If anyone knows where Vancouver’s cool restaurants are it’s the guy who puts them there. Co-owner of Wildebeest and Pizzeria Bufala, James Iranzad sits at the head of a small dining empire like he would a table, commanding the attention of the city’s food enthusiasts with his charm and energy.
Part of Iranzad’s charisma derives from his fashion sense. In preparation for our new store opening next week (September 18—like you didn’t know), we’ve been talking to some of Vancouver’s citizens about style and the city’s highlights. Here’s what this bon vivant shared.
What three words would you use to describe Vancouver style?
Hyper-casual, moody, improving.
What would you do with 24 hours in Vancouver?
Early dim sum for sure. Then head to Granville Island for oysters and load up on salami, pâté, cheese and good mustard from Oyama, pick up a bottle of rosé, rent a boat, and head behind Bowen Island for a picnic and a swim. Afterward come back, freshen up, head to Gastown for cocktails then Bao Bei for dinner—and hopefully there’s a good show at Fortune or the Commodore.
If you had to recommend three dishes not to miss in Vancouver, what would they be?
1. From Wildebeest: the ribeye with foie gras & bone marrow jus. It’s without a doubt the best steak in Vancouver. 2. From Vij’s: lamb popsicles. I’ve had them so many times and they never stop being delicious. 3. From La Quercia: any pasta on the nightly menu.
Where is your favorite non-restaurant spot to eat al fresco?
The secret part of VanDusen Botanical Garden, behind the maze, by the creek.
Describe your cuisine in three words.
The style of food I love is what we strive to serve at all our restaurants: food that’s exciting, unfussy and made only with excellent ingredients sourced from farmers and fishers who share our passion for quality and responsibility. (I don’t know how to wrap number three into one word!)
What’s your favorite night out in Vancouver? And what would you wear?
I like to pack a night out with as many adventures and experiences as possible rather than staying in one spot. And for that kind of action there’s nowhere in town better for concentration than Gastown/Chinatown. Big nights like this deserve a little extra effort, so I like to don a sharp suit to show we mean business. Having said that, skinny black jeans, a good sweater and some loafers or tricked-out high-tops should do the trick, too—ninja-chic.
What is the best room in Vancouver?
The Diamond: It’s a gorgeous room overlooking Gastown’s Maple Tree Square, and happens to have the added bonuses of excellent music and the best cocktails in Vancouver. I especially love it in daylight with the light and breeze coming through those beautiful windows.
Do you have a cocktail of choice?
I’d like to say that it’s too difficult to choose just one, as moods, meals, seasons and occasions should be considered, but I drink Americanos often as they’re delicious, light and refreshing, but the Amalfi Fizz at Bufala is currently my favorite cocktail.
Who is your favorite Vancouverite, living or dead?
Terry Fox is pretty much one of my favorite people ever. Read the books. Watch the movies.
What Vancouver essentials should we make sure to stock a lot of at Nordstrom?
The weather’s temperamental here, with rainy mornings commonly followed by sunny afternoons. Let’s get everyone layering well and looking good with lots of cardigans, vests, light jackets, et cetera. Bright socks are great for brightening up drab, grey days. And a good selection of sunglasses to make us look sexy while discreetly checking each other out.
Still haven’t had your fill? Read our other interviews with Vancouverites.