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Nov 13, 2008 10:48 AM

Vancouver Bars

Hello Chowhounds, I'm a Scandinavian journalist writing an article on cool and unique bars (and restaurants) in Vancouver and Whistler and would greatly appreciate any tips, advice or suggestions! Thanks!

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    1. On bars - To start, I'd urge you to look at our izakaya scene (Japanese tapas bars). Also look at the following areas: Gastown (Cobre, Chill WInston, The Irish Heather, Shebeen, Chambar, etc); Yaletown (George, Yaletown Brewpub, etc), the drunken mayhem of Granville St (too many to list), Main St (the Cascade Lounge, Pings, etc.) and Commercial Dr (Stella's, etc)

      Whistler is really just one big bar/restaurant...Bearfoot Bistro is the centre of debauchery at a certain time of the year (...Cornucopia...Google "Whistler Masquerave").

      On restaurants - the question is too open...perhaps do a quick scan back on this board for some hints and get back with more specifics.

      5 Replies
      1. re: fmed

        after moving across the street and becoming vancouver slick, the irish heather is not so fabulous.

        my vote is for chambar.

        agreed on izakayas. see chow's story. kingyo, hapa, guu, etc. (kingyo is my fave.)

        1. re: sophie.

          Agreed. For unique you should avoid Chill Winston, (the new version of) Irish Heather, and Stella's. For Yaletown Section 3 is the OK, but most everything is bad IMO. Vancouver's izakaya scene is unique for Canada I think and very fun. I like Guu on Thurlow. Chambar is more of a restaurant but has great drinks and great food. One area I forgot to bring up that is pretty unique to Vancouver due to the fairly crazy licensing regulations are all the unlicensed places. That would be a good story. Find some kids and ask them to take you to the Sweatshop or the Emergency room. There is also an unlicensed jazz club that is supposed to be quite good. I can get you details if you would like. What places did you end up checking out Jennie?

          1. re: Mawson Plan

            i'm interested in that jazz club....

            1. re: Mawson Plan

              There are quite a few, "unlicensed" places: Goragam (I know that name is wrong and I always forget the name. Right on Robson and Grandville) and The World on Grandville,

              I like Honey, but nothing original about it.

              1. re: Mawson Plan

                The unlicensed angle sounds perfect, will definitely check that out! Would also be great if you could pass on those details for the jazz club, thanks so much! (Am going to Vancouver on Friday)

          2. For local beers, Alibi in Gastown is sweet. I'd add in Six Acres too for a big beer and decent whisky/whiskey selection as well as atmosphere. I've never been, but the Brickhouse in Chinatown is supposed to be interesting. Other than that, there are a ton of cool and unique bars in Vancouver.

            14 Replies
            1. re: peter.v

              pretty sure the Brickhouse is looooong gone

              1. re: vandan

                Haha, okay. No wonder why I could never find it on casual jaunts down Main. Thanks! But wait... you sure? I found a review dated to just a few weeks ago. Could be a recycled internet review but... who knows. Anyone know?

                1. re: peter.v

                  Just gave the Brickhouse a call and their message says open 358 days a year at 730 Main Street (604) 689 8645

                  1. re: peter.v

                    i'm pretty darned sure it be toast

                    1. re: vandan

                      I think they still order kegs from R&B brewing, It's next to that Radha Yoga place. And if it's later in the evening you can only get in the back way... course I haven't been for while so I could be wrong.

                      1. re: starlady

                        The Brickhouse is for sure open and is one of the best and most unique bars in Vancouver. Some nights you have to go to the back door to get in. They usually have a sign out front on those nights. The bar under the Wise Hall is amazing and weird. Six Acres, the Cambie, the Railway and the Narrow Lounge are all great. They make very good drinks at Cascade. I own the Biltmore and I think it is a good place for live music. There are some uniquely sketchy dive bars in Vancouver- Cobalt and Ivanhoe are two good ones and go anywhere on Hastings for the really scary places.

                        1. re: Mawson Plan

                          "go anywhere on Hastings for the really scary places."

                          We used to frequent the Waldorf many moons ago and it was great. Anyone been lately?

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Not since the height of the "Lounge" scene over a decade ago. (A very good friend used to organize those - lots of fun dressing up).

                            Good list too Mawson...some classic dives there. If I was still at university, those would be on my list (along with the now departed Marine Club and Archimedes).

                            1. re: fmed

                              i stand corrected, funny as i NEVER EVER hear anything about the place these days

                              1. re: vandan

                                I thought it was closed much construction at that spot.

                                1. re: vandan

                                  I'm pretty sure there was a lot of writing about the Brickhouse in the recent 'best of' in the Straight. It was called the best place to spot 'hipsters'. On Saturday especially it is full of the East Van music set. The Waldorf does a salsa night still, but is not a very good bar IMO. The basement still has an amazing and huge tiki bar set up but they only do private parties there. The smaller upstairs tiki room is also pretty cool but not always open. I'm going to have to check out the Greedy Pig.

                            2. re: Mawson Plan

                              I beg to differ re: "go anywhere on Hastings for the really scary places". Pat's Pub on the 400 block of E Hastings is great!

                              It's probably one of the only places downtown where you can get a sleeve of micro brew for 2.50 and one of the few remaining commercial charcoal grills in the city. The hotel and pub have a longstanding history in the Vancouver music scene, dating back to the jazz days of the 30's.

                              Great live music scene at Pat's too, I went last New Year's Eve and they had 4 bands for 10.00 - great time too!


                              1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

                                pats pub is an oasis in a farkin dessert, love the place

                                1. re: eastcoastgirl_westcoastlife

                                  Sorry- I didn't mean to suggest that they were all sketchy on Hastings, just that if you want to see some uniquely scary bars (that you basically wouldn't find so many of anywhere else on the continent) then there are a bunch on Hastings. There are some good places in there too though I'm sure.

                    2. I would add to the Gastown list the Greedy Pig, which had become our office watering hole. Cozy little spot in a heritage building and amazing charcuterie selection, also a great place for carnivores (Smoked hammock pot pie, Marrow and toast, Braised short rib hoagie). Extensive whiskey and wine list, and friendly service.


                      1. Some that haven't been mentioned:

                        - Hoko Sushi Karaoke on Powell: Frequented by East Side Hipsters in skinny jeans and Asian (wannabe?) Gangsters in cheesy suits. 3 dollar beers served by owners 8 year old son, mess hall tables, worst karaoke machine of all time, and cafeteria style Japanese food until close.

                        - Royal Unicorn Cabaret on Pender and Main: cans of Pacific Pilsner (2 or 3 dollars, depending on night), skinny jeans and big hair, local DJ's (usually a little rough). Haven't been in a while, but last time they also had free pizza when you got there and gave you a piece of cake on the way out.

                        As far as, "nice places"... just do a search on the board. There are tons of great local restaurants, "lounges", etc. Gastown is my favourite: Boneta, Salt, Cobre, Greedy Pig, Cambie, Modern.

                        How about that new place in yaletown called RawCanvas? Anybody been?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Cancuk

                          Keep in mind that a lot of these 'nice' places are actually restaurants. Vancouver is interesting in that (due to a bizarre shortage of liquor primary licenses) lots of people go to restaurants to go out for drinks.