A Vancouver landmark named after the city's first lifeguard in the 1890's. Joe Fortes is a multi-level, San Francisco-styled place with an oyster bar, rooftop garden patio and ample restaurant seating.
One thing Joe Fortes is not is stuffy, despite it being high-end. My friend and I were treated royally by the servers even though we opted for the plebeian Happy Hour arrangement. Our needs were anticipated before we even knew what they were sometimes...very impressed. The only space left when we got there was possibly the tiniest one, but as soon as a bigger one freed up, our lovely server let us know, and we moved. Overall, there's a feel-good vibe there...no wonder it's so popular. We loved the lobster sandwich - bigger, higher quality, and much tastier than a McLobster (I tried one once in Nova Scotia), and for about the same price at Happy Hour! - and the Oysters Rockefeller was top-notch. It was a fun time. Thank you guys!
Joe Fortes has a happy hour that goes on every day from 4:00PM - 6:00PM! We decided to try this out since the prices were right and boy, were we satisfied! We ended up completely stuffed and with a bunch of leftovers even though we only had to pay around $17 per person. The only thing we would like to mention about this happy hour is that there are no reservations and it is pretty much first come first serve. You have to sit at one of the high stool counters or the bar in order to qualify for the happy hour specials.
Jumbo Tempura Prawns - $13.95 (6.5/7)
These are amazing! They’re probably the size of the prawns that you can get at Coast or Bluewater, except deep fried to perfection. The spicy mayo on the side makes the dish absolutely perfect and I can honestly say that these were one of the best prawn tempuras that I’ve ever had!
Crisp Calamari - $14.95 (6/7)
As calamari lover’s, we’d have to go back and carefully compare all the different calamari dishes we have tried previously. This calamari in particular was very fresh and prepared impeccably, as it wasn’t too chewy and the batter was thin and crisp. The dish was covered in spicy chilies and came with a sundried tomato aioli that was actually our favourite dip!
Truffle Parmesan Frites - $9.95 (5.5/7)
These were delicious at first, but we quickly grew tired of them. The fries were generously covered in cheese and made an excellent snack to eat with our beers. However, they felt a bit too dry at the end and we couldn’t really finish.
Sweet Potato Fries - $7.95 (5.75/7)
These were more on the plain side, but were definitely some of the best sweet potato fries that we’ve ever had! However, we had the same problem as the other fries and ended up doggy bagging them.
Joe’s Mini Cheese Burgers - $12.95 (5/7)
These were very mediocre. We don’t have much to say about them but they’re just regular sliders with nothing special. The coleslaw that came with them was delicious though!
Fried Oysters - $14.95 (5.5/7)
These were good but not as good as the ones you can get at Rodney’s! We enjoyed the sauces that came with them though.
The happy hour at Joe Fortes is an excellent way to have an early dinner while grabbing a few beers after work! The food was definitely worth the price and the atmosphere of the restaurant is excellent. Our waitresses were very attentive and kind as well!
Joe Fortes is supposed to be a Vancouver institution of sorts. One word describes my visits over the years and that is inconsistent. I've had excellent service, good (never great) food, and terrible service, lousy food and everything in between over the years. My last experience convinced me finally that there are far more worthy places to spend my money than Joe's. My BFF took me out for a birthday lunch, late Friday afternoon. We were on the deck at a round table beside the bar. We ordered lunch with one server, drinks with another and then served by a busboy. We had calamari, fish cakes, and my GF had a caesar with salmon. The food was mediocre but nothing I'd complain about, just mediocre. After lunch my hubby joined us and we ordered a bottle of white wine in lieu of dessert. It was about 4 pm and getting busy with the after work crowd. The server came by 4 times in a span of 5 minutes just after opening our wine to ask us if we wanted anything else. The fourth time she asked, we thought she was joking, but she was not. She clearly wanted us to leave so she could get a new table sat. So, we obliged. We drank up quickly and we left. In the past I have spent anywhere from $100-$1000 in one visit at Joe's but that is the last time they will see a dime from me and I will tell all my visitors to skip it because no one should be treated like that in any decent establishment. To Joe's staff... You're not all that, get a reality check.
I've always heard great things about this place. We came here for a friend's birthday, our party was 15 people. When arriving there were 2 lamborghini's parked outside and the front entrance was packed. We go up to the 3rd floor and sit.. place seems weird, different then most restaurant I go to. The waiters are wearing weird white lab coats like at a doctor's office. In the hallway near the bathroom there are lots of pictures of famous people, vancouver canucks, etc. Wow we are lucky to be dining at such a great place..
We ordered $43.20 for 12 BC oysters to start - They were ok, nothing amazing..
Entree I had the $36.95 Lobster Pappardelle - Once again an OK good dish.
She had the $45.45 8oz Tenderloin - said it was OK.
Dessert we had the $14.95 Dessert Trio - Once again an OK dessert.
Add a $45 bottle and a $4 cappuccino and we (myself & wife) are looking at a bill that comes to $250 with a tip..
The food here is OK-Good but nothing was amazing, great, memorable.. Nothing I consumed would be re ordered if I returned. The prices are fine dining high end but the food isn't. I have eaten at many better restaurants in Vancouver for less money spent.
I don't see any reason to return here, it didn't live up to the hype.
Yeah, it's pricy. But for the experience you'll get and the class Joe Fortes delivers it with, it's worth it. Their meals are terrific across the board and there's no missteps or odd-man-out dishes; whatever you get, you'll like.
If you're new to the world of oysters, I suggest you try some. They're quite affordable and are a great way to start off, especially if you buy a handful and share with friends!
Lastly, best bread ever. They give you a sort of lobster dip concuction to go with, and it really gets you into the spirit of things. Joe Fortes is going to be where I go to class it up in DT!
I'm a little late writing this review because I came here 3 weeks ago. I just didn't think I should because....well I committed a food felony and I was a bit ashamed.
I was one of those people who went to a seafood restaurant and ordered the hamburger! I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy. I know, I know... who does that? But I got reasons....honest.
It was late and given that uh-hum uh-hum I'm not in my twenties or whatever anymore there was no way I could handle a steak at 10:00. Real reason: I was with a fine fit thin young lady and I needed to get us going.
But I could handle a pitcher of delicious beer, along with a really great mushroom side OMG WTF i died and went to heaven.
YES it was that good its still on my mind. SO, I caved in to guilt about not sharing and shouted myself out!
For people that dont think that they can afford to dine at Joe Fortes.... come between 4 and 6 for Happy Hour! SERIOUSLY! Great food and it is so reasonable! Tempura Prawns were FANTASTIC! Oysters Rockefeller were TO DIE FOR! Tons of appies for half price. Gorgeous place to end the work day. Cant say enought about it. Service was stellar! Keep it up JF!
Vancouverites and tourists alike lament on customer service in Vancouver. So, I am telling you right now, if you want *incredible service*, go to Joe Fortes.
Joe Fortes knows how to do it right.
All I did was make a reservation and mention is was my partner's birthday. We were given a perfect corner booth for two. It was intimate and, since it was my partner's first time there, also great vantage point to appreciate the atmosphere. Waiters wore traditional white jackets and knew their wine and dinner specials by heart.
The most wonderful part that compelled me to give the waiter a 70% tip was a surprise creme brulee with candle and brithday croon. I will tell you why this was such a pleasant surprise.
My past experience with other restaurants requires you to remind them or make a special request. This was not necessary at Joe Fortes. I have always liked their food, but their services clinches the deal every time.
[This review was also posted on Trip Advisor.]
Went during the week for dinner and made reservations upstairs on the patio. It seems they have cut down the seating as part of the patio is now a garden. The restaurant area is all covered while the bar area has some umbrellas. Started off with a 2 dozen oysters which were really good, all local ones. Then had the sable fish which was excellent. Cooked just right with perfect balance of miso. Sides were just ok (rice and asparagus). Tried the beef carpacio and it was very good. Dessert was just OK with the lava cake and ice cream. Service was very good and they accomodated any changes to the menu. Only part was when the oysters were served, they didn't explain the various types. Overall a great evening. A bit on the pricey side but it seems the public thinks it's good value as the restaurant was full.
reserved a table on the patio for a sunny weekend brunch, and had a fabulous time.
Between my friend and I we split the manhattan seafood chowder, Dotty's Chopped Salad and a King Crab omelet. All were prepared with love and precision. I particularly enjoyed the crab omelet with asparagus and a creamy goat cheese.
Our servers were friendly, and attentive... And on a sunny day, the rooftop patio is like a relaxing oasis... comfortable, elegant but accessible and inviting.
I've been to Joe Fortes about 5-6 times and I've never been disappointed. They used to have this Alberta steak dish which they served with a mashed potato spring roll. It was really really good and when I returned, it wasn't on the menu anymore. The restaurant has split level floors and I've had the opportunity to be seated on each. The upper floor is more upscale while the bottom/bar level is more casual. I've never had a problem with service here. My only problem with this restaurant was that it seemed like they seat you according to how you're dressed. My first times, I really dressed up and was seating in the upper levels, and last few times, I dressed down and was seated in the mid level. When my friends and I just went for a last minute dinner wearing casual skirt/khakis, we were seated in the bar level. I guess I could see it as a good thing that they accept casual diners at their upscale restaurant. It's not enough to deter me from going again.
Was here two weeks ago with my coworker who also loves food as much as I do. We were greeted and welcomed at the door, our server was really sweet (maybe even a bit too friendly). Unfortunately we were seated at a table that was between two aisles kind of, so that people constantly rushes past us and the place is very.. dated.
We ordered from their lunch special menu, where 2 courses were around 15, and 3 were for 18. We also had oysters, 2 kusshis and another 2 from the west coast oyster menu.. forgot what they're called. I liked the kusshis better, the other ones were a bit grimey for me, but LOVED the oysters. My coworker had the clam chowder, which was very filling for her and was decent. She had the shrimp linguine for her main, she said it was just okay. Though the shrimp were fairly small, it was compensated with quantity. I had the grilled salmon. It was very mediocre for me, especially at a well known restaurant like Joe Fortes. It was a piece of salmon on top of a bed of vegetables. The vegetables were just okay, the salmon was overcooked and dry and not seasoned enough. Squeezing some lemon juice on it just gave it a bit more taste. We shared the creme brulee. It was just mediocre. The sugar on top was burnt, which really affected the taste overall. The bottom was not creamy enough, perhaps the ingredients weren't of high standard. Nice touch with the vanilla beans at the bottom though. And overall, the presentation of the food was nice.
Our bill came up to 50 dollars (both of us), each of us getting a 2 course menu with an additional 4 oysters and tips. I liked that they gave a chance for us to give feedback with the little card that came with the bill. I may or may not come back.. depends.
I love it that they ask you how you would like your fish done! I have not had the experience anywhere else in Vancouver. They do know fish here despite their snobby ways. The rooftop patio is nice. In the old days, I ate there more frequently but nowadays, I can find great seafood without the attitude all over town. Plus the corner of Robson and Thurlow isn't that quaint anymore.
Food was average, service was average, as was the ambiance. However I still had a great time dining here with friends and family so it gets a four in my books.
This place is pretty big so it accommodates larger parties well.
My wife and I were Christmas shopping and decided to call ina na graban appettizer at Joe Fortes, we had been before so thought we knew what to expect.
First off we wee greeted by our server who in a really patronizing tone explained the concept of oil and vinegar.....thank-you for the education??? Then we were approached by a seperate server who took our drink orders......15 minutes later a third server approached us and asked us for our drink order....you can probably see where this is going, finally a forht server aproached us and asked us for our order which we provided with quizical looks on both of our faces.
They then proceeded to forget our food order......for thirty minutes. To top it all we ordered the King Crab tempura, we thought it would be a nice litle bite for two over a glass of wine, cost $18.75. When it arrived it was just slightly larger than a Amuse, literally three tiny little pieces of tempured crab leg.......rediculous.
Will never be back.....have had the leasure of eating all over the world, River Cafe, Ivy, Michael Minna, Gary Danko, French Laundry and I have never seen such terrible service and such blatant gauging.
I went for a work lunch at Joe Fortes this week and I was again really impressed with the food. There were a few changes I would recommend, but overall it was a great lunch.
There were five of us for lunch, including 2 business associates visiting from France. One of the visitors wanted to try West Coast oysters, so we ordered a dozen to start. Our waiter was knowledgable on the different varieties and we selected 3 to try. They were all really tasty, but I found the larger ones had more of a salty, buttery finish to them.
For my entrée, I opted for the sablefish, which was cooked with a miso, soya type glaze. The flavour was amazing - sablefish is one of my favourites and Joe Fortes always manages to cook it exactly to my liking. The plain, white rice served with the fish was - for lack of a better word - dull. The grilled asparagus was nicely cooked, but the rice really brought the whole dish down a notch or two.
Everyone at the table really enjoyed their meal and we all finished off with coffee or espresso. I have had their creme brulée for dessert on a different occasion, and it has never disappointed.
I love the fresh sheet here, and everything I've ordered has been really good. If they could just do something about the rice, I would rate the meal a little higher.
The value depends on what you order - their price fixe menu is exceptional - for $13.95 you get a choice of 2 dishes (appy/entrée/dessert) and the portions are really good. The prawn linguine seems to be the best value, as it is really filling. The appy & dessert portions are smaller than what the regular menu portions are, but it is still a really good value for your money. They also have a blue plate special every day of the week for $9.95 and it changes frequently.
Overall, it was a great experience and I'll keep going back.
joe fortes has been around and ive heard great things about this place so eventually i decided to dine here for a special occasion.
arrived here promptly and was seated without a wait, away from the main dining area at my request which i appreciated.
i started with the calamari and it tasted mediocre. i like my calamari crispy which these were not so that was a downer. my main was the prime rib steak (with mash potatoes) which was cooked medium but it was still relatively red. i should have asked for a leaner slab of meat because the one i received was a tad too fat. also, the meat had no real taste to it so that was disappointing. the vegetables that came with it were cold and i guarantee they were not supposed to be that way.
the real upside to the evening was the service. our waitress was very friendly and polite to us from the start when she introduced herself. she was around often to refills our waters and take any requests that we had.
for the quality of the food, i thought it was overpriced. it was nothing exceptional yet it was pretty pricey. i certainly do not mind dropping money these prices but the food has to be great. i was full at the end of the night so i give them credit for that.
the place looks nice and they have a piano player at the mid way point of the flight of stairs which is a neat addition. the place could use a renovation though in the main dining area as it does look a little run down (which may or may not be their intention).
overall, my experience was just average. i can say i have had much better (and obviously worse) so this falls right in the middle. that being said, i dont know if i would return since the selection of seafood restaurants in vancouver are quite extensive.
Thank goodness for Dine Out Vancouver! Checked out Joe Fortes for the first time this year. Excellent food, great location. I always enjoy going to Joe's!
Food - Had the Oysters to start, Grilled Albacore Tuna macaroni for the main, and Vanilla Creme Brule for the dessert. All were fantastic. My girlfriend's choices of Clam Chowder, sirloin steak, and lava cake were just as tasty. I was also pleased to see they had the Granville Island Winter Ale on tap - an awesome beer, and I enjoyed a couple of pints.
Service - Always friendly and courteous. Service was quite prompt for such a busy Wednesday night.
Ambiance - Loud and boisterous. I loved it! Piano player was the highlight of last year, but our table was on the opposite site of the restaurant this time.
Decided to go for DineOut last week. Seated promptly, but didn't appreciate reminder by hostess that we only had 1.5hrs for dinner (this was 2nd time they told us that our table was booked for another group after us). Tables were too close together in the mid level~staff couldn't fit in between ours & the table next to us. Do they really need to squeeze in as many tables as possible??? The live piano was nice, but a little noisy there overall. Hence the solid rating for its ambiance.
Food was really good... 2 of us had clam chowder, 2 had oysters~both good. Entrees were also tasty. Salmon was cooked nicely & Fisherman's stew was flavourful. But dessert was the best. Bread pudding & cheesecake were excellent!~either one a good choice. Drinks were fine.
The service, on the other hand, didn't leave such a great taste in my mouth. Server Marco initially was friendly but not attentive enough. Had to move empty plates around ourselves so that the subsequent courses could be set down on our table. Also had to ask for water refills. We felt rushed throughout dinner. Our desserts arrived even before my g/f was finished eating her entree!! And our server didn't bother to ask if we wanted coffee/tea to accompany our dessert. I guess they were afraid we'd go over our time limit...
Another service no-no: don't upset your customers. My g/f was quite upset with the server when he ignored her request and chose our guest's credit card over hers, even though she clearly told him and insisted that her GUESTS should not be the ones paying. His excuse was that he's "old-fashioned." My assumption is that he'd rather take our guest's "Gold" credit card over her regular one. He still got a decent tip (15%), but taking everything into consideration, I think he deserved less.
Overall, solid dining experience. The only thing I can rave about is the food itself. Go if you like good food and can deal with so-so service.
Hub and I have been going to Joe Fortes for a few years now, and we always really enjoy ourselves. The food is fresh and always nicely prepared - we love the oysters, sablefish, Dotty's salad and the wine list. Service is polite, prompt and charming with a nice edge of wit and humour, especially at the bar and on the patio. Joe Fortes proves that a high-end restaurant doesn't have to have uppity or snobby staff. We are always well received and treated, whether we're in our business suits for dinner or in khaki shorts on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The patio is wonderful, but they don't take reservations, so its best to go early or just wait. Keep it up, Joes Fortes!