Vancouver Restaurants: The Best Budget Friendly Places To Dine Under $20
Looking for the best budget-friendly Vancouver restaurants?
If there is one thing people always ask me for, it is dining recommendations. I’m not some sort of food critic but I can cook a decent meal so when I dine out, I have certain expectations. I compiled this budget-friendly post with some of my favourite Vancouver restaurants around the city where you can dine for under $20.
Most of these Vancouver restaurants tend to be of the Asian variety since Vancouver has a large Asian population and that is the city’s culinary forte. My criterion is under $20 including tip but without alcohol. At $20 you are ensuring quality and taste. I’d love to do under $10 but to me, that’s more like snacking. $20 gives you a full meal. I didn’t include alcohol because then your budget goes right out the window. I know mine does!
Scroll down to see my favourite budget-friendly Vancouver restaurants!
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Most of these Vancouver restaurants are solo dining options since I travel by myself a lot and I know there’s a lot of you out there who also travel solo. Some of the meals are family style and the bill is split between everyone. A lot of these meals are actually under $15 but don’t forget to tip your servers well!! This list isn’t complete but places that I tried just recently or go to all the time when I’m in Vancouver.
Feel free to share your favourite Vancouver restaurants in the comment section and I’ll check them out next time I’m in town!!!
Table of Contents
The Best Budget-Friendly Vancouver Restaurants
(updated March 2016)
Najib’s Special plate (roasted cauliflower)
I love Middle Eastern food. Nuba is a Lebanese chain of restaurants and one of my favourite Vancouver restaurants. It’s very healthy and delicious as well. Lunchtime menus are always great because they tend to do specials. Dinner prices go up a bit and every time I’ve gone at night I go over $20.
I tend to always order the plate specials which include hummus, salad, pickled cabbage, olives, pita and brown rice or potatoes. They have great options for people who are gluten intolerant, on clean eating diets as well as vegetarians and vegans. There are several locations throughout the city; Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, Yaletown, and Gastown.
Tacos at La Taqueria
I’m picky when it comes to Mexican food. I live in San Diego and we have access to some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico. I go to two places for Mexican food in Vancouver and one of them is La Taqueria. They serve typical street-style tacos. Yum!
I’ve been here a handful of times but this last time I just ordered a couple of tacos. There’s a 4 taco special for $9.50 or each one is $2.50. Who can hate on that? Not me! They also have a handful of vegetarian tacos and quesadillas on the menu as well.
Mmmm mmm Santouka
When most people think ramen, they think the $1 noodle stuff that you eat in college. No!!!!! Santouka is a well-known chain that has locations all over Japan, other countries in Asia, USA, and Canada. The one in Vancouver is again located on Robson street close to Denman. It’s actually just a few steps away from Guu, which I wrote about a couple of days ago.
Due to its popularity, there is usually a line-up. I try to eat at off-peak times to avoid waiting long or at all. There are a handful of ramen shops in the area, but Santouka is by far my favourite. The soup stock is nice and rich and it’s open late. One night I ate a very late dinner by myself (at 10:30 pm) after visiting my Pops. Being the creature of habit that I am, I always order the tonkatsu and sometimes I’ll treat myself to an extra egg (tamago) or charsiu (slices of roasted pork). I also order my noodles al dente. There is an option for a dollar less to get a small bowl. Soup fills me up so it’s perfect and also cheaper at $10.
Bestie is located in Chinatown. If you aren’t familiar with currywurst, it’s a popular German street food made of sausage that’s been steamed and then fried, cut into slices and then topped with curry ketchup. You either love it or hate it. I love it. I love sausage. Pause.
Bestie’s sausages are delicious and the fries are very crispy. When I was visited, they had a lamb special as well as a vegetarian option. With no bun involved, it’s perfect for all you gluten intolerants! They also now serve local beer, some German ales, wine, schnapps as well as a handful of non-alcoholic beverages.
Finch’s Tea House
Finch’s is a tea and coffee house with two locations, one downtown near Gastown and one east of Main Street in Strathcona. I’ve only come here for lunch but they have amazing sandwiches. My personal favourite is the baked brie with pear, prosciutto, and walnuts. Yum!! The sandwiches come in around $10 and with a drink or a sweet treat, your meal is well under $20.
Finch’s baked brie sandwich!
Pre-mixed dolsot bibimbap
Occasionally I stay with a friend who lives near Denman Street. While I was hanging in the area, I visited Manangcoul, a small Korean restaurant. Previously my friend Helen, who’s Korean and has good taste in food, brought me here.
Since I was dining solo, I ordered my favourite Korean dish, Bibimbap. If you’re not familiar it’s a signature Korean dish that is a hot stone bowl (don’t touch it!!) served with white rice, sautéed vegetables, chilli paste, and some sort of meat or tofu. I usually order the beef or pork. It is then topped with a raw egg which cooks when it touches the hot stone bowl and crisps up the rice. It is one of my favourite Korean dishes in general. The best part about Korean food is all the side plates that come along with your order. Madangcoul is on Denman close to Robson. I ate here solo for dinner and my bill came to under $20 with a soda and tip.
Madangcoul (no website)
847 Denman St Vancouver, BC V6G 2L7 (604) 688-3585
Xiao Long Bao or soup dumplings
Ma Pa Tofu
Dinesty on Robson Street near Denman is great for group dinners. There’s another location in Richmond, a suburb near the airport. They have a lot of share plates or dim sum type plates that are great for sharing meals and eating family style. I went with some friends and we ordered about 2 bigger dishes and 4 smaller dishes to share. Our bill for 4 people with tip came to under $20. There isn’t a website but you can find reviews on Yelp and UrbanSpoon.com.
1719 Robson St Vancouver, BC V6G1C8
I came to check out the macarons and really liked this cute cafe off Robson Street. It’s on Alberni Street between Burrard and Thurlow Streets. I am obsessed with soppressata and they a sandwich here and you can order a half if you’re not that hungry or have a small appetite. I also got two macarons to go with as a treat.
Sopprasetta, arugula, and basil mayo half sandwich
I love Phnom Penh. I actually wrote a post about it a while back. It’s not fancy but really tasty Cambodian food in Chinatown. Super budget friendly and better as a group.
Read more: Vancouver’sPhnom Penh Restaurant
I’m a little partial here but if you’re exploring Chinatown, go to Pazzo Chow. It’s a little Italian deli owned by my friend Maya. She makes delicious salads, soups, and sandwiches. The shop also sells gourmet food items. Seen above is the ultimate sweet snack, in-house made focaccia and Nutella!! Yes, it’s divine!
Chau Veggie Express
Chau is a vegetarian and vegan Vietnamese restaurant in East Vancouver. It is awesome. It’s not really in the thick of things so getting here can be a journey unless you have a car. But if you’re vegan/vegetarian, definitely make your way here. I love everything that I have tried. Be sure to order the coconut shake!
Mr. Red Cafe
My fave bun cha
Mr. Red Cafe is a Vietnamese place that is newer to me. It opened after I moved away. I heard about it from my Vietnamese ex-pat friend Tran. She said it’s the best place she’s been to in the city since she moved from Vietnam. She would know what’s up!! They had classics on the menu but also things I’ve never seen before!! It’s budget friendly and even better if you go with a friend.
Lucky for Vancouver they opened a second location. So one on Hastings in East Vancouver and one on West Broadway right before MacDonald Street.
I can’t remember what this was now but it was delicious!
Fritz’s Fry House
Want to try Canadian specialty poutine? What is poutine? It’s French fries topped with cheese curds and then hot gravy. Yum!!! Oooey gooey tastiness!
Japadog, the original stand on Burrard Street
You may have heard of this place if you’ve done some research on places to eat in the city. You may have even seen it on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. It’s a very popular hot dog stand. They also opened up a storefront on Robson but is closer to Granville Street.
**By the way, avoid Granville Street’s Entertainment District…it’s straight douchebag central there. You couldn’t even pay me to go.
I love sausage. Pause. I have had hot dogs at the original stand on Burrard Street (in front of the Sutton Place Hotel) as well as their storefront on Robson. Japadog is the original Japanese hot dog stand. There are several imitators but these guys are the best.
I usually order the I ordered the Terimayo Pork Kurobuta at the stand and the Tonkatsu Dog at the store. Kurobuta is a rare breed of pig that is trademarked in Japan. Tonkatsu is a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet with fresh cabbage and a zesty sauce over top. Even if you’re not into all the dogs with crazy Japanese toppings, there are plain ones too.
Terimayo Kurobuta Hot Dog which is teriyaki sauce, mayo, and seaweed
Tonkatsu Dog at the storefront location on Robson
Culver City Salads
Vegan-friendly Culver City Salad food truck
Some days you just want to feel healthy!! Read more about Culver City Salads in this post. It’s not a Vancouver restaurant but a food truck and that’s okay by me!
The Tacofino food truck is awesome. This is my other Mexican food option in the city. Be aware of line ups during peak times. They now have several dine-in locations (Hastings as well as in Gastown’s Blood Alley).
When I ate at the Tacofino Commissary (restaurant), the menu was much bigger so I was enticed to order more food. At the taco truck, you get your choice of tacos and a much smaller menu. The cookie is to die for and the mint lime slushie is awesome too. Follow their Twitter or the Vancouver Food Truck app to see where they will be for the day. For 3 tacos and a drink and tip, it was about $20. For me, that feeds a family of 4 down south…I do find the price to be a bit on the higher side for Mexican food but the quality is pretty darned good so you gotta pick and choose, right?
One of their super popular Diablo cookies. Sweet with a bit of heat!
Not Vancouver Restaurants But Dessert Places
I have to include sugary treats! I have a sweet tooth so I need to squash that desire…a lot. Here are some favourites:
Bella is the best!
Bella Gelateria – Hands down the best gelato I have ever tried…but I have not been to Italy (gasp). The owner of Bella went to gelato university and I plan on going there too. Hahaha! Seriously do yourself a huge favour and go here! I went during dinner time when everyone else was eating dinner and ate dinner after dessert to avoid the long lines. There is a newer location in Yaletown may be a tad less busy!
Soccer match-a donut
I love donuts a lot and love Cartems! There are other donut spots in Vancouver but like these guys the best. They always have unique flavours but salted caramel is always delicious!
Locations: on Pender Street downtown or on Main Street in Mount Pleasant
Earnest Ice Cream
So tell me where your budget-friendly Vancouver restaurants are?!
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