Vancouver. Host of the 2010 Olympics and host to an abundance of reasons for a traveler to visit. But, if you're a traveling foodie, you simply can't find a reasonable excuse not to be planning a trip in the near future. It's home to both vibrant immigrant communities (with their food culture in tow) and a burgeoning foodie culture, which means that there are like-minded folks, out finding the best of the best. This includes the best of the cheap. Check out what I've found, so that the next time you find yourself in Vancouver, you won't ever go hungry.
Mobile food in Vancouver has its own distinctive flair, reflective of its high concentration of Asian immigrants. I'm pretty sure that there are quite a few foods that you won't be able to find in mobile-mode anywhere else (or at least not anywhere on the same coast.)
Japadog has become one of Vancouver's most famous food vendors, mobile or otherwise. Their Japanese-style hot dogs come in tons of varieties, most notably their Kurobuta Pork and Spicy Cheese Terimayo. Their Terimayo series comes covered in japanese mayo, nori, teriyaki sauce and fried onions. Japadog has been featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and has been raved about on many many blogs. I for one can't wait to try the Bratwurst Terimayo, or heck, any of the other kinds on their menu. The mobile carts are at Pender and Burrard and Burrard and Smithe plus, just in time for the 2010 Olympics, they're opening a storefront location at 530 Robston St.
Mobile food isn't just big inside Vancouver proper, if you're in the Richmond area you ought to check out Bakudanyaki Tenku. They serve up giant Japanese fritters stuffed with hordes of ingredients and grilled to delicious perfection. At $5 bucks a pop, you can't help but eat them while they're hot!
Markets are typically one of the best places to get cheap, delicious, freshly made food, and Vancouver has its fair share. Whether it's Asian cuisine, or more standard farmer's market-type fare, I'm sure you can find something to chow down on, for next to nothing.
The Richmond Night Market is a haven for Asian food lovers, with oodles of vendors selling just about any kind of food you might like. Grilled, speared food as far as the eye can see? Sign me up. I'd cross the border just for this. The market runs from mid-May until October, so you've got lots of time to check it out.
For a slightly different market food experience, head over to the Granville Island Public Market. For me, the baked goods would rule the day, but you can fill your belly on the cheap with fresh local produce, freshly baked pies at A La Mode, homemade donuts at Lee's Donuts, crepes, deli food at Kaisereck Deli, or even something as simple as fresh juice.
Immigration Is A Good Thing
There are many different immigrant communities in the Vancouver area, who have all brought their food cultures with them. Asian cultures dominate: Chinese, Vietnamese you name it, you can find it here...cheap.
For me, one of the first things I think about when I think of inexpensive Asian food is the Bahn Mi sandwich. At the Au Petit Cafe, you can get a whole sandwich for $3-4 each, plus pho and other Vietnamese specialties. Ba Le Deli & Bakery is another Bahn Mi haven, when food bloggers agree this much on a place I can't say no.
Lido Restaurant and Bo Laksa King's, both Richmond restaurants are highly rated and, apparently, hard to find. I love any place that is good, and hard to find. A little hunting makes me enjoy the food more. Lido Restaurant is a small Hong Kong style cafe in a strip mall, the Pineapple Bun is one of their specialties. Bo Laksa King's is located in the Joyce Way Food Market. Try the Laksa, it's cheap and good, but if you're in the mood for something new, try the Pickled Tea Leaves Salad. It's not on the menu, but it's one of their specialties and comes highly recommended.
It's hard for me to go to Vancouver and not think of Dim Sum. Despite the fact that Dim Sum and cheap don't usually go together, you can hit up 882 Dim Sum in Chinatown to get your fix.
Other Yummy Eats
Besides the nearly endless Asian options in Vancouver, there are plenty of other affordable places to chow down. Salsa & Agave Mexican Grill in Yaletown offers up authentic tacos for only a little cash, but don't overlook more filling options like the Torta, you'll enjoy every bite and not be hungry for hours.
For a taste of Lebanese, Nuba Cafe offers up delicious sounding falafel, hummus, and wraps and plates, for relatively little.
If you're looking for vegan or vegetarian, but don't want to have to rely on more expensive places, Budgies Burritos whips up burritos and tacos that everyone (meat-eaters, included) would enjoy.
Breakfast is by far one of the cheapest meals to fill up on, and it doesn't have to be boring. Deacon's Corner in Gastown is the place to go for a big breakfast, or even a burger.
Speaking of burgers, Splitz Grill whips up gourmet burgers on the cheap. From a spicy lentil burger to a full-pound "Full Pull", they've got something for every burger lover out there.
Finally, if you're in the mood for something completely different, Fassil Ethopian offers up delicious, cheap dishes that you can eat with your hands.
For more ideas
As usual, this list barely scratches the surface. I could keep searching and writing, but I'd gain 10 pounds before I knew it. So, do us all a favor and leave us your favorite Vancouver cheap eats in the comments!