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Vancouver’s best newcomer for pull-out-all-the-stops fine dining is Hawksworth, the sophisticated restaurant in the beautifully refurbished Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Chef David Hawksworth’s kitchen draws influences from around the world, while emphasizing local foods and Asian flavors. You might find starters like hamachi crudo with Meyer lemon, horseradish, and soy truffle vinaigrette, or caramelized squid paired with a salsa verde. Among the mains, the Pacific sablefish could come with pickled shiitakes and crispy yams, while the hearty beef striploin might be served with smoked beets and leek ash. The service is as sparkling as the lavish chandelier.
If you’re craving traditional Spanish tapas, head to the West End, where chef Neil Taylor (formerly of Cibo Trattoria) is cooking up excellent Iberian small plates at the cozy España. The tortillas (the Spanish egg pies, not the Mexican flatbread) are tops, as is the roasted ling cod with Catalan-style spinach and chorizo. More adventurous eaters will appreciate the inspired duck liver and quail egg salad. Good sherry selection, too.
For vegetarians and their friends, the latest go-to spot is The Acorn. As tiny as its namesake nut, this perpetually packed Main Street bistro serves madly creative meat-free fare, from beet tartare with goat cheese panna cotta, to kale salad topped with smoked paprika croutons and crispy capers, to raw zucchini lasagne. Go early or late; they don’t take reservations.