Move over, Montreal; Vancouver is Canada's new culinary hot spot. A few days ago I blogged about the hipster neighborhood of Mount Pleasant with its chic shops and sidewalk cafes lining colorful Main Street. SOMA, as locals call the area south of Main Street, is also quickly becoming the go-to neighborhood for eclectic dining. Pings Café, for example, is a pretty little restaurant in creamy whites, slate grays, and inky blacks designed by local hotshot Omer Arbel (the Olympic medals designer and creative director at Bocci, a high-end lighting and furniture manufacturing house). Pings is about Japanese comfort food, like kabocha pumpkin croquettes and deep fried tofu with chili mayo, served on kitschy mismatched dishes.
A new addition to the neighborhood is Latitude where the menumushroom empanadas with tomatillo sauce, flank steak with chimichurri, and Spanish paellais inspired by the wine regions of North and South America.
For a less casual ambiance, the citys well-heeled crowd heads to the posh South Granville district, just a mile away. The award-wining restaurant West features an elegant dining room highlighted by an impressive, temperature-controlled wall of wine. Executive Chef Warren Geraghty sources local seasonal ingredients to create modern interpretations of classic dishes. The house made potato gnocchi with pan-fried artichokes melts in your mouth.
Down the street is Vijs, possibly the most popular place to eat in the city. The modern Indian restaurant doesnt take reservations so be prepared to wait. Of course, waiting here means being greeted by chef Vikram Vij himself as he passes out complimentary appetizers to whet the palate. The menu changes seasonally but long-time favorites include the marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry served on a bed of tumeric spinach potatoes. The wine list is limited but no matter, try the Indian mojito for something a little different.