Taste sensations in Vancouver’s ‘hoods

PICTURESQUE: Vancouver is a city of diverse culture.

As you’d expect from an A-list foodie city, Vancouver’s celebrated offerings are constantly evolving, as trends come and go in the hot ‘hoods.

I delved into the city’s palette and here’s a selection of tried and trusted options destined to leave you with a memorable flavour of buzzing Vancouver.

The city’s oldest ’hood, with its cobblestoned atmosphere, is a great starting point.

Gastown takes its name from the first saloon owner, Gassy Jack Deighton, who started trading in 1867. You’ll probably recognise the Gastown streetscape from 50 Shades of Grey, which was filmed here. Fancy some creative mixology?

Head to Chill Winston for the evocatively named Ritual Sacrifice cocktail, comprising Victoria Gin, Aperol, grapefruit tea, lemon and peach bitters. Another top Gastown destination is L’Abattoir, where French influenced Pacific north-west cuisine, forms the basis of its menu.

It’s a great spot to get your fill of fresh halibut, a slightly sweet-tasting fish, and the delicate flavour of British Colombia’s spot prawns.

Tucked in Gastown’s Dominion Building, Nuba captures the classic Lebanese style of sharing with a menu of innovative dishes. In a city famed for its serious surfeit of Starbucks joints (over 100 at last count), re-caffeinate at Milano Gastown, a local trail-blazer as a roaster and coffee-maker, with an espresso tasting bar, to boot.

Prado Cafe is another stellar stop, home to four-time Canadian Barista Champion and first ever winner of World Latte Art Championship. Sam Piccolo embodies the passion for great coffee, continually using his award-winning skills to create the perfect cup of coffee.

Another revitalised historic district trending with the “scenesters,” is the old warehouse haunt of Yaletown, where an energised patio-culture permeates its heritage brick walkways.

Foodie hot-spots include Wild Tale Coastal Grill, for sustainable seafood like the local oysters. Homer Street Café is a cracker.

Its rotisserie chicken is one of the nest things you could shove in your mouth, but the people who do it here somehow look chic and French.

Just south of the city centre, the crown jewel of the city’s culinary scene is Granville Island Public Market. Technically the island is actually a sandbar, but semantics aside, the public market is the second most visited visitor attraction in Canada, after Niagara Falls.

The food hall proper is where you’ll be rubbing shoulders with many top restaurant chefs, as they source ingredients for the evening menu.

With over 150 permanent retailers and vendor stalls, the abundance of temptation is a formidable test of impulse control. You can lustily graze your way on fragrant pastries and artisan cheese as you go, although for more substantial dining, the international food court, at the heart of the market, is where to head.

My recommended stops include Benton Brother’s Fine Cheese, Oyama Sausage Company and Edible Canada. Their flavoured bacon salt is a taste-sensation, in its own right.

Whatever you do, do not miss sampling a honey-dipped donut from Lee’s Donuts. Beyond the public market, the wide array of designer stores and art studios is always enthralling.

Another area signature is Granville Island Brewing. Pop in for a very agreeable Maple Cream Ale.

It is ultra-hip and seriously groovy, fresh from a tip-to-toe makeover. The Burrard has transformed what was a 1950s downtown motel into a chic and playful boutique hotel with an unmistakably retro-cool vibe.

Accommodation is compact but undeniably comfy, loaded with creature comforts and contemporary flourishes, including luxurious bedding, flatscreen TVs, free Wi-Fi, iPod docking stations and Nespresso coffee machines.

The 72 guestrooms open out onto a lush interior garden courtyard, thronging with palms. It’s a stunning little oasis for urban lounging.

The hotel also treats guests to free-use cruiser bikers and complimentary North American phone calls.

Staff are fabulously informed and fizzing at the bung with insider tips on where to go, whether it be a fun-filled bike route or post-pedal cocktail.

It’s always a thrill to discover a stand-out hotel with a seriously distinctive personality. The Burrard is a class-act. Wherever you choose to stay in Vancouver, lock in your accommodation through Hotels.com, which was fast, efficient and packed with great deals.

Hotels.com Rewards gives you one free night after 10 nights booked– which you can bank for future holidays. Rewards members and mobile app users also enjoy exclusive access to Secret Prices.

I found the Hotels.com mobile app to be a simple, fast and secure way to book your perfect hotel, on the go.

FAST FACTS:

•Air New Zealand is increasing capacity on its Vancouver route. The airline will kick the increases off by moving from seven to eight weekly services during the first half of January, making it easier than ever for Kiwis to escape to the snow, with increased services during the shoulder periods too. With well-timed overnight flight departures, I managed to sleep my way across most of the Pacific. For best fares and seats to suit, head to www.airnewzealand.co.nz

For the best insider tips on what’s new and trending, keep an eye on the official tourism website when plotting your city exploratory. www.tourismvancouver.com

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