Due to its geographic location, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the gleaming Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is a popular sightseeing and outdoor adventure destination. But, did you know Vancouver also has a reputation for offering an excellent food scene? While locals can enjoy top-notch cuisines from almost every region globally, one that is often overlooked is from our own backyard; the cuisine of Indigenous peoples from Vancouver and Western Canada. The City of Vancouver is situated on the lands of several different Indigenous cultures, primarily the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Wautuh nations. Many people outside of these cultures, however, have not tried their fantastic cuisine. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many Indigenous restaurants to try out. Luckily, several local chefs are aiming to change that. Over the past several years, new Indigenous restaurants have popped up around the Lower Mainland to serve locals and tourists alike with their mouth-watering, traditional cuisine.
Indigenous restaurants focus on local, sustainable game and fish, like elk, bison and salmon, and local fruit and vegetables. The chefs put a modern twist on these traditional foods, often preparing them into European-style dishes (several chefs are classically trained). While salmon, smoked or otherwise, is always a favourite of First Nations cuisines, a particular specialty served at most Indigenous restaurants is the Bannock: a type of fried bread traditionally cooked on an open fire.
Perhaps Vancouver’s most well-known Indigenous restaurant is Salmon n’ Bannock (a few blocks south of the city centre), offering Indigenous cuisine fused with European style. Their offerings range from Bannock Tacos and Bison ‘Bannockwiches’ to Smoked Salmon Burgers and charcuterie plates featuring game meat. The famous Bannock bread is often incorporated into these dishes as well and can be gluten-free! Upon opening, the owner, Snitsmana, was focused on using Indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques: “I wanted the restaurant to showcase food from the land and sea that the Indigenous people had traditionally hunted, harvested and eaten – everything from fiddlehead ferns to bison and sockeye salmon,” she explained in a recent BBC article.
When visiting any destination, one should always try and sample the local food. In Vancouver, that means visiting one of the Indigenous restaurants that will serve you traditional and sustainable cuisine from around British Columbia.
With options in Vancouver, North Vancouver and Squamish, let’s look at some of the top Indigenous restaurants you can visit during your holiday to Vancouver:
4 Great Options for Canadian Indigenous Cuisine in Vancouver
Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro (Vancouver)
- Often ranked as one of the best restaurants in Vancouver, it opened in 2010 by owner Snitsmana (also known as Inez Cook) from the Nuxalk Nation around Bella Coola
- Focuses on local, sustainable, Indigenous food from around BC
- Specializes in fusing traditional Indigenous meat and fish with modern dishes
- Follow Salmon n’ Bannock on Instagram
Mr Bannock Food Truck (North Vancouver)
- Started in 2018 by the owner and chef, Paul Natrall, from the Squamish Nation.
- Focuses on a fusion of Coast Salish cuisine
- Specializes in Bannock burgers and tacos
- Follow Mr Bannock Food Truck on Instagram
BigHeart Bannock Catering (Vancouver)
- Owned by Lauraleigh Paul Yuxweluputun’aat, a member of the Coast Salish, Interior Salish and Carrier nations.
- Focuses on Indigenous wild foods
- Specializes in sweet or savoury ‘Bannockwiches’
- Follow BigHeeart Bannock Catering on Instagram
Thunderbird café (Whistler)
- Operating in the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre
- Focuses on simple options such as soups and sandwiches fused with Indigenous ingredients
- Specializes in a unique style of modern First Nation’s cuisine
- Follow Thunderbird Café on Instagram
Get more ideas on what to do on the Vancouver Travel Guide.