Try These Vancouver Restaurants That Earned Michelin Recognition as “Bib Gourmand” Selections
Tasting menus, wine pairings, and fighting months in advance for coveted reservations at upscale restaurants may not be what Vancouver locals and visitors crave.
Although the lauded Michelin Guide has just offered its inaugural ratings for Vancouver, the second Canadian city on its list, and highlighted eight restaurants it felt deserved a single star, the publication (yes, from the tire company) has also gotten into the practice of highlighting places to eat that reflect a great bang for your buck.
What is a Michelin Guide ‘Bib Gourmand’ restaurant?
“Recommended restaurants in the Michelin Guides aren’t just about expensive ‘good food,'” the publication explains. “Since 1997, our best-value restaurants, offering a reasonably priced three-course meal, have been honored with a special award: the Bib Gourmand.” The price amount varies from country to country, but for Canada, the cap was set at two-course meals plus wine or dessert for less than $60.
“Our teams of inspectors really savored their dining experiences in Vancouver,” Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, said in a press release on the October 27 award announcement. “They were very impressed with the gastronomic dynamism of the city.”
That “dynamism” is certainly reflected in “Bib Gourmand’s” dozen honors, which includes everything from a seasonal shipping container bar and a backyard patio serving regional Mexican cuisine (that’s Chupito) to a newcomer. completely vegetarian in posh Yaletown (Nightshade) to one of Vancouver’s (Phnom Penh) most enduring Cambodian-Vietnamese staples.
If getting a reservation at any or all of Vancouver’s eight one-star restaurants isn’t within your budget, take a look at the 12 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand places in Vancouver.
Bib Gourmand Restaurants, Vancouver 2022
anh and chi
Amélie and Vincent Nguyễn built Anh and Chi based on the notion of bringing their family recipes and traditions to the next generation and creating a gathering place where everyone is welcome around the table. His parents managed Pho Hoang at the same location (3388 Main St) for over 30 years. Although her father Hoang passed away in 2010, her mother Ly is still in charge of the food at Anh and Chi. “The menu is a love letter to Vietnam,” says the Michelin Guide. “Chạo tôm bánh hỏi is prepared the classic way, with grilled shrimp mousse served with a variety of fresh herbs, and there’s pho, of course.”
Launching in the summer of 2021, Chupito is the seasonal patio bar only accessible through the alley behind La Taqueria on Hastings Street. A new line of cocktails inspired by the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the flavors of Mexico, are rolling out of Chupito’s tiny shipping container bar, to be enjoyed under the sky (or under umbrellas) at an urban overnight getaway to the faraway shore. south of the border. “Come for a cocktail and the aguachile, but stay for the other winning dishes, like a red pozole balanced with carnitas and ground corn,” urges the Michelin Guide. This is the only Bib Gourmand spot you’ll need to put a pin in for warmer weather; Chupito has concluded its 2022 season.
Fable Kitchen is a dark horse on the list; is the third oldest spot in Bib Gourmand’s inaugural selection for Vancouver, inaugurated a decade ago in Kits with Top Chef Canada competitor Trevor Bird in the kitchen. Not long ago, Bird stepped away from the business and the chef’s life in general, and today Fable’s kitchen is run by Max Straczek, who not only helped open Poland’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, but has also worked in numerous roles. in Fable and his brother, Fable Diner. “During the day, the team churns out eggs Benedict smothered in hollandaise sauce (and variations), Johnny pies topped with pulled pork and tomato jam, and thick-sliced challah French toast with caramelized apples and whipped mascarpone,” praises the Michelin Guide, and adds that dinnertime also offers cozy and comforting farm-to-table dishes.
Fiorino opened in late 2021. Housed in a former pub-style restaurant space in Chinatown, the modern Italian eatery has day-to-night service, including a snack and beverage offering, also known as happy hour, and a small and fun yard. space in front that puts you in the middle of the colorful neighborhood. They’re serving up thoughtful, accessible Italian dishes here, including a couple more that showcase ingredients and preparations you probably won’t find on the menus of other local Italian restaurants. “At lunch, focaccia and schiacciata sandwiches, like guanciale filling, drizzled with honey and spread with walnut cream, are the hot ticket. At dinner, it’s all about pasta,” Michelin notes.
Kin Kao Song
The sister venue to the much-loved Commercial Drive restaurant, Kin Kao, opened just under a year ago. Kin Kao Song’s Terrence Feng says that guests can expect a different menu from the original Kin Kao on The Drive “with a heavy emphasis on accessible yet uniquely Vancouver Thai food.” And Michelin says, “Kin Kao Song’s food is fueled by a creative spirit and the generosity of the region. The lemongrass wings are a special surprise.” (Also: get the Pad Thai, it’s “best in class” here.)
Little Bird Dim Sum
Call them rebels against tradition, with some credibility. Little Bird is a Kitsilano restaurant serving dim sum on weekdays and all day and into the night on weekends too. They pair it with craft beer and even do vegan dim sum. As it happens, the aptly named Little Bird is a descendant of Vancouver’s veteran Chinese restaurant Flamingo. “Of course, there must be meatballs, and Little Bird’s runs the gamut from traditional (ha gow) to amazing, with sweet corn, cilantro and shrimp,” highlights the Michelin Guide.
“Like a grandmother who has prepared a feast for her family, Chef Nguyen Thi Thanh exudes a warm and loving presence as she surveys her bustling dining room,” the Michelin Guide begins. In fact, Commercial Drive’s choice for modern Vietnamese food has deep roots in a modest food stall in Vietnam made famous by a celebrity chef and travelogue. Here she’ll find deeply flavorful bowls of noodle soup (go on Sundays for the slow-braised duck soup), luc lac steak, and crispy chili-salted prawns.
Yaletown’s Nightshade has impressive roots, growing up in a province of Alberta; this Vancouver debut venture is from the same people behind well-known vegetarian joints The Coup and The Dandelion in Calgary, and Nourish in Banff. The opening menu was designed by acclaimed chef Chanthy Yen, who was trained in Vancouver and has spent time in kitchens across the country and the world. Here, diners will discover a full list of well-crafted cocktails, local beers and a respectable wine list, along with a menu that spans the globe. Your foodie journey may find you ripping off chunks of fenugreek and garam masala-infused roti and picking up a spread that combines raita with vegan butter and browned spheres of roasted garlic, then drizzling a palm sugar sauce on a matching crispy fried taro roll. with fresh basil, mint and butter lettuce.
The restaurant is the brainchild of a duo who are longtime friends and veterans of Vancouver restaurants, including acclaimed Italian spot La Quercia. Oca Pastificio advertises itself as “a cozy place, sans chichi, serving honest, fresh, artisanal pasta, based on local and seasonal ingredients.” Of this little spot on The Drive, Michelin says, “This simple pastificio invites diners to pull up a chair and savor authentic, well-prepared pasta dishes. The tagliatelle with wine-braised rabbit ragu and rosemary are especially satisfying.”
What hasn’t been said about this humble but hugely popular Chinatown restaurant serving Cambodian-Vietnamese food that hasn’t already been said since its launch in the early 1980s? It is also the oldest restaurant on the Bib GOumand list. The tables are packed, the din doesn’t stop, but the dishes are a huge and lasting draw. “The menu is huge, offering nearly 100 preparations of rice, noodles, and soup, but everyone knows to stick to the classics. You could almost make a meal out of #71, thin slices of near-raw beef soaked in a acid mixture of pureed pineapple and fish sauce”, praises the Michelin Guide.
The food at Say Mercy! reflects a harmonious blend of Italian fare and American barbecue, with pastas, entrees, salads and some gloriously buttery Parker House rolls served in its bright and inviting dining room. “Don’t even think of skipping the BBQ Bolo, it’s non-negotiable. Short for ‘bolognese,’ it’s a distinctive dish of homemade spaghetti mixed with pancetta, smoked pork tenderloin and Grana Padana,” says the Michelin Guide. (We agree!)
The veteran Vancouver Indian restaurant founded by ex-spouses Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala has changed locations, started accepting reservations and is even ordering takeout (the latter two hadn’t met before the pandemic). “When it opened in 1994, this local staple was at the forefront of Indian haute cuisine in North America, and it continues to make a compelling case for the subcontinent’s gastronomic riches,” notes the Michelin Guide. And, yes: always ask for the “lamb shoulders” (don’t worry, they are not frozen).
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