While summer in Vancouver – considered one of the world’s most scenic urban destinations – is definitely worth your while, the city on the west coast of Canada is making sure tourists have reasons enough to come over in winter as well.
Now in its ninth year, Canada’s largest annual food fest Dine Out Vancouver Festival (DOVF) has grown from 57 restaurants way back in 2002 to over 300 participating outlets including wineries, craft breweries and suppliers.
The 17 days of dining, food-forward events and experiences are designed to give local and visiting culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to taste the best flavours of the city. So much so, even hotels and airlines such as Air Canada are offering special offers for those flying in from outside at this time!
To be held from January 17 to February 2, 2020, you can find everything from neighbourhood food tours to lunch-hour food truck fests, and from wine tastings to global guest-chef collaborative dinners. Produced by Tourism Vancouver, DOVF attracts over a lakh locals and visitors every year who step out to savour Vancouver’s multicultural influences along with immediate access to fresh ingredients from nearby oceans, rivers, valleys and fields.
The 2020 edition will see a kick-off on January 16 with The Great Big Taste, which is being organised in partnership with the Wines of British Columbia. The proceeds will benefit the BC Hospitality Foundation. A ‘grazing-style tasting event’ priced at CAD 89 per person, it features tastings from top Metro Vancouver restaurants, over 20 British Columbia (BC) wineries plus more samples from BC craft breweries, distilleries and cideries. DJ beats will keep up the atmosphere while guests sample offerings and bid on culinary-themed items at the silent auction for charity.
Once you’re high enough, the Street Food City to be held every day from 11 am to 5 pm outside the Vancouver Art Gallery definitely deserves your attention. With free entry, you can sample from a collection of Vancouver’s Street Food carts all in one convenient location. The street fest boasts a multitude of over 20 delicious cultural options from Indian to Mexican, and from pizza to grilled cheese. Balloons, picnic tables and music make for a festive mid-winter outdoor picnic!
There are several other food events scheduled. Those who love beer and barbeque will love the three-and-half-hour BBQ, Fried Chicken & Brewery Tour. Your journey begins with some delicious free-range chicken and more at Juke Fried Chicken – voted number one for Best Chicken in the Georgia Straight Golden Plates Awards 2019.
Next on down the line is another award winning pit stop at Memphis Blues for some messy, low and slow-cooked barbecue (napkins required!). And finally, you will visit Vancouver’s newest craft brewery Container Brewing to wash down all those tasty meats with a flight of beer and a behind the scenes tour that includes some brewing 101 and more.
Those looking for a fine-dining experience can splurge at the Hawksworth Long Table Dinner Series. Offering a five-course tasting menu paired with local wines, guests will be able to enjoy this experience guided by Chef Antonio Sotomayor and wine director Bryant Mao. Priced CAD 152, you will enjoy fresh and vibrant carefully sourced organic and oceanwise ingredients crafted into enticing, wholesome dishes.
There’s also the Mashup Beer, Wine and Distillery Tour, giving you a sneak peek into the tastes and flavours of three Vancouver-based establishments, and the Coffee Roast & Delightful Bites Tour, when you can explore why the city’s coffee scene is seen as top tier on the world stage. Throughout the minibus tour, you will learn about the roasting process, how different coffees are made as well as try a few drinks with paired snacks.
Combine a bit of tourism with gastronomy with the Dim Sum Chinatown Tour. Learn a little about the historic Chinatown in downtown Vancouver while you walk from the Chinese Cultural Center to a couple of dim sum restaurants to start the tasting part of the tour. You also get to try Chinese BBQ as well as a tea ceremony.
Those who wish to try an authentic farm-to-table experience must go for the themed pop-up Farm in the City. Featuring live country music, you get to taste the best of BC farm goodness such as duck raised without antibiotics, Fraser Valley pork, wild-caught salmon, and organic vegetables and berries.
Vancouver-ites love their natural produce, and the public market at Granville Island is proof. In the 1970s, the former industrial wasteland transformed itself into Vancouver’s premier artistic and cultural hub, located in an urban, waterfront location and steeped in a rich industrial and maritime heritage. Today, this unique destination attracts millions of visitors each year from Vancouver and around the world, and is a must-visit.
If you’re in for a fun drive, try the Secret Supper Soiree, a best-selling road tour that takes you to the city’s best-kept culinary secrets. Be warned though, tickets sell out very quickly for all events, so book your seat well in advance.
Photos: Tourism Vancouver. First published in eShe’s January 2020 issue