Every season in Vancouver has its merits, but for food, drinks and things to do, winter is an exceptionally special time. As the days grow colder, we go in search of cozy hideaways with comfort food and warm beverages, and enjoy the wide range of winter activities available in and around the city. See below for our Winter City Guide for Vancouver.
Photo Courtesy of Botanist
Five Places to Eat
As soon as the temperature dips, it’s all about finding the best warm comfort foods in town. Kintaro, located at Denman and Robson Street, is hands down one of the best ramen spots in Vancouver, and is bound to warm you up from the inside. An added bonus if you’ve caught a cold: their massive bowls of steamy broth will clear your sinuses right up! You can see the massive pots of broth simmering in the open kitchen, as the chefs prepare your bowl a few feet away. Just expect to wait in line – this place is popular and the location is small, but it’s well worth the wait.
This is one of the hottest new restaurants in Vancouver right now. Botanist is hidden away in the elegant Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, and boasts a stunningly chic interior. In our opinion, it’s set like a 60’s style lounge, and we can’t get enough of it. If the dreary winter weather has you down, this spot will lift your spirits. There’s natural beauty everywhere, with more than 50 different types of plant species decorating the space. The culinary team at Botanist has created an incredibly creative menu that will surely delight your taste buds. Executive Chef Hector Laguna bases each meal on the culinary abundance and botany of the Pacific Northwest, with a focus on local produce, sustainably sourced seafood and backyard suppliers.
3. Peaked Pies
Nothing says comfort food like a warm, homemade pie. Peaked Pies is located in the West End along Denman Street, and is the second location after the original in Whistler. Their Australian meat pies are handmade and baked fresh daily, and you can customize your pie by topping it high with mashed potatoes, mushy green peas and gravy. Go with a classic Traditional Aussie pie with ground beef, onions and gravy, or be adventurous and try The Hopper with ground kangaroo in a cabernet merlot balsamic reduction!
4. The Holy Crab
This is one of our favourite spots for a fun dinner out – especially in the winter, when our outdoor activities feel somewhat limited by the weather. Eating at The Holy Crab is also basically an activity, and is a great outing for date night or dinner with friends. The Louisiana-inspired restaurant is found at the heart of Robson Street, and is all about rolling up your sleeves, putting on a bib and enjoying some tasty Cajun seafood. Just pick your seafood, sauce and sides, and then go at it with your hands! The messier, the better. They have some tools on-hand and tutorial videos running on the TV’s to help you dive into your dinner and pick out all those succulent little pieces of lobster and crab!
If you’re looking for a cozy little nook to curl up in with a good glass of Chianti and a bowl of delicious pasta…well Nook is your place! It’s almost always a packed house, but it’s well worth the wait to snag a table. We recommend trying the gnocchi with baby meatballs: it melts in your mouth and is bursting with flavor. It’s no surprise this spot has served some star-studded guests over the years (amongst others, a friend of ours spotted Wentworth Miller dining there). Find Nook in both Kitsilano and the West End.
Photos courtesy of Mosquito
Five Places to Drink
It’s that time of year when you start craving a good, hot spiked beverage to keep warm. Thierry is well-known for their phenomenal pastries and chocolates, but many may not know they also have an excellent selection of alcoholic drinks on their menu, which include some hot drinks perfect for the season. For a special treat, order one of their spiked liquid chocolate drinks: French Kiss, De Ja Vu, or Beaucoup d’Amour. Our personal favourite is French Kiss, made with Stoli Vanilla, Frangelico, and filled with house blend liquid chocolate. Visit them on Alberni and Thurlow Street.
If you’re looking for an ultra-chic and intimate champagne lounge, Mosquito in Gastown is a must-try. The interior has a sophisticated, vintage feel, and is a perfect spot for after-dinner drinks. You’ll love the vibe so much, you won’t even miss patio season! The menu features a selection of fine wines, champagne, sparking wines, beer and cocktails, as well as small, decadent treats to pair with. As die-hard James Bond fans, the Moneypenny cocktail is a favourite.
Located in the heart of Chinatown, Juniper serves up handcrafted cocktails and Canadian-inspired fare that puts a spotlight on West Coast style. The space itself feels like a chic distillery, with its copper accents and raw concrete and steel. The atmosphere is quite intimate, with its small divided dining spaces surrounding the central bar. Take a look at the cocktail menu, and you’ll see a selection of local and international small-batch spirits, carefully crafted into a unique list of Cascadian-themed cocktails. We recommend trying the Juniper and the Canadiano.
Tucked away below the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, you have to take a ‘secret’ entrance to enter this Roaring Twenties-style bar. The entire space exudes a feeling of old school, sophisticated glamour. We love that they feature live musical entertainment, and the vintage-inspired cocktails are a perfect fit with the speakeasy theme. Their cocktails are categorized by mood: notorious + festive + sociable, sophisticated + classic + temperate, etc. For a truly prohibition-style drink, we also recommend trying Prohibition’s selection of absinthe. If you’re looking for somewhere to go for drinks with an intimate yet vibrant atmosphere, Prohibition is an excellent spot.
Another cocktail spot with a flair for the old fashioned, Pourhouse can be found in the historic Gastown area. The restaurant is housed in a 100-year-old building, whose heritage gives it plenty of character. Take refuge from the cold and rainy winter weather by ducking in and having a drink at one of their cozy booths. We recommend a classic Hot Toddy paired with their Crème Brulée. Visit on Sunday nights for live music!
Three Things To Do
Photo by Heather Cameron, Krause Berry Farms
1. Krause Berry Farms
Sure, it’s not right downtown Vancouver, but making a trip out to Krause Berry Farms this winter is well worth it. They have a full tasting room to try their assorted locally-sourced wines, plus they serve a delicious corn chowder with freshly made bread that is perfect to keep you cozy and full. You can peruse The Market, filled with everything from country themed gifts and décor items, to jams, pies, soups and more to take home. They also have plenty of upcoming events – just check out their page for details.
2. East Vancouver Brewery Tasting Tour
Grab an umbrella, and hop from brewery to brewery in the East Van area. This great self-guided tasting tour by Bored in Vancouver is an excellent way to spend a winter weekend. There’s 8 different local breweries featured on the tour – if you can make it to all of them in one day!
Britta is the founder of VancouverVogue.com, a fashion and beauty blog based out of Vancouver, Canada. Britta is a prominent member of the Vancouver fashion and beauty community, and is also a luxury and lifestyle brand PR specialist with White Rabbit Communications.
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