21 Vancouver Restaurants That Have Stood the Test of Time

Add these Vancouver dining institutions to your culinary bucket list

From kitsch to chic, here are 21 legendary Vancouver dining establishments you need to experience

As Vancouver neighbourhoods have materialized and morphed over the past two decades, many dining establishments have failed to last, swallowed up by major development in the area or simply due to a lack of business acumen. Bucking the trend, these Vancouver-area mainstays can still be counted on.

Even though it’s fun to check out the newest and hottest restaurants, if you’re looking for a meal that’s sure to satisfy, grab a table at one of these 20 Vancouver restaurants that has survived over 20 years (they must be doing something right).

Part 2: Here are 10 more restaurants that have stood the test of time

Tomahawk Barbecue, opened in 1926

Founded in 1926, this North Vancouver eatery has had a long-standing friendship with the First Nations chiefs of the area, with dishes named in tribute to many of founder Chick Chamberlain’s friends. Featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in 2012, the joint can boast the title of “oldest family-owned restaurant” in all of Canada – and once employed a teenaged Bryan Adams.

Don’t-miss dish: The Skookum Chief Burger, complete with egg, wiener and, yes, even bacon

1550 Philip Avenue, North Vancouver

Foo’s Ho Ho, opened in 1954

Still able to proudly declare itself Chinatown’s oldest Chinese restaurant, Foo’s Ho Ho has been serving traditional Cantonese cuisine in various incarnations since 1954. Its unpretentious decor and dependable menu are so beloved that three years back – when a pending closure loomed on the horizon – a group of local citizens dubbed themselves Friends of Foo’s Ho Ho and worked diligently to ensure the restaurant’s continued success.

Don’t-miss dishes: Spring rolls and sticky rice

102 East Pender Street, Vancouver

Helen’s Grill, opened in 1961

Diners don’t come more homey than this. Opened in 1961, Helen’s Grill at the intersection of Main and King Edward does more than simply sling hash. Customers can revel in tiny jukeboxes at each table and hand-pick tunes to partner with the restaurant’s “greasy spoon” best. It’s certainly free of frills but not lacking in personality.

Don’t-miss dish: The classic bacon and eggs

4102 Main Street, Vancouver

The Naam, opened in 1968

Born of Kitsilano’s funky, hippie roots, this vegetarian eatery is the city’s oldest “natural foods” restaurant. In addition to an extensive menu of healthy grub, local musicians take to the small stage for three hours nightly. And – for night owls – the restaurant closes only on Christmas Day, serving dishes 24 hours a day throughout the year.

Don’t-miss dish: Start the day with their hearty oatmeal porridge

2724 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver

La Bodega, opened in 1971

The incredible tapas at La Bodega are just the beginning – of your meal and of the long list of delicious Spanish dishes prepared at this Howe Street staple for over 40 years. Paella, ceviche and aged cheeses are among the favourites of patrons who have enjoyed the charm of the traditionally decorated space. Leave the traffic of Howe behind, enter a little bit of Spain – and come hungry.

Don’t miss dish: Paella

1277 Howe Street, Vancouver

Martini’s, opened in 1973

In determining Martini’s most brag-worthy asset, it’s a toss-up between the heavenly whole-wheat pizzas and the daily – and value-oriented – drink specials. Diners have been feasting on steak, ribs, salads and more in this cosy, wood-paneled establishment on Broadway since 1973 – and the eatery still boasts a mission to provide affordable quality day in and day out.

Don’t-miss dish: Whole-wheat pizza with any variety of toppings

151 West Broadway, Vancouver

Afghan Horsemen, opened in 1974

Now found at the entrance of Granville Island, the Afghan Horsemen opened as the country’s very first Afghani restaurant in 1974 at an original location on Broadway. The new digs have done nothing to dim the restaurant’s incredible reputation for culinary creations incorporating fine spices and fresh ingredients.

Don’t-miss dish: Aushak, the Afghani take on cheese ravioli

202–1833 Anderson Road, Vancouver

Pepitas, opened in 1975

Founded in 1975 by Mexico City native Efren Martin, Pepita’s has been tossing sombreros on birthday revelers and serving traditional Mexican favourites ever since. Colourful decor and frequent live music help create a vibrant atmosphere at this Kitsilano tradition. Head over before catching a flick at the Fifth Avenue or knock back a margarita over nachos after escaping the hustle of the downtown core.

Don’t-miss dish: Even online critics exclaim their margaritas have a “kick”

2015 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Credit: Minerva's

Minerva’s, opened in 1975

Founded in 1975, this Kerrisdale favourite has had a simple recipe for success: hearty food full of Mediterranean flavours. Pizza, pasta and a huge selection of Greek treats have kept tables full for over three decades.

Don’t-miss dish: Baby back ribs, prepared in Minerva’s “secret” homemade sauce

2411 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver

Topanga, opened in 1978

Featured on a recent episode of Food Network Canada’s You Gotta Eat Here, this Tex-Mex establishment was the answer to the Zallen’s family own longings. Transplants from Los Angeles, they strived to build a menu rich in the California cuisine they missed from back home. While new owners are at the helm now, the restaurant’s original motto – “good, hot food fast.” – continues to prove true.

Don’t-miss dish: Tacos or tamales – take your pick

2904 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver

Credit: flickr/Gary

Bridges, opened in 1980

A summer meal on Bridges’ waterfront deck could now be considered a rite of passage for Vancouverites. The English Bay view is finest at sunset and patrons can soak it in from the fine dining room upstairs, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, or from a more casual spot in the bistro and bar on the building’s main floor.

Don’t-miss dish: The salmon burger with tzatziki made in-house

1696 Duranleau Street, Vancouver

Athene’s on Broadway, opened in 1980

It’s been over 30 years since Athene’s opened on Broadway and became an instant favourite of both the city’s Greek community and anyone in search of delicious souvlaki, mousaka, kalamari and more. Traditional frescos adorn the establishment’s walls and reinforce the welcoming, lively mood set by staff throughout.

Don’t-miss dish: Souvlaki platters

3618 West Broadway, Vancouver