Where Chefs Go for a Healthy Meal (and for Cheat Day)

How to kick off the year on a healthy note, but also enjoy some indulgent treats

How to kick off the year on a healthy note, but also enjoy some indulgent treats

In all things, there must be balance—and so the pain of kale juice and no carbs that is January must be balanced with a dash of pleasure.

We asked 10 of our favourite bar and restaurant folks how they find culinary balance with their healthy must-haves and treat-day splurges…


1. Carolyn Yu, Gotham

“I like going for poke after I’ve had a garbage sort of day. It resets my brain and gives me the energy I need to get things done. My favourite is Pacific Poke in Chinatownfriendly service, great food and I love the clean lines in the bright room.

“When I feel indulgent, I call up a bunch of friends and go for dim sum. There’s nothing better than baskets of steamy dumplings to get over rainy Vancouver winter days. Pelican is my usual spot.”


2. Pino Posteraro, Cioppinos Mediterranean Grill 

“Health needs to be maintained year-round, so the places I go are Maenam for their crispy rice with fermented sausage salad and Tasty Indian Bistro for vegetarian dishes with spices to keep the metabolism going.

“My cheat day treat is definitely Thomas Haas all year round. It is worth it to cheat with a double-baked almond croissant and exercise later on!”


3. Fiona Grieve, Buckstop and Grotto

“I go to Joe Fortes for healthful food. A one-tier seafood tower for two serves up chilled, raw, beautiful, fresh, seafood and it’s immensely affordable at $70 for two people—it’s an entire meal. I mean, fine, it’s lacking in vegetables but you actually don’t feel like you’re being healthy cause it’s so delicious.

“And for treating myself, I’d have a huge plate of burrata at Tavola or the only dessert I ever feel like eating is the spin Forage does on baked Alaska, which is actually deep-fried Neufchâtel, ice cream, elderflower syrup and blueberries.”


4. Eric Pateman, Edible Canada

“Lately—and most certainly in the New Year—I tend to go way more plant-based so you will find me at Heirloom having their burger or at The Juice Truck or Acorn and others trying to focus on clean, healthy eating. I love taking meat-loving people to these places and having them experience how great food can be without meat.

“On cheat day, I go and visit Sebastian and Co. in Dundarave or Armando’s on Granville Island and pick up the most amazing steak (dry-aged, Canadian prime) and some foie gras and make a decadent meal at home that involves some serious red wine too!”


5. Matthew Presidente, Forage?

“Working mostly evenings, I’m often looking for a good, healthy and reasonably fast place to have lunch. Between a yoga class, band rehearsal and a shift at Forage, my favourite place to go in Vancouver is Railtown Café. I love the vegan club sandwich which is tasty and satisfying (even for a meat lover like myself) and the build-it-yourself salad bar. I always get pickled beets topped with their delicious pulled pork shoulder. The staff is friendly and prompt, and all locations are clean, funky and fun. Their use of local, seasonal ingredients is something that speaks to my own personal philosophy. Oh, and the food is absolutely delicious.

“For cheat day after an evening shift, I’m always looking for a good place to grab some late-night grub and some good drinks. This can be hard to find in the West End after midnight so my favourite local spot is Buckstop. With the bar and the kitchen open til 2 a.m., warm staff and very cool music playing, it’s a great place to unwind with a group of friends, co-workers or even solo at their friendly bar. I’d go for the half-stop/full-stop BBQ platters with all the amazing meat (including the house-smoked brisket which is to die for) to share with your table as well as delicious accompaniments like their cornbread and honey butter. Or I might head down for Burger Mondays, when they offer up an amazing rotating burger creation with a limited ‘get it before it’s gone’ quantity. I’ll pair that with a very boozy sangria andbe warnedonce you are in, it’s hard to drag yourself away before 2 a.m.!”


6. Andrea Carlson, Burdock & Co.

“Healthy post-gym snacks for me are turmeric smoothies and goji balls at Heirloom Juice Bar on South Granville, or the smoothie bar at Whole Foods. If I’m eating healthily at home, I’ll get paneer, potato roti and dahl with salad from East is East from DoorDash.

“My cheat day treat might include La Taqueria’s chorizo quesadilla!”


7. Wayne Sych, Joe Fortes

“I find that when I go out when I am trying to be super healthy, I just try to stick with lean protein (fish usually) and vegetables and ask to cut out on the butter, just steamed vegetables. I try to cut out carbs and sugar. I find that is healthier than most salads as they are so high in fat with dressings and cheese. Many restaurant items seem “healthy” but when you really break it down, they are not as healthy as one might think.

“When I really feel like a cheat day, I like to indulge in a burger. I’m a B.C. boy so it’s usually White Spot for zoo sticks and the legendary burger.”


8. Lisa Haley, Viaggio Hospitality

“We have a household tradition of making Miko Sushi (on Robson at Jervis) our first stop after landing at YVR whenever we get back from a gluttonous wine and food trip. We cleanse with some gomae salad, miso soup and sashimi. Otherwise I have discovered SMAK (various locations) and just really hope it doesn’t turn out to be like Seinfeld’s frozen yogurt because I turn to it when I’m stuck for a healthy meal downtown.

“As for cheat day, the burger at Boulevard is a favourite indulgence. I probably eat only about a half dozen burgers a year, but most of them are there!”


9. Wes Young, Pidgin

“When I want healthy food, I go to Burdock and Co. It’s clean, delicious and satisfying cooking with a chef-driven menu so it changes regularly, but I trust whatever the kitchen puts out. The vegetarian dishes are always awesome.

“For cheat day it’s gotta be beer and poutine at Belgian Fries on Commercial Drive. “


10. David Hawksworth, Hawksworth and Nightingale

“I enjoy Temaki on Broadway, which is traditional Japanese. If you stick to sashimi, tataki and green tea, it’s very healthy. They also have a seaweed salad that is packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

“For my cheat day, it could also be Temaki, but opting to add sushi, ebi, gyoza and Saporro! I also love pasta and find the house-made noodles at La Quercia in Point Grey to be some of the very best in the city—if not the country. There are usually seven or eight different types to choose from, always seasonal and always completely delicious. I usually find myself wanting to lick the bowl clean!”