If your New Year's resolution was to eat less and shed a few pounds, you might want to keep the scale tucked away for a few more weeks, because Tourism Vancouver and 277 restaurants in the Lower Mainland are tempting food lovers to dine out.
Dine Out Vancouver was started in 2002 and features top eateries offering prix fixe menus at $18, $28 and $38 – often far less than regular prices – along with VQA wine pairings, craft brews and cocktails.
It was meant to give restaurants a boost during the winter doldrums, but has become Canada's largest festival of food and drink, with more than 110,000 participants.
The pricier menus run the culinary gamut from wild boar and pistachio terrine ballantine, confit duck leg, steelhead trout and more at Bacchus to smoked duck and chanterelle soup, roasted arctic char and hazelnut praline chocolate mousse bars at Chambar.
Those with lighter, postholiday wallets can enjoy lentil cakes in cashew curry at Atithi Indian Cuisine; Midori salad, beef tataki and bintoro at Hapa Izakaya; crispy banana blossom salad and Panang curry of braised beef at Maenam Thai Restaurant; vegetarian chili and chocolate bread pudding at the Bitter Tasting Room; and dozens more.
The fest also comes with special events and courses, among them master classes, street food, artisanal food-and-drink tours, brunch crawls, an international chef exchange with the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival, and films that include a screening of Big Night followed by a four-course dinner inspired by the foodie flick at the Shangri-La.
New this year is a VIP program that will give a select number of diners meet-and-greets with chefs, cocktail receptions, private dinners, visits to hotel kitchens, 10-course tasting menus and more.
"People love the opportunity to sample from a wide variety of Vancouver restaurants, and they run the breadth of what we offer as a culinary destination in terms of the different cultures that are represented, and the quality of the cuisine that we have here," says festival co-ordinator Lucas Pavan, who adds that people can narrow their choices by going to the Dine Out website and sorting by price, neighbourhood, style of cuisine or type of event.
So which spots are topping Mr. Pavan's list this year? "As far as restaurants go, they're all really great," he says. "So I let my friends decide."
Dine Out Vancouver runs until Feb. 1 (dineoutvancouver.com).