The 5 biggest takeaways from Michelin Guide’s Vancouver choices

The famed institution's first trip to Vancouver is sure to raise some eyebrows.

Michelin Guide Vancouver

Credit: Leila Kwok

The famed institution’s first trip to Vancouver is sure to raise some eyebrows 

It’s a bit hard to overstate what the Michelin Guide’s first trip to Vancouver means for the restaurant industry. As a manager at a well-regarded Vancouver eatery told me this week, “It’s going to change everything.”  

That manager speculated that prices and reservations would skyrocket for those adorned with Michelin stars. At least for a year (until Michelin comes back), the restaurants that earned one tonight will be the literal talk of the town.  

If you missed it, you can find the list of eight Michelin-starred restaurants and 12 Bib Gourmands (great food at a great value) here.  

Let’s get into some key takeaways.  

1. A huge moment for Barbara

Whoever manages the Barbara website is going to be busy tonight. The relatively under-the-radar west coast contemporary restaurant just off Main and Hastings seats under 20 people and gives all them a master showcase from chef Patrick Hennesey, who honed his craft at New York’s Eleven Madison Park. It’s no doubt a very hard-earned star for a restaurant that had to scratch and claw its way through the pandemic.  

2. Just single stars

None of the restaurants on the list garnered more than a single star. It’s not a huge surprise, given that only one of Toronto’s eateries got more than a star. But still, one wondered if St. Lawrence or Published on Main (which was crowned Canada’s best restaurant earlier this year), would pull off the feat. Alas, it was not to be.  

3. The old guard goes down

If you moved away from Vancouver five or more years ago, you’d hardly recognize the names on this list. No Cioppino’s, no Maenam, no Vij’s (though the Indian institution did snag a Bib Gourmand honour) and, most shockingly, no Hawksworth. For a long time, David Hawksworth’s restaurant on the main floor of the Hotel Georgia was the gem of Vancouver cuisine. This will no doubt be a body blow to the chef, who has built his reputation on being among the best the city has to offer.

4. Boulevard of broken dreams

Equally surprising is Vancouver’s most well-regarded seafood restaurant missing out. Boulevard has been lauded with awards pretty much since it opened. To not see the restaurant and its chef, Alex Chen, get recognition in a town in which seafood plays a huge role is a bit of a shock. Of course, there are more than a few spots on the list (Barbara, Burdock, Masayoshi) that can capably serve up a fish. Still, it feels like a big snub.  

5. Keeping it real

While it can certainly be argued whether the Bib Gourmand list is actually “affordable” (much like “affordable housing”), the collection of restaurants here is hard to argue with. Innovative neighbourhood haunts that won’t kill your budget like Lunch Lady and Anh + Chi are great to see here, as are truly immersive experiences like Phnom Penh and Chupito.  

There are a lot of arguments to be had about the Michelin list, but it’s hard to hate the Bib Gourmand section.