Don't sleep on the West End's dining options. From British gastro pubs to classic barbecue restaurants, there are plenty of delicious eats to discover
Credit: The Fat Badger

Don't sleep on the West End's dining options. From British gastro pubs to classic barbecue restaurants, there are plenty of delicious eats to discover

Gastown and Main Street get all the love, with on-trend restaurants that keep pushing the envelope with their food and design aesthetics alike, drawing crowds from other ’hoods. But the West End has started gaining ground – and not just for its cult following of ramen houses, Korean barbecue joints, izakayas (and a certain Greek restaurant whose lineup never thins). Here are a handful of eateries that are helping give the West End its due as a foodie destination.

The Fat Badger
Credit: The Fat Badger

The Fat Badger

Thanks to the divinely dim lighting inside this British-inspired gastro pub, located in one of the West End’s last-standing houses, you can easily pretend you’re in Blighty, while drinking a pint of London Pride. The ever-changing menu features enduring items, such as Scotch eggs and steak and ale pies, but the preparations go well beyond typical pub grub. Case in point: zucchini flowers stuffed with black pudding. It’s easy to while away a few hours here, chewing the fat and watching the foam settle on your Guinness. Be sure to leave room for stick toffy pudding.

The dish you can’t resist: Mini Yorkshire puddings, crowned with tender roast beef and drizzled with gravy (pictured).

The Fat Badger, 1616 Alberni Street, Vancouver, 604-336-5577

Exile Bistro
Credit: Exile Bistro

Exile Bistro

Despite its name, Exile is hardly hidden on the outskirts of the neighbourhood – it’s on the well-beaten path in Vancouver’s colourful Davie Village. The food, however, does take a walk on the wild side. Those puffballs that pop up in the grass in fall – they’re a delicious menu item, married with smoked paprika cashew and roasted radicchio. At Exile, meat-and-potatoes means dry-rubbed elk paired with purple potato and pumpkin hash.

For brunch, you can choose boar bacon or deer sausage to go with your organic eggs. And if you’re vegan or gluten free, you won’t struggle to find something substantial, like the flax-walnut crusted French toast, topped with apple butter, maple-birch syrup and hazelnut-coconut whip. Carnivores just might be converted.

Drink me: Even the cocktails come with curious ingredients such as yam juice, birch syrup, blue-green algae and turmeric ginger ale (like the Turmeric Sour pictured).

Exile Bistro, 1220 Bute Street, Vancouver, 604-563-8633

Pizza Fabrika
Credit: Pizza Fabrika

Pizza Fabrika

Pizza for the people! Well, that's not quite the manifesto for this Robson Street pizzeria that recently opened shop in the midst of the neighbourhood’s coffee shops, green grocers and ubiquitous Asian eateries lining the street. Make no mistake: this is not your late-night by-the-slice takeout window type of place. Here, you can tuck into a tried-and-true pizza Margherita, made with yellow tomatoes and fiore de latte cheese in place of the traditional mozzarella di bufala. Or order up a side of beer bison meatballs or an antipasto plate.

The democratization of pizza: The gluten-free crust and dairy-free cheese options mean people who want to avoid certain foods can finally partake in Vancouver’s pizza-hungry craze.

Pizza Fabrika, 1680 Robson Street, Vancouver, 604-559-1680

Tartine Bread & Pies
Credit: Tartine Bread & Pies

Tartine Bread & Pies

Three words sum up this bakery and cafe practically tucked  under the Granville Bridge at the eastern extreme of the West End: Best. Pie. Ever. We defy you to find a flakier pastry (the sprinkle of sugar on top is a nice touch), juicier piles of fruit or a better balance of sweet-meets-tart than what you’ll taste here. The sour cherry with lattice crust tops our list, with bumble berry and blueberry–peach pies as close contenders. (The gooey butter tarts are reputed to be the best in town, but it’s hard to pass up pie.) There are ample savoury offerings too, like the Croque Monsieur, chicken or beef pot pies, rustic soups and more.

Inside scoop: When it’s in season, try the tourtière. You can bring one of these frozen meat pies home and serve it piping hot from the oven for a delicious French-Canadian treat.

Tartine Bread & Pies, 770 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, 604-685-7437

Buck Stop Classic Barbecue & Small Plate Saloon
Credit: Buck Stop Classic Barbecue & Small Plate Saloon

Buck Stop Classic Barbecue & Small Plate Saloon

In our minds, the homage to American Southern cuisine runs deeper here than any other barbecue pit in Vancouver. Where else can you get fried dill pickles or hush puppies made from scratch? Spice meets smoke in the mouth-watering barbecue staples, such as St. Louis pork ribs, hickory-smoked grass-fed beef brisket and pulled pork. Wash it all down with bourbon-based cocktails and spiked ice tea. Tables can be hard to come by in this joint, but the bar is just deep enough to support the wooden board holding those ribs you’ll be chowing down on.

The Buck Stop’s motto? Eat meat, repeat. Yes, please.

Entice your vegetarian friends: The grilled asparagus salad with smoked walnuts, roasted red peppers, shallot vinaigrette and tomato relish, plus a few other meat-free choices aren’t afterthoughts here.

Buck Stop Classic Barbecue, 833 Denman Street, Vancouver, 604-428-2528