The word ‘poutine’ comes from a slang French term meaning ‘a mess’. It’s easy to see why this dish of French fries, gravy and cheese curds is called this. Here are the best places to get this distinctly Canadian dish in Vancouver.
Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
Dunn’s Famous is a small Montreal-based chain of restaurants known for their smoked-meat sandwiches, cheesecake and, of course, poutine. Founded in 1927, the Vancouver location is the chain’s first outside of Québéc. Dunn’s poutine is known for its gravy, which is made from the restaurant’s own beef stock and has a zingy barbecue flavor. The cheese curds are well-melted and the fries are hand-cut Kennebec French fries. There are six different poutines to choose from, but the Poutine Dunn’s, which is topped with smoked meat, provides a taste of both this restaurant’s specialties at once.
La Belle Patate
La Belle Patate means ‘the beautiful potato’, and as the French name suggests, this restaurant prepares its poutine the authentic Québécois way. The cheese curds are fresh, which means they stay relatively firm instead of melting into the gravy and make a noticeable squeaking sound when chewed. The meat-free gravy is made with a wheat-base, and the French fries are double cooked. The restaurant serves more than 30 different kinds of poutine, ranging from traditional poutine with French fries, cheese curds, and gravy; to a breakfast poutine topped with bacon, eggs, and onions. The poutine comes in small, medium, or large sizes, plus there’s an all-you-can-eat option for seriously hungry customers. The restaurant is casual, open late, and offers plenty of seating.
Fritz European Fry House
Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
Fritz European Fry House is a popular late-night spot for poutine, with line-ups visible out the door almost every Friday and Saturday night. Although this little restaurant is a particular favorite with the post-bar crowd, customers don’t need to be a few drinks in to enjoy their poutine. In fact, the restaurant’s crispy French fries were voted best in Vancouver by the readers of Georgia Straight. The cheese curds are squeaky and well-layered between the gravy and fries, so every bite contains the perfect balance of ingredients. The poutine comes in five different sizes, ranging from small to bucket, and toppings like pulled pork or soy bacon bits can be added to the basic dish. With three benches available for seating, dining is mainly take-away. English Bay is just down the street, so many customers take their poutine down to the beach to enjoy.
Biercraft Tap and Tapas
Restaurant, Bar, Canadian, $$$
Biercraft Tap and Tapas offers an innovative twist on traditional poutine. This restaurant’s tapas-sized poutine features the usual French fries and cheese curds, but it’s topped with green onions, as well as gravy made from Kronenbourg Blanc and miso. The distinct gravy gives the poutine a pleasantly tart flavor. The basic dish is a great option for vegetarians, or meat-lovers have the option to add BBQ beer-braised brisket. The restaurant’s Belgian craft beers go well with this beer-infused dish, or takeaway is also available to satisfy a sudden craving.
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro
Bistro, Canadian, $$$
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro offers an upscale take on the traditional poutine recipe. The restaurant’s ‘all Canadian’ poutine is made with thick, hand-cut Kennebec potatoes, and topped with veal-bone gravy, Québéc cheese curds and beef brisket, which is smoked in-house over hickory and maple chips. The dish is perfectly cooked so that the cheese is melted, but still pleasantly firm. The restaurant’s cabin-like setting and the local beers on tap complement this truly Canadian meal. The dish is even served in a heavy cast iron skillet, adding to the rustic ambiance.
Started by two formers BC Lions football players, Mean Poutine offers several different twists on the basic poutine dish. The poutine comes in one size, and there are seven different kinds to choose from, as well as a ‘build-your-own’ option. Menu highlights include ‘Fried Chicken Poutine’, which is topped with buffalo chicken chunks; and ‘Southern BBQ Poutine’ topped with double smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, ranch dressing and BBQ sauce. Open until 4.30am, this affordable place is popular with the late-night crowd. The French fries are beer-battered, resulting in a crisp, airy texture, and the cheese curds dissolve smoothly into the gravy.
Wallflower Modern Diner
Restaurant, Canadian, Vegan, $$$
Wallflowers Modern Diner is well-known for offering vegan and gluten-free versions of classic comfort foods. It might just be the only restaurant in Vancouver that offers vegan poutine, which is made with marinated tofu, mushroom gravy, French fries and Daiya non-dairy mozzarella cheese. For those without special dietary concerns, there’s also a traditional poutine made with cheese curds and chicken gravy. The atmosphere is welcoming, with local artwork, mismatched dishware, and staff that is always willing to adapt dishes to accommodate various dietary concerns. This popular restaurant was recently featured on Food Network Canada’s show You Gotta Eat Here.
Brasserie, Canadian, French, German, $$$
La Brasserie is the place to go for poutine with a gourmet twist. Although this restaurant focuses on Franco-German cuisine, it more than does justice to this French-Canadian dish. The restaurant offers two different types of poutine: one for breakfast and one for dinner. The poutines, like the setting, are casual yet elegant. The dinner poutine is made with hand-cut frites, fresh cheese curds, roast chicken gravy, and truffle oil. The breakfast poutine, which is offered at the restaurant’s Saturday and Sunday brunch, is topped with a poached egg, hollandaise sauce, bacon, truffle oil, and pork gravy.
Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
There’s a lot of debate among Vancouverites about the best poutine in the city, but most would agree that Belgian Fries is among the contenders. The restaurant specializes in poutine, offering a number of creative toppings options in addition to the traditional cheese curds and gravy. Menu highlights include the ‘Tunisian Poutine’, which is topped with spicy lamb Merguez; and ‘Thai Chicken Poutine’, which is topped with chicken, capers, onion, and coconut milk. The restaurant’s gravy is meat-free, the fries are crispy and thick, and the traditional poutine always comes with two layers of cheese. The restaurant attracts locals and tourists, making its welcoming, upscale cafeteria-like interior an excellent spot for people-watching.