In the second post of my series, Ask A Local, Gluten Free Authority shares the best that Vancouver BC has to offer:
Vancouver. My hometown. Like most big cities, it’s full of amazing things and some
bummer things. It is also home to some crazy delicious restaurants and if you’re reading
this because you need to eat gluten-free, say hello to my little list. Here are (in my humble
opinion) the Top 5 Gluten-Friendly Restaurants in Vancouver.
The Wallflower Modern Diner
Main Street is a hipster haven, heavy with coffee shops, vintage shops, antique wares
and restaurants. The Wallflower, tucked on a block with a fantastic comic shop and used
book store, serves modern diner food in mismatched dishware, with a rotation of artwork
for sale on the walls, and flavours and flair to spare. It is also the first restaurant I ever
walked into and did an inner cartoon AH-OO-GUH looking at the menu.
Almost everything, from burgers to fried chicken to flavoured popcorn (!) can be made gluten free. (There is also a vegan menu for the meatless peeps.) Really, though, there is only one thing to get here: Gluten free poutine. Celiacs don’t always crave gourmet fare – nope, you yearn for the trashy greasy marriage of things like deep-fried potatoes, cheese curds and gravy dripping off your overladen fork as you shovel steaming bites into your mouth. I strongly advise you cab it here just so you can have more than one of the Ice cream soda cocktails. They are pink boozy perfection in a cup.
Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe & Pie Shop
The best birthday present for a heavily pregnant (3 days overdue in fact) celiac girl
is a lunch of local organic food at this eccentric café located on West Broadway.
Mismatched chairs and tables and an oddly split room can sometimes lead to butt aches
and lackadaisical service. Not here.
After cleaning my plate of gluten free Eggs Benedict, topped with creamy avocado,
buttery Hollandaise and crisp bacon, a piece of beautifully presented pie was slid in
front of me. It was quickly taken away as they realized they had given me regular pie.
Thankfully I had paused to take a picture and not popped any into my mouth. The proper
gluten free replacement was slid onto the table and it was truly the best pie I have ever
eaten. The prices are a tad high but when the ingredients are so carefully chosen that you
feel virtuous even after pie, it’s well worth it. And it was my birthday, so I didn’t pay.
If you’re in town for a big ass rock show or hockey game, you’re coming to Rogers
Arena. We all know celiacs have little to no options in arenas, so fill your guts before
the show at Revel Room. Just blocks from the arena in historic (read: exposed bricks,
artsy douches, mostly harmless homeless people & antique shops) Gastown, sits this
unpretentious Southern joint pumping out fiery food combinations and an incredible
array of bourbon cocktails.
Service is subtly excellent and the gluten free options are varied and crazy successful .My
go-to meal is to open with the roasted apple salad with goat feta and buttermilk dressing,
followed by the salty & flaky bacon wrapped albacore tuna. Fork in one hand and Sangria
for one (a buzzy fruity delight) in the other, and you’ve got a good time in your mouth.
Milestones (various locations)
Sure, roll your eyes. I included a (duhn duhn duhn) chain restaurant. How food snobby
of you! Really, though, hear me out. Yes, finding that organic gluten free vegan hole in
the wall is awesome, but how about this wild and crazy concept: in every family friendly
chain restaurant, that keeps Grandma AND your 2-year-old well fed, there should be
gluten free options so celiacs can break (gluten free) bread with our brethren.
To be fair to Milestones, they’re not Dennys. You measure the “hip” factor of a
restaurant in Vancouver by the length of the hostess’ skirt. Here, they are most definitely
short. The vibe does lean more towards 20 somethings, date nights, birthday parties
(of which I’ve attended a few) but it also welcomes all ages of your family and it’s
not stupidly priced. The best part though is they have a small but well-rounded gluten
free menu. The salads are beautiful but the burger is where it’s at. Piled high with an
assortment of toppings on a gluten free bun, it’s made to be eaten with wild abandon, a
tower of napkins and no apologies.
Kitsilano is where the physically fit Vancouverites like to pump their glutes up and down
the hills, drinking coffee and pretending to not stare at each other. This outstanding pizza
place (no relation to any awkward Gordon Ramsay reality show) has not only flavourful
and inventive toppings, all possible on an 11 inch gluten free crust, but their patio is
perfect for watching the beautiful people scamper about.
It’s particularly perfect for nursing a hangover on a Sunday morning. Coffee, juice and pizza brunch before a quick stroll down to Kits beach sounds like a cure for a pounding head. My favourite – The Aphrodite (pesto, smoked free-range chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted almonds & asiago) tastes spectacular late nights too. Weird Bonus: the women’s washroom, renovated by DesignLaB Interiors last year, is the classiest place you’ll pee in town.
Bonus Bakery Tip
If a gorgeous day finds you looking for delicious adventures on the high seas, take the
Clipper to Victoria BC and immediately head to Origin Bakery nestled in the suburb of
Oak Bay. Straight up, every day I am jealous this place is not closer to my apartment. If
invited, I would happily live in their storage room.
Thoughtful, delicate & genius flavour combinations and concoctions erupt from this place. Baked goods like baguettes, muffins and cupcakes aren’t enough. Nope, they boast granolas, cookies, cakes, bars, quiches, sandwiches & if you’re lucky the best trifles I’ve ever had. The behind the scenes peeps know how to maximize the very best from their ingredients and it shows.
Note: If you’re going on a weekend, get there early as the coveted items do sell out
quickly. There is a small coffee nook inside if you’d prefer to eat in and not look like a
crazy pig wolfing your treats down in your car parked out front.
The Gluten Free Authority, aka Brooke Takhar, has been a begrudging celiac for 18
years. Every day it gets a little better.
Find her on Twitter (@gfauthority), Tumblr (glutenfreeauthority.tumblr.com)
or send love letters directly to email@example.com