If you cross into Vancouver, the city offers one of the most diverse ethnic food cultures on the planet. The fusion of traditional foods with international improvements is as fascinating as it is tasty. Grab a JapaDog at one of many locations and enjoy umami toppings that will make you consider America’s 4th of July hot dog in a whole new light. Still hungry? Grab a slice of Tandoori Chicken Pizza—Vancouver’s Indian food scene is legendary.
For more traditional local specialties, indulge in the region’s bounteous seafood. The BC Roll was invented by Chef Hidekazu Tojo, creator of the California Roll. Unlike its southern counterpart, the BC Roll proudly features local salmon barbecued to perfection and surrounded by cucumber, seaweed, and rice. Dungeness crab is abundant all along the Pacific Northwest coast, as are spot prawns, the local obsession every May. For the elusive prawns, as well as the best Chinese food this side of Asia, make a side trip to Richmond BC.
Wild Pacific salmon is a must-eat for any traveler heading north to Alaska. Taste the five different types—King, sockeye, coho (silver), chum, and pink – and decide which you like best. Smoked salmon lasts forever and makes the perfect gift to bring to friends back home.
Four hours drive east of Vancouver, the stunning Okanagan Lake area is fast becoming one of the world’s premier wine regions. The 84-mile long lake offers practically every climate known to man, from snow-capped peaks to Canada’s only desert. The result is a staggering output of fruits, vegetables, and fermented grapes.
The wineries of the Okanagan are an absolute must. Mission Hill is possibly the most beautiful, opulent winery in North America. Visit Terrace Restaurant for the perfect synthesis of local food and wine. Across the lake CedarCreek is another stunner, their restaurant is called Vineyard Terrace and features more farm-to-fork delights overlooking the lake. Other worthwhile wine stops with epic views include Quails’ Gate and The Hatch.
The area’s largest town is charming Kelowna, an ideal spot for an overnight pit stop or several days of indulgence. Be sure to stock up at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ markets Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8am to 1pm. Okanagan Grocery is known for its superb bakery, so stop by for some croissants and coffee before you hit the road. Codfathers Seafood Market and Café is a leading purveyor of BC’s enormous array of sustainable seafood. They will make up a picnic to go with just an hour’s notice, so grab a basket and head for the lake.
In Kelowna, the food scene continues to evolve. Visit RauDZ to sample BC-only produce and meats. Smack Dab in Hotel Manteo hosts a vast outdoor deck to sample and sip well into the long summer evenings. Before turning in have a nightcap at Okanagan Distillery or BNA Brewing to sample the excellent concoctions formed by distilling and fermenting the local grains.
Extra Credit: Uber-foodies will be interested to know that Grand Forks, BC is famous for borscht. The delicious Doukhobor style—named for the Russians who moved there around 1900—is vegetarian due to their pacifist beliefs, but also contains unholy amounts of butter and cream.