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

a
anewton Sep 27, 2009 09:11 AM

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).

Thanks.

  1. s
    sf toronto Sep 29, 2009 11:23 AM

    If the boys' hipster vibe overrides their cactus club tastes, I thought of two other spots that might strike their fancy: Six Acres (ground level, right across from the Diamond) and Hoko's (for cheap sushi and karaoke).

    2 Replies
    1. re: sf toronto
      Cancuk Sep 30, 2009 12:09 PM

      Hoko's is freaking awesome. Be forewarned, the Karaoke ends at midnight, but the bar stays open until 1 or 2. You are also not allowed to dance.

      Liquor laws, I presume.

      1. re: Cancuk
        grayelf Sep 30, 2009 04:19 PM

        Back to the OP's question about coffee bars: how about Uva by Day on Seymour? They are pouring 49th Parallel and it is a nice setting.

        For a quicker 49th picker upper, there is an art gallery at the corner of Homer and Smithe called Harrison that has a little cafe inside.

    2. Sam Salmon Sep 29, 2009 10:57 AM

      "And there's absolutely nothing wrong....with the Cobalt"

      The Cobalt closes forever Wed September 30th.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Salmon
        s
        sf toronto Sep 29, 2009 11:12 AM

        WHAT?! My childhood is being stripped away from me venue by venue. I think I remember hearing about this ages ago and was too depressed to let it register. I think I have to go for a beer tonight or tomorrow (are they still open tomorrow?) to pay my respects. I still reel over the Town Pump closing... a venue that I used to sneak into many MANY years ago. Cobal... RIP.

        1. re: sf toronto
          grayelf Sep 29, 2009 04:06 PM

          Long moment of silence. And I hear you about the Town Pump, sf. So many good times (none of them remotely food related) there...

      2. s
        sf toronto Sep 29, 2009 10:56 AM

        2 more options if the boys' hipster consciousness beats out the budget: Hoko's for cheap sushi, alcohol and karaoke; and Six Acres (stones throw from The Diamond) for huge beer selection, shared plates (nothing mind blowing) and an artiste scene...

        1. h
          hsk Sep 27, 2009 09:33 PM

          I'm not a local but last time I was in Vancouver we went to Steamworks in Gastown, it was pretty good and quite cheap.

          1. Cancuk Sep 27, 2009 07:48 PM

            Railway Club is still around. It can be fun.

            Fwiw, Cactus Club isn't cheap whatsoever ($18 burgers). I like the rec' of Hamilton Street Grill. Good beer on tap too (R&B represent).

            Alibi Room is the Gold standard for beer in Vancouver. Try and go there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Cancuk
              grayelf Sep 27, 2009 07:59 PM

              The thing I like about the Alibi is you can make a full evening of it if you are so inclined... though next time we go I'm planning to head to the Diamond for cocktails later in the evening as fmed suggested :-).

            2. k
              Kravdraa Sep 27, 2009 10:06 AM

              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
                a
                anewton Sep 27, 2009 11:28 AM

                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
                  fmed Sep 27, 2009 11:35 AM

                  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 years....it 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
                    fmed Sep 27, 2009 01:26 PM

                    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
                      el_lobo_solo Sep 27, 2009 02:29 PM

                      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
                        fmed Sep 27, 2009 02:37 PM

                        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
                          grayelf Sep 27, 2009 07:56 PM

                          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
                            fmed Sep 27, 2009 08:06 PM

                            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 know...it was all a blur (too many 99 cent highballs).

                            And let's not forget Did's Pizza!

                            1. re: fmed
                              grayelf Sep 27, 2009 10:52 PM

                              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
                                el_lobo_solo Sep 27, 2009 11:12 PM

                                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
                                  s
                                  sf toronto Sep 29, 2009 12:15 AM

                                  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
                        s
                        sf toronto Sep 29, 2009 12:27 AM

                        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
                          peter.v Sep 29, 2009 12:33 AM

                          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
                            b
                            bdachow Sep 29, 2009 10:24 AM

                            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
                              v
                              vandan Sep 29, 2009 10:33 AM

                              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
                                b
                                bdachow Sep 30, 2009 07:03 AM

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

                    2. c
                      ck1234 Sep 27, 2009 09:43 AM

                      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. fmed Sep 27, 2009 09:32 AM

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

                        If they aren't scared off by a French name: Check out La Brasserie: http://www.labrasserievancouver.com/dinner-menu.html 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. http://www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com/ 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)...so 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. grayelf Sep 27, 2009 09:32 AM

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

                          1. grayelf Sep 27, 2009 09:28 AM

                            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
                              peter.v Sep 27, 2009 11:11 AM

                              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
                                s
                                sf toronto Sep 29, 2009 12:10 AM

                                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
                                  peter.v Sep 29, 2009 12:31 AM

                                  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
                                    grayelf Sep 29, 2009 04:04 PM

                                    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...

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