By Karen Gaudette Brewer

Like all major Northwest cities, Vancouver (a 3-hour drive or train ride north of Seattle) is full to bursting with lovely fresh things to eat. My friend and I cruised up after work on a Friday night and found it easy to eat ourselves silly.

Dinner: Nook (West End)

This upbeat, cozy Italian joint specializes in fresh pasta and wood-fired pizzas. We especially enjoyed our appetizer of creamy, fresh buratta with Prosciutto. #Protip: If the wait is too long for you, pop back on Robson Street and check their sister restaurant, Tavola, just around the corner.

Breakfast: Cafe Medina (Library District)

We beat feet to get in line for brunch by this restaurant's 10 a.m. opening and got our names on the list in time to join the first crush of hungry diners. If you're not as lucky, order coffee and a waffle to go just inside the front door to tide you over as you wait. And it's worth the wait. The menu is a pleasing fusion of European and Moroccan breakfast traditions, rich with sauces and aromatics. There's also those aforementioned waffles, which come with a dizzying array of topping options. (Parents, it's surprisingly kid-friendly, and noisy enough that your little ones won't bother your neighbors).

Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette

Hike Break: Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver

Stanley Park is awesome, yes. But drive just a wee bit further out of town and you'll find woodsy hiking galore and incredible views of Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet, and downtown Vancouver. The trailhead was just getting crowded when we pulled in around noon, for reference. We enjoyed getting to see a quieter side of Vancouver.

Photo by Karen Gaudette

Lunch: The Public Market (Granville Island)

We took the Aquabus across False Creek from the West End to Granville Island, home to the public market, restaurants, art and artisans, an entire marketplace devoted to kids, and a giant playground. We picked up fresh Greek salad, bagels packed with Montreal smoked meat (a luxurious ham), maple walnut ice cream, and salmon and sablefish candy (sweet-smoked fish) from Finest at Sea.

Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette

Dinner: Minami (Yaletown)

Sleek and chic, Minami was packed with stylish groups fueling up for a great night out. This sushi hot spot creates whimsical, heavenly flavors through creative ingredient fusions and via cooking techniques such as aburi (they press, then flame-sear seafood in signature sauces to build perfect bites of nigiri). We missed our chance to make reservations, but lucked out at the bar, which offers the full menu plus the chance to watch televised curling and hockey simultaneously. When in Canada...

Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette
Photo by Karen Gaudette

[All photos by Karen Gaudette]

Until we meet again, Vancouver.

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