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Sep 27, 2009 09:11 AM

Seeking Recs for a Budget-Conscious "Guy's Weekend" in Vancouver

Hello Everybody:

I am a bit stumped. I am going on a trip to Vancouver with a group of guy friends who are decidedly not foodies (I need not worry about them reading that assessment on this board, if you catch my drift). The main focus of the trip will be catching up with friends in Vancouver and drinking beer.

The group with whom I will be traveling are VERY budget conscious. I.e. the 35 dollar tasting menu at DB Moderne, which I find to be the steal of the century, would not be an acceptable price point AT ALL for this crew. They are more of a "let's hit the pub" type of guys (and we're not talking about an Irish Heather kind of pub--too expensive!)

I would like to avoid eating total dreck all weekend. It may be unavoidable, as my friends may override any suggestions I make and as we are meeting other like-minded friends in Vancouver who could well steer us in a certain direction.

I do not expect any miracle recommendations, but if anyone can steer me in the direction of a decent pub or pub-style eatery in the downtown core of Vancouver (these are not the type of guys who would travel in the city for food, and we are staying downtown) that is less expensive than the Irish Heather but more palatable than, say, ferry food or Milestones, please let me know. Don't put too much thinking or work into your recs as my ideas may be quashed by group consensus (I am praying that the consensus is not for Milestones, Cactus Club, Subeez or the like).

I was thinking of the Alibi Room because of the great beer selection, but I am not sure that I can get them to wander that far from the downtown core for grub.

I was also thinking of trying to convince them to go to Japadog for lunch (that would be an acceptable budget range for the guys, I think, though they might complain that it is more expensive than the other, more conventional hot dog stands).

Also, any good coffee joints right downtown other than Caffe Artigiano? We have an Artigiano in Victoria now so I'd rather try something new and different. Last time I was in Vancouver it seemed that the other good coffee places were outside of the downtown core (i.e. no JJ Bean right downtown...closest is over toward the downtown east side).


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  1. Totally feel your pain, anewton. I just publicly swore off all "CFD" restos and sadly have social and work commitments that make it very difficult to stick to my guns (I've taken to eating beforehand and just ordering a drink or some edamame).

    The Alibi Room is a great idea for the price point and for you to eat non-dreadful food. It is such a fun atmosphere and it is near many of the best places to drink and mingle (if you catch my drift) in Vancouver which could be a selling point. It also has such an awesome selection of beer that should be a lure, unless they just want Heineken :-(.

    The other idea you could try is an izakaya. I defy anyone to have a rotten time at Guu with Garlic -- my dear old dad loves it. The price point could be a problem here I suppose... maybe Gyoza King...

    There are a couple of places that are pouring 49th Parallel downtown IIRC -- maybe do a search here, or I'll try to post later. Gotta head to Deacon's now :-).

    4 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      I was at the bar at Alibi the other night and a guy came up and ordered a Heineken. Bar staff were shocked, but handled it really well. Guy changed his order to something "light and cold" after expressing intense disbelief when the bartender said they don't even have Stella!

      I'd say try to bring your friends to Alibi. Pints run the same price as any bar in the Robson/Granville area if not cheaper and the food is pretty decent.

      Dix is a good rec for decent barbeque and beer.

      Tacos at La Taqueria are delicious and pretty cheap, but it might be a little out of the way.

      And as fmed said, Wicked is on Hornby at Smithe and will provide you with most excellent coffee without the super long lineups incurred at Artigiano (well at least the Hornby Artigiano). There's a JJ Bean in Yaletown too.

      1. re: peter.v

        Some may recall my ordering a vodka soda at the Alibi CH event. I apologized in advance of the order, but sometimes you just really need a strong cocktail, you know?

        1. re: sf toronto

          Nothing wrong with a strong cocktail at all! Had a few down at the Pourhouse tonight (which would be decidedly too fancy I think for anewton's crowd). The drinks were fantastic for anyone who is interested.

          1. re: peter.v

            True dat! The first time I went to the Alibi it was to celebrate a friend's birthday and all we ordered to drink was cocktails -- they have some interesting ones...

    2. Another quick thought -- check the CAMRA website for pubs/restos that are affiliated or recommended.

      1. If they are beer lovers, I think you could convince them to go the the isn't that far from the downtown core.

        If they aren't scared off by a French name: Check out La Brasserie: They have good beer, burgers and French brasserie food. (I haven't been there yet, but a lot of people I know like it a lot). You'll pay a just bit more than at Milestones, et al. (Milestones, et al. are not really that inexpensive.


        How about the manly sounding Hamilon Street Grill in Yaletown. They have a great house-ground burger and have decent a winelist.

        You can also get conventional dogs at JapaDog for about the same price as all the other carts. (between $3-$4.50) there should be no problem convincing them, I think.

        Wicked Cafe is right downtown for coffee that is at least as good as Artigiano.

        1. Joe Fortes has happy hour every day at the bar. They also have great blue plate lunch specials $9.95 & prix fixe lunch with 2 courses for $13.95 but that's only Mon - Fri. Anyway, here's the happy hour menu:

          Available 4:00pm - 6:00pm everyday at the bar
          Smoked Salmon - capers, onions, cream cheese 4.95
          Tempura Prawns - togarashi mayo 3.95
          Joe's Onion Rings - blue cheese dip 3.95
          Fried Oysters - tartar sauce 3.95
          Jumbo Tiger Prawn Cocktail - fresh horseradish seafood sauce 4.95
          Choose a platter of three for 11.00

          1. Hmm, if you're going to end up drinking beer in pubs, you might as well find ones with decent food. Near B.C. Place, try Dix for some barbeque. It's pretty decent quality and they have a decent selection of beers.

            There is a place on Granville just south of Davie called G Sports, which has very cheap beer and is more of a sports bar. Great place to catch a hockey game or UFC if you're into that kind of thing. They have a decent lamb burger. If you're in a spendy mood and are looking for something a little more highbrow and some eye candy, pop over next door to Red Square where they have a large selection of vodkas. Drink some martinis and try some of the food over there. Red Square has more of a tapas style menu and it's pretty tasty stuff, but not particularly cheap.

            Other than that, there are several threads on this site with various restaurants getting decent reviews. I have yet to try all of them and I live here. Don Guacamole's is pretty decent - grab a spot at the bar and watch the chefs do their thing.

            15 Replies
            1. re: Kravdraa

              Thank you for all of the wonderful recommendations. This really helps. I have already sent links to my "posse."

              Any recs for pubs or bars with tons of character? The guys with whom I will be traveling are more in the "starving artist" mode and love unusual places with unusual patrons. I.e. the old Marine Club was a perennial favourite for drinks among this crew. (I wouldn't put it past them to drag me to the Ivanhoe for beers at some point during the weekend).

              Short of venues that are scary and beyond-the-pale unhygienic, I am interested in any "off the beaten path" type of places in downtown Van that offer libations and wallet-friendly snacks for the modern bohemian.

              1. re: anewton

                The Narrow Lounge at Main and 3rd fit that bill. On Commercial Dr are a couple: the Libra Room, Falconetti's and the Portugese Club of Vancouver (which has a similar vibe to me to the old Marine Club). I haven't been to the Railway Club in a million is still around. Brickhouse on Main St is also very interesting.

                It sure sounds like your posse and I are the of same vintage since you mention the Marine Club LOL. Here's something that might draw them into the Alibi - tell them it used to be the Archimedes...remember that place? That was even more "underground" than the Marine Club...instead of postal workers, you had taxi drivers hanging out drinking beer (along with the hipster Luv-a-Fair crowd of course).

                1. re: fmed

                  If you do make it to the Alibi, then walk on over to the Diamond for some craft cocktails.

                  And a shout out to the Biltmore!

                  1. re: fmed

                    yikes, when did patrons of Luv-a-Fair become hipsters? I'd think they / we of Luv-a-Fair and Graceland were more like goths or emo.

                    Second the Brickhouse and the Biltmore.

                    1. re: el_lobo_solo

                      LOL. Sorry I was being generic with the term. I don't think that word was even invented yet. I was one of these luv-a-fair denizen. The word "emo" was certainly not yet in use during my tenure in the black and pointy.

                      1. re: fmed

                        Ah the LA years -- bet neither fmed nor lobo danced on the speakers though :-) but mushroom burgers at Fresgo Inn after... oh yeah.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          Hah! Slamdancing on the dancefloor at the Luv a Fair was a bi-weekly thing for us. We didn't call it a "mosh pit" then either. I may have danced on the speakers...I don't really was all a blur (too many 99 cent highballs).

                          And let's not forget Did's Pizza!

                          1. re: fmed

                            Weekdays only, of course :-).

                            Remember those weird little blobs of dough they used to keep the box from sticking to the cheese -- ACK.

                            1. re: grayelf

                              Like fmed, I was also in black with pointy Fluevogs. And that one and only time I danced on the speakers lends itself to lots of embellishment.

                              1. re: el_lobo_solo

                                You guys are killing me with the LA/Graceland references. Now you've got me thinking about the chocolate/strawberry milkshakes that I used to have a doll n penny's post clubkid nights... mmm and they were served in the tin no less.

                    2. re: fmed

                      I totally second Falconetti's. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Ivanhoe, or with the Cobalt for that matter! A dive, is a dive, is a dive. If the weather is nice, you could saddle up to an outside table at the Cambie for some nachos and a pitcher. I used to frequent it around the same time as I was hopping b/w LA and Graceland, but if you go during the day, you should be able to avoid the nightmare evening-type clientele.
                      Alibi room is quality... Wise Hall and a couple of the legions might also be a good bet... although not for food.

                      1. re: sf toronto

                        Good point about the legions. Drank some beers with friends at the Ex-servicemen's bar on Main and 22nd a few weeks ago. Incredibly cheap beers, shuffleboard and good times. No food if I recall though, just bags of chips!

                        1. re: sf toronto

                          Oooohhhhh...the Cambie....some fond and not so fond memories...practically an institution at this point. Definitely on the cheap drinks side, not so sure about food anymore. Haven't been there in years, thankfully?!?!?!.

                          1. re: bdachow

                            the thing about the cambie is that for the most part by the time the food is being consumed you are in a state that anything would taste great

                            1. re: vandan

                              Sooooo's amazing how everything and anything tastes great at that point.