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Opening soon: Vancouver restaurants to watch for so far in 2021

What will 2021 bring to Vancouver's dining scene?
hello-nori-scallop-handroll
A chopped scallop handroll from Hello Nori. The Japanese restaurant, which specializes in sushi handrolls, is opening this winter on Robson Street in Vancouver. Photo: Hello Nori

What will 2021 bring to Vancouver's dining scene? We already know of several spots that are in the works - including a few that we'd hoped would get off the ground in 2020 - that will give food fans new spots for things like Mexican street food, bread and pastries from a French baking giant, and a vegan butcher shop, among many others.

Here are some restaurants we're looking forward to seeing open this year in and around Vancouver. 

Hello Nori

This new Japanese restaurant is launching its first location soon at 1165 Robson Street, specializing in sushi handrolls. The venture is aiming to be up and running for at least take-out and delivery the first week of February.

Juanita

lift-breakfast-bakery-north-vancouverPastries from Lift Breakfast Bakery's North Vancouver production bakeshop. The Lift team are opening an all-day restaurant called Juanita in the former Blue Martini space in Kitsilano. Photo via Lift Breakfast Bakery Ltd./Facebook

From the same team behind North Vancouver's Lift bakery and brunch spot, Juanita, at 1516 Yew Street in the ex-Blue Martini space, "will be an all-day full-service restaurant bringing guests of the Kitsilano Beach community approachable yet elevated breakfast and lunch, with a dinner menu partly inspired by Chef-Owner Jane Young’s time working at Michelin star restaurants in coastal Spain," according to the restaurant.

Nox

A striking new mixed-use highrise in Vancouver's Coal Harbour (1575 West Georgia St) will be home to a modern Italian restaurant "with West Coast flavour." Called Nox, the venture is the project of Metro Vancouver restaurateur Alejandro Diaz and chef Sam Fabbro, who are behind New Westminster spot El Santo. On deck at Nox - "the Roman name for Nyx – the Greek goddess of the night renowned for her exceptional power and beauty," per a media release - will be Diaz and Fabbro's "West Coast take on Italian cuisine with a strong emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients."

Paul

It's been just about a year and we're still eagerly awaiting this one: Paul, a French bakery with an origin story that dates back to 1889, is opening its first Canadian location in Vancouver, at 1164 Robson Street. The bakery is known for its pastries and sweet treats, bread and sandwiches, as well as its menu of casual French fare, including quiche, crepes, and salads, as well as combination meals, drinks, and kids' selections.

Craft Beer Market - English Bay

ExteriorRendering courtesy Craft Beer Market

Alberta-based beer hall restaurant Craft Beer Market confirmed back in December 2019 they were the new tenants at 1795 Beach Ave - a prime ex-Boathouse location - and in September 2020 the biz revealed plans for the ample two-level space overlooking English Bay. Now we're just waiting for the spot to open.

Honeybrew Strudel

Last summer we started keeping an eye on 785 Davie St, which is poised to be home to a place offering "world class strudels" in downtown Vancouver. The restaurant-to-be also promises "fresh pastries, small plates, beverages, and cozy vibes under one roof."

La Loteria

Named after the beloved and colourful Mexican "bingo" game, La Loteria is gearing up to open at 1011 Granville St, in what was previously the poutine shop Frites. Featuring a menu of Mexican street food eats, the restaurant will serve the kind of items found on the streets of Monterrey: tortas, tostadas and tamales.

Saola

saola-restaurant-vancouver-teamThe team behind Saola, a restaurant opening in 2021 in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Pictured, left to right: Trained-chef and seasoned hospitality veteran Kevin Lin; Do Chay's Patrick Do; Vancouver-born actor and producer Osric Chau (Supernatural); and actor and writer Nicholas Carey.

Saola is a modern Asian restaurant under construction at 2415 Main St. Saola takes its name and inspiration from the forest-dwelling “Asian Unicorn” known to be one of the world’s rarest large mammals. Behind the project are a pair of Vancouver food industry vets plus some talent from B.C.'s performing arts world. Expect an exciting menu of contemporary pan-Asian fare once this spot is up and running. 

Cream Pony

Brioche donuts and fried chicken in one place? Yes, please! The North Shore's Lower Lonsdale is getting this decadent new fast-casual spot. Though it appears the team at Cream Pony is deep in the menu testing phase, it looks like we can expect golden-fried chicken pieces and in sandwich form. Those hoping for plant-based options may also be in luck, at Cream Pony has indicated they will have some vegan items on the menu.

Menya Itto

menya-itto-tsukemen-ramenChilli Shrimp tsukemen ramen at Menya Itto. Photo: @menyaittobkk/Instagram

Some consider it the "most famous ramen restaurant in Japan," and now Menya Itto - the "King of Tsukemen" - is coming to Vancouver. Tsukemen is the "dipping noodles" style of ramen - that's when you get a bowl of cold noodles served with a bowl of broth for dunking those noodles into. Hailing from Tokyo, Menya Itto is considered the top of the heap when it comes to tsukemen-style ramen, and in Sept. 2020 revealed plans to expand with a franchise in Vancouver. Look for the noodle shop to be dishing up the goods at 1479 Robson St. 

Jollibee

Fans of Filipino fast food giant Jollibee have been waiting years for the chain to come to Vancouver, and the wait is nearly over - we hope! They've been keeping us waiting since 2020. Jollibee Canada is still prepping to open their first B.C. location at 833 Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. Not enough? Fine. The fast food chain is also planning another location in Surrey, too.

The Very Good Butchers

very-good-butchers-vancouver-mount-pleasantVictoria-based The Very Good Butchers, a vegan meat alternative producer, is opening a location in Vancouver in Mount Pleasant on West 5th at Alberta. Photo via @theverygoodbutchers/Instagram

Known for its packaged plant-based meat subs like sausages, burgers, and taco 'stuffers,' The Very Good Butchers' slogan is "We butcher beans." The Victoria-based business is opening up this year at the base of the Relic Entertainment building on West 5th at Alberta in Mount Pleasant. If it's like the company's Victoria Public Market stall, expect fresh-made fare using their plant-based meat alternatives, plus their packaged items and more.

Marketplace on 3rd - Shangri-La Hotel

Market by Jean-Georges, the celeb-chef driven third-floor fine dining restaurant inside the Shangri-La Hotel, closed back at the end of 2019, but its replacement has yet to make its debut. We don't know much about what's to come here, but back just days before the pandemic forced shutdown, the new restaurant had been sharing teaser tweets like "Fresh, local ingredients make for beautiful handmade dishes" and "Cocktails that transport you to new destinations." Stay tuned!

John 3:16 Malaysian Delights - Vancouver

hainanese-chicken-john316-malaysianHainanese Chicken at John 3:16 Malaysian Delights in Richmond. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

They'd been eyeing a spring open in 2020, but obviously few things went according to plan last year thanks to the pandemic. Richmond's much-loved Maylasian restaurant John 3:16 is still getting ready to open its second location, at 1063 W Broadway in Vancouver. Named for the widely-quoted biblical passage, the family-run restaurant, which launched in 2014, is known for its traditional Malaysian fare, including Roti Canai (a tender flatbread with dipping sauce), rice and noodle dishes, curries, seafood, satay (skewers), Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Hainanese chicken. 

Momofuku

Polarizing chef/restaurateur/media personality David Chang fell in love with Vancouver when buddy Seth Rogen famously showed him around, but due to the pandemic, progress on the Vancouver outpost of his NYC Momofuku noodle bar restaurant has stalled. The venture is still set to go in at Vancouver House in downtown's "Beach District," but it's still likely some time away. 

Small Victory - Amazing Brentwood & Mount Pleasant

1b_Yukon_Hero_Final_webThe Yukon, located at Yukon and 6th in Mount Pleasant, seen here in a rendering. Image: Chard Development

Last year, local bakeshop Small Victory announced it had purchased a 7,000-square-foot retail space located on the ground floor of Chard Development’s The Yukon building in Mount Pleasant. What will be its fourth location will be a massive production kitchen and cafe in the new build. Known for their always-stunning baked goods alongside a comprehensive coffee program, with breakfast and lunch dishes - and cakes and pies, too - Small Victory is currently at work on their third location at the Amazing Brentwood in Burnaby, too.