Vancouver is a city like no other in Canada. The views from across Water St. alone, are a thing to be seen, taken in and savoured. Mountains and water merge together beautifully, adding charm to this eclectic city.
The weather is fairly mild all year, and its West coast vibe is present in every way. From its coffeshops, vegan and vegetarian restaurants to how active people are.
Last month I had the chance to spend a few days in the city and got to explore Gastown. It was Vancouver’s first downtown core and its architecture reminds me a bit of SOHO. Brick walls everywhere and cobblestone lined streets. At night the corners are adorned with the prettiest lamp posts, adding more charm to a city that’s easy to fall in love with.
I’ve put together a few of the places I visited durning my stay. Some were recommended by friends who live in the city and like myself, are food and coffee lovers ( thanks @viranlly, @bittadesign and @foodgays for the great recs!)
Having coffee at Revolver is an experience to be remembered. Here, coffee is taken seriously. their menu offers a variety of coffee beans from around the world (including from my favourite roastery, The Barn) each cup is a work of art.
It’s a space where you want to linger for hours while you watch their baristas work their magic. Espresso rules just as much as the Chemex and Aeropress brews.
Exposed brick walls, high ceilings and a bar that faces Cambie st. makes this coffeeshop a place not to be missed.
Coffee is truly their passion. Specializing in beans from Nicaragua, Guatemala and Ethiopia, each cup gets meticulously brewed to perfection. They have a unique selection of pastries and cookies too. My favourites ? The dark chocolate, marshmallow and popcorn cookie and their hazelnut and chocolate croissant.
I met my friend @viranlly for a latte one evening before heading out to dinner, and I could have stayed there for a long time. It reminded me of The Fumbally in Dublin, where bread also gets baked on site and their menu speaks to my soul with soups, salads, vegetarian sandwiches and great coffee.
On their playlist? Feist, Bon Iver and Arcade fire. This cafe is an all around win.
First of all, this place is absolutely beautiful. White walls, high ceilings (yes I have a thing for them), contemporary furniture and gorgeous windows set the mood for some of the best vegetarian and vegan food in Canada.
We had huevos rancheros, eggs Benedict, and grapefruit mimosas. Their staff is genuinely friendly (come to think about it, everywhere I went had great costumer service)
They began serving tacos from a truck in the back of a surf shop in Torino B.C. Now they have a few locations in the city, including the one in Gastown, another one in Yaletown and a few taco trucks as well. This is definitely the place where you want to go if you’re craving Mexican food.
I ordered their fish taco and a tortilla soup that was as good as the ones I’ve had in Mexico City. Their cocktails, especially the Tequila and Mezcal based ones are the perfect match for your taco feast.
Chef Nico Schuerman, who worked at Cafe Gitane in Soho before moving to Canada, created a delectable menu for this Gastown favourite. Chambar has a strong ethics game when it comes to protecting our environment, being one of the few restaurants the country that is green and carbon neutral.
Their cocktail list won me over with a drink called The Alhambra ( spanish brandy, fig, pomegranate juice, angostura bitters and house ginger beer)
For diner, I had a seared tuna appetizer, plus mussels in a tomato and coconut cream sauce, spiced with smoked chilli, lime and cilantro. Add some frites with aioli, and a glass of New Zealand Sauv Blanc and you will be in heaven in no time. For dessert, don’t miss the lemon tart. Chambar wins all points for ambiance and decor. A piece of Europe in the city.
Vancouver and sushi go hand in hand. With access to some of of freshest fish in the country, kamei was the first Japanese restaurant to introduce the famous BC roll, and has a huge selection of sashimi, bento boxes, makis, as well as a variety of miso soups.
A special mention goes to their miso glazed Sea bass.
Upon hearing I was visiting Vancouver, my friend Kate recommended Purebread. This is where you can have your cake and eat it too. From morning favourites, such as almond croissants and scones, to ready for lunch baguette sandwiches and savoury turnovers, Purebread is one of a kind. Their cookies, pies and cakes are the cherry on the top in this Vancouver gem.
If I lived in Vancouver, I think I would be there weekly (my equivalent of Bar Raval)
The restaurant was built in the 19th century in what used to be the city’s meat packing district and the menu has French influences tied in with west coast flavour. This results in dishes that are unique and creative (try their roasted vegetable risotto, or their baked fillet of Pacific cod) hands down one of the city’s strongest restaurants.
Their cocktail list is an instant favourite with drinks like the avocado gimlet and earl grey martini. If you are craving a Moscow mule, this is the place to have it.
Super cozy bar, with an old school vibe, serving Asian influenced cuisine. Jazz music plays while you sip on one of the many cocktails on their menu. I had the Malibu, a mix of coconut infused gin, French vermouth, strawberry and salted aperol.
The views from Maple street square, right across from the bar, gives the Diamond one of the most charming views in Gastown.
Vancouver’s own general store comes from generations that share a love for well curated goods.
You can find unique housewares and pantry items such as Noble maple syrup( try the Tahitian vanilla one) small batch tonics (pick up the ginger one to make killer Moscow mules), candles, blankets as well as books on food and design.
The store it self is absolutely charming. The walls are lined with some of the most beautiful antique shelves I’ve seen.
It began in Vancouver and now has outposts in Sydney, Toronto,New York and Tokyo.
Its founders mission was to create a line of clothing for people who love being active, and could use their pieces from day to night without compromising style. Simple and well designed lines, meet comfort, style and functionality. You will want to live in their t shirts.
I hope this guide to Van city’s Gastown makes your trip a memorable one, and that you get to explore what this historic neighbourhood has to offer. I’ve always said that the best way to know a city is discovering it trough food.
Do you want to add some recs of your own ? Leave a comment below!