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Primal Eats Vancouver: Tomahawk Restaurant

April 25, 2013

Tomahawk Restaurant Chief Capilano Burger

This North Vancouver restaurant has been serving breakfast and burgers since 1926, making it the oldest family-run eatery in Canada. In the past few years, it has gotten some media attention. It was featured on two Food Network shows: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri, and where I first heard of it: You Gotta Eat Here with John Catucci. A lot of the restaurants on these shows tend to focus on quantity over quality, so I was a little skeptical. But after seeing their commitment to organic, I was intrigued.

We only buy and serve 100% premium certified ORGANIC ground beef from The Blue Goose Cattle Company!

That means they ensure: No growth-hormones or antibiotics are ever administered to the herd. the animals are free to range and graze on organic pastures. The cattle receive a finishing feed of 100% organically grown grains.

Our 100% pure beef wieners are served on our special baked buns.

Yes, the cows are not 100% grass-fed, but for a diner I’d say those standards are pretty decent. So, after a hike on the North Shore, I figured it was time to check this place out.

If you visit, don’t get too put off by the kitschy gift shop and pond full of rubber duckies (what?!), especially since you’ll most likely be waiting in that area as this restaurant is always packed. But the line moves fast, and there’s no knicknacks inside, just a nice A-frame cabin-like space, adorned with Native art throughout. The interior is a little too dark for my liking – all of the dark wood along with a lack of any natural light can make it seem a bit dreary. But it’s very nicely kept up inside.

Tomahawk Restaurant Interior

This place definitely feels like a diner. And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been to very many real diners myself, not to mention ones that have been ticking along for 87 years, so that was an experience in and of itself.

The Tomahawk is best known for its burgers, which are named after some of the Indian chiefs that the original owner, Chick Chamberlain, had known over the years, and the Yukon-style Bacon & Eggs (5 slices of Yukon-style bacon, two country-style free range eggs served fried or scrambled, a heaping portion of golden-griddled hash brown potatoes, and two tick slices of Klondike toast).

My friend and I both opted for the burgers. I had a bunless Chief Capilano Burger (Onions, lettuce, ground organic beef patty, egg, aged cheddar cheese, wiener, tomato, and Tomahawk special sauce). My friend had the Skookum Chief Burger (Onions, lettuce, organic ground beef patty, Yukon bacon, egg, aged cheddar cheese, wiener, tomato, and Tomahawk special sauce).

Tomahawk Restaurant Skookum Burger

I was relieved that what was placed in front of me was not a monstrosity. It was a decent amount of food (I guess even more so with the bun), but not a wasteful, stuff-yourself-silly amount. I liked the shaved  lettuce, and it looked like I was given more of it because I didn’t want a bun. I also liked the wieners (I don’t remember the last time I ate wieners!), and the patty which was pretty flavorful. I do wish that the patty was substantially larger though – it was pretty small and thin, which is probably why my friend’s was on the dry side. Neither of us could find any “special sauce”. For me that’s not a bad thing, as I always wonder that’s in the sauce. But we were still surprised by how little of it there was. I chose to have the greens instead of fries, with a nice balsamic vinaigrette. My friend’s fries were good, pretty standard.

Overall, we had a great diner meal, with organic ingredients, which is not exactly typical diner fare. There are a lot of negative reviews on Urbanspoon with regards to the service – that and wait times seem to be the main complaints. Personally, I found the line to move quickly – they were efficient with the turnover of tables. And, I found service to be friendly, helpful, and relatively quick. So, I’m happy to say that overall, I enjoyed my meal at Tomahawk.

Tomahawk RestaurantTomahawk Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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