According to the most recent census (2001), 1.36 percent of Vancouver’s population of 2,097,960 residents are of Latin, Central and South American origins.ย That works out to just 28,575 people.
But despite the numbers, there’s plenty of Latin influence around the city – from the Carnaval del Sol every summer to the Latin American Film Festival, not to mention some great Mexican, Brazilian and Central American restaurants.ย And, for fans of Latin beats, there are even a handful of live Latin music venues in Vancouver.
Problem is that they’re not easy to find.ย I’ve listed a few music venues below, but I’d like to hear from you:
Do you have a favourite place to listen to Latin music in Vancouver?ย A cozy bar or club that feels more South American than North American?ย Let us know.ย
In the meantime, here are a few of my picks:ย
- Latin Quarter:ย This little club/restaurant has been an institution on Commercial Drive (1305 Commercial Drive) for decades.ย There’s a Mediterranean/Spanish menu, but it seems like most regulars come for the live music and dancing.ย A trio (sometimes quartet) of talented guitarists and drummers play salsa hits, as well as other Latin selections, all with a distinct Gypsy Kings vibe.ย It’s all very casual: no stage, dancing between tables, lots of interaction with the musicians.
- Kino Cafe:ย A little gem on Cambie Street, Kino (3456 Cambie St.) has been hosting live flamenco performances since the mid-1990s.ย ย It doubles as a restaurant, but decor is minimal and the real focus is the large stage in the centre of the room.ย Most nights of the week, you’ll be able to hear live flamenco guitar and singing, sometimes accompanied by some very good flamenco dancing.ย This isn’t some touristy dinner show at all – It’s the real thing.
- Boteco Brasil: This relatively new spot on Nanaimo Street (2545 Nanaimo St.) is a modest, mom-and-pop operation modeled after a Brazilian boteco – a casual restaurant serving quick meals.ย Most nights, it’s filled with Brazilian exchange students who come for a caipirinha and other comforts of home.ย There’s live Brazilian music Thursday-Sunday, starting at 7 p.m., everything from samba and bossa nova to Brazilian pop.ย It’s a little rough around the edges, non-touristy and a great spot to soak up Brazilian culture.
- Samba Steakhouse:ย This downtown restaurant (1122 Alberni St.) specializes in Brazilian rodizio: lavish, all-you-can-eat meals where servers come around with huge skewers of beef, lamb and chicken, slicing off chunks onto your plate.ย While it’s known for its food, Samba also occasionally features live Brazilian music and dancers (of the feathers and sequins, carnaval variety).
Got any other favourite spots to see Latin music?ย Let us know.ย
Want more updates on Vancouver and beyond?ย Follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.ย