Top 20 Vancouver Eats With Kids

It’s an eating-out kind of week here at Seven Suitcases, as we turn our appetites to Vancouver, Canada, which is slowly taking its place alongside other West Coast culinary greats – Portland, Los Angeles – as a great eating-out city. Though you’ll seldom see dedicated children’s menus on offer (a good thing, in our book), you’ll find that kids are welcomed almost anywhere, and that most places have a high-chair or two on offer. Here are 20 of our tried-and-tested Vancouver faves, with little ones in tow.

  1. Bandidas Taqueria This cute little hipster place on Commercial Drive offers amazing plates of all-vegetarian Mexican food (we love the enchiladas and the “Mrs Cohen” spicy tortilla soup), and has a little stack of toys and books to keep little ones happy. Come early for brunch on weekends, though, as there’s always a highly un-child-friendly queue. If you’re looking for Mexican food on the go, though, head to retro little Budgie’s Burritos (home of velvet Elvis pictures) or the highly authentic La Taqueria, with two locations in town.

    Tacos at Bandidas, courtesy of Jennifer

  2. The Templeton A fab retro diner on an….atmospheric…stretch of downtown Granville Street, with proper slide-in booths and a solid menu of BLTs, huge salads, and a tasty vegan ‘meatloaf.’ Kids will love the old-time jukebox consoles at every table (slip in a quarter and get your Little Red Corvette cued up) and the Creamsicle floats.

    The Templeton, courtesy of Dane Low

  3. House of Dosas Off the beaten track, no-frills and in an uninspiring location on the corner of two busy main roads, but without doubt the best and most authentic Indian food in town. Tuck into an immense, crisp rice pancake dosas, stuffed with potatoes, aubergine, or a plethora of other fillings. Order a 3ft-long paper dosa for the kids, and watch their eyes widen, and follow up with a sweet mango lassi.
  4. Shaolin Noodle House Little ones will love watching the busy chefs hand-pull noodles behind the big glass kitchen windows at Shaolin. Our kids devour plate after plate of garlic fried broccoli, green onion pancakes, and pan fried “cutting” noodles, and always beg to go back for more.
    day 3 lunch at Shao Lin

    Even our Seven Suitcases babies love Shaolin

  5. Noodlebox Quick and easy South East Asian  at two locations in the city centre, with a modern, airy vibe. We love the Singapore cashew curry, and our little ones always plump for the Burmese naans. Alternatively, if you’re seeking somewhere cozier, slurp up lunch at Legendary Noodle on Denman Street: our kids love the pea shoots in garlic.
  6. The Gallery Café A little bit of respite in the sometimes hard-to-find-somewhere-to-sit-down city centre. With local, organic fare and bright, open spaces (and a lovely outdoor patio in summer), it makes a good lunch spot on a busy downtown day.
  7. Sushi – almost anywhere. It’s hard to go wrong with sushi in Vancouver: it’s abundant, (usually) cheap, and always good. Our kids go for simple kappa maki (cucumber rolls), deep fried Agedashi tofu, and a reviving miso soup. For fancier sushi (think sculptural sushi garnished with candles and cornflakes) in a casual setting, head to Kishimoto on Commercial Drive; for swisher surroundings, take the gang for a lunchtime treat to Miku, right slap-bang in the city centre and with great views of the cruise-ship port.

    Vancouver sushi al fresco, courtesy of Sebastian Launay

  8. Coffee – Vancouver’s the city of great coffee (so long as you don’t just plump for the mighty Canadian chain, Tim Horton’s) and there are lots of great places to stop for a sip. In historic Gastown, our faves are Nelson the Seagull and Lost + Found, both large, airy, with yummy bites and great with kids.  On hipster Main Street, we love Forty Ninth Parallel, (treat yourselves to doughnuts, which the kids can watch being made in-house), and cool local hang-out, Gene Café, a great place to hang out and read (children’s) books on a rainy day.  On Commercial Drive, meanwhile, go old-school Italian at Cafe Calabria, where, along with cappuccinos, ice cream treats abound.
    49th para

    Forty Ninth Parallel, courtesy of Kenny Louie

  9. The Naam Large portions of veggie food are served up 24/7 in this venerable old café in the Kitsilano district, as they have been since the Vancouver hippy days of yore. Weekend brunches are filling – our kids invariably go for the pancakes or the Dragon Bowl – the staff is very child-friendly (and will bring colouring books), and the coffee is bottomless.
  10. Mui Garden Our kids constantly hanker after the Chinese coconut curry at this busy, basic, hole-in-the-wall Hong Kong style restaurant on Main Street. Service doesn’t usually come with a smile, but the ladies in charge soften when they see tiny people wolfing down their dishes.
  11. Street Eats – Vancouver is slowly warming up to the food cart phenomenon, and you’ll find some great ones scattered about town. But for real grab-and-go, our kids’ two fave picks are Japadog street carts, where the hotdogs are prepared Japanese-style with seaweed, Japanese mayo and other great toppings, and the Loving Hut Express (Thurs-Sat, 11.30am-4pm), which serves huge, sloppy burgers that no one’ll know are vegan unless you tell ’em.

    Japadog, courtesy of Dan

  12. Chipotle (818 Howe Street) More eat-and-go in the city centre; this great Mexican chain dishes up big burritos and bowls, with great little kids’ meals. Ours love the DIY taco ‘sets’, which come with juice and tortilla chips.
  13. Save on Meats  A big reto diner housed in a huge former butcher’s shop (hence the name and neon lights), Save on Meats serves up solid grub, and desserts the kids will love (we dare you not to order them a Chocolate Chocolate Awful Awful).
    save on meats

    Save on Meats, courtesy of Paul Joseph

  14. Pizza – Vancouver has no shortage of good pies, but our kids’ current favourites are little Pizzeria Farina, fancier Nicli Antica in Gastown, and Roman-owned Triluzza Pizza and Pane.
  15. Solly’s Bagels With three locations in tow, Solly’s is a great, simple destination for bagels, rugelach, matzo ball soup, and other deli favourites. The W 7th Street  location is larger and has a little toy collection, but all are warm and welcoming to little ones.
  16. Bestie  Sausages (even vegan ones), sauerkraut and suds in a hipster location tucked into the fragrant streets of Chinatown. Kids will like the pretzels and fritten, and a wander around Chinatown afterwards.
  17. Meet on Main Yummy veggie, largely plant-based snacks, bowls, burgers and desserts at this warm, welcoming location on Main Street. Our gang goes wild for the ‘groovy gravy fries’  and the ‘whisky BBQ things;’ try the churro balls filled with rice pudding and float away on a sea of sweet serenity. Alternatively, for something more sophisticated, dine out at The Acorn (our favourite restaurant in Vancouver, if not North America): it’s only open for dinner and often has a line-up, but if you arrive when it opens (at 5.30pm), it’s at its most child-friendly and you’ll likely get a table right away.
    acorn vancouver

    The Acorn, courtesy of Liv Estberger

  18. Ice Cream – The two big guns in town are classy downtown Bella Gelateria (which our 6-year-old still calls “Bella Tella Geria”), whose ice creams, sorbettos and cannolis are so exquisite that in summer months there’s often a hefty queue for them, or the tourist-popular La Casa Gelato with its hundreds of flavours (which we don’t love but the kids adore…and hey, where else can you get licorice or blue cheese ice cream?)
    bella gelateria

    Bella Gelateria, courtesy of Ruth Hartnup

  19. Izakaya –  Guu, Kingyo and the fancier Hapa Izakaya are (we think) the best, family-friendliest places in town to try out interesting twists on modern Japanese tapas.
  20. Café Medina For something a little fancier, take your tinies for brunch at Medina. House-made waffles, Moroccan tagines and other delicious dishes, served up in bright, quaint setting.

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