Take A Multi-Cultural Tour of the Surrey Spice Trail

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

Guacamole Mexican Grill
Guacamole Mexican Grill © Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Guacamole Grill Welcome Mural
Guacamole Grill Welcome Mural © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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.

Guacamole Grill Papusa and Soft Taco
Pupusa and Soft Taco, Guacamole Grill © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

We were served a freshly-made pupusa along with a soft taco filled with marinated stewed meat.

Guacamole Grill's signature guacamole.
Guacamole Grill’s signature guacamole. (Credit: Guacamole Grill)

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.

Guacamole Grill Churro
Churro for dessert at Guacamole Grill © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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, singing
Marvin, co-owner of Guacamole Grill. © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

Marvin, co-owner of Guacamole Grill, treated us with some impromptu entertainment.

MoMo N Wings: Nepalese & Indian Food in a Sports Bar Setting

MoMo N Wings Nepalese and Indian Restaurant
MoMo N Wings Nepalese and Indian Restaurant

A Nepalese & Indian restaurant with a Sports Bar theme, MoMo N Wings, opened in March 2022.  Bikal Tiwari and Rajiv Koirala co-own the restaurant. Bikal also owns Taste of Himalayas in Surrey.

Tandoori MoMo at MoMo N Wings in Surrey
Tandoori MoMo at MoMo N Wings © Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Kathmandu Mix Vegetable Curry, Jackfruit Curry, and Rice
Kathmandu Mix Vegetable Curry (top), Jackfruit Curry (right), and Rice © Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Maccha Tareko, Fish Pakora with chutney
Maccha Tareko, Fish Pakora with chutney © Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Nepalese Chow Mein at MoMo N Wings
Nepalese Vegetable Chow Mein © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

Afghan Kitchen: An Award-Winning Mother-Son Duo

Afghan Kitchen
Afghan Kitchen © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

The last stop on our Multi-Cultural tour of Surrey’s Spice Trail was Afghan Kitchen.

Afghan Kitchen's private room with floor seating
Afghan Kitchen has a separate room with traditional floor seating. © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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.

Afghan Kitchen -Triple Dip
Afghan Kitchen -Triple Dip © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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.

Afghan Kitchen - Lentil Stew
Afghan Kitchen – Lentil Stew © Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Afghan Kitchen - Lamb Kabobs
Afghan Kitchen – Lamb Kabobs © Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Afghan Kitchen - Afghan Rice
Afghan Kitchen – Afghan Rice © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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.

Heritage Rail Adventure - Restored Train Car
Heritage Rail Adventure – Restored Train Car © Debbra Dunning Brouillette
Ride Everything on the Heritage Rail Adventure
Ride Everything on the Heritage Rail Adventure © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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.

Me after taking a short ride on the Velocipede.
Me after taking a short ride on the Velocipede. ©Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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

Civic Hotel Autograph Collection by Marriott, Surrey, BC
Civic Hotel Autograph Collection by Marriott, Surrey, BC © Debbra Dunning Brouillette

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.

Note: Our group also visited My Shanti restaurant, but it closed in November 2023. Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver, also operated by celebrity chef Vikram Vij, remains open.

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.


Debbra Dunning Brouillette

Debbra Dunning Brouillette has always been a tropical girl. Like a fish out of water, she was born and raised in the Midwest, but from the age of seven, Florida vacations opened up her world to sun, sand and turquoise water. On her first Caribbean trip to Jamaica, a snorkeling excursion introduced her to an incredible new world that exists below the surface of the sea. The fish out of water was hooked. A scuba diver and avid photographer, she enjoys exploring the reefs and natural wonders, meeting the natives, and finding what makes each island unique. She also is a self-described “foodie” and enjoys savoring the food and wine wherever her travels take her. Her articles and photos have appeared in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Indulge, AAA Home & Away and Evansville Living magazines; online digital outlets, including JohnnyJet.com, TravelWorld, Travelscope and TravelSquire.com; as well as her own site, TropicalTravelGirl.com. She is Managing Editor for Food, Wine, Travel magazine (fwtmagazine.com) and serves on the Board of Directors for International Food, Wine, Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA).