The popular annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival got underway Jan. 20, bringing with it a month packed with opportunities to check out a new restaurant or revisit a favourite to try a fixed-price menu.
Of the impressive line-up of 370 restaurant locations offering special menus during Dine Out Vancouver this winter, over 120 are featuring lunch, which means going out for that midday meal is going to be a little more exciting in January and February.
A whopping 83 participating restaurants have DOVF lunch menus coming in at the most affordable price tier, $20 to $35.
You can really score some excellent deals thanks to Dine Out. For example, the lunch menu at Delara, which opened in 2022, is offered at $27 and features your choice of dishes for appetizer, main, and dessert. Remarkably, one of Vancouver's top fine dining restaurants, Hawksworth, is also an absolute steal for DOVF (though to be fair they have long offered a great affordable, high-end lunch set menu). There, for $29, you can enjoy three set courses for lunch.
Curious about plant-based fare? Mila, in Chinatown, is doing a $30 DOVF lunch menu, featuring some of its most popular starters and mains, your choice of one each. And one more in the vegan column: Sushi Maro is doing a $26.99 lunch bento box, featuring Chef's Special Rolls, Assorted Nigiri, Veggie Tempura, Seaweed Salad, Mochi, and Miso - and it's all plant-based.
For something a little more upscale, Gastown's veteran Water St Cafe has a $34 three-course lunch, and what's great about this menu is the restaurant is giving diners multiple options per course - lots to choose from.
You can sort Dine Out Vancouver's restaurant listings to show you everyone offering lunch, and also filter by price range, so you can have a look at all 80+ spots there are to choose from. The event runs through Feb. 5.
We checked out a couple of DOVF lunch options in the $20 to 35 tier, and both offer good value and some excellent eats.
Potluck Hawker Eatery
Pan-Asian gem Potluck Hawker in Cambie Village is doing a $29 DOVF lunch featuring an appetizer and main plus a housemade drink. The menu is a mix of Potluck favourites, like Mama Cheung’s Laksa and a Salted Egg Fried Chicken Sando for mains, and brand-new dishes exclusive for Dine Out. Kick off your lunch with their Curried Beef Roti Puff, featuring fragrant morsels of meat in a flakey pastry "puff" or a fresh Crispy Chickpea Tofu Salad with beets and pomelo; the "chickpea tofu" has a silky, creamy texture and contrasts nicely with the greens, beets, and tangy pomelo.
For mains, the dishes are hearty and complex, like the Duck Confit Sisig Rice, which has beautiful shreds of duck, rich chicken liver, a soft egg, and a bright and creamy kalamansi aioli ($8 add-on charge for this dish). Or get hooked on their Luc Lac Mushroom Noodles, which are slick and slippery with soy and butter, earthy mushrooms, a punch from chili crisp, and an egg; these are the kind of noodles you want to dive into late at night, but those crave-worthy flavours and textures are welcome during lunch, too.
What's great about Potluck's dishes is that they are easy to share, so if you bring a dining companion or two you can have plenty of options to try a little of each, and you'll still quite likely leave with leftovers.
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Freehouse Collective's Main Street fusion comfort food hangout has a two-course $27 lunch deal for Dine Out, and thanks to its menu already being rooted in easily shared, filling, goes-great-with drinks eats, you can do well for your money at Sing Sing, and maybe even have some leftovers to bring home.
For Dine Out, Sing Sing opted to showcase some of its greatest hits, and by pairing a select starter and main for lunch does wind up getting you a little bit of savings. A couple of options to kick things off are spiced calamari with a zippy, herbaceous dipping sauce and prawn tacos that are loaded with fresh guac and a crispy, mini, spice-dusted shell (it's like an upscale Doritos Loco, if the Taco Bell reference resonates).
When it comes to mains, Sing Sing spotlights faves like their chicken pho, which has tender meat, a quail egg, and can be made spicy, and a brisket and kimchi pizza. (Full disclosure, the DOVF menu doesn't specify that "Brisket & Kimchi" is a pizza, so if you are gluten intolerant, please note this is all loaded on a pizza crust).
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