. It has a little bit of everything: salads, dips, haloumi cheese and other tasty bites. If it's one of 'those' lunches, don't miss the cocktail menu.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: If you're a fan of mussels, Chambar's congolaise are basically a Vancouver institution now.

Natasha's expert tip: Chambar takes reservations so give them a call to secure a table.

Read more about Chambar →

After a day at the office, a cocktail and some good conversation is just the tonic you need to unwind. Set amongst Vancouver's financial district, Nightingale has a seat with your name on it. The downstairs lounge boasts soaring ceilings, beautiful decor and a warm buzz, making this a lovely spot to convene over a drink and a bite. The dining room is on the mezzanine (with the open kitchen) and looks down onto the lounge. If you're after some cozy vibes, you'll want to sit upstairs. The food menu's seasonally driven and quite extensive and dishes are best enjoyed shared. Start with creative salads and veggie dishes before moving on to house-made pastas, pizzas and meaty mains. There are plenty of vegetarian options, too. The cocktail menu serves up a selection of hand-crafted thirst quenchers and if it's beer or wine you're after, they've got you.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: Nightingale's menu changes, but the imagination and quality of ingredients don't.

Natasha's expert tip: Make a reservation as it gets pretty busy.

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If you want a restaurant that does it all, head to Botanist. From stunning dishes and mouth-watering flavor profiles to imaginative cocktails, a gorgeous room, and live music-they tick off all the boxes. Walking into this Fairmont Pacific Rim restaurant is like a breath of fresh air, literally. Inspired by the principles of botany and the lush landscape of the Pacific Northwest, this vibrant restaurant, bar, lounge and terrace is a feast for the senses. The room itself is adorned with plenty of greenery, soft peach banquets, brushed gold, and other natural elements throughout. On the menu, Executive Chef Hector Laguna makes the most of the Pacific Northwest's bounty. Locally and seasonally driven, each dish is made to excite both the eye and the palate. The cocktail program blends chemistry with a playful execution, while the wine list features wineries that practice sustainable, biodynamic or organic farming and winemaking.

Recommended for Best of Vancouver's Downtown because: There's not one thing that's really great about Botanist, this restaurant's the full package. It's expensive, but worth the splurge for a special occasion.

Natasha's expert tip: After dinner, head down to the Lobby Lounge for a more rowdy crowd, live music and a cocktail awaits.

Read more about Botanist →


Meet Natasha John

Natasha is not born and raised in Vancouver, but is pretty certain it's her spirit hometown. After jumping around Canada, Texas, Arkansas and the UK, she has her feet firmly planted in...  More About Natasha