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Vancouver | MM Travel Guide | 15

Mosquito
32 Water Street
★★★★
$$$

This is one of my favorite places in Vancouver right now. Mosquito does everything perfectly. A great drinks list, delicious menu, beautiful decor, comfortable atmosphere, and smooth but not uncomfortably attentive service. They specialize in desserts and cocktails but also offer other small plates like a charcuterie board. The desserts are generally light and not overly sweet or heavy, which is always a plus. Presentation is top notch and the combination of textures and flavors are universally interesting. The wine and champagne lists are relatively compact but curated well and should satisfy the fussiest palate.

Tip

The champagne of the day (if available) comes at a discount and is paired with a small bite to eat.

 
 

Bao Bei
163 Keefer Street
★★★☆
$$

Vancouver’s Chinatown and its neighboring streets can get pretty sketchy but its fringes have become increasingly trendy. Bao Bei is a perfect example of this. It’s a modern-Chinese restaurant with clear Vietnamese and French influences, all with a contemporary mindset. Food is exceptional here, and reminds me of my favorite modern-Asian restaurants like Joule in Seattle. Although some dishes came off a bit busy, the good ones were tremendous, like the Shao Bing (flatbread sandwich) and dumplings. I here the pork belly is to die for here as well, although I haven't tried it yet. The interior decor is done well too, and feels hip without feeling manufactured. If you're in the area, this one is a must visit.

Tip

Bao Bei doesn’t take reservations. I’d go on a Sunday night to avoid waiting too long.

 
 

Pronto
3473 Cambie Street
★☆☆☆
$$

Aesthetically, Pronto looks like it may be the best Italian restaurant in the world. It’s beautifully executed with bold typography and honest materials. But it isn't. The pasta is overcooked, bland and watery. The appetizers are better but not enough to save this place.

Tip

Although this is an Italian restaurant, don't get the pastas here.

 
 

Chambar
568 Beatty Street
★★★☆
$$

Chambar is a well-known brunch spot in Vancouver and it’s easy to see why. It’s a place that is kept and run impeccably, without being too fussy or pretentious. Belgian influences serve as the undertone with inspiration coming from Colombian cuisine. The plates are vibrant and clean. Freshness seems to be a key element with bright herbs and vegetables usually completing dishes. The unique soft and chewy waffles are really good here, and can be ordered with a selection of tasty sauces like salted caramel or chocolate pistachio rosewater.

Tip

The perfect brunch: order a main per person and a few waffles to share.

 
 

Revolver
325 Cambie St
★★☆☆
$$

I can call Revolver one of Vancouver’s best coffee shops but I’ll also mention that it isn’t a city with excellent coffee in general. Revolver has a rough and analog aesthetic and staff that seems to truly care about coffee. The drinks are made with care and skill but the beans are honestly not that great. Despite their large bean selection, the drinks felt a bit one dimensional and overall too bright in flavor. One of the great things about Revolver is their tasting flight, which is always a fun thing to do. But once again, this is let down by their coffee selection. I’m still not going to hesitate recommending this place. After all, their espressos are excellent.

Tip

Next door to Revolver is a coffee merchandise store called Archive. They're physically connected and you're welcome to sit and drink your coffee there.

 
 

Timbertrain
311 W Cordova St
★★★☆
$

Timbertrain is currently my favorite coffee shop in Vancouver. They make great, delicate pour-overs and rich espressos. Although Revolver offers more technical skill, Timbertrain seems to have bean curation that suits my tastebuds better. The selection is more diverse in flavor, ranging from the bright and fruity to rich and chocolatey. I also really like the Japanese ceramic cups that the coffee is served in and the table-focused seating design that resembles train interiors.

Tip

They have free sparkling water on tap. What more do you want?

 
 

Small Victory
1088 Homer Street
★★★★
$$

Finding Small Victory truly feels like a victorious thing. They are a bakery/cafe and have a good selection of desserts and pastries. The croissants are flaky and crisp and the desserts and cakes are all executed impeccably. I wouldn’t call them the best I’ve had, but that’s only because I’ve been to Paris. To top it off, the coffee here is pretty good as well, with a nice selection for pour-overs and solid espressos. For those who prefer tea, there’s a rotating menu of those as well. The interior is modern and clean, although the busy decorative gold elements do bother me a bit. The generous use of marble and light wood is attractive though, and I really like the bar seats that circle the baristas. The tables at Small Victory are really large so I actually prefer the bar seats when I visit with someone I actually want to talk to. Small Victory is one of those rare places that seem to do everything with near perfection and I would easily consider it one of my favorite places in the city.

Tip

Don’t go expecting a seat here, this place is often packed. The best time to visit is an hour or two before closing time.

 
 

Kirin
555 W 12th Avenue
★★★☆
$$

Bad service and decor seems to be unavoidable with dimsum restaurants. This one is no exception but more tolerable compared to others. Despite the utter chaos that ensues, the restaurant is run by staff that are well practiced and completely unfazed by the hoards of hungry and loud clientele. You’re seated at a surprisingly reasonable speed and although your server may accidentally bring you the wrong dish, the food itself makes up for most of the faults. The dishes are done in a classic style, and with a higher level of expertise and care than other joints in the city. Kirin may not be the best Chinese restaurant I've been to, but after much searching, I can confidently say that this is the best place for dimsum in the city.

Tip

If you call last minute for a table, they’ll say they’re fully booked. Walk-in, and it'll likely just be a 30 minute wait.

 
 

Rain or Shine
3382 Cambie Street
★★★☆
$$

Quality ice-cream parlors seem to be popping up everywhere these days. Rain or Shine is one of them, and offers a similar product you'd find at other ice-cream specialists; creamy, thick ice-cream made using local ingredients. Their flavors are categorized by two sections called “Keepers” and “Seasonal Flings”, the latter being the special seasonal menu. I really enjoy their ice-cream, but it's somewhat generic. You can find better ice-cream elsewhere in the city, but some of the seasonal flings are really creative, making Rain or Shine memorable. The confused, unwelcoming decor is a big annoyance, because it really hurts the otherwise delightful experience. All things considered though, this one is a keeper.

Tip

Go in the winter and they may have fir flavored ice-cream. It’s awesome.

 
 

UYU
433 Abbott St
★★★☆
$$

UYU is a small soft serve ice-cream parlor named after the Korean word for milk. It's a small shop with a modern aesthetic that feels a bit derivative and and cheap, but their product is solid. Simplicity is key to UYU’s success, highlighted by their minimal menu (there’s only a selection of a few flavors and a tasteful selection of toppings and drizzles). The quality of their soft serve makes UYU truly worth the visit - it’s light, fresh, not too sweet, and tastes heavily of milk. It really is good enough to eat without toppings, although those are great as well.

Tip

The honey drizzle pairs beautifully with the freeze-dried fruits on the milk soft serve.