17 essential Vancouver seafood restaurants

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When it comes to culinary calling cards, Vancouver is known for seafood. Chefs rhapsodize about the city’s fortuitous proximity to the Pacific waters, and out of towners arrive craving any and everything they can eat that comes from the sea.

Luckily, Vancouver has it all. In the past couple of years there’s been a welcome expansion in our seafood scene to include fun places that put it all out on the table (we’re talking spicy seafood boils here) to more mid-range restaurants that don’t break the bank but still deliver the bite.

What we’ve put together is basically your ultimate guide to experiencing seafood restaurants in Vancouver. True, this isn’t a list for sushi-seekers or those in pursuit of poké–we’ll save those for other guides. Instead, think oyster bars, fish and chips, lobster tails, and the catch of the day.

These are the 17 essential Vancouver seafood restaurants.

Blue Water Cafe

Photo by John Sherlock/courtesy Blue Water Cafe

Largely considered the current king of seafood fine dining in Vancouver, Blue Water is one of those enduring restaurants that is on most people’s goals list. Executive Chef Frank Pabst is renown for his visionary cooking and championing of B.C.’s incredible seafood. From their incredible raw bar and on-ice selections to meticulous hot dishes, Blue Water is the epitome of seafood excellence in this city.

Address: 1095 Hamilton Street

Joe Fortes

joe fortes restaurant vancouver
Photo by Ainsleigh Christie/courtesy Joe Fortes

Joe Fortes has been an influential seafood restaurant in Vancouver longer than most Vancouver food influencers have been alive. For nearly three decades, the multi-level restaurant named for one of the city’s most iconic 20th century residents has been a staple for classic seafood dishes.

Address: 777 Thurlow Street

Hook Seabar

hook seabar vancouver
Hook Seabar/Facebook

A smart, laid-back, affordable, independent seafood restaurant right on English Bay: Why did it take Vancouver ages to get this? So Hook Seabar slid right into a space that was formerly a big chain, facing that unbeatable West End water view. Their food runs from Happy Hour deals to weekend brunch to a dinner menu that fits those who want a sandwich or a surf-and-turf.

Address: 1210 Denman Street

The Fish Counter

fish counter vancouver
@manica_/Instagram

Rob Clark knows fish. Though Vancouverites may remember him as the high-end chef at the long-gone C, he and Mike McDermid not only founded Ocean Wise in 2005, but also transitioned to The Fish Counter in 2014, opening the hybrid seafood shop and casual eatery best known for their Fish & Chips.

Address: 3825 Main Street

Coquille Fine Seafood

Coquille (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome)

An ambitious new Gastown restaurant, Coquille is making beautiful, contemporary, approachable seafood dishes for lunch and dinner. Look for sexy dishes like a Spicy Marinated Octopus on toast, the Crab & Spinach Dip (packed with an entire crab), stunning crudos, beautiful fish and seafood mains, and playful desserts. And of course they’ve got oysters, fish & chips, and an impressive selection of seafood platters.

Address: 181 Carrall Street

Rodney’s Oyster House

Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

Sometimes you just need a plate of oysters, a glass of wine filled–literally–to the brim, and a little escape from the day. Rodney’s always has a celebratory vibe, even if all you’re celebrating is Wednesday. It’s like a free show watching them greet guests, and make the chowder to order at the counter.

Address: 1228 Hamilton Street
Address: 52 Powell Street

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Photo courtesy Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Among the many stellar hotel restaurants in Vancouver is Boulevard, home to award-winning chefs who are creating beautiful food. It’s not all seafood here, but the fish-forward dishes they do are top-notch. Boulevard is also known for their incredible raw bar seafood towers, including probably the most expensive thing you’ll find on any Vancouver menu: The $500 Seafood Tower Royale. Whoa, baby.

Address: 845 Burrard Street

The Holy Crab

The Holy Crab Canada/Facebook

The Holy Crab is where you go for the kind of seafood that requires butcher paper spread on the table and an ample supply of napkins. Inspired by Louisiana spicy seafood boils, here you’ll really get your hands dirty tucking into your choice of crab legs, clams, shrimp, crawfish, and more tossed in either a Cajun or Garlic sauce. Plus they do seafood rolls, and often kick things up with fun food challenges and specials.

Address: 1588 Robson Street

YEW seafood + bar

YEW seafood + bar/Facebook

From fun bar eats to lunches where you’ll want to have an expense account to sophisticated dinners, YEW at the Four Seasons has seafood and hospitality on lock. It’s a dim, buzzing room, and the menu is adaptable for all occasions, from big celebrations to post-shopping drinks. Seafood is a big star here, whether its their signature Lobster Bisque or the shared Seafood Pot. Kick things off with some of their Fisherman’s box raw bar selections, or go right for something decadent like a lobster and avocado sandwich or a stunning piece of sable fish.

Address: 791 West Georgia Street

Go Fish

go fish vancouver
@julesblaney/Instagram

Go Fish is all about the fish and chips. Situated steps from the docks at Granville Island, there are fewer places around where you want to be tucking into fish and fries on a warm day. Grab your grub from the take-out window, and find a spot to sit down and feast.

Address: 1505 West 1st Avenue

Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market

Fanny Bay Oyster Bar & Shellfish Market/Facebook

Piggy-backing on the success of their Taylor Shellfish operations in Washington state, Fanny Bay opened up a “tide-to-table” market and restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Come for the oysters, stay for the oysters, and leave with some oysters.

Address: 762 Cambie Street

Coast

Coast by Glowbal/Facebook

Part of the Glowbal family of showy restaurants, Coast serves up its seafood with a side of scene and be seen, that’s for sure. This high-end spot specializes in opulent dishes, including an impressive raw seafood tower, along with all the expected seafood fare, from oysters and chowders to elegant ocean-based entrees.

Address: 1054 Alberni Street

WildTale

WildTale Yaletown/Facebook

WildTale is the seafaring sibling of the Flying Pig, and, similarly, has outposts in Yaletown and Olympic Village. This very west coast-style spot offers the perfect array of seafood-centric fare for after work Happy Hour with girlfriends or colleagues, or an ideal place to take your parents to dinner.

Address: 1079 Mainland Street
Address: 165 West 2nd Avenue

Oddfish

@oddfishrestaurant/Instagram

You might say that Oddifish is a bit of an odd duck in the Vancouver dining scene. That’s because this Kitsilano restaurant is the kind of eclectic space that has a fresh menu daily, featuring fresh seafood and veggie dishes. Here they’ll get those fresh catches into bowls (like clams and pasta or mussels and coconut broth) or into creative mains, or cold appies like ceviche and poke.

Address: 1889 West 1st Avenue

Oyster Express

Oyster eXpress (OX)/Facebook

Oysters, oysters, oysters. What can you expect from a place called Oyster Express? This Chinatown spot is known for their stellar oyster selection, buck-a-shuck deals, and happy hour vibes. Definitely squeeze into this spot if you have oysters on your mind.

Address: 296 Keefer Street

Ocean Wise Café 

Vancouver Aquarium/Facebook

When Chef Ned Bell left YEW, he went to Ocean Wise at the Vancouver Aquarium to head up the sustainable seafood program’s culinary arm. Bell’s dishes have joined the roster at the Aquarium’s casual cafes, so if you can skip the fries and ice cream, you’ll find some true gems. But dining here also supports the great conservation work that Ocean Wise does, so don’t overlook getting a side of fries, because you’re helping the cause while filling your belly, too.

Address: 845 Avison Way (adjacent to entrance; admission not required)

Sandbar

Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

They’ve got one of the best patios on Granville Island, which is saying a lot in this prime patio territory. Sandbar does seafood with an Asian twist, and while they tend to fly under the radar a bit, it’s hard to beat an appy like their Wok Squid, which has the punch of chiles and garlic, paired with something to sip on for unwinding after work, hanging out with friends, and doing some people watching. (PS You’ll find a similar menu, and a great view, too, at their sister restaurant, Cardero’s, in Coal Harbour.)

Address: 1535 Johnston Street

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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, and the co-host and co-producer of the Vancouver Is Awesome Podcast. A fifth generation Vancouverite and life-long foodie, Lindsay also serves as a judge for the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of LAist.com, in her past life in L.A. she earned an MA in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancouverisawesome.com // Twitter/Instagram: @squashblossom