Best New Restaurants
Lucy Mae Brown Ms. Brown was a notorious "boarding house proprietress" who allegedly ran a bordello in this building in the 1950s. Amid blue-velvet banquettes, chef Kris Barnholden serves seductive modern French cuisine. After dinner, sip a Savoy Royale, a blend of Champagne and blackberry puree (862 Richards St.; 604-899-9199).
Lumière Tasting Bar Lumière chef-owner Rob Feenie set up the Tasting Bar as a low-fuss, no-reservations alternative to his renowned restaurant. The space is certainly more casual, but Feenie's spectacular dishesred Kuri squash ravioli with truffle buttermake seats hard to come by (2551 W. Broadway; 604-739-8185).
Memphis Blues Barbecue House On their nights off, Vancouver's chefs head to this tiny place for some of the city's best ribs and smoked sausage. Instead of ordering beer, check out co-owner Park Heffelfinger's barbecue-worthy wine list (1465 W. Broadway; 604-738-6806).
Best Asian Dining
Tojo's When local Japanese corporate chiefs want to impress visiting head-office executives, they take them to Tojo's. Chef-owner Hidekazu Tojo's devoted fans consider him the best sushi chef in North America. He's a master at nonsushi dishes too, like chawan mushi, a ginger-scented egg-custard soup with prawns and pine mushrooms (777 W. Broadway, second floor; 604-872-8050).
Vij's Even celebrities like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have to line up outside with the locals for a chance to dine on Vikram Vij's artful Punjabi cuisine: wine-marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry, tea-braised sablefish in ginger (1480 W. 11th Ave.; 604-736-6664).
Wild Rice Despite fierce competition from the city's exceptional Asian restaurants, this newcomer (above) has had no trouble standing out. A hip, young and mostly Asian clientele swears by owner Andrew Wong and chef Stuart Irving's approach to contemporary Chinese cuisine: kung po chicken with spicy twice-cooked peanuts, Many Wonton Soup made with an aromatic ginseng-gingko broth flavored with charred scallions (117 W. Pender St.; 604-642-2882).
New Boutique Hotel
Opus Hotel The themed rooms in this luxe new addition to the fashionable Yaletown district are designed in the style of fictional personalities. The hotel is still working out a few kinks, but Elixir and the Opus Bar, the small bistro and lounge, have quickly turned into two of the city's trendiest hangouts (350 Davie St.; 604-642-0557).
C Restaurant Chef Robert Clark has a genius for creating offbeat dishes using premium British Columbia seafood. His octopus baconoctopus confit grilled over maple chipsis a must-try (1600 Howe St.; 604-681-1164).
Chartwell This 17-year-old restaurant is shaking off its reputation as an Old Boys' club with young, Alsace-born chef Fabrice Rossmann's lighter, but no less exquisite, take on classical French cuisine (Four Seasons Hotel; 791 W. Georgia St.; 604-689-9333).
Ouest Local boy David Hawksworth is Vancouver's best European-trained chef and arguably its best chef, period. He combines a passion for fresh West Coast ingredients with labor-intensive French technique (2881 Granville St.; 604-738-8938).
Raincity Grill West Enders consider themselves lucky to have talented Sean Cousins in their midst. Dishes like his goose prosciutto with preserved tomatoes are enhanced by a stunning view of English Bay (1193 Denman St.; 604-685-7337).