Explore the Marvels of Vancouver’s Main Street

Photo credit: Darko Sikman.

Photo credit: Darko Sikman.

Head out a little from Vancouver’s downtown core to explore and you’ll be rewarded with fascinating neighbourhoods each with their own special vibe. One of Vancouver’s most popular ‘hoods is the Mount Pleasant/Main Street area, home to some of the city’s coolest bars, restaurants, breweries, independent shops and wild green spaces. From the city’s highest point to award-winning Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and a hidden Tiki bar, it’s all here –you just need to know where to look…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQueen Elizabeth Park

You’ll find the highest point in Vancouver just a few steps away from Main Street at Queen Elizabeth park which is set on an ancient long-extinct volcano! Along with beautiful gardens and plenty of quiet spaces to read or picnic in the sun, you can also visit the Bloedel Conservatory, a tropical garden in a geodesic dome, the North Quarry Gardens, Canada’s first civic arboretum, and play the popular pitch and putt golf. But to get a truly Vancouver experience, head up the hill just before sunset to snap one of the best views of the city.

Main6The Fish Counter

Imagine a farmers market, but for fish, selling only what’s local, in season and ethically harvested –that’s exactly what you’ll find at the city’s first 100% sustainable fish counter headed up by Mike and Rob who created the Ocean Wise programme with Vancouver Aquarium. Never cooked fish before? No problem, the counter staff can help advise even a total fish newbie on what to choose and how to cook it perfectly. There’s also a take out counter serving up some of the city’s best fish and chips and piled high oyster po’boy sandwiches. Want to try a unique dining experience? Call to book their ‘secret garden’ patio restaurant for the city’s ultimate seafood feast. Prices start from $25pp (4 person minimum).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAu Petit Cafe

This tiny nondescript cafe turns out some of the best Vietnamese food in the city –as the awards on the wall testify. You’ll almost certainly have to queue for a table, but it’s absolutely worth the wait. Their banh mi baguette sandwiches are the stuff of legend; the bread is bought in from nearby La Baguette and it’s crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Make sure you try one of their piled-high subs with the house-made pate. Closed on Wednesdays.

main7Shameful Tiki Room

Discover a small piece of Polynesian paradise on Main at number 4362 with pufferfish lights, authentic tiki carvings, cosy booths and a raffia roof over its friendly bar. Drinks on the menu range from ‘mild’ to ‘yowza’ in strength and are all made with fresh-squeezed juices and home-made syrups. Check their listings as their tiny stage often hosts band nights and Sunday is the weekly Go Go Bungalow dance night. There’s no dress code, but after ordering a Volcano Bowl cocktail– which comes with its own thunder and lightning special effects– you may wish you’d worn a Hawaiian shirt.

BrassneckBrassneck

Sister brewery to one of the city’s finest craft beer pubs, The Alibi Room, Brassneck opened in 2013 and is already one of the city’s most beloved breweries. Brassneck has a  small 50-person tasting room where you can drink beer that’s brewed right next room and try flights of different beers. Although they don’t have a kitchen, they do have different food trucks outside every night from 5.30-8.30p.m. so you can order and bring it in to enjoy with your beers.  There is also a growler shop on-site, so you can pick up one of their beautifully designed bottles and take the taste of Brassneck back home to enjoy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevil May Wear

A womenswear staple on Main for over a decade, DMW make all their clothes under their own label (apart from the jeans) guided by an eco-friendly ethos. Sustainability and ethical manufacturing are primary goals here, so you’ll find plenty of natural fibers such as bamboo and hemp. Wildly popular for their underwear, wrap dresses and beautiful jewellery, which is also made locally for them, stop by to play dress-up and bag a unique local creation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArmy, Navy & Airforce Veterans Club

You’ll need to be a member –it’s $40 for a year’s membership which gives you access to all the other affiliated clubs across Canada– or you’ll need to be signed in by someone who is a member (they’re friendly – just ask!), but it’s worth making the effort to stop by this Main Street gem at number 3917. There are special events most evenings, the Wednesday and Saturday karaoke sessions are especially popular, plus the Sunday trivia night and Monday jam session. There are no frills here but it’s a welcoming and unpretentious locals’ place with plenty of games and decent drink deals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABalance Botanicals

New to the neighbourhood in May, this fascinating and delicious-smelling store sells all-organic teas, spices and herbs in bulk so you can bring your own jar to fill thus creating minimum waste. They have some 200 different products on the shelves from exotic black lava salt and sassafras to feverfew and dandelion. There are a few chairs and tables where they serve tea, you can ask at the counter to create your own bespoke blend or try one of the house brews. Stock up on tea paraphernalia, pretty glasses and jars and check out their herbal remedy recipe cards that are displayed around the shop.

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