North America’s West Coast is caught between Europe and Asia, between rugged wilderness and urban sophistication, between land and sea. You could say the same for its cuisine.
It all starts with spectacular local ingredients, always in season and usually organic. Farm to table is a way of life all along the coast, with chefs and farmers getting equal billing in many restaurants. Think sweet berries, tender greens, foraged wild mushrooms and all the sweet, briny delicacies from the Pacific Ocean, including salmon, Dungeness crab, oysters and spot prawns. Flavours are typically crisp, clean and fragrant, often infused with the sweet-salty-sour-hot traditions of Asian cuisine. Sushi is a staple here, but so is house-made charcuterie. It’s an unpretentious cuisine with a passionate DIY ethic, especially when it comes to the craft ales, artisan spirits and exceptional wines that range from Napa’s bold Cabs to the delicate Rieslings of the Okanagan.
So raise a glass to West Coast cuisine. The dining is fine out here.
Where to Dine
Locals Restaurant at The Old House, Courtenay, B.C.
Talk about a perfect recipe for exceptional dining: one of the Comox Valley’s best chefs, Ronald St. Pierre, has moved into one of the area’s best-loved locations, The Old House. Expect hyper-local ingredients prepared with European finesse in a charming, historic setting.
The Slanted Door, San Francisco
The city’s beautiful Ferry Building is a must-visit for many reasons, and chef-owner Charles Phan’s modern Vietnamese eatery is right at the top of the list. His vibrant flavours and exceptional organic ingredients have redefined West Coast Asian cuisine.
Farmer’s Apprentice Restaurant, Vancouver
The room is tiny, and so is the menu. But the flavours are huge and so is the talent in the kitchen. Chef and co-owner David Gunawan is cooking up some of Vancouver’s most creative cuisine—farm-fresh meets wildly exotic. Cattail salad? Sure, why not?
Trois Mec, Los Angeles
It’s the new place everyone is talking about, and not just because you have to buy a US$75 ticket to enjoy the remarkably creative five-course set menu. This is an exhilarating dining experience, courtesy of the city’s top culinary geniuses.
Where to Graze
Bring your appetite and, perhaps, a map. The Vancouver, B.C., suburb of Richmond is home to some of the world’s best Chinese restaurants, and you’ll find many of them on Alexandra Road, which the locals call “Food Street.” It’s only three blocks long, but some 200 eateries are jammed in here, offering everything from tender xiao long bao to fiery hot pot, savoury dim sum, toothsome bibimbap and crunchy bubble waffles.
Raw Food Restaurants that Serve Brownies, Spring Rolls, Lasagna and More
Welcome to the raw food movement, where the healthy, whole ingredients in each dish are fermented, sprouted or gently cooked to no more than about 48°C (118°F). Here are five places that celebrate "living foods" in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Toronto and London.
Insect-focused Restaurants Serving Grasshopper Tacos, Poached Bees and Cricket Brittle
People in many parts of Mexico and Asia have been crunching critters for centuries. Now, in North America and the UK, a growing number of chefs are experimenting with these sustainable sources of protein in innovative ways. Check out these insect-focused spots in New York City, Toronto, London, L.A. and San Francisco.