Finding the right restaurant for date night can be a bit of a balancing act—the atmosphere should be comfortable, but not too casual; food should be elegant, but not too calculated. Not to mention, you may want to make sure you can hear what your companion is saying. These restaurants hit the sweet spot when it comes to atmosphere and food making them an ideal choice for a special evening out with your sweetheart. Here, eight recommendations for romantic dining in Vancouver.
Mak N Ming
An evening in this intimate Kitsilano restaurant is much like a romantic Sunshine Coast getaway. Steps from the beach and lined with walls of red cedar, Mak N Ming’s 28-seat space has a refined, forest-like atmosphere and hyper-seasonal chef’s menu touting French-inspired cuisine with Japanese ingredients. Three courses are artfully paced, punctuated with entrées like sablefish drizzled with miso gravy or beef striploin with beet teriyaki sauce. It makes for a true treat, where carefully crafted fare is deeply rewarding.
Order a negroni and make like lady and the tramp at Gastown’s Di Beppe, because all dishes are meant to be shared. That includes the stellar cacio e pepe, some of the city’s best lasagna, and pizzas that even nonna would approve of (go for the classic margherita with fior di latte). The fresh space has a wonderful vibe and leaves no detail unconsidered, right down to the Glasfurd & Walker–designed menus emblazoned with Italian cinema–inspired typography. This Valentine’s Day, Di Beppe—which is shorthand for Giuseppe—will be donating 10 per cent of all pizza sales to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Of all the farm-to-table restaurants in Vancouver, chef David Gunawan’s cozy 30-seat eatery may take the locally-sourced cake. Kitchen staff remain at the whim of farmers who provide the eatery with fresh ingredients daily. As such, dishes have a Pacific Northwestern lean, but can be difficult to pin down—and that’s precisely the fun of it. After all, what’s date night without a little spontaneity? Simply pull up a chair in the rustic-contemporary dining room and prepare for a stunning six-courses of thoughtfully arranged dishes, all set to a soundtrack of 70s and 80s vinyl.
For some, white tablecloths can be suffocating. The sleek new La Taqueria on Yukon Street, just off Broadway, is for those folks. Upping the ante for a casual evening out, the room boasts that perfect romantic lighting (not too bright, not too dark) and an Instagram-worthy bar with very good margaritas on tap. This location was designed by owner Marcelo Ramirez, complete with original artwork from Mexico and sleek walnut countertops, and is also home to La Taqueria’s test kitchen, so there is always something new to try. Order the addictive carnitas tacos layered with juicy pork confit and salsa verde, then add anything else that sparks joy.
It’s nice to be taken care of, and at Masayoshi that’s precisely how you and your date are treated. This modest 24-seat Fraserhood space makes for a truly intimate night with chef Masayoshi Baba—disciple of Vancouver’s famed Tojo—who looks after guests with a superb omakase experience (wherein the chef creates a custom meal). Opt for the Original Creation Omakase, whose seven courses includes dishes both hot and cold and, of course, a selection of the nigiri made with only the freshest local seafood. Do book ahead, as this menu requires three days’ notice, and once the call is made, you’re in good hands.
For a special North Shore night for two, Ancora’s new Ambleside location invites the outside in with high ceilings and windows, booths dressed in aquatic tones, and airy fishing net–inspired chandeliers. Share the signature Ancora Glacier, a seafood treasure trove including sashimi, Peruvian ceviche, and oysters—but aphrodisiacs aside, you might set the mood with Ancora’s five-course Valentine’s Day tasting menu, a collection of the house’s Peruvian and Japanese flavours crafted just for the occasion—think Dungeness crab causa topped with huancaina sauce and sablefish with dashi braised daikon and quinoa crackling.
Caffè La Tana
If you can nip out for a midday rendezvous, cozy up in a corner of Caffè La Tana. This Ste. Marie–designed grocer/cafe on Commercial Drive, clad in verdant marble with artful displays of provisions, is well-suited to sipping espresso or indulging in a lunch of house-made pasta. This Valentine’s Day sees two rosy treats at the café: beet-and-ricotta stuffed ravioli to order and freshly cut roses to purchase—something to remember your afternoon by.
Les Faux Bourgeois
Moody lighting, rich mahogany accents, and plenty of red wine are at the heart of this laidback French bistro in the city’s up-and-coming Fraserhood area. Les Faux Bourgeois (or “Fauxbo” as the locals say) has been a steadfast favourite for French dining thanks to its authentic, well-prepared, and generously portioned dishes. In celebration of Saint Valentine, the restaurant is serving a special three-course set menu featuring classics like buttery escargots de Bourgogne, duck à l’orange served crispy with a spiced jus, and crème brûlée. Reservations are a good idea—only lucky walk-ins may find a seat at the bar.
Find the rest of Canada’s most romantic restaurants, here.
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