Canada’s food scene just keeps getting better and better. Vegan options, local providers and multicultural inspirations are the new norm, and these 12 culinary superstars are deliciously shaking things up.
Dispatch, St. Catharines, ON
It’s been just under a year since Dispatch opened its doors, and it’s already recognized as one of the country’s top 10 new restaurants. Australian-born Chef Adam Hynam-Smith dishes up global cuisine using low- and no-waste techniques. The influences are truly international, so it’s good to know your anba sauce from your sumac before you go. A la carte dishes are on offer, but insiders opt for the Meze Experience tasting menu – if you’re lucky, the Pickled Egg with Turkish Spice will be on it.
Transform your kitchen into a zero-waste space by cooking with the most tossed out food in Canada.
Oca Pastificio, Vancouver, BC
Vitello tonnato, hand-cut salami, conchiglie alla amatriciana… you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in che bella Italia and not on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. Opened last winter, Oca Pastifico is a 22-seat, dinner-only restaurant that is the stuff of Italian dreams. The chalkboard menus change daily, along with the fresh pasta tasting menus and, if that weren’t enough, Chef Greg Dilabio will soon be augmenting the imported cured meat and cheese offerings with natural wines and olives procured directly from Italy.
Make a restaurant-quality dinner at home with these easy stuffed pasta recipes.
Waterwest Kitchen and Meats, St. John’s, NL
This neighbourhood market – it has its own butcher shop, eat-in restaurant, full-service café and takeaway counter – has quickly become a favourite spot both for dining in and taking out. Waterwest Kitchen‘s menu is butcher-driven and features cuts from the on-premises dry-age chamber, and is nicely rounded out with dishes like buttermilk-fried chicken and veggie offerings such as Linguine Aglio e Olio and sides of Blooming Onions.
Bar Koukla, Toronto, ON
Hellenic-inspired meze, wine and cocktails make this informal eatery on the city’s buzzy Ossington strip very much in demand. Since opening last fall, Bar Koukla has generated line-ups (they don’t take reservations) and no one seems to mind waiting for the rotating menu of Greek faves – think Sheftalia, Dolmades, Lamb Ribs and Baked Feta, to name a few. Zingy cocktails share the list with biodynamic, organic Greek wines and the feel-good provenance continues down to the staff’s sustainable denim aprons which are made by a Canadian designer.
Looking for inspiration in your own kitchen? Bookmark these heathy Mediterrnean recipes for dinner this week.
Wayfarer Oyster House, Whitehorse, YT
The setting of this fab new resto – beneath the cliffs and spruces of this northern coastal town – is just as remarkable as the food. It’s less than two years old and already becoming a local institution thanks in part to its offering of oysters, Canadian seafood and smoked fish. Veggies also get a fresh spin – we love the Pear-Miso-Sesame Brussel Sprouts and Kale and Brown Butter Salad. Whether you have oysters and a pint at the bar or a main and some wine in the dining area, you’ll leave Wayfarer Oyster House happy.
Purlieu, Calgary, AB
Five-spice rubbed confit duck leg with black garlic cassoulet and grilled prawn with sundried tomato rose tagliatelle are just a couple of the delicious plates on offer at this upscale neighbourhood resto that opened up to rave reviews last spring. Purlieu chef and co-owner Eric Mah’s joy is to re-imagine classic dishes with uncommon ingredients and pairings, like PEI mussels in a Vadouvan curry broth. The wine list follows suit with pours from France and Romania, and inventive cocktails feature local Alberta spirits like Confluence Gin.
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Arvi, Quebec City, QC
Arvi blurs the line between kitchen and table service – indeed, diners here sit in the restaurant’s kitchen to experience their meal, and staff does everything from cooking to serving and presenting wines. Chef Julien Masia creates five-course tasting menus (with or without meat) using local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible. Book well in advance – there are only 30 or so spots on offer – and see why this newcomer is scooping up awards across the country.
Bar Corso, Vancouver, BC
If you’re craving Italian food on sharable plates and some authentic amaro and grappa, then the newly-opened Bar Corso is for you. The comprehensive menu changes regularly and makes choosing a challenge as everything on it is truly delicious. We loved the Roasted Beet and Radicchio Salad with Ricotta and the Polpettine di Nonna (scrumptious slow-cooked meatballs with tomato sauce and Grana Padano).
Lapinou, Toronto, ON
Mash up the techniques of a classic bistro with a soupcon of super-friendly atmosphere et voila, you’ve got bistronomy, the fresh inspiration for this dynamic – and in-demand – neo-bistro and wine bar that opened its doors last fall. Even Lapinou’s name is playful (‘lapin’ is French for rabbit and ‘nou’ comes from nouvelle, for new). Savour the supremely comforting Gnocchi Parisienne in the resto, or sit at the oh-so glam and moody bar to sip Champagne and nibble grilled bread and foie gras parfait.
Amaranthus, New Westminster, BC
This plant-based powerhouse serves up vegetarian and vegan food that even staunch carnivores can get behind. As well as the feel-good menu items – Coffee Roasted Beets, Squash Risotto, Chickpea Fritters with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce – there is the feel-good factor: with every purchase of an Amaranthus Veggie Burger, $1 is donated to Impact Parkinson’s Centre.
Looking to add more plant-based meals to your weekly rotation? Check out these high-protein vegan meals that are beyond tasty.