If Surrey, British Columbia, isn’t yet on your foodie radar, set your sights on this growing city in Metro Vancouver. Plan a visit to take a Multi-Cultural Tour. Since more than half its residents are of South Asian or East Asian heritage, there is a plethora of dining destinations that make up the Surrey Spice Trail.
Spice Trail restaurants cover a long list of international flavors and influences: Afghan, African, Arabic, Caribbean, Central American, Columbian, El Salvadoran, Indian (North), Indian (South), Indo-Chinese, Jamaican, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese, Malaysian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Nepalese, Syrian, Thai, Vegetarian, Vietnamese, and West African.
I had the opportunity to sample four restaurants — Mexican, Indian, Nepalese, and Afghan — along with other members of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association.
Guacamole Mexican Grill: Mexican With a Salvadoran Twist
Our first stop on the Surrey Spice Trail was Guacamole Mexican Grill. A Salvadoran couple, Marvin and Rose Magana, opened the restaurant three years ago. A pupusa, an item from their home country, is on the menu. The cornmeal pancake is filled with refried beans, chicharron (pork cracklings), and cheese.
We were served a freshly-made pupusa along with a soft taco filled with marinated stewed meat.
Taco sauces, the restaurant’s signature guacamole, and tortilla chips were the perfect accompaniments. Our beverage choices included horchata, a spiced rice and milk drink, or jamaica, a slightly sweet hibiscus juice.
The restaurant team treated a member of our group to churros for dessert. What a delicious way to celebrate a birthday! Churros are a type of deep-fried dough similar to a donut.
Marvin, co-owner of Guacamole Grill, treated us with some impromptu entertainment.
MoMo N Wings: Nepalese & Indian Food in a Sports Bar Setting
Afghan Kitchen: An Award-Winning Mother-Son Duo
The last stop on our Multi-Cultural tour of Surrey’s Spice Trail was Afghan Kitchen.
The host ushered our group into a separate room furnished with low tables for traditional Afghan floor seating. We removed our shoes and settled into the floor cushions, ready to relax and enjoy our final stop on the Surrey Spice Trail.
Each table shared a series of dishes, served family-style.
These included the Triple Dip Taster, including eggplant, hummus, and avocado dips, served with fresh Afghan bread slices; lentil stew; lamb kebabs; and Afghan rice.
Zohra and Hassib Sarwari, a mother and son duo, are co-owners of Afghan Kitchen. The Food Network featured the restaurant in March 2021. South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce selected Afghan Kitchen to receive a Business of the Year award in 2023. Learn more about their story in this short YouTube video:
Don’t Miss the Heritage Rail Adventure
The Cloverdale Rail Station was another stop on our day in Surrey. It’s an exact replica of the original station, dating from 1910, and is the site of the Heritage Rail Adventure, established in 2023.
Visitors take a short ride on a restored B.C. Electric Interurban Railcar to learn about the history of the car and its restoration. Afterward they watch a short film, and then take a ride on the Honey Bee Express. Staffed by volunteers, the Heritage Rail Adventure came about through the efforts of the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society.
You can get in the act by riding the Velocipede, a one-person, self-propelled maintenance vehicle, and the Family Quad Car.
Where We Stayed
The accommodation chosen for our writer’s group was the Civic Hotel Autograph Collection. With 144 guest rooms in the heart of the Surrey City Centre, it’s next to the SkyTrain for convenient travel around Metro Vancouver.
Thanks to Discover Surrey and its hotel and restaurant partners for hosting me and the rest of our group of IFWTWA travel writers for the Surrey Multi-Cultural Tour.