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Jul 2, 2012 03:31 PM

8 Night Stay in Vancouver on a Budget

I'm staying near Sunset Beach in late October with my best friend - both leaving hubbies and kids behind, and ready for a week of freedom! We're staying 8 nights, and, aside from a night at The Old Spaghetti Factory (I know, it's generic, but she loved it last time), we are open to suggestions for dinners each night. We're on a relatively modest budget, but, seeing as it will be her 41st birthday while we're there, and we'll have at least one night when I can totally splurge on her as her gift, I'm open to most things. Our first night, though, will be held over to Hell Pizza on Davie, seeing as friends have given a great rating. She also loved the wraps at Cafe Villaggio on Coal Harbour, so we'll be going there at least once. Also, she's blind, so easy accessibility - or at least understanding staff - is a must.

So... we're looking for 6 dinners, and probably a few lunches, on a modest budget. We're willing to try food carts, but only if there's somewhere nearby that we can sit, so that her white cane's not poking everywhere!

I LOVE sushi, but she can't stand fish, so is there anywhere that combines other things with great (or even passable) sushi? I wish I could remember the name of the place I was taken to in Kits in 2007 - it's kinda set the benchmark for me on sushi. Also, she has a hankering for beef dip - where would you recommend? Last time, she liked the Shark Club at the Sandman Hotel on West Georgia, but I know there are far better places.

Is Hamburger Mary's any good any more? My last visit there was in 2007, so a while ago. There was also a place I was taken to, out in Burnaby somewhere, that did awesome pancakes, which I would love to introduce Sam to. Thing is, can't remember what it was called. It looked kinda chain-y, and, if I recall correctly, was relatively close to an Earls.

Also, we are looking for a well-priced Chinese within about 10 mins walking distance of Davie and Thurlow. We've heard that the new Peaceful is fantastic - does it live up to its reputation?

Thanks for any help in advance - it's much appreciated, seeing as it's been a couple of years since I've been in Vancouver!

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  1. 2007 was a lifetime ago, and things have changed a lot. It seems Cafe Villagio is still around - so you can relive that memory.

    Most sushi restaurants will serve non-fish items (e.g. various bento etc). I like Juno on Davie for their non-sushi selection.

    Beef dip - I have had a serviceable beef dip at Phat in Yaletown. I haven't had a really good one in ages.

    Pancakes in Burnaby? Was it a Whitespot?

    I haven't been to Hamburger Mary's in a long (long) time. It was a regular post-clubbing spot for my circle of friends back in the day.

    Peaceful just very recently changed ownership and from all reports coming in, it isn't as good as when the original owners ran it. So I wouldn't hazard it at this point. No Chinese that is really worthy of recommendation in that zone anymore.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      I have been to Hamburger Mary's recently -- I'd pass (unlike back in the day when it was HM or the other place on Davie for a mushroom burger after the Luvafair, LOL). Now in that hood I would go to La Brasserie for a seriously good burger done to order for a bit more money -- go early to avoid a potential wait. I've only had Hell Pizza from the one in North Van and it was just okay and a bit overpriced for delivery pizza. YMMV.

      The most likely suspect for solid sushi in Kits would be Kibune, or if it was more expensive and funkier, Octopus' Garden. If it was long and thin and had the tatatmi rooms with the rice paper doors where you have to take your shoes off and climb in on one side of the resto with the bar on the other, it was Kibune. I can recommend it for both sushi and non-sushi dishes. If you go and want to splurge a bit, have a half order of usuzukuri (paper thin cuts of whatever white fish is freshest served with ponzu sauce and shaved green onions) all to yourself. You will thank me.

      If you want to stay closer to your hotel for a Japanese experience, you are quite close to several izakaya which have a bit of sushi and sashimi but much more cooked food and small plates. Take a look at the slighty crazy Guu website to see if Kitanoya Guu with Garlic on Robson appeals. There is also Kingyo on Denman (a bit more elegant and expensive) and Zakkushi for tasty things on sticks and more. All have seating and take reservations.

      I'm having spumoni flashbacks thinking about the Old Spag Factory, scene of many a tween bday party in my (lost) youth. I haven't been there in 35 years but it's strangely comforting to know it's still there. If you are in Gastown during the day, or want a lighter meal at night (open till at least midnight), check out Notturno Paninoteca for some seriously delicious panini, with a very decent Italian wine list and even some beers. Table and bar seating.

      Nearish Coal Harbour, you might want to scope out Giovane in the daytime for pastry and coffee and at night for a casual wine bar experience (they have a fancy machine thingy that allows them to keep a large number of bottles open for by-the-glass whilst maintaining reasonable freshness). And of course in the same block is Bella Gelateria, arguably the best gelato in town with a good variety of intriguing flavours and also some standards. It is pricey but worth it.

      Have a wonderful time with your BFF and let us know where you end up!

      1. re: grayelf

        Thanks for your recommendations!

        I've managed to track down the pancake place in Burnaby - Google Maps Street View is good for something! It was Swiss Chalet on Lougheed Highway. I doubt we'll be going there, though - too far out just for breakfast. White Spot, though, when I was last there in 2010, did okay-ish pancakes.

        My friend has, unfortunately, vetoed the sushi, as she can't even stand the smell of fish, so I have to rethink there! Thanks for the beef dip suggestion - I really didn't fancy meandering all the way over to West Georgia again, especially seeing as it wasn't amazing.

        Any recommendations for a reasonably priced steak? The Keg doesn't appeal, as it's too expensive, so any suggestions there would be great. Also, as I promised her a Guinness, which Irish pubs are good?

        Thanks again - your help is much appreciated!

        1. re: Anise76

          I rather liked the steak Diane at L'Abbatoir and it's pretty straight up for your less-daring pal if you can get a reso (that way you could have something more adventurous). Then you could do one of the Sean Heather pubs in Gastown after/before (Salty Tongue, Shebeen, Bitter, Irish Heather et al)

    2. Not sure what your budget is but Hamilton Street Grill does a decent steak

      For lunch the Argo Cafe is interesting well prepared food at decent prices.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Philx

        We've had a couple of steak oopses at HSG (though the tenderloin seems reliable). Their burgers are pretty tasty and can be ordered med rare, a luxury in Vancouver.

        Love the Argo recco for sure. The Argo posts its daily specials online everyday at 11 am -- if they have the duck confit, go immediately! Your friend can have the short ribs and she will be v. happy. Easy walk from the Skytrain too.

        1. re: grayelf

          Sorry to hear that grayelf; was it recent? Last steak I had there was about 12 months ago and it was fine. Agree that L'Avvatoir is a good choice or on reflection maybe even the steak onglet at La Brasserie if their budget is tight.

          1. re: Philx

            Your experience is about the same timing as mine, but have had a good burger since albeit with a slightly stale (!) bun. Steak onglet at La B a good call; also maybe the small steak frites, the table d'hote or the special $99 dinner for 2 at Pied A Terre, also relatively easily accessed via Skytrain

            1. re: grayelf

              The Steak Frites at Tableau Bar & Bistro is only $20, and the whole plate was really delicious. Not a gigantic portion, but you wouldn't be hungry after finishing it.

              Hard to go wrong at Tableau, I don't think I've ever had a bad course in the three times I've been there. If only I didn't have to worry about calories, I would eat their mushrooms on toast every day (it's an enormous portion for an appetizer btw).


              1. re: StarryFork

                Concur with StarryFork. I had the steak frites at Tableau a few weeks ago. Very nice, and for only $20. Mind you it's a sirloin cut, not hanger/skirt/onglet, so even better value in that sense.

                Mrs. LR had the steelhead trout with quinoa & almond, lemon brown butter sauce for only $18. She said it's the best trout she's had in ages, since prolly RainCity Grill many moons ago.

                Appy was moules frites. Better than Biercraft or Salade de Fruits, but for my tastes there was too much thyme and not enough shallots. But very good otherwise, and at $20, a huge portion with maybe 16 or so mussels.

                1. re: LotusRapper

                  Must check out Tableau, they have a good chef. Nice prices too. The duck and cassoulet on Wed night looks worthy though maybe a bit heavy for summer (OP is coming in October so would be good then). I would think it would beat out La Brasserie as Tableau also takes reservations.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Tableau's lamb shank & risotto (Thursday-only special @ only $22, we were there on a Thur night) looked really good at adjacent tables. But that night was warm and I didn't feel like eating risotto.

      2. So we arrive in town next Saturday, with less time in Vancouver than we anticipated. Thank you for all your recommendations. Any other suggestions?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Anise76

          Cho Pain on Davie is bakery in your area that is worth visiting. It has tables so you can go for a pastry and tea or coffee. It's located on the north side of the street between Thurlow and Bute.

        2. So I promised an update after we had gotten home, and totally forgot!

          The food thing didn't work out as well as I had anticipated, partly because of my friend being fussy, and not wanting to try certain things, and partly because of, after a long day's hiking, her eyes were bad enough most days for her to not want to do anything other than go back to the suite.

          Anyway... we hit Caffe Villaggio on Coal Harbour, where I had the Italian Chicken Quesadilla, which was simply out of this world. My friend chowed down on a Chicken BLT wrap, which she said was wonderful too. The coffee there is good and fresh, and isn't too bitter. Just what we needed after getting utterly drenched after walking the seawall!

          Hon's Wun Tun House was spectacular for Chinese takeaway (they even delivered directly to our suite's door). The potstickers were beautifully flavoured, and completely grease-free. The majn courses... wow! I thought that portions of Chinese food over here in the UK were vast, but Hons portions were enough to feed us 2 nights in a row. I had the stir-fried wide Shanghai noodles with beef in XO sauce, and it was delicious.

          Hell Pizza... I know that no-one recommended it, but I had the most delicious spicy pizza. The pasta my friend has was apparently a let down, though.

          One little gem that surprised us though, was The End of the Line General Store up at Lynn Canyon. We bought sandwiches there before hiking one day, and they were fresh, delicious and filling. We also stumbled across Nanaimo bars for the first time. Suffice it to say, I hunted down a recipe and now make them at home!!

          The big hit, though, at least in my friend's eyes, was Hamburger Mary's. A 2 minute walk from our suite, it was one of the only places she felt comfortable eating in the evenings. She loved the beef dip, I enjoyed my steak dinner (perfect cooked steaks in the UK are few and far between, but HM hit the mark), so both were happy!

          All in all, the trip wasn't amazing, food wise, but worthwhile all the same, and we had a fantastic holiday, even though it didn't stop raining!