New Westminster has gained a lot of momentum in the last few years. For one thing, Western Canada’s oldest city opened the Anvil Centre, a space dedicated to arts and culture. And down by the water, a new promenade is underway; it will come in handy for the annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival, one of B.C.’s largest. Slowly but surely, people are starting to visit New West for the sole purpose of having a delicious meal.
Wild Thyme Lebanese restaurant opened in May 2016, and despite its short tenure, it has developed a committed fanbase—it even placed extremely high on Yelp’s 2018 list of the top restaurants in Canada.
As owner and founder Marwan Kanj explains, Lebanese food is all about shared plates: fresh vegetarian masterpieces, but also beef, veal, chicken, and lamb dishes, plus flatbreads and nutritious dips, all made lovingly with a simple base of olive oil, lemon, and garlic. Each dish is so colourful, vibrant with flavour, and nutrient-dense that everyone at the table is sure to leave feeling completely satisfied.
For starters, dip through the creamy hummus topped with whole chickpeas and parsley, baba ganoush, or za’atar. Munch on a classic fattoush salad with onions, tomatoes, and pomegranate, and next, order a vegetarian dish like the foul (choice of beans, lentils, or chickpeas in a rich tahini sauce) or the cauliflower, drenched and baked in tahini. The meat dishes are equally exceptional, including the lahmajoun and the chicken and rice bowl. Still hungry? Add a man’oushe flatbread, and choose to top it with pomegranate molasses, red peppers, and eggplant, or meat such as Lebanese sausage or turkey, all cooked in-house in a specialty imported oven.
First dates, post-game meals, and family nights—Burger Heaven is not only beloved for its juicy burgers, but for being an integral part of many special moments. The restaurant serves up lamb, cod, elk, bison, and beef, and new and returning customers come in expecting something different and innovative, all the while finding comfort in a burger done correctly: with quality meat and fresh toppings.
Burger Heaven, mixing the unexpected and unruly between two buns, opened its doors in 1985. Enter the restaurant and transport to small-town British Columbia: green carpet, picture frames of guests, and leather booth seats, plus a pink neon sign that advertises the “Best Burgers in Town.”
Start with a milkshake chosen from the extensive list, which includes flavours like banana, mint, red velvet, and classic chocolate. While juices and protein smoothies are all the rage right now, it feels good to kick back with a traditional full-dairy treat.
Moving on to the main attraction, guests can order from the top 10 burger list, including the widely popular Teriyaki Chicken, Swiss, and Bacon Burger, or the Perogy Burger (New West has a penchant for Ukrainian food) served with four perogies, shredded cheese, and a dollop of chives and sour cream. There are other ambitious creations, like the Chicken Cordon Blue Burger, the Hawaiian Burger topped with ham and pineapple, the Greek God Burger (tzatziki paired with black olives, green peppers, and feta cheese), plus the simple but nonetheless delicious Works, most tasty due to signature dill pickles and secret sauce.
Opening 24 years ago in an old automobile repair shop, Stefano’s Greek restaurant is a family favourite. It was (and still is) the only “dance and dine” locale in New West, with a bottom lounge area with a bar and pool table, and the seated restaurant upstairs.
Diving into the food, head straight to Greek classics: beautiful hummus and tzatziki with pita; crispy calamari; and indulgent mozzarella sticks. After that, try the moussaka (rich layers of potatoes, zucchini, and eggplant) or the choice of chicken, prawn, beef, or lamb souvlaki. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Greek feast with out a flaky spanakopita—add this to the main course to share.
Anny’s Dairy Bar
The family-run smoked meat, hot dog, and ice cream haven of Anny’s Dairy Bar brings the savoury, comforting tastes of Montreal to Western Canada.
“It’s real soft serve ice cream with pure maple butter,” says French-Canadian owner Anny Faucher, describing the iconic Maple Twist cone—one of the many summer treats offered here. “We make homemade French fries, and all my foods come from Montreal,” she continues. “So cheese-curds, smoked meat—everything.”
From the menu, reach for something like the Steamie hot dog topped with onions and the works. Or say bonjour to the Regular Poutine, which comes with decadent gravy and squeaky, salty cheese curds. For those feeling more adventurous, get the poutine topped with smoked meat or ground beef.
Piva Modern Italian
“We’re going to start doing specials every month,” says executive chef Subraaz Abdullah of Piva Modern Italian, New Westminster’s Italian restaurant that opened in December 2017. Describing a pop-up menu that will focus on a specific region in Italy and its food each month, Abdullah is clearly excited about the quality of cuisine that Piva is bringing to the city.
To start, order the crab and prawn cakes, made with jalapeno peppers and garnished with arugula and grainy mustard aioli. Carnivores should also order the meatballs, made with wild bore, morel mushroom demi-cream, and ragout, and paired with a focaccia slice. There are also fresh salads, like the savoury beet and kale, as well as other appetizers including an antipasto platter with all the usual Italian fixings.
Of course, Piva has pizza; the Duck & Fig with smoked duck, spinach, Asiago, apple, fig jam, and crispy pancetta is a favourite thus far, but also consider classics like mushroom, prosciutto or Margherita. For pasta, try the For Nonno, which mixes in black beans, chicken, spices, and parsley, an upgrade from the everyday Bolognese or white wine sauce. And if looking for something full of protein, opt for the rib-eye or tenderloin steak.
The restaurant offers cocktail staples like the Aperol spritz and the old fashioned, but there are non-alcoholic cocktails as well, such as The Sasa (elderflower, pomegranate syrup, lemon, and soda) and the Tuscan Sunset (lavender, rose syrup, lemon, and soda).
New West is a beautiful mix of old and new, allowing fresh restaurants to stand strong next to long-time favourites. From tender pasta to juicy burgers, all of the city’s best restaurants play to the same tune: food builds community.
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