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Old School: Vancouver's 20th Century Restaurant Heroes

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[Photo Via Hy's]

Compiled by Eagranie Yuh, born-and-raised Vancouverite and author of The Chocolate Tasting Kit
In a city obsessed with new, it's time to tip our hats to the old-school restaurants that have stood the test of time. High end to low, bleeding-edge innovators to quality-obsessed traditionalists, we salute you. We present—in no particular order — Vancouver's essential Old-School restaurants who opened in the 20th century.

Got a suggestion for a spot you think deserves to be added? Drop us a line or leave a comment.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The PearTree Restaurant

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4210 East Hastings Street, Burnaby
BC, Canada
(604) 299-2772
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Burnaby Heights is experiencing a bit of a culinary renaissance, and we might thank The Pear Tree for laying the foundation. Husband-and-wife team Scott and Stephanie Jaeger opened in 1998 and haven’t looked back. They’re still serving impeccably fresh, local food and they’ve got the awards and loyal customers to prove it.

2. Helen's Grill

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4102 Main St, Vancouver
BC, Canada
Helen’s Grill has occupied the corner of Main Street and King Edward since the 70s. You won’t get anything fancy here, just your standard diner fare. But the coffee’s good, the prices reasonable, you can play music on the jukeboxes and you can have your eggs however you damn well please.

3. Ouisi Bistro

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3014 Granville St, Vancouver
BC V6H 3J8, Canada
(604) 732-7550
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The Ouisi flies under most people’s radar, but you’d be smart to tune in. Since 1994, it’s been home to great Cajun and Creole food, generous brunches and a chilled atmosphere. Don’t miss the live music on alternating Thursdays.

4. Vij’s

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1480 W 11th Ave, Vancouver
BC V6H 1L1, Canada
(604) 736-6664
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Vancouverites like to wait in lines, but since it opened in 1996, Vij’s might the most favourite line of all. Sip on soul-warming chai while watching the jubilant all-women kitchen brigade prepare some of the city’s best Indian food.

5. Tojo's Restaurant

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1133 W Broadway, Vancouver
BC V6H 1G1, Canada
(604) 872-8050
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Vancouverites have a voracious appetite for sushi, and while there’s no shortage of cheap and cheerful joints in town, the gold standard, since opening in 1988, is still Tojo’s. Sure, it’s pricier than Bento Box A, but this is Japanese food as an art form: delicate knife cuts, shockingly fresh fish, spare plating without fanfare.

6. Bishop's Restaurant

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2183 4th Avenue W, Vancouver
BC V6K 1N7, Canada
(604) 738-2025
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Since opening in 1985, John Bishop has mentored some of the city’s most illustrious chefs, notably Vikram Vij and Andrea Carlson. But it’s his commitment to local, sustainable food and sparkling freshness that made, and continues to make, this one of the city’s most reliable and sought-after rooms.

7. The Naam Restaurant

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2724 W 4th Ave, Vancouver
BC V6K 1R1, Canada
(604) 738-7151
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When The Naam opened in 1968, it was part of a throng of hippie-dom in Kitsilano and 4th Avenue was known as the 'Rainbow Road'. While most of the neighbourhood has made way for yoga pants and baby buggies, you can still get a slice of top-notch vegetarian food here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

8. Phnom Penh

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244 E Georgia St, Vancouver
BC V6A 1Z7, Canada
(604) 682-5777
Where would Vancouver be without Phnom Penh’s phenomenal chicken wings? Would another restaurant have filled the void with shatteringly crisp, never oily, piping hot chicken wings served with salt-and-pepper lime juice? Thank goodness we’ll never have to find out.

9. Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca

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1133 Hamilton St., Vancouver
BC V6B 5P6, Canada
(604) 688-7466
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Italian food has a reputation for being heavy and dense, but not at Cioppino’s. Open in 1999, here, you’ll get fresh, vibrant flavours and delicate, house-made pastas. It’s easy to see why it’s won so many awards over the years. (That, and the seriously deep wine cellar.)

10. Elbow Room Cafe

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560 Davie St., Vancouver
BC V6B 3M7, Canada
(604) 685-3628
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Would you like some sass with your bacon and eggs? Since 1983, The Elbow Room has been dishing up good food, generous portions and a bit of cheek from the servers. If you don’t finish your plate, you’ll be coerced into donating to A Loving Spoonful, which provides food to those living with HIV and AIDS. To date, the guilty leftovers scheme has raised more than $76,000.

11. Le Crocodile Restaurant

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909 Burrard St, Vancouver
BC V6Z 2N2, Canada
(604) 669-4298
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Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Le Crocodile is unabashedly French and undeniably extravagant. Even a simple omelette gets kissed with black truffles. The similarly lavish wine list will keep oenophiles busy for a while. This is old-school without being old-fashioned.

12. Hy's Steakhouse

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637 Hornby St., Vancouver
BC V6C 2G2, Canada
(604) 683-7671
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Even in a quinoa- and kale-loving city like Vancouver, there’s still space for an iconic steak house. Open in 1963, Hy’s is the best of the best — you’d expect nothing less after more than 50 years of practice.

13. Kirin Mandarin Restaurant

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1172 Alberni St., Vancouver
BC V6E, Canada
(604) 682-8833
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This venerable seafood restaurant now has five locations throughout the Lower Mainland, but it all started downtown in 1987. Kirin is synonymous with large banquets, particularly weddings. It’s most famous for its roasted squab, which comes with crispy, crackly skin—and its head on the platter.

14. CinCin

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1154 Robson St, Vancouver
BC V6E 1B2, Canada
(604) 688-7338
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With each step up the stone-tiled stairs to CinCin, you slowly shed the hubbub of Robson Street. Inside, revel in the rib-stickingly good Italian food and attentive service that's been its stock-in-trade since opening in 1990. Wine aficionados will appreciate the leather-bound wine list (more of a tome, really) while amateurs can leave themselves in the deft hands of the wine team.

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1. The PearTree Restaurant

4210 East Hastings Street, Burnaby, BC, Canada
Burnaby Heights is experiencing a bit of a culinary renaissance, and we might thank The Pear Tree for laying the foundation. Husband-and-wife team Scott and Stephanie Jaeger opened in 1998 and haven’t looked back. They’re still serving impeccably fresh, local food and they’ve got the awards and loyal customers to prove it.
4210 East Hastings Street, Burnaby
BC, Canada

2. Helen's Grill

4102 Main St, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Helen’s Grill has occupied the corner of Main Street and King Edward since the 70s. You won’t get anything fancy here, just your standard diner fare. But the coffee’s good, the prices reasonable, you can play music on the jukeboxes and you can have your eggs however you damn well please.
4102 Main St, Vancouver
BC, Canada

3. Ouisi Bistro

3014 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3J8, Canada
The Ouisi flies under most people’s radar, but you’d be smart to tune in. Since 1994, it’s been home to great Cajun and Creole food, generous brunches and a chilled atmosphere. Don’t miss the live music on alternating Thursdays.
3014 Granville St, Vancouver
BC V6H 3J8, Canada

4. Vij’s

1480 W 11th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6H 1L1, Canada
Vancouverites like to wait in lines, but since it opened in 1996, Vij’s might the most favourite line of all. Sip on soul-warming chai while watching the jubilant all-women kitchen brigade prepare some of the city’s best Indian food.
1480 W 11th Ave, Vancouver
BC V6H 1L1, Canada

5. Tojo's Restaurant

1133 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6H 1G1, Canada
Vancouverites have a voracious appetite for sushi, and while there’s no shortage of cheap and cheerful joints in town, the gold standard, since opening in 1988, is still Tojo’s. Sure, it’s pricier than Bento Box A, but this is Japanese food as an art form: delicate knife cuts, shockingly fresh fish, spare plating without fanfare.
1133 W Broadway, Vancouver
BC V6H 1G1, Canada

6. Bishop's Restaurant

2183 4th Avenue W, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N7, Canada
Since opening in 1985, John Bishop has mentored some of the city’s most illustrious chefs, notably Vikram Vij and Andrea Carlson. But it’s his commitment to local, sustainable food and sparkling freshness that made, and continues to make, this one of the city’s most reliable and sought-after rooms.
2183 4th Avenue W, Vancouver
BC V6K 1N7, Canada

7. The Naam Restaurant

2724 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1R1, Canada
When The Naam opened in 1968, it was part of a throng of hippie-dom in Kitsilano and 4th Avenue was known as the 'Rainbow Road'. While most of the neighbourhood has made way for yoga pants and baby buggies, you can still get a slice of top-notch vegetarian food here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
2724 W 4th Ave, Vancouver
BC V6K 1R1, Canada

8. Phnom Penh

244 E Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z7, Canada
Where would Vancouver be without Phnom Penh’s phenomenal chicken wings? Would another restaurant have filled the void with shatteringly crisp, never oily, piping hot chicken wings served with salt-and-pepper lime juice? Thank goodness we’ll never have to find out.
244 E Georgia St, Vancouver
BC V6A 1Z7, Canada

9. Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca

1133 Hamilton St., Vancouver, BC V6B 5P6, Canada
Italian food has a reputation for being heavy and dense, but not at Cioppino’s. Open in 1999, here, you’ll get fresh, vibrant flavours and delicate, house-made pastas. It’s easy to see why it’s won so many awards over the years. (That, and the seriously deep wine cellar.)
1133 Hamilton St., Vancouver
BC V6B 5P6, Canada

10. Elbow Room Cafe

560 Davie St., Vancouver, BC V6B 3M7, Canada
Would you like some sass with your bacon and eggs? Since 1983, The Elbow Room has been dishing up good food, generous portions and a bit of cheek from the servers. If you don’t finish your plate, you’ll be coerced into donating to A Loving Spoonful, which provides food to those living with HIV and AIDS. To date, the guilty leftovers scheme has raised more than $76,000.
560 Davie St., Vancouver
BC V6B 3M7, Canada

11. Le Crocodile Restaurant

909 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2N2, Canada
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Le Crocodile is unabashedly French and undeniably extravagant. Even a simple omelette gets kissed with black truffles. The similarly lavish wine list will keep oenophiles busy for a while. This is old-school without being old-fashioned.
909 Burrard St, Vancouver
BC V6Z 2N2, Canada

12. Hy's Steakhouse

637 Hornby St., Vancouver, BC V6C 2G2, Canada
Even in a quinoa- and kale-loving city like Vancouver, there’s still space for an iconic steak house. Open in 1963, Hy’s is the best of the best — you’d expect nothing less after more than 50 years of practice.
637 Hornby St., Vancouver
BC V6C 2G2, Canada

13. Kirin Mandarin Restaurant

1172 Alberni St., Vancouver, BC V6E, Canada
This venerable seafood restaurant now has five locations throughout the Lower Mainland, but it all started downtown in 1987. Kirin is synonymous with large banquets, particularly weddings. It’s most famous for its roasted squab, which comes with crispy, crackly skin—and its head on the platter.
1172 Alberni St., Vancouver
BC V6E, Canada

14. CinCin

1154 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1B2, Canada
With each step up the stone-tiled stairs to CinCin, you slowly shed the hubbub of Robson Street. Inside, revel in the rib-stickingly good Italian food and attentive service that's been its stock-in-trade since opening in 1990. Wine aficionados will appreciate the leather-bound wine list (more of a tome, really) while amateurs can leave themselves in the deft hands of the wine team.
1154 Robson St, Vancouver
BC V6E 1B2, Canada