Granville Island is a must stop if it is your first time or 100th visit to Vancouver, you must go! The food is unmatched and is a true West Coast treasure in British Columbia, Canada. Some might say it is touristy but if you know where and when to go you can avoid the copious amounts of people, lines and get those views for yourself. I excited to report that a Time Out Market is coming to Vancouver in 2024 which is HUGE. These markets and food halls are becoming one of the best ways to explore a food scene, especially if you’re short on money or time. It is definitely my favourite way to explore a new city.
When to go
We headed down to Granville Island at 9 am to get some breakfast and make a plan of attack. We travelled there on Remembrance Day (Nov 11th) and there were plenty of places to park first thing.
We took a cab from our Downtown Vancouver hotel and our cab driver was a little surprised that we were travelling to Granville Island so early in the day. But rest assured there are quaint little stops for breakfast. Most places open at 10 am but there are a few that open at 8 or 9. Your selection may be limited to take away or more of a food hall type of dining experience. In the video you see us dining at Market Grill which offered breakfast sandwiches made with tasty croissants. Delicious!
I do suggest taking the opportunity to explore without the crowds so you can discover the places you’ll want to visit, take photos and so on. If all fails and the places you want to eat are slow to open then grab a coffee from JJ Bean.
How to get there
There are 3 ways to get to Granville Island from Downtown Vancouver.
You can walk which would make for a scenic experience but could be take up a lot of valuable eating and exploring time. If you’re staying near Burrard Street Bridge (pedestrian friendly), walking would be an affordable option but it would be about a 35 minute jaunt minimum.
Taking a cab is the quickest option. From our hotel in the Coal Harbour area of Vancouver it was a $15 cab ride and took us about 10-15 minutes to get there.
The funnest way to get to Granville Island is the Aquabus that runs in the False Creek area and only costs $5. There are 8 stops throughout the area including Yaletown which is a great departure point. The Aquabus will take you to Granville Island, across False Creek to the Olympic Village Plaza where you can find outdoor art installations and many great restaurants and bars.
There is only one official food tour of the Granville Island market and that’s run by Vancouver Foodie Tours. I booked a tour for my first visit and I am still glad I did. It offered a great introduction to the Granville area and market. I still go back to some of the locations they brought me to and highly recommend it if you’re short on time or just don’t know where to begin. It is also their most affordable option at $100 per person or $89 for children.
How to pay
Unlike the Richmond Public Market, the Granville Island Market vendors primarily accept debit and credit. However, we do recommend bringing cash. While we were there we experienced a machine error at a couple of the vendors so we did need cash for a couple of locations to expedite the payment process.
Where to eat
There are many awesome dining options. A few of our tried and true eats are…
- Terra Breads – As you see in our video, Terra Breads has some excellent breakfast options. Croissants, cruffins (croissant/muffin crossover), tarts, cookies and breads. I am subscribed to their tarts. So light and packed with seasonal flavours.
- Hobb’s Pickles – Another great moment in the video is our pickle tasting at Hobb’s Pickles. I never knew there were so many pickle options that range in fermentation levels and flavours. They describe their pickles as an East coast tradition met with a West coast flair and they truly add a great addition to the Granville Island Market.
- Benton Brother’s Fine Cheese – This was the funnest stop and a new one for us this time around. We each selected a cheese to taste, you can’t really go wrong, and it was delightful. A French goat cheese and a Swiss cheese called Chäkenholler made for a memorable pairing with our pickles.
4. Lee’s Donuts – A classic and one of Seth Rogen’s favourites. It made an appearance on David Chang’s Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner episode where Rogen took him throughout Vancouver and Richmond at all the local favourites. Lee’s Donuts are on our list because of their crisp exterior and fluffy cake centre. If you show up early enough like we did you’ll avoid the line that usually stretches outside. However, if you do find yourself waiting outside you do get a view of their process.
5. JJ Bean Coffee – One of my favourite coffee stops and equally as popular as Lee’s Donuts so you might find a line. Expertly crafted coffees from flat white to lattes and cappuccinos.
6. Oyama Sausage – If you want to pair your cheese with some of BC’s best charcuterie meats then Oyama Sausage is it.
7. Granville Island Tea Company – I love this stop because you can get a wide range of teas to take home or brewed to sip as you stroll. Our preferred tea is their Masala Chai tea latte. You won’t regret it!
8. À la Mode – We didn’t have time to stop for our video but this vendor is famous for all things pastry. Sweet pies, savoury soups and chicken pot pies topped with flaky pastry in white porcelain bowls. Get a pie to go, grab a slice for a sweet breakfast or warm up with a bowl outside.
9. Stock Market – An alternative soup destination with a mini to-go market that includes stocks, gourmet butters like “serious garlic butter”, mustard, creme fraiche, jams, fresh lemonade and so much more. You can watch the kitchen make soup from scratch for the next day. I had to try their smoked salmon and clam chowder, being from BC we are spoiled when it comes to salmon. Each order comes with a slice of focaccia (on the drier side) but the soup is what sings.
10. The Preservatory Provisions & Toast Bar – If you love avocado toast, ricotta toast and any kind of stacked gourmet toast then make sure you stop here. I wished we had breakfast here once I saw the amount of detail being put into their Ricotta Toast. If you can’t fit anything else into your stomach then you can shop their offerings which include hot sauce, jams, preserves and butters. They make for great foodie gifts!
11. Seafood City or Longliner Seafood – At seafood city you can find a range of harder to find seafood like uni. At Longliner you can grab some of the more popular items like candied or salted salmon to go.
12. Granville Island Brewing – We love our craft beer and Granville Island Brewing makes some great brews. It’s the perfect stop on a summer day when the patio calls to you!
13. Liberty Distillery – Another video stop and a must-go! You can do a tasting of vodka, gin and whisky or you can order one of their cocktails. We stopped in for a cocktail and enjoyed the atmosphere with a view of the distillery – where the magic happens.
14. Artisan Sake Maker – Canada’s only sake maker. We were so surprised with the variations of sake they offer here. Of course, we still had our cheese and decided to try a cheese and sake tasting. However, they do have their own food on offer which includes