After a succession of modified awards - both in scope and celebration - the 2023 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards returned to its more typical time of year, and a slightly closer-to-usual scope. The winners of the publication's 34th annual awards honouring the best of the city's always-vibrant dining scene were announced Monday afternoon at a ticketed ceremony held at the Italian Cultural Centre.
Award highlights: Range of top restaurants represented
Taking the spotlight with the most prestigious awards of the year were Kitsilano's now-veteran AnnaLena (at eight years old), which was named Restaurant of the Year, and its chef/owner Michael Robbins, dubbed Vancouver's Chef of the Year. The contemporary Pacific Northwest restaurant has really come into its own in the past year or so, shifting to a tasting menu model and consistently impressing diners with its delivery of high-calibre, delicious, and creative dishes. Further, AnnaLena took the gold for Best Contemporary restaurant of the year.
Though AnnaLena as Best Restaurant reflects an overall achievement, many Vancouver (and visiting) diners look for the best of the new class, and for 2023, that's Suyo, the modern Peruvian restaurant in Mount Pleasant, which was named not only Best New Restaurant but also Best Latin American.
Among the gold-status bests in the categories are restaurants reflecting a range of Vancouver's dining out scene, from the approachable (i.e. Best Casual Chancho Tortilleria, Best Chain Cactus Club, and Best Indian Dosa Corner) to the more elevated (Best Japanese Masayoshi, Best French St. Lawrence, and Best Upscale Boulevard). Some hidden gems were also celebrated, with wins for Zoomak (Best Korean) and Kilimanjaro Snack House (Best Afro/Caribbean).
Awards for behind-the-scenes excellence
A number of hospitality and purveyor awards were also handed out, including the front of house category, Premier Crew, which went to seven individuals who make the dining experience shine through their expertise: Chad Clark, Tara Davies, Steve Edwards, Brittany Hoorne, May Tai, Peter Van de Reep, and Stephen Whiteside. The Producer of the Year is Fanny Bay, known for its B.C.-harvested oysters and fresh local seafood, and the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Don Guthro, an accomplished executive chef, restaurateur, consultant, and culinary school director.
The Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards are chosen by a panel of industry experts, predominantly food writers and critics (full disclosure: I served as a judge once again this year). You can read a detailed explanation of the judging process published earlier this year by Van Mag.
Here are the top winners in each category and the finalists. You'll find a breakdown of where the finalists landed in terms of silver, bronze, and honourable mention on the Van Mag Restaurant Awards page.
2023 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards
Restaurant of the Year
Chef of the Year
Chad Clark, Tara Davies, Steve Edwards, Brittany Hoorne, May Tai, Peter Van de Reep, Stephen Whiteside.
Producer of the Year
Best New Restaurant
Finalists: Folke, Impostori Trattoria + Negroni Bar, Okeya Kyujiro, Sushi Hil
Best African and Caribbean
Kilimanjaro Snack House & Catering
Finalists: Arike, Baby Dahl Roti Shop, Calabash Bistro, Fassil, Harambe
Finalists: Banh Mi Saigon, Douce Diner, Fat Mao Noodles, HK BBQ Master, Mon Pitou Bistro & Bakery, Potluck Hawker Eatery
Cactus Club Café
Finalists: Guu Izakaya, La Taqueria, Nook, Nuba
Chef’s Choice Chinese Cuisine
Finalists: Dynasty Seafood Restaurant, The Fish Man, The Jade Seafood Restaurant, Mott 32, Neptune Palace Seafood Restaurant, iDen & Quan Ju De Beijing Duck House
Finalists: Bar Susu, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Burdock & Co., Kissa Tanto, L’Abattoir, Published on Main, Ubuntu Canteen
Finalists: Au Comptoir, Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge, Collective Goods Bistro and Grocer, Provence Marinaside, Tableau Bar Bistro
Finalists: Ashiana Tandoori, Sachdeva Sweets & Restaurant, Sula Indian Restaurant, Swad Indian Kitchen, Vij’s, The Yellow Chilli
Finalists: Autostrada, Caffe La Tana, Carlino, Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill and Enoteca, La Quercia, Savio Volpe
Finalists: Kishimoto, Stem Japanese Eatery, Sushi Hil, Sushi Jin, Tetsu Sushi Bar, Yuwa Japanese Cuisine
Zoomak Korean Tavern
Finalists: Hanwoori Korean Restaurant, Joong Won, Kook Korean BBQ, Wang Ga Ma
Best Latin American
Suyo Modern Peruvian
Finalists: Chancho Tortilleria, Cuchillo, La Mezcaleria, La Taqueria, Monarca Cocina Mexicana, Ophelia
Best Middle Eastern
Finalists: Anatolia’s Gate, Delara, Shishlik Grill House, Superbaba, Wild Thyme, Zarak
Finalists: Black & Blue, C-Prime, Gotham Steakhouse and Bar, Hy’s Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar, The Victor
Finalists: Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine, Song by Kin Kao, Longtail Kitchen, Unchai
Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar
Finalists: Baan Lao Fine Thai Cuisine, Bacchus, Blue Water Café, Published on Main, St. Lawrence, Yuwa Japanese Cuisine
Best B.C. Wine List
Water St. Café
Finalists: Belgard Kitchen, My Shanti, Stem Japanese Eatery, Wildlight Kitchen + Bar
Sommelier of the Year
Franco Michienzi, Elisa
Bartender of the Year
Dylan Riches, Published on Main