Foodie Finds in Vancouver, Washington

Written by Elizabeth Rose

September 17, 2021
Home >> Eat & Drink >> Restaurants >> Foodie Finds in Vancouver, Washington

On a recent summer visit, we chased down the best fresh foodie finds in Vancouver Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon.

How many places do you visit where you plan out fresh foodie experiences for each day even before planning visits to museums, parks, shopping, and sporting events? Well, Vancouver Washington is that type of place. Come with us as we share with you the fresh foodie finds in Vancouver, just across the river from Portland, Oregon. Vancouver is filled with Pacific Northwest history, scenic hikes along the river, and a vibrant arts scene. But on our summer visit, we were checking out both the new and established locavore scene of this southwest Washington city.

Eagle on the Columbia

When walking along the Columbia River we came upon this sculpture of an eagle snatching a salmon. Salmon is a favorite fresh foodie find in the Portland-Vancouver area.  Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Discovering Foodie Finds in Vancouver: the New Hidden House Market

When you arrive at Portland International Airport (PDX), you’ll be a mere ten minutes via a bridge across the Columbia River away from Washington State. We took the exit leading to downtown Vancouver and headed for a weathered brick home dubbed Hidden House. No, it’s not hidden by trees and foliage, it’s called Hidden House because of the type of brick the original owners used to build it.

Foodie Finds in Vancouver at Hidden House

This quaint brick house is now home to a farm-to-table market and restaurant. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

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The Hidden Story

Entrepreneur Lowell Hidden, who settled in Vancouver in 1871, didn’t plan to become a successful owner of a brickworks.  Lowell just sought out a need and filled it. He opened the Hidden Brick Company at 15th and Main just in time to provide the building material for Mother Joseph’s Providence Academy school and orphanage, which still stands as a Vancouver landmark.

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Over the years, Hidden House evolved from a classy downtown residence to a restaurant venue. And now, Hidden House has rave reviews as a farm-to-fork deli/wine shop and casual dining spot.

Providence Academy

Providence Academy, constructed with Hidden bricks, is now an event venue. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Lunch at the Fresh Foodie Deli

Local husband-and-wife David White and Elaine Frances, who live in the quaint neighborhood near the Hidden House, also saw a need they wanted to fill. Downtown Vancouver didn’t have a grab-and-go, wine shop, deli type of place. The couple knew locals would head for downtown to enjoy a fresh foodie Vancouver meal. They leased the Hidden House and spruced up the beautiful antique interior, added outdoor seating, and created an ever-changing menu based on their successful catering offerings.

Hidden House Interior foodie finds in Vancouver

Hidden House Market lovingly retains the grandeur of a past era. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The day we visited, they were offering a new range of pocket sandwiches, filled with local fresh foods and accompanied not by chips, fries, or potato salad, but creative skewers of seasonal produce. A local spot known for its excellent pizza dough bakes the bread for Hidden House Market. It was ideal for my tarragon chicken salad sandwich piled high with crispy lettuce, bright red tomatoes, and sprouts. I chose the Caprese skewer with more red tomatoes, mozzarella, and fragrant basil.

Chicken Salad Foodie Find in Vancouver

A perfect fresh chicken salad and Caprese skewer. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The sun warmed the porch where we sat and ate and were so relaxed that we could easily have chatted the afternoon away.

Whoopie Pies in the Pacific Northwest

On our way out we talked with David and Elaine about the seductively decadent whoopie pies—an unusual find in the Pacific Northwest—but baked daily on-site and becoming rather popular to pick up on the run. Wanting a snack for TV-watching later, we picked up some house-made trail mix and succumbed to the chocolatey goodness of a Whoopie Pie and added one to the take-home bag from the Hidden House Market.

Hidden House Market - foodie finds in Vancouver

David and Elaine with one of their dessert creations at the Hidden House Market, the house-made Whoopie Pie. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Creative Cuisine at Elements

In this one-week visit to the Pacific Northwest, my friends and I put our heads together and selected some of the best farm-to-fork experiences we could share. Chef Miguel Sosa’s Elements Restaurant was high on the list. Chef Sosa and crew had survived the early days of the pandemic by putting up a creative outdoor “parklet” in front of the restaurant, offering take-out, and putting picnic tables and a chef’s garden out in the back.

Parklet at Elements foodie finds in Vancouver

Elements took full advantage of their front and back outdoor areas. This once was a plain parking lot entrance… now a Covid-careful dining area. Photo courtesy Elements Restaurant

Fully vaccinated, we made a reservation for an indoor table and noticed new things there, too. Chef Sosa’s ever-changing seasonal menus are a draw. He sources from the local small organic farms surrounding Vancouver.

Fun Foodie Find in Vancouver: A Vegan Steak at Elements

That night we experienced the magic that goes on in the small kitchen at Elements. We tried something we had never heard of before—a watermelon steak! To create the vegan watermelon steak, Chef compresses the watermelon so that it loses its water-filled, light, crunchy texture, and then grills it. Roasted corn, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and farro succotash round out the meal. There is a blackberry and tamarind barbeque sauce and the chef serves it all over cashew ricotta.

Watermelon Steak

Yes, watermelon can be grilled as a Vegan steak! Photo courtesy Elements Restaurant

Proteins Also Abound at Elements

Not to ignore the excellent protein served at Elements, we also delved into a succulent duck breast accompanied by some of the same creative tastes that complimented the vegan dish. Other favorite dishes at Elements are their scallops and the loin of pork.

Fresh Foodie Finds in Vancouver

Duck breast with local veggies at Elements. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Do It Yourself at the Fresh Foodie Farmer’s Market

The large popular weekend Vancouver Farmers Market is an important stop for foodies who like to pick up local ingredients for a meal, to buy plant starts, and to enjoy a fully prepared meal while listening to live music. We hit the farmer’s market early to avoid the crowds and check out the produce from local farms as well as from the Yakima Valley to the east. There were specialty foods such as salsa, hummus, jellies, and jams.

Fresh Foodie Finds in Vancouver

Flat Tack Farm is a favorite of local chefs, has a CSA, sells from their farm stand, and is a regular at the farmers’ markets. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Native Fishers Contribute to the Farmers Market

Fresh-caught and frozen seafood were available from as far away as Alaska. Recently, we heard about some of the Native fishers who have fishing rights in the Columbia River setting up farmers’ markets booths. If you head out east along the Columbia River Gorge you’ll often see the Native fishers with their long-handled nets fishing from platforms or boats as their ancestors did centuries ago. During the late spring, summer, and fall, the public can purchase freshly caught Columbia River chinook, coho, steelhead, and sockeye directly from Indian fishers in places like Cascade Locks, Oregon, and now, from area farmers markets.

Family Fun at the Farmers Market

There is fun for the whole family at the Vancouver Farmers’ Market. Nearby is a park and playground. The market includes enticing booths where children can taste and explore. The market also has a great area for you to sit down with lunch and listen to live music.

Fresh Foodie Farmers Market

Part of the fun for kids is picking their lunch from all the enticing booths at the market. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

We picked up some fresh produce and I stopped at the soap booth for some of my favorite scented goat milk soaps before heading back to my friend’s home with our fresh foodie finds.

Fresh Foodie Finds Reading List

There are some great books you can find for helping you discover how to cook locally sourced food at home and even how to grow it at home. Here are some of our recommendations. Click on the book cover to purchase it now.

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When You Go Searching for Fresh Foodie Finds in Vancouver

While there is much to do in Vancouver, WA—we love the Pacific Northwest history, scenic hikes along the river, and a vibrant arts scene—you really must check out the fresh foodie finds in Vancouver. It’s less than 10 minutes from the Portland, Oregon airport and offers a great, laid-back visit and foodie vibe. For more ideas on visiting the Pacific Northwest see our expert travel writers’ articles on Oregon and Washington. Get on the road and hunt for more fresh foodie finds.

While there is much to do in Vancouver, WA—we love the Pacific Northwest history, scenic hikes along the river, and a vibrant arts scene—you really must check out the fresh foodie finds in Vancouver. It's less than 10 minutes from the Portland, Oregon airport and offers a great, laid-back visit and foodie vibe. From fine dining to casual eateries to farmers' markets, there's something for the entire family when they explore Vancouver, WA.

Foodie Finds in Vancouver, Washington

Written by Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is back again in the Phoenix area after more than a decade living in New Mexico and Washington state. She travels throughout the West and beyond writing about destinations, accommodations, festivals, and restaurants, especially farm to table cuisine. As an expert in cultural tourism, her writing reflects that passion. She has won awards for her photography and accompanies her articles with her own images. She also provides photos for magazine covers, web sites and magazine articles (both print and online).

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