Vancouver has hundreds of restaurants but if you're looking for a uniquely Vancouver experience, remember that Pacific Northwest seafood is always a good choice, and many restaurants emphasize fresh seasonal produce, Canadian cheeses, and locally raised meats. Vancouver also has some of the best Asian food in North America.
Dining is informal. Neat casual dress is appropriate everywhere; nice jeans are fine, though you might want something dressier than sneakers in the evening.
Most restaurants that serve lunch are open from 11:30 until 2 or 2:30. Downtown spots that serve a business clientele may not open for lunch on weekends. Dinner is usually served from 5:30 until at least 10. Some dining rooms are open later on weekends, but in general, Vancouver isn't a late-night eating city. Some restaurants close on Sunday or Monday.
Except in cafés and casual eateries, reservations are always a good idea, particularly for weekend evenings.
Smoking is prohibited by law in all Vancouver restaurants.
Tipping and Taxes
A 15% tip is expected. Restaurant meals are currently subject to a 12% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). However, in 2013, the HST is slated to be repealed, which means that only a 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be levied on the food portion of restaurant bills and a 10% liquor tax will be charged on wine, beer, and spirits.
Many restaurants serve excellent B.C. wines. Sometimes the most interesting wines are from small producers, so ask for recommendations.
What It Costs
Vancouver's top tables can be as pricey as the best restaurants in major American cities. You can often dine more economically at some of the smaller but just-as-inventive bistros or by sharing small plates at one of the many tapas-style eateries. Some restaurants have reasonably priced prix-fixe menus, and at certain times of the year, including the midwinter Dine Out Vancouver promotion, even the top dining rooms offer these fixed-price options. Check the website for Tourism Vancouver (www.tourismvancouver.com) for details. Family-style Asian restaurants and noodle shops are generally a good value year-round, and when the sun is shining, you can always pick up some cheese, bread, and fruit, and picnic at the beach.