We love the holidays. (LOVE!) But we understand that, a) Christmas Day is not significant for everyone and, b) turkey and all the trimmings are not everybody's idea of a great meal.

Whether you're looking to avoid the festive spirit altogether, or just looking for an alternative to a coma-inducing plate of dinde, we have suggestions to please every alternative palate.

We asked our Huffington Post, B.C. food panel for their picks for taking a different tack on Dec. 25, and then had a look around for other options—from Japanese, to Middle Eastern, to fine dining—available.

Our contributors are all Vancouver-based writers and serious foodies. Between them they have judged a number of local food, wine and restaurant awards.

Check out our selection—and see below the slideshow for the critics' choices.

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  • Kaplan's Deli

    Deck the halls with pastrami at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/KaplansDeli" target="_blank">Kaplan's Deli</a>.

  • Kaplan's Deli

  • Kaplan's Deli

  • La Pentola

    Take a rustic approach in <a href="http://www.lapentola.ca/" target="_blank">La Pentola</a>’s comfortable and contemporary space with Chef Lucas Syme’s multi-course<em> alla famiglia</em> (family-style) menu.

  • La Pentola

  • La Pentola

  • La Pentola

  • La Pentola

  • Landmark Hotpot House

    Try a bubbling pot of yin and yang (clear and spicy) hotpot at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/landmarkhotpot" target="_blank">Landmark Hotpot House</a>.

  • Landmark Hotpot House

  • Xi Shi Lounge '1001 Nights at Shangri-La'

    The <a href="http://www.shangri-la.com/vancouver/shangrila/dining/bars-lounges/xi-shi-lounge/" target="_blank">Xi Shi Lounge</a> at the Shangri-La is taking a turn to the east for the holidays, with live music, belly-dancing, and a selection of Middle Eastern mezze on the menu.

  • Xi Shi Lounge '1001 Nights at Shangri-La'

  • Xi Shi Lounge '1001 Nights at Shangri-La'

  • Xi Shi Lounge '1001 Nights at Shangri-La'

    The '1001 Nights' cocktail blends vodka, brandy, apple, maple and cardamon.

  • Xi Shi Lounge '1001 Nights at Shangri-La'

    Afternoon tea is also given a Middle Eastern twist.

  • Xi Shi Lounge '1001 Nights at Shangri-La'

    Middle Eastern-inspired desserts at afternoon tea.

  • Hawksworth

    Hawksworth are offering their full a la carte menu as well as a <a href="http://www.hawksworthrestaurant.com/menus/festivetasting/" target="_blank">festive tasting menu</a> (with no turkey in sight) from Dec. 24 through 30.

  • Hawksworth

  • Hawksworth

  • Hawksworth

  • Hawksworth

  • Hawksworth

    Put a little sparkle in your glass with the <a href="http://www.hawksworthrestaurant.com/bar/cocktails/" target="_blank">Shotgun Wedding Cocktail</a>.

  • Gyu-Kaku

    For a more casual approach to Christmas Day, take a walk on the Japanese side and head to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/GyuKakuVancouverBC" target="_blank">Gyu-Kaku</a> for grilled marinated meats washed down with plenty of sake, beer, or whatever other libation takes your fancy.

  • Gyu-Kaku

  • Gyu-Kaku

  • Gyu-Kaku

  • Gyu-Kaku

  • Gyu-Kaku

  • Maurya

    After a little spice to give the holidays a kick? <a href="http://www.mauryaindiancuisine.com/zgrid/proc/site/sitep.jsp" target="_blank">Maurya Indian Cuisine</a> serves up delicious South Asian specialties in a glamorous room.

  • Maurya

  • Maurya

  • <em>Next: Best Vegetarian Restaurants In Vancouver</em>

  • Burdock & Co.

    Chef Andrea Carlson showcases organic, sustainable ingredients in a tapestry of exquisitely woven flavours at <a href="http://burdockandco.com/" target="_blank">Burdock & Co.</a> From her tenures at C and Sooke Harbour House to Raincity Grill and Bishop's, she has cultivated her passion for working with locally grown produce. The subtle nuances of her vegan and vegetarian dishes are the mark of her consummate skill. <a href="https://twitter.com/JoieWrites" target="_blank">Joie Alvaro Kent</a>

  • Burdock & Co.

    Heirloom Bean Cassoulet, Smoked Tofu, Shiitakes, Spring Onion and Kale.

  • Burdock & Co.

    <a href="https://www.facebook.com/burdockandco?fref=ts" target="_blank">Gluten-free potato waffle, goat camembert cream, artichoke, favas, fennel and peas.</a>

  • West Restaurant

    The best vegetable dishes aren’t always found in places that look like holdovers from the ‘60s. They’re usually found where there’s a skilled plant-focused chef in residence. <a href="http://www.westrestaurant.com/" target="_blank">West</a>, on South Granville is far from exclusively vegetarian but Exec Chef Quang Dang’s five-course tasting menu on that theme is healthy and hearty and a green bargain at $58. <a href="http://www.am650radio.com/tonyandkasey.aspx" target="_blank">Kasey Wilson</a>

  • West Restaurant

    Gnocchi with fava beans and "poached egg".

  • West Restaurant

  • West Restaurant

  • Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House

    Unassuming from its strip mall location to its stripped-down interior, it’s the vegetarian Vietnamese food that draws even carnivores to <a href="http://www.paradisevegetarian.com/home.html" target="_blank">Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House</a>'s doors. The fake meat is great like the sizzling veggie salmon, the faux-pho beef soup or the spicy lemon grass chicken but also don’t miss the sesame eggplant and tofu or the crispy veggie chow mein. The gates of paradise built from soybean and gluten. <a href="@shmendrick" target="_blank">Mark Laba</a>

  • Fujiya

    When the prospect of a fast food lunch is too grim to stomach I head to <a href="http://www.fujiya.ca/locations/" target="_blank">Fujiya</a> to grab a Vegetarian Bento for under six bucks, surely the city's best flavour-to-cost proposition. Brown rice, edamame, burdock salad, spinach gomae, marinated mushroom, eggplant and bamboo shoots plus yam cake and tofu. It's delicious and you'll feel smugly virtuous for the rest of the day. Brendon Mathews

  • The Parker

    <a href="https://www.facebook.com/parkeryvr?fref=ts" target="_blank">The Parker</a>

  • The Parker

  • The Parker

  • The Parker

  • The Parker

  • The Parker

  • The Acorn

    <a href="https://www.facebook.com/AcornVancouver?fref=ts" target="_blank">The Acorn</a>

  • The Acorn

  • The Acorn

  • The Acorn


Joie Alvaro Kent writes for Montecristo, NUVO and Vancouver magazines. @JoieWrites

Landmark Hot Pot House
If a table groaning with a gargantuan turkey and all its accoutrements isn’t your schtick, perhaps a bubbling pot of broth would serve as a better centrepiece for your holiday gathering. Hotpot is meant for sharing—the more people there are around the table, the greater the variety of soup ingredients that you’ll be able to sample. Split your hotpot into a yin and yang of clear and spicy broth, then dive into a cavalcade of fresh seafood, meats, bean curd, dumplings, vegetables, and noodles for dipping. Choice picks: well-marbled fatty beef, fish tofu puffs, and a platter of assorted house-made meatballs that includes squid, shrimp, fish, and pork. For some serious indulgence, order a platter of exquisitely sweet, delicately sliced local geoduck—an extravagant treat at $50 a pound. Sticky fried rice with Chinese sausage is a must, as is warm ginger milk custard for dessert.


Mark Laba, writer and sausage enthusiast. @shmendrick

Kaplan’s Deli
Being Jewish, during the Christmas season I tend to run in the opposite direction. Instead of holly I like to deck the halls with pastrami, which is why my go-to holiday hideaway for lunch the day of Christmas Eve is Kaplan’s Deli. As far as I’m concerned there’s no better smoked meat in the city. And as befitting any true deli, the service can be anything from nonexistent to half-hearted to smothering. The hot corned beef, Montreal smoked meat or pastrami are the Mona Lisa’s of meat and as much masterpieces as any two slices of rye bread can contain. If you must have turkey, their in-house roasted bird is excellent and don’t forget the chopped liver or a nice piece of gefilte fish to start. Wash it all down with a Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Cola. Best of all, the only thing Christmas-like about this place is that the beef brisket, unsliced, is roughly about the size of a new-born baby Jesus.


Brendon Mathews is a freelance food writer, specializing in Chinese cuisine. @KeithTalent

I admittedly have never eaten Christmas dinner anywhere in Vancouver outside of relatives' homes, and outside Vancouver I've only been to dire hotel buffets, the staff's rictus smiles betraying their desire to be anywhere but at work. So, if I was to recommend a place to eat on Christmas I'd go outside of the culture for my meal. You want somewhere celebratory, somewhere a little special. Kirin City Square on Cambie. It'll be in full swing, and the cooking is top notch.


Kasey Wilson is an award-winning food and travel writer, co-host of AM650s Best of Food & Wine and editor of Best Places Vancouver.

La Pentola Della Quercia
A nice counterbalance to Christmas madness is to take a rustic approach on Dec. 25 in La Pentola’s comfortable and contemporary space. In Italy, lunch, il pranzo, on Christmas Day is the most important feast of the holidays. La Pentola embraces its roots by offering seasonal sips with festive ingredients — order the La Befana, a reinvented Italian eggnog or the Sant’Angelo cocktail that takes its inspiration from the shaved ice carts that are found on the streets of Rome. Share some antipasti with the table to start (roasted bone marrow on crostini, or grilled squid with capers) and choose from favourites like braised lamb shanks or confit duck for your entrée. But the real draw is Chef Lucas Syme’s multi-course alla famiglia (family-style dining) for $55 per person, which includes La Pentola classics—parmesan soufflé, spaghetti all’amatriciana and hanger steak with arugula and balsamic vinegar, as well as seasonal dishes with a Northern Italian twist. It’s also available on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

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