Katrina Stock, an encaustic artist, potter and blogger, along with her coffee roaster husband, Andrew Stock, fell in love with Vancouver 10 years ago. For a couple that loves to discover quirky neighborhoods, have food adventures and go biking, this was the perfect city. Recently they packed their bags and headed to Winnipeg, a city in central Canada. As an ode to their great love, they have collected their favorite places to go in some of their most loved neighborhoods. They can’t wait for you to discover the beautiful and diverse city that is Vancouver. –Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump…
Photos by Andrew Stock
Be sure to check out the Google Map with all of the below listings!
One of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, this area is filled with cobblestone streets, beautiful brick buildings and plenty of character. Nestled between one of North America’s largest Chinatowns and Gastown is the Downtown Eastside where people who are survivors have built together a vibrant community. There are many contrasts in this small area, don’t be intimidated, for in this block you will find amazing art, social enterprises, people and community. Every area has something wonderful to discover.
Serving fresh and modern Lebanese cuisine, Nuba, is a local favourite. Do your tastebuds a favour and share la feast with a friend. Their lunches are also divine, especially their falafel wraps. In addition, prepare to swoon over their tiles and overall sense of design.
Nestled off of East Hastings, East Van Roasters is a “bean-to-bar” chocolate and coffee roaster with heart. They sell delicious organic drinking chocolate and coffees, hand rolled truffles and single-origin chocolate bars, oh my! It is also an amazing social enterprise employing some of the most courageous women around.
Kobob Burger will surprise your tastebuds. Perhaps you aren’t sure of Korean flavoured rice “burgers,” but just trust us and get the Bulgogi with kimchi. The kimchi is a must. It’s messy, but so, so good.
When in Chinatown it is really important to go New Town Bakery and to order a coconut bun. It will blow your mind. Then go for a little walk to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen park and watch the koi fish swim. It is close to Nirvana.
After you have a coconut bun you might be thirsty, so walk a couple blogs to Bubble King Tea House. Their lychee green tea with pearls is a summer staple.
I adore the wallpaper at the sweet French bakery called Cadeaux. It also turns out that their desserts are terrific and they can make a mean London Fog.
The vintage patina in Finch’s Tea and Coffee House and Finch’s Market melts my heart, but their sandwiches made on fresh baguettes are something to write home about. They go all out with their avocado!
Speaking of great design, Bao Bei is a well-thought-out treasure, in the heart of Chinatown. Featuring small dishes inspired by Taiwan, Shanghai and Schezuan, each dish is created to be shared. A must try is their pickles and I really loved the chewy texture of their sticky rice cake. P.S. This place has the best designed bathrooms around.
For breakfast head over to Yolks. They started with a fantastic food truck and now bring their eggy goodness to a storefront on the edge of Strathcona.
If you are a wine lover, stroll over to the Vancouver Urban Winery. Located in the historic heart of Vancouver’s Railtown this winery features a tasting bar where you can learn about British Columbia wines as well as chow down on delicious food. This is a beautiful and grand space, a perfect date night.
The Alibi Room is a local favourite and features 50 taps of local and imported craft beer. Their fries and homemade ketchup are superb.
If flavours like thai basil, galangal, lychee, calamansi and lime leaf make your heart pitter-patter, then you should get a cocktail at The Union. Their Banga’s are super fun.
Old Faithful Shop is a design lover’s paradise, filled with heirloom quality goods for simple, everyday living. Stop here to pick up the latest edition of Kinfolk as well as some pickles or Mast Brothers chocolate!
Every time I walk into Community Thrift and Vintage I find a new pair of amazing leather sandals or shoes. Did I mention it’s a great social enterprise, too?
InterUrban Gallery/ The Window features local artists. Go here for all your gifts and card needs. Oh, and it’s another awesome social enterprise!
A well loved park by locals is Crab Park. It is a hidden gem along the harbour and the perfect place to watch fireworks on Canada Day or to share a picnic.
Step out of the city and into a tranquil traditional Chinese garden at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen park. Surrounded by a bamboo forest, relax as you watch Koi fish and turtles in the pond.
What better way to end the day than by watching an amazing show at Firehall Arts Centre?
In between Strathcona and Commerical Drive is Hotel at the Waldorf. This hotel features unique and affordable rooms and an infamous Tikki Bar dating back to the 1940s.
Mt. Pleasant/ Main Street Neighbourhood
This neighbourhood is a creative’s dream. There is so much to look at and so many new ideas to gain. A perfect way to spend an afternoon is leisurely meandering up Main Street.
Burgoo is rugged, vintage and charming all at the same time. Their burgoo biscuit feels like a hug. I also think that they make an amazing Caesar, which is on special on Sundays. Come to Burgoo for all your comfort food needs.
The Foundation is the place to go for a tasty vegetarian stir fry. In addition, their casual vibe, well loved nachos and funky retro chairs are pretty great, too.
A sunny triangle-shaped shop with a view of the mountains, Gene Cafe is a great place to read the paper. Also they somehow managed to capture the taste of a Polish pillow. Not coffee, not tea – just a good ole Polish pillow. Confused? That’s okay, just go with it.
Handmade Maple Bacon Fritter. What more can be said? Lucky’s Donuts, attached to 49th Parallel is worth stopping at.
Finish off your Main Street day with a treat and some dessert wine at Sweet Revenge Patisserie. P.S. they make a mean Tiramisu.
Forty Ninth Parallel, is another great, local coffee roaster in the city. They make some of the best espresso with milk drinks and they host public cuppings tuesdays at 1 pm.
Brassneck Brewery is a little neighbourhood brewery with a growler shop and a tasting room. They serve fantastic beer and the occasional sausage.
The Regional Assembly of Text creates some of the best cards and stationery around. They are so clever and charming and daft! You can also make buttons here and read little zines in their little reading nook. Warning: You might want to stay forever.
Vancouver Special is a great place to nerd out on design books and beautiful items and furniture.
Urban Source is full of random stuff to make things with. Where else can you find pages of Braille, maps, leather scraps and old type writer keys?!
If you are looking for a fantastic party dress then look no further than Front and Company. This is a more high-end consignment store, but it is packed full of great finds. Their front window displays are the best!
C’est La Vie & Bohemia Gallery Inc are two quirky thrift stores located side by side. You can find cute retro gems at both of these places. They’re no small-town thrift store, but you will find fantasic 1960s cocktails dresses at both!
Nineteen Ten is a newer home boutique filled with little treasures that are majorly covetable. Their pottery and cement collections are lovely.
Grunt Gallery features exciting installation art and fascinating emerging artists. Go here and be inspired.
After dessert and beer it is time to go dancing or to a concert. Luckily The Biltmore Cabaret puts on both. Check out their schedule to find out when Soul Night or Ice Cream Social is happening and dust off your dancing shoes to groove to some sweet soul tunes.
Located in “East Van” and formerly a largely Italian neighbourhood, this area is one of the cities most colourful and diverse, filled with character homes, artist studios and some of the best ethnic cuisine in the city. “The Drive” is conveniently one of the stops along the sky train and is the perfect place to go for dinner.
If you would like to feel like a long lost relative or a rock star then Ginger Sushi, a super cute family-run restaurant, is the place for you. The owners are so wonderful and the sushi is great. Try their rainbow and the crunchy hot date rolls. Oh, baby! If you go there more than once they will remember you, welcome you and treat you like an adopted family member.
This place has the best brunches. Bandidas Taqueria‘s food is fresh, vegetarian and packed full of flavour with a Mexican twist. Try “the breakfast” which comes with hot-from-the-oven corn bread and honey butter. Yum.
What other cuisine brings people together like Ethiopian food? Sitting in a circle around fresh injerna topped with exquisitely spiced dishes is a memory worth making at Harambe.
Cafe Kathmandu serves authentic Nepali food. The owner is so charming and their chai will warm you from the inside out.
If you are craving a good ole slice of greasy pizza then you need to check out Uncle Fatih’s. Their potato and beef and blue cheese pizzas are what cravings were made for.
If you would like a more romantic, authentic, date-worthy pizza, then walk over to the local favourite Via Tevere Pizzeria. Owned by a family with deep family roots in Naples, this is the place to go to for a true Neapolitan experience.
In between The Drive and Strathcona there is a pink shop with 218 flavours of gelato. At La Casa Gelato you can try endless samples and you should. Definitely dare your friends to try flavours like garlic, curry, red wine or durian. Personal favourites are pumpkin pie and ice cream cake. Find your favourite!
JJ Bean Coffee Roasters is a Vancouver staple. Born and raised in East Vancouver, JJ Bean has fostered the coffee community of Vancouver. If you prefer a more traditional roast, go here.
Prado Cafe is an open and bright little coffee shop serving locally roasted coffee.
Fantastic drinks, tasty tacos and gorgeous tiles can be found at La Mezcaleria. Do try their spiked horchata and a shot of mezcal.
Biercraft Tap and Tapas has a great selection of Belgian and craft beers as well as a lively atmosphere.
The Barefoot Contessa has the cutest dresses and accessories around town. They also feature local jewelry designers.
Mintage is a thrift store wonderland.
South China Seas Trading Co. also has a location at Granville Island Public Market, but this location hidden along Victoria Drive, beside a beloved park, is very quaint and dear. Come here for speciality herbs, spices, cookbooks and cooking classes. If you are a culinary nerd, this is a must!
During the summer months, go to the Trout Lake Farmers Market and try a crepe at Creperie La Boheme. It will blow your mind.
Walk north along Commerical Drive up to Trout Lake. This park is a local treasure and just the place to enjoy a coffee, a moment of quiet and some fresh air.
Check out what’s going on at The Cultch, a cultural centre for performing arts. You won’t be disappointed.
Tucked in the heritage home-lined streets is a charming bed and breakfast called Bee and Thistle.
This the new “cool” kid on the block. It has really quaint shops and some tasty eats. Plus, it’s just a short walk from main street.
Earnest Ice Cream: Do you want to try the best handmade ice cream of your life? If yes, go here and order their toasted hazelnut and whiskey ice cream. It is life changing.
Looking for a restaurant that serves not only gluten-free, but also vegetarian cuisine without compromising on flavour? Try Graze. Their breakfasts are divine and so is their antipasti board.
This is Matchstick Coffee Roaster‘s original location. Did I mention that their spelt berry scones are delicious?
Not only is this place a Twin Peaks themed bar, but they also feature “Cheesy” as in Cheetos-coated deep fried pickles. You need to give these babies a chance. The Black Lodge could alter your cravings forever.
If you have kids in your life or are a creative type, then you need to stop by the innovative Collage Collage. You will leave inspired.
Spool of Thread features such well designed fabrics that it will be hard not to buy the whole store. They also have a sewing lounge where they offer classes.
Surrounded by beaches, Vancouver’s downtown has a lot to offer. Bike around Stanley Park in the morning, grab a Japa Dog or sushi for lunch and spend the afternoon browsing shops along Robson and gazing at art at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
You can’t go wrong with seaweed, Japanese mayo infused with wasabi and a hot dog. Japa Dog is the best.
A minute’s walk from English Bay, Tanpopo Sushi makes some of the best all-you-can-eat sushi. Do try their salmon sashimi.
Super creative Japanese fusion food is Guu. It will be hard to stop ordering.
What can warm the soul quite like a well executed bowl of Ramen? Try Santouka on Robson.
For breakfast go to Cafe Medina, a longtime favourite of Vancouverites. Their new location features beautiful high ceilings and plenty of character.
Another shout-out for all you design lovers is Design House. You will most likely swoon over their lights.
David Lam Park, also located along the sea wall, is a great place to breathe in the fresh ocean air.
Occupying a city block, Vancouver’s Public Library is a beautiful building inspired the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome (Colosseum). Six floors of books, it is a book lover’s dream.
The Vancouver Art Gallery – located along Robson in the old courthouse – is a wonderful place. It features a diverse mix of contemporary and historic exhibitions highlighting artists from around the world, Canada and British Columbia, such as Emily Carr.
If you visit the city in the winter, head to the skating rink located under Robson Square beside the Vancouver Art Gallery. It is magical.
The Burrard is a retro-chic hotel that first opened in 1956. Newly renovated with modern design touches, this is one cool place to lay your head.
Located along English Bay, Hotel Slyvia, which was built in 1912, is filled with old-school character. The ivy crawling up the side of the hotel doesn’t hurt in the charm department, either.
Granville Island/ West Side
Granville Island is a peninsula located across False Creek under the south end of the Granville Street Bridge. The peninsula, once an industrial manufacturing area, has been transformed into a hotspot for arts and entertainment. To get there, bike along the seawall or it is equally fun to take an Aquabus from downtown. Keep walking up Granville Street to Broadway and you will find some wonderful treasures. Continue west along 4th and you will hit more spectacular beaches.
Are you ready to have your life changed? Once you try the best chai ever, it will be hard to go back. Granville Island Tea Company (public market) puts a little magic into each cup of chai. Be brave and try it with extra fresh ginger and cayenne.
Seafood City (public market) makes some pretty fabulous maple smoked salmon nuggets. A perfect snack.
The green olive fouggasse is a ladder to food heaven and it lives at Terra Breads (public market).
Vij’s is world famous for its innovative take on Indian cuisine. Make sure to arrive early by 5 pm, so that you get a spot. The lamb popsicles with creamy curry were a revelation. Rangoli is Vij’s less expensive cousin, however also owned by Vij, it is truly a delight.
You do not need to be a vegetarian to appreciate the amazing food at Heirloom. They also make a memorable brunch.
Kitstaya Sushi, is well loved by the locals and never disappointing. Have a true Vancouver experience and take it to-go for a picnic at the beach.
If you are looking for an experience, then The Afghan Horsemen is a great place to start. Be transported by the amazing smells and atmosphere!
Sargam House on Broadway features lovely south Indian dishes. Their dosas are sculptural and delicious!
Elysian Coffee has gotten better and better over the years. Go there for their clover-brewed coffee!
Maiwa (net loft) is packed full of handmade beauty from India. Here you will discover hand-carved wood block prints, Kantha blankets and Sibella Court books. Be inspired.
Check out Paper-Ya‘s (net loft) great paper selection, stamps, cards and washi tape.
Opus is old faithful in the local arts community. This is where all the artist go for their goods.
If you have kids, make their day and take them to the always crazy and fun Kids Market.
Handmade, local and stunning ceramics fill the Gallery of BC Ceramics. Pick a favourite mug on their mug wall.
Rent a kayak at Eco Marine and kayak around False Creek. If you are lucky you might spot a seal!
The key to the Public Market is to just walk and around and sample, sample, sample. Watch bagels being made by hand. Order a pastry. Browse local artisan stalls and live the dream.
Definitely ride the Aquabus from downtown to Granville Island.
Stop by the Charles H. Scott Gallery, located within Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
On a hot day, take your kids to the always fun Granville Island Water Park.
Go beach-hopping and stop at Kitslano, Jericho and Spanish Banks. Jericho and Spanish Banks are much quieter then their more popular cousins and are a fabulous place to go for a peaceful walk at sunset.
What could be better than sleeping at Granville Island? You could grab a chai first thing in the morning and breathe in the fresh ocean air. Simply divine. The Granville Island Hotel is a boutique hotel worth treating yourself to.
Notable Locals from and in Vancouver are:
Dan Mangan, musician
We Are The City, band
Mother Mother, band
Hey Ocean!, band
Said the Whale, band
Teen Daze, musician
Seth Rogen, actor, writer and comedian
Ryan Reynolds, actor
David Suzuki, environmentalist, scientist, broadcaster
Matthew Good, musician