Laid-back Vancouver can struggle to wake up for breakfast, so brunch here is the most appetizing way to start the day. Early birds will find many coffee shops but few places to eat. That changes at the crack of 10 or 11ish, especially on weekends, when diners line up for a wildly multicultural mélange of feasts across the city. French, Italian, Belgian, Peruvian and Chinese cuisines join — and sometimes fuse with — longtime breakfasts standards like pancakes, eggs and toast on Culture Trip’s picks for the 10 best brunch spots in Vancouver.
Does Vancouver have a cuisine of its own? Chef Andrea Carlson’s Burdock & Co. is determined to show it does. Drawing inspiration from the city’s blend of cultures and ingredients from local farms, critics praise Carlson’s menus. But diners fall in love with her weekend brunches. Dishes like tomato baked eggs with leeks and feta taste comfortingly hearty yet refreshingly new. Meanwhile, East meets East in the rice congee with mushroom XO, smoked shoyu and yuzu kombu — an homage to the Chinese and Japanese cuisines that have changed how Vancouverites eat. Burdock is as casual as its Main Street location. Come hungry and eat well.
Brunch at Chambar is an intercontinental affair. Head chef Nico Schuermans curates fresh local produce and seafood to create sophisticated Belgian-inspired dishes, with a few detours into France, Spain and Morocco. Waffles are de rigueur and available with assorted toppings including dark chocolate, raspberry caramel and berry compote. Satisfy savory desires with a spicy chicken cassoulet with jalapeño, manchego sausage and chimichurri. Diners who linger until after 12.30pm can order some Belgian moules frites. Menu items can change with the seasons, and Chambar only sources seafood that has been certified by Ocean Wise as sustainably harvested.
The Argo Cafe looks much like it did in 1954 when the diner first opened to serve its industrial neighborhood. Owners Denis and Lynda Larouche keep their menu contemporary but blend haute with humble at surprisingly low prices. Saturday brunch features specials that change seasonally. Denis likes to surprise diners with personal touches, like sockeye salmon he personally caught or peppers he and Lynda brought home from Peru. Always good are the con queso poached eggs, with stewed peppers and cheesy sauce, which bridge richness and heat. Argo’s chicken and waffles is another local Vancouver favorite.
Dim sum, roughly translated, is how you say ‘brunch’ in Cantonese. Since so many Vancouverites have roots in Hong Kong and southern China, it’s pretty much how people say brunch here, too. Make sure to order loudly at Western Lake, as 600 diners cram into this cozy neighborhood restaurant every day. When a place is this yit naau — literally, hot and noisy — it means it’s good. The shumai are stuffed with whole shrimp and the deep-fried prawn dumplings with salad dressing are hot, crispy and juicy. Cantonese service traditionally borders on surly, but servers here are helpful and cheery despite the chaos. Reservations are recommended.
The hardest part about getting brunch at Yolks used to be finding where its food truck parked. Now, with two brick-and-mortar locations, diners can at least know where to line up. Wondering what to order? The expertly poached eggs benny is a good place to start! Yolks serves almost a dozen kinds of benedicts, and all of them are extraordinary. The best version might be the grilled asparagus and brie with hazelnut-basil purée and olive oil on toasted focaccia. Or maybe sample the cured wild salmon with avocado, spinach and watercress. Yolks serves their brunch to overflowing crowds every day of the week.
Brunch isn’t really an Italian thing. Breakfast in Italy is often just a latte and fette biscottate — a package of factory-made toast. Ask for Luigi wisely breaks from tradition for its weekend brunches and serves its renowned handmade pastas, like tagliolini alla carbonara with poached egg and pappardelle alla bolognese with fried egg. If it’s too early for noodles, try the frittata with potatoes and smoked sablefish, or the scrambled eggs with soft taleggio cheese and crispy polenta. Luigi sweeps top Vancouver restaurant awards every year, but this family-style spot remains an intimate, affordable and casual option at any time of day.
Longtime Bon’s regulars can proudly boast: “I’ve been eating here since the breakfast special cost $2.95!” That’s because owner Bon Wong hasn’t changed his price for the meal — two eggs with hash browns, toast, and bacon, ham, or sausages — since 1995. Those who are really looking to splurge can add coffee, which is still just a buck.Of course, many of Bon’s prices have escaped the Seinfeld era, but regardless of the cost, he serves timeless, hearty food that tastes great. Generations of customers keep sliding into his graffiti-coated booths for steak and eggs, Spanish omelets and to be part of a Vancouver institution.
Jam serves brunch —and no other meal — seven days a week. So it’s a great spot for anyone unable to wait for the weekend to quench their french toast fix. Guests will likely run into a good wait outside the door, but the Southern-inspired comfort foods, like buttermilk biscuits and pulled-pork pancakes, make it worth it. Heaping plates of corned beef hash, huevos rancheros and raspberry-lemon pancakes are also worthy rewards for patience.
Au Comptoir means “at the counter,” and the handcrafted tin counter at this Kitsilano bistro is a fine place for visitors to pretend they’ve jetted to France for the weekend.Au Comptoir’s food will do plenty to sustain Parisian illusions. This isn’t a diamonds-and-champagne kind of place. Rather, the simple ratatouille-on-country-bread-toast type of food provides a classic and comfortable vision of French dining. First-time diners should try the confit de canard en salade with two fluffy poached eggs or the almond waffles with seasonal fruit and crème fraîche.
Anyone could enjoy a brilliant summer brunch at Ancora without even tasting a bite, just because of its dazzling harbor-side setting. But that would mean missing out on some of the most exciting tastes shaking Vancouver’s gastronomic world. Ancora serves a Canadian West Coast take on Peruvian Nikkei — the cuisine of Japanese immigrants in Peru. Peruvian-born executive chef Ricardo Valverde applies Japanese-inspired artistry to local seafood and heats them with indigenous peppers and spices from his native country. Brunch offers a concise, affordable introduction to Ancora’s award-winning fare. Be sure to try the rich Peruvian paella and black cod croquettes, spiked with fiery rocoto hot-pepper aioli.