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Vancouver Observer Restaurant Power Rankings makes its debut

David Gunawan and Dara Young's Farmer's Apprentice top the first Vancouver Observer Restaurant Power Rankings

Vancouver has a number of high profile restaurant awards and rankings. Some are better than others, some are high profile public relations exercises and some are downright awful. The Vancouver Observer Power Rankings are not meant to duplicate what is already out there. This isn’t a list of Vancouver’s most popular restaurants or a list of Vancouver’s hippest restaurants, although some of the places included on this list are definitely popular and hip. Instead, this is a list of the restaurants (and we include any business where you can purchase food, prepared specifically for you, in our definition of “restaurant") that are doing the most interesting, intriguing things in the food scene in Vancouver, Burnaby or Richmond. These are the places that local chefs, service staff and other food industry insiders are excited about.

The panel who determines the power rankings are a group of food-obsessed residents of the Lower Mainland.  The group includes a chef, a restaurant executive and professional food writers.  All panelist were chosen for their discerning palates and keen insights.  The rankings are based on their personal experiences with the restaurants in question.  They pay for their own meals and do not accept “suggestions” from restaurant publicists.

If a restaurant is on this list and you haven’t been there, you need to go.  Do you disagree with our rankings?  Tell us why in the comments section and we’ll respond.

1. Farmer’s Apprentice1535 West 6th Avenue


Everyone wondered how French, Asian and Scandinavian influences would fly at Farmer’s Apprentice, the restaurant David Gunawan and partner Dara Young opened after Gunawan left Wildebeest.  The jury is in, and it flies beautifully. The menu is innovative, takes risks and is in a constant state of flux. Gunawan's cooking is consistently excellent and has earned him the respect of his industry peers and people who know food.

 2.  Via Tevere, 1190 Victoria Drive

Via Tevere is a quintessential example of a family run neighbourhood restaurant.  The owners, the Morra family, are East Van residents who have built an understated yet stylish clubhouse for the locals to gather. If you live nearby, chances are you’ll spot your neighbours at the next table and the wait staff will remember you. The wood-burning pizza oven, carefully imported from Naples, was installed in Frank Morra’s garage for a year before they opened so he could learn it’s idiosyncrasies.  All that knowledge is put to good use turning out Vancouver’s finest pizza.  Our city badly needs more places like this.

3.  Bestie, 105 East Pender Street

German Street food?  Who knew it could be so good?  Delicious sausages, fresh-baked pretzels and sides that are as carefully prepared as the mains in most white-tablecloth places make this Chinatown eatery a winner.  Add reasonable prices for the carefully curated craft beer list and it’s easy to see why there can be an hour-long line-up.  It’s worth the wait.

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