If you’ve wondered what Granville Island has to offer, here’s the introductory tour I give my foodie friends. We typically do this early on Saturday morning, before the crowds get too crazy. Weekdays are always good too. You can do this on the weekend afternoons, but be warned – it gets busy. Prepare to elbow your way (politely) through the crowds.
First – get a map online of the island and if needed, mark all the below locations on your map.
We’ll spend most of our time in these areas:
– Public Market
– Net Loft
Vancouver Good’s Food Lover’s Granville Island Tour (Short Version)
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours, depending on how much you stop!
Start in the Public Market in-line at JJ Bean coffee. Grab the caffeine of your choice, and then go right to Lee’s Donuts and get yourself a honey dip donut. In the morning they are still warm and soft, melt-in-your mouth sugary goodness. Best donuts in the city!
Eat up your donut, drink your coffee, and walk. Walk around a bit, take in the ambience and get to know your surroundings in the market. If it’s still early you’ll see the vendors setting up and the day beginning.
Now, check our these food vendors. The order doesn’t really matter, but the order I have them is reasonably efficient.
There are many seafood vendors in the market, but when I did an Edible BC tour with chef Brian Fowke, this is where he went. I’ve been buying most of my seafood here ever since and have not regretted it. They often have lots of fresh, whole fish out for you to see, plus they carry Qualicum Beach scallops, which are divine .
South China Seas Trading Co.
This is probably my favourite place in the market. If you want to see some different ingredients, this is the place. I took my friend here so she could see and buy some real wasabi root. I bought pandan leaves here on Sunday, along with fresh tumeric, galangal, kaffir lime, and an assortment of chiles. Great service – the staff loves talking about their products, so feel free to ask questions.
Edible British Columbia
If you don’t want to a DIY tour of Granville Island and have the bucks, sign up for a chef-guided tour of the Granville Island Market at Edible BC ($65/person for a 3-4 hour tour). They will personally give you a tour and let you meet many of the vendors. The premise of Edible BC is that’s it’s a celebration of British Columbia food. You’ll find many locally sourced food items for sale here. They also do cooking classes and cool food tours like Audi weekends and kayak weekends. This is British Columbia in a storefront. Prices on items are a little expensive, but if you’re a tourist or in a hurry, it’s a good one-stop shop.
The Stock Market Around the corner from Edible BC is The Stock Market, which specializes in freshly made soups, stocks, and dressings. If I don’t have time to make my own, I’ll buy my stock and creme fraiche here. They also sell hard to find/make items like demi-glace and veal stock.
A la Mode In the same area as the Stock Market you’ll see a nondescript looking place called A la Mode. From a far it doesn’t look like much, but once you get closer you’ll see a wade array of fresh savoury and sweet pies. They also do soups and stews ladled into earthenware mugs covered with delicious pastry. There is just something about poking your spoon into crisp pastry and eating it out of a mug. Pure comfort.
Armando’s Alright, now let’s look at meat. On Granville Island, I buy about 90% of my meat at Armando’s. The staff is always super friendly and willing to custom cut. I find prices quite reasonable considering the location, although many of my friends will disagree with me. I just love looking at all the varieties of steaks they have laid out. And then lamb, and polderside farms chicken. Mmmmm.
Oyama Sausage Co. If you ever have good sausages at somebody’s house, they are likely from Oyama. Just writing the word Oyama has my mouth watering. Visit them early for best selection as they get busy. Super busy. They always have a fantastic selection of sausages in all sorts of flavour combinations. This is also where you come for pate, terrines, cured meats, and cheese. I love getting the creamy mountain mushroom pate and having it with a baguette. They also sell goose fat, which I will one day buy in a tub and make fried/roasted potatoes in them. mmmm.
Five words for you: Blueberry bread with white chocolate.
I’m telling you, the first time I had this, it hooked me for months. I had one every week for half a year! In addition to my favourite item, Terra Breads is a great stop for cookies, scones, and artisan breads. But don’t buy the baguette there. It’s good, but it’s not La Baguette’s.
Local Vendors Every day, different vendors will set up in the market. They won’t have storefronts, but will have stands in the middle of the market. Depending on what’s in season, lots of yumminess exists. It’s apple season right now – I bought 6 different kinds of apple varieties the other day [note: I originally wrote this tour for a friend in September, true Apple season here!]
Just outside the Public Market:
All right, remember where you got your JJ Bean coffee? Go back that way and out the doors. Across the way you should see La Baguette, French bakery and home of the best baguettes in the city. I will often buy par-baked baguettes and store them in my freezer for bread satisfaction at home. The classic French baguette and the potato baguettes are my favourites, but it’s all good.
The Net Loft: Right across the Public Market is the Net Loft. Our last stop!
Walk through and check out the artisan shops, including the excellent stationary store Paper-Ya and the Hat Store. There’s also a kitchen store in the Net Loft – nothing too notable to mention – but those strange, colourful things outside the store are banana protectors. The best souvenir you can get, I say. I have one – they work!
…and that’s it!
A morning full of food and the best of the Granville Island Public Market.
Now where to?
My first choice would be to head to Railspur Alley, find Agro Coffee House, order an espresso, grab a seat (outside if it’s nice), and enjoy the island life as it passes you by. Or, take a walk just outside of Granville Island and find Go Fish! for lunch – expect good food and long line-ups.