Fine Dining Outside the City: 8 of BC’s Hidden Gem Restaurants
Shake up your restaurant routine with these mini food road trips around Metro Vancouver (and a little beyond).
We like to think the quality of a journey can be measured by the number of delicious meals consumed. But why wait until your next holiday to try something new? With so many culinary options in our fair city, it’s easy to forget that there are hidden gems just beyond Vancouver’s city limits.
With the help of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, we’ve taken a pretty amazing road trip around the region to discover the places and plates worth leaving the city for. The blend of luxury features with 4×4 capabilities, makes this SUV the ideal vehicle to take us to these eight must-try eateries–all of which are just a scenic drive away.
Distance: 20 km
Estimated driving time: 33 minutes
Gudrun is a welcome change of pace from the fish ‘n’ chips shops jostling for space in this Richmond enclave. It offers Gastown-style fresh sheets (they’re inspired by Salt Tasting Room, after all), a to-die-for B.C.-focused wine list and a curated beer selection featuring Belgian ales and local brews. Over the years, Gudrun has expanded its menu from charcuterie and cheese plates to seasonally-focused fresh sheets, with elevated items such as a lamb shoulder’s shepherd’s pie and a house-made chicken liver parfait with saffron and pear chutney.
Location: North Vancouver
Distance: 10 km
Estimated driving time: 20 minutes
Experience Belgian flavours with a West Coast twist by simply crossing the Lions Gate Bridge. Get your timing right and you might snag a coveted spot on the patio, making it all the easier to while away the hours over imported beers and comforting fried snacks. Try the Brussels sprouts with balsamic reduction and walnuts or generous plates of Belgian fries and savoury mussels.
Location: Port Moody
Distance: 22 km
Estimated driving time: 35 minutes
The winding stretch of Barnet Highway that leads you to Port Moody is reason enough to hit the road. You’ll be treated to superb views of Burnaby Mountain on one side and the Burrard Inlet on the other – a time when the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s Dual Pane Panoramic Sunroof will definitely come in handy. If you’re not the designated driver, sip on a flight of craft beer at any of the four options along the aptly named Brewer’s Row before digging into rustic, wood-fired pizzas at Spacca Napoli. Hot tip: be sure to ask for oregano and basil under the cheese. You’ll be glad you did.
4. My Shanti
Distance: 45 km
Estimated drive time: 46 minutes
You can’t miss My Shanti’s glittering exterior with pops of Bollywood-bright pink peeking through. But it’s the meal waiting inside that’s truly unforgettable. Vancouver celebrity chef Vikram Vij has created a menu that celebrates the lesser-known cuisines of his native India. Menu items are labeled with their respective region, such as the Chaat (Udaipur), inspired by a popular street food snack from the eponymous region in the state of Rajasthan. Dig into the salad of crispy eggplant and squash with fresh spinach and mint leaves, served with three kinds of chutney.
Distance: 76 km
Estimated drive time: 62 minutes
Hit the road early for a breathtaking drive on the Sea-to-Sky Highway before savouring some top-notch brunch at Fergie’s. The winding road is pleasure to drive, made even more so with the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Tuck into plates piled high with pulled pork hash or their famous eggs Benedict, served atop homemade buttermilk biscuits. The patio is heated during the chillier months, and in the summer, you can take your breakfast out into the woods for a truly West Coast experience.
6. El Santo
Location: New Westminster
Distance: 26 km
Estimated drive time: 35 minutes
Gorgeous design and delectable food are the name of the game at this New West hot spot. Gaze at the larger-than-life luchador mask cleverly constructed from wine corks—an homage to the restaurant’s namesake, a Mexican wrestler known as The Saint. We recommend testing a trio of house-made guacamoles and the verduras tacos, a perfect combination of savoury fried cauliflower and sweet mango salsa. Time your visit right and you might be treated to live music while sipping on a classic margarita (no blenders here, thank you very much).
7. Café Ça Va
Location: West Vancouver
Distance: 9 km
Estimated drive time: 17 minutes
Elegant French fare with just the right touch of fussiness awaits you in Ambleside, where Michelin-star chef Alain Rayé has designed light-as-air soufflé at Café Ça Va. Outside the kitchen, front-of-house manager Brigitte welcomes guests with undeniable Gallic charm. While we recommend the restaurant’s signature soufflé, any dish you choose is guaranteed to be as beautiful as it is delicious. Bring your own wine on Tuesdays and take advantage of the waived corkage fee.
Distance: 8 km
Estimated drive time: 21 minutes
Contemporary West Coast dining is not what you would expect to find in quaint Burnaby Heights, but the Pear Tree has been delivering it for 20 years. Behind its unassuming grey facade, you’ll discover elegant dishes with a focus on local organic ingredients. Start with the flamed gin and tomato soup, then move on to mains like the Lois Lake steelhead, pan-roasted and paired with pomme dauphine and butternut squash. Not full yet? Finish off a picture-perfect evening with the Vanilla Crème Brûlée with a crisp Brandy Snap.
Behind the wheel of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, city dwellers can escape the ordinary at a moment’s notice. Make a typical day feel like a luxurious adventure with a mini road trip to one of these first-rate restaurants outside Vancouver’s city limits. Bon Appetit!