There’s a new crop in the fertile Fraser Valley region: hip eateries, watering holes and shops. If you haven’t visited the Fraser Valley for a while, here’s where to go now, and why.
By Catherine Dunwoody
Think twice before you discount the Fraser Valley for lacking the sophistication or big-city feel. These hot spots are the natural progression of proud rural roots meeting modern day tastes, and are often owned by locals who grew up here, sometimes leaving then returning to their hometowns to start businesses. Here, you’ll find hip experiences in destinations that don’t have that trying too-hard citified edge.
The newest destination for a local sipper in Taves Estate Cidery, a spinoff of the family farm that’s been in the area since the 1930’s; try the gooseberry or red currant flavours. Maan Farms is the poster child for those sought-after goat, yoga classes, and Seaside Pearl winery’s tasting room is located in a pretty little chapel, also delighting Instagrammers with every visit. Field House Brewing offers microbrews aplenty, especially paired with onsight Canteen Eats for memorable pizza and more, in a Portland-of-the-North setting. Owner and local entrepreneur Josh Vanderheide proudly champions “Abby,” and grows his brewery’s barley at a nearby farm.
Proving food trucks are still a thing, Amble Coffee parks itself next to the Vedder River, and caffeinators flock to sip local brands like New Moon tea and cult-fave 49th Parallel coffee. While you’re there, hit the Vedder Mountain biking trails for a cycle or a run, and grab some super fresh produce and artisan breads made with local Anita’s Organic Mill flours at Local Harvest Market. Whispering Horse Winery was first established as the J-Bar Ranch back in the 1960s, and then moved into winemaking about a decade ago. Take home a bottle of its sparkling Pinot Gris.
Not many breweries boast a kids play area, but Mission Springs Brewing Company keeps the little ones occupied while parents choose from three different patios to grab gourmet fries (like sweet chili chicken flavour) and burgers, plus sample a seasonal beer or other beverage from the year-round list. If hipster décor is defined by Edison bulbs and macramé, find it at The Penny, along with espresso drinks and avo toast. Hotties Food Emporio has visitors from across B.C. driving miles for their Panzerotti, a deep-fried calzone. For calorie-burning and blood-pumping exercise, Bear Mountain Loop Trail is popular with hikers and mountain bikers, with nearly 9 kilometres of modern trails.
Taking craft beer flights to the next level, Sky Helicopters offers a 20-minute flight from nearby Pitt Meadows airport to the Coast Mountains, touching down in the scenic backcountry for sampling of West Coast craft beers. Newly renovated Maple Ridge Leisure Centre recently had a $12-million facelift and is open for safe swimming, sauna and steam baths. We also love a family-run restaurant, and if friends are indeed the family you choose, then we extra-love Humble Roots Café and Deli: this collective of chefs, servers and farmers suggest you try the pulled barbecue jackfruit (think vegetarian pulled pork) flatbread, which is legendary.
Truly one of the chicest flower shops around, Floralista is a treasure in Fort Langley village shopping area. The oldest winery in the Fraser Valley, Chaberton Winery, also has an exceptional duck confit and other classic French cuisine at adjoining Bacchus Bistro. Roots & Wings Distillery has a tasting room bar worth hanging at, using its range of spirits made with local ingredients, including potatoes from the adjacent farm. (The Renegade horseradish vodka is born to make great Caesers!). Brand new in the ‘hood is Haven, with a menu featuring a modern Asian vibe. For a standout lunch or dinner visit Saba Café and Bistro, where live jazz plays on weekends and a husband-and-wife team offer up beautiful food that nods to the Middle East.