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Aug 25, 2014 11:39 PM

One week in Vancouver... The catch? Two little kids

Hello everyone,

I have been skulking around the boards for my family's Vancouver vacation in early September, but wanted to get thoughts on what I've managed to gather.

A little background on us: 2 thirty-somethings now living in the SF Bay Area who have based most of our travel itineraries on CH finds. Having two kids under 4 has cramped our style slightly, but the kids are reasonably adventurous and civilized eaters in restaurants. They have done well with ramen, izakaya, and of course, any place with french fries.

We will be staying in a hotel downtown, not planning on renting a car (but can). The adults are happier once we've had coffee/tea in the morning and beer/wine/cocktails in the evening. We are looking to try places that are "Vancouver-y" or somewhat different than what we can get around SF/SJ, any cuisine, any price range, but clearly my biggest issue is finding good eats with two kids in tow.

A loosely organized list of what I've come up with so far:
Coffee - Matchstick, Revolver
Pastries, etc. - Cartem's Donuterie, Thierry Chocolaterie
Dim sum - Dynasty, Kirin, Sun Sui Wah
Taiwanese - Kalvin's
Ramen - Santouka, Marutama, Motomachi Shokudo
Izakaya - Kingyo, Rajio, Suika, Zakkushi
Pubs (with food) - Alibi Room, Chambar
Ice cream - Earnest, Rain or Shine, Bella Gelateria

Big questions:
Are there any not-to-miss places I'm missing?
Have any of the spots taken a downhill turn and should be struck from the list?
Most importantly, for our sake and that of the good citizens of Vancouver, are any of the places on my list a definite no-go for kids?

Thank you so much for your help. I will report back in September with how we did.

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  1. Pretty good list. If you like seafood, you might want to consider It is quite casual and should be fine for kids. Farmer's Apprentice is the hot place at the moment; hard to get reservations for dinner but no reservations for lunch/brunch; arrive early; easy access from downtown by bus/taxi. Near there is Pâtisserie Lebeau for pastries, sandwiches and waffles. Baguette & Co in the west end also good for pastries. I would prefer either of the previous two to your choices but it comes down to individual preference (not a donut guy and have had indifferent results at Theirry). L'abattoire is well thought of here (dinner only) - it is in Gastown. For a quick and easy middle east lunch downtown there is In that vein, there is ;many choices in the downtown. Hope you have a great visit.

    1. Good list.

      A few notes...Chambar is not really a pub and I wouldn't take my kids there. That being said, my kids are pretty rambunctious little buggers and are 6 & 3. You could probably go early though and it'd be fine. As for coffee, JJ Bean and Caffe Artigiano are also safe bets downtown.

      Rajio is good but pretty out of the way for you. Not worth the trek from downtown in my opinion. Same goes for Earnest ice cream. Just hit Bella or jump on a relatively short bus ride to Kitsilano's Rain or Shine.

      These are not downtown, but I regularly take my kids to Rocky Mountain Pizza. They have a little play kitchen setup for the kids and on some nights the kids can go into the kitchen and make their own pizzas. You can drink some decent beer/wine here also. Definitely the most kid friendly place around. We also go to Temaki or Tokyo Thyme fairly often for excellent sushi. Temaki is better but Tokyo Thyme is more kid friendly.

      There's some decent patios mentioned here:

      Avoid Old Spaghetti Factory at all costs.

      Hope this helps.

      6 Replies
      1. re: waylman

        Thanks for the suggestions and tips.

        I had come across Farmer's Apprentice and L'Abbatoir on the board - both would have been on the list pre-kids, but now I'm slightly wary since we've acquired two companions well short of the legal drinking age. So you think it would be doable if we went for lunch/brunch at FA with the under 4 crowd. What if we tried to get the very first dinner seating at either? I don't want to be *those people* who kill the mood of all the other diners who are enjoying a night out sans kids. The early bird strategy has worked well for us in nicer restaurants in several places, just wondering if it might be forgivable in Vancouver as well.

        Appreciate the pizza recommendation, too. That is always a winner with the kids. Adults, too, for that matter.

        1. re: reformed

          Farmer's Apprentice is a no go I would say. It is small and you sit very close to your neighbors.

          L'abbatoir would be do-able early as it is a much larger space.

          1. re: waylman

            Some friends of mine had lunch with their 6yr old at FA about a month ago. They didn't mention any issues. Perhaps if you want to try it drop them a line on their web site and ask their advice.

        2. re: waylman

          +1 on not taking the kids to Chambar. Definitely not the right restaurant for small children. Zakkushi is an excellent choice though; our kids love it. Make sure to make a reservation.

          1. re: mendicity

            Thanks for the feedback on Chambar. Looks like we'll have to save that for another trip.

            1. re: mendicity

              Several thoughts about your original post and the subsequent comments:

              I would reconsider Chambar particularly if your kids are well-behaved in restaurants. The music level is usually quite "vibrant" and I've seen lots of people with children (from 6 months - teenage) dining here over the years.
              In addition, they have just moved into their new space (next door to the old) and are now open for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Haven't been to the new location yet but the old was one of our go-tos for out of town guests, special occasions, and just a nice night out for no reason at all.

              Re: l'Abbatoir: our one experience there the restaurant was incredibly busy and we were seated extremely close to the tables next to us. The food and drinks were good but I wasn't impressed with the service.

              Fable would be a great choice with the kids (make a reservation) and then maybe to Rain or Shine for dessert down the street? If you're in that part of West 4th make sure to check out Ayoub's Dried Fruits and Nuts. The fanciest store you've ever seen for buying snackies!

              One note about Bella Gelateria, the line up can be over an hour long on a nice day. I don't know about your kids but mine would go crazy, I don't care how good the gelato is!

              If you're on Granville Island with the kids and want a sit down restaurant I would highly recommend Dockside for breakfast or lunch with little ones. Very good value "kids menu" and the aquarium that wraps around the open-kitchen provides great entertainment while waiting for food to arrive.
              Finally, re: the Alibi Room, double check the licensing rules (which have recently changed in BC) but previously no minors were allowed.

          2. Good list! A few additions:
            If Revolver, which is bit cramped, is busy. Around the corner is Timbertrain which has good coffee and booths for the little ones to squirm around in.

            With booths in mind, for seafood Blue Water Cafe is surprisingly kid tolerant especially for kids that are well behaved. Just ask for a booth in case they want to nap or play on the ipad in the corner of the booth.

            For Izakaya I would add Guu Garden which has good food and a small upstairs area where you sit on the floor.

            Chinese places don't bat an eye when it comes to kids, even if they are running a muck in the restaurant.

            For you dim sum, I would drop Sun Sui Wah and consider Chef Tony in Richmond ( Easy to get to from downtown on the Canada Line and it might be neat for the kids, you go over the river to get to Richmond.

            Another Ramen place to try is Taishoken for their tsukemen ramen.

            4 Replies
              1. re: Sam Salmon

                Crap You're Right Sam!

                I meant Guu with Garlic on Robson and typed in Guu Garden by mistake.

                Thanks for catching the mistake.

              2. re: moyenchow

                Thanks - the kids are enamored with public transit, so I think they'd love the trip to Richmond. That does open up a whole new avenue of research for me, as it seems from what I've briefly gathered on the boards that Richmond is the epicenter of all types and levels of Chinese cuisine.

                I've seen the various Guu's mentioned a lot too, will have to add that to the list.

              3. For upscale pub, check out the Abbey. Pretty sure they offer a kid size portion of Banger & mash, spaghetti & tomato sauce and the chicken karaage with chips.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ctas1906

                  Oooh! Looks convenient and promising. Thanks for the rec.

                2. If you'll be wandering around downtown, you might want to check out the Japadog carts and/or their bricks & mortar spot on Robson. A different take on hot dogs -- and they have fries. Our friends with kids always seem to find it a hit.