Hidden Gems: 7 Vancouver Specialty Food Stores to Add to Your Grocery List

These purveyors of fine foods have brought a bounty of delectable items to Vancouver, so you can have your imported cheese, dry-roasted nuts and preservative-free meats anytime the craving hits

Credit: Flickr/roboppy

Some people would fly to the ends of the earth for their favourite specialty foods. Fortunately, in Vancouver, you don’t have to

Super-sized grocery stores may be convenient, but sometimes it’s the smaller food markets that hit the spot when it comes to the specialty items you crave.

Here are 7 shops to add to your grocery list for everything from imported cheeses to preservative-free meats and healthy homemade snacks.

Credit: Lyndsay Greenwood

Ayoub’s Dried Fruit & Nuts

Ayoub’s Dried Fruit & Nuts, on West Fourth in Kitsilano, Denman Street in the West End and Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver, isn’t your run-of-the-mill bulk-foods store (the in-store chandeliers might be a dead give-away).

Owner Ayoub Hosseini from Iran (where roasting nuts and drying fruit is a longstanding tradition) combines the highest quality raw ingredients with sweet and savoury flavours (e.g., a secret blend of lime and saffron) to create good-for-you snacks that are second to none.

Among Ayoub’s offerings: cashews from India, almonds from California, walnuts from Chile and just about every other nut variety imaginable. All are dry-roasted on site (they may still be warm when you buy them) and displayed in handsome silver and copper bowls.

Credit: Flickr/roboppy

Les Amis Du Fromage

Think top-notch cheese is hard to come by on this side of the pond? Think again. Mother-daughter team Alice and Allison Spurrel give Vancouverites a welcome alternative to individually wrapped, plastic-looking supermarket slices in their specialty cheese shop.

With locations in Kitsilano and Strathcona, the Spurrels (both experts in the cheese biz) keep the shelves at their award-winning Les Amis Du Fromage stocked with to-die-for cheeses from around the world — up to 500 varieties at any given time!

They also place a large focus on Canadian- and BC-made cheeses, and are happy to slice or grate your favourite fromage for your next fondue party.

Credit: Flickr/roboppy

The Lobster Man

This Granville Island institution — one of the original tenants of the island under the bridge—has been selling live shellfish for more than 30 years.

Featuring tanks filled with live Nova Scotia lobster, Queen Charlotte Islands Dungeness crab, Alaskan king crab, clams, scallops, muscles, oysters and more, The Lobster Man will even cook a lobster or crab at no extra charge for shoppers who are too squeamish to do so on their own.

Need a recipe idea or serving suggestion? Don’t hesitate to ask a member of the friendly staff for a recommendation (or look for cooking methods online) — all are eager to ensure that your seafood experience goes swimmingly.

Credit: BKH Jerky

BKH Jerky

Whether you saw it on Dragons’ Den or passed by the store on Fraser Street in person, chances are your mouth watered when you first learned about BKH Jerky.

An acronym for a Chinese phrase meaning “beautiful golden smell,” this family-run business has been making Singapore-style beef and pork jerky in the Lower Mainland for 25 years.

Using only the finest cuts of Canadian-raised meat, the flavours range from sweet and savoury to spicy (for those who like a little “kick in the mouth”). Never dry, salty or leathery, this tender, moist and juicy jerky is gluten- and preservative-free and made fresh daily on site.

Credit: Oyama Sausage Company

Oyama Sausage Company

Sausage and salami and pepperoni—oh my! The Oyama Sausage Company on Granville Island is owned and run by a fifth-generation charcuterie craftsman who partners with ethical farmers and suppliers to create fresh, cream-of-the-crop, preservative-free sausages, terrines, pates, cured hams and salamis and more.

The company even offers a taste-test challenge to customers on its website: try Oyama’s fare and see how it compares to supermarket-purchased counterparts (our bet: no contest).

Credit: Prairie Cottage Perogies

Prairie Cottage Perogies

This small shop and restaurant in Langley specializes in those delicious doughy delights known as perogies (sometimes spelled pierogis).

Prairie Cottage Perogies proprietor Judy Hrynenko, who has been making Ukrainian food for over 30 years, says she’s lost count of how many “little perogy pillows” she’s pinched, but she’s sure it’s in the millions.

Prepared in-house using a traditional Ukrainian recipe (hand-peeled potatoes, handmade dough, real cheese and fresh chopped onions), you’d have to fly to Kiev to get a tastier perogy.

Credit: Flickr/roboppy

Canadian Maple Delights

When it comes to homegrown flavour, nothing says Canada better than real maple syrup tapped straight from the tree.

And, thanks to the Citadelle Maple Syrup Producers’ Cooperative, there’s no better place to get the sticky stuff (besides the forest) than Canadian Maple Delights—a Gastown boutique wholly dedicated to our unofficial national syrup.

From melt-in-your-mouth candies to spreads, sorbets and seasonings, this specialty boutique’s mission is to help you experience the many sweet things that can be made with maple.

Hidden Gems: 7 Specialty Food Stores