The chicest spots to stay, shop, drink, and dine—plus expert tips from the city’s coolest insiders.
Image courtesy of Tourism BC/Tom Ryan
WHERE TO STAY
Moda Hotel (modahotel.ca, 900 Seymour St., 604-683-4251)
The Moda has taken the boutique formula—clean lines, sleek furnishings—and added a welcome dose of personality. The vintage framework is a fine starting point for this cozy-luxe downtown hotel. The hardwood floors date back 80 years; the lobby’s mosaic tiles are 100-years-old; the Douglas fir beams double that. Moda’s modern sensibility is evident in the chic silver and red accents, organic amenities from local Skoah Spa, and the new condo-style suites available in the building across the street. Just off the lobby, there are two great dining options: Cibo Trattoria (scroll down for details), and UVA Wine Bar, a stylish spot for a morning latte and a fennel and hazelnut biscotti—or, post sight-seeing, a glass of sauvignon blanc from B.C.’s Lake Breeze Seven Poplars vineyard.
Deal sealer: The location. In the heart of Yaletown, the Moda is walking distance to Granville Street, Robson Street, even Gastown.
WHERE TO EAT
FOR BRUNCH: Café Medina (medinacafe.com, 556 Beatty St., 604-879-3114)
You’ve got to love a breakfast spot where the La Santé (“Healthy”) dish features prosciutto and grilled ciabatta along with avocado, tomato, tapenade, and a soft-boiled egg. And Café Medina is nothing if not beloved: Every weekend, crowds gather before the doors open, anticipating favourites like the Fricassé, which takes the traditional two-egg breakfast and throws in braised short ribs, arugula, and applewood cheddar. There is an ultra healthy granola and yogurt option on the menu, but even diet devotees must try the signature Belgian waffles, which can be ordered individually for the ultimate sweet after-taste.
Don't miss: The indulgent waffle toppings, from raspberry caramel to white chocolate pistachio rosewater.
FOR LUNCH: Jules Bistro (julesbistro.ca, 216 Abbott St., 604-669-0033)
If Midnight in Paris sparked a craving for all things français, Jules Bistro is sure to satisfy. This sweet spot in the heart of Gastown offers French favourites like croque monsieur, salade Niçoise, and classic French onion soup.
Don't miss: The $24 lunch special of mixed greens (or your choice of soup du jour); steak, salmon, or mussels; and a lovely chocolate terrine.
FOR DINNER: Cibo Trattoria (cibotrattoria.com, 900 Seymour St., 604-602-9570)
When enRoute named Cibo Trattoria the best new restaurant in Canada in 2009, the charming bistro solidified its rep as a go-to destination for inventive Italian cuisine with a strong focus on local, seasonal ingredients. Executive chef Neil Taylor (formerly of the River Café and Kensington Restaurant in his native England) oversees a constantly changing menu of upscale-yet-homey fare. Highlights include the handmade spaghetti with prawns, garlic, and basil, and the chicken cooked under a brick (for ultra crispy skin), served with morels and peas from Williams Lake.
Don't miss: The dessert menu. The espresso panacotta comes with amaretti cookies and Roman brandy, while the flourless Chocolate Nemesis cake is a favourite River Café recipe.
FOR A CULINARY EXPERIENCE: Hawksworth Restaurant (hawksworthrestaurant.com, 801 West Georgia St., 604-673-7000)
David Hawksworth’s first eponymous restaurant was always going to be an event. The Vancouver-born chef is a culinary star, with Michelin-starred restaurants on his resume and the distinction of being the youngest chef inducted into British Columbia’s Restaurant Hall of Fame. Somehow, with all of the hype, Hawksworth exceeds expectations. Located in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, the space is both elegant and inviting, with the creativity in the kitchen extending to the choice of artists featured in the dining rooms (ask to sit in the Art Room, near the custom piece created by Rodney Graham). The dinner menu is refined without being fussy—think slow-cooked halibut with chorizo, artichoke, and basil, or the olive oil poached salmon with eggplant caviar.
Don't miss: The summer tasting menu ($72, $114 with wine), a six-course experience, featuring creative takes on regional cuisine, including Pacific octopus confit.