Vancouver has been commonly compared to San Francisco. The fresh air, the landscape, the overall feeling, the culture. My most recent trip didn’t feel much like SF, but I’m biased and will never think any city is as wonderful as the city by the Bay. However, it’s definitely worth visiting and spending some time. I wish I had read a mini guide, or had a local show me around (eh hem thanks, Rob). So hopefully this short list will help you spend your time wisely. Keep in mind, this is just a mini guide, more so, it’s just a list of what I did while in Vancouver (I like to call that a guide). A guide for 2 days in the city, filled with eating, shopping, drinking and walking. Indulge and enjoy.
You can do a lot in the main areas: Yaletown, Gastown, Chinatown and Robson, which we very quickly found out are all within walking distance. So getting into a cab to go 2 blocks is really stupid.
Blood Alley, supposedly called so because they used to murder/strangulate people here, is a short alley in Gastown where you’ll find a really cool restaurant called SALT. The wait is long, but the wine and cheese selection is great. You also might partake in the luxury of sitting by the window where crazy street people bang on the glass while you’re trying to eat. It’s all part of the experience.
Also in Blood Alley, behind a huge stack of garbage bags, was a store called Haven. What a cool, secret find. Head Porter, CP Company, Acronym, Bedwin, Maiden Noir, and a bunch of other Japan exclusive brands. They had the $1100 Acronym jacket that I’ve never actually seen in person.
Down the street was Inventory, the magazine turned retail shop. Didn’t get a chance to peep that but you should.
Not but a block away is another restaurant with AMAZING drinks and small plates, called The Diamond. It’s totally hidden, so don’t miss it. Eat and drink here before you go out. The pork belly sub sandwich, the gyoza, the beet salad and the cucumber drink were my favorites.
Still in Gastown is Roden Grey. A great men’s store with W+H, Gitman, CdG, etc. Across the street was a new store that just opened called Union (*something something). OMG. We need this shop in SF. Woodsy housewares and curious finds, all nicely packed together in a big open space with a resident bulldog. Bulldog? I don’t know, some sort of cute dog. We bought candles and tree bark. I want to desperately go back, and since I can’t remember the name of the shop, I can’t find the website and I also can’t find the address. Hmph.
More drinks? Stop at Pourhouse on Water St. This place has live music (unassuming Asians that sing and play keyboard) and a nice, easy way about it. Booths and bottles of wine, my kinda place. Then off to Keefer Bar in Chinatown. Strange Asian-inspired drinks in a cool dark space. Chinatown was like many other Chinatowns in big cities, a place for up and coming lounges. We also saw Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson there. They live above this bar, for you Owen/Woody stalkers…
Late morning breakfast is a MUST at Medina Cafe in Yaletown. The wait was super long but the food was worth it. Small Belgium waffles with caramel raspberry sauce. Order lots of mimosas because the food takes forever. But everyone seems to wait patiently, including us.
Go see a show at the Malkin Bowl, an outdoor concert venue in Stanley Park. The park is beautiful, the venue is OK, but there’s no booze allowed by the stage area. Watching a concert while eating popcorn and drinking a Chai latte is somehow not the same. But still good. You should do it.
And finally, go to GUU afterhours for terrible sake and really good Japanese small plates.
Vancouver is awesome, eh.