East Cordova: Gastown’s Best Kept Secret

Photo by Lindsaysdiet.com

The following article was submitted by the Gastown BIA

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain 

Cordova Street is both wonderful and frustrating. Enter via Richards Street and a tightly knit community of independent shops and eateries are at your disposal. But go towards Carrall while peering around the corner and all you might see is what appears to be the end of the line.

How many of us are willing to go the extra mile in life? And hey, we’re not even talking about a mile here but a brisk jaunt of no more than 8 blocks from west to east to experience an equally as exciting, tightly knit community of independent shops and eateries.

In the east you’ll discover Italian and Mexican food, a 1920’s themed Barbershop, a Ping Pong Bar, hair and beauty salons, a custom tattoo parlour, a few clothing stores, a shoe shop, and a custom suit shop. There is definitely something for everyone in this part of the hood.

So walk, drive, bike, run, or skip along Cordova Street and trust that as you leave the west the east will reward you, welcoming you kindly into its home.


Bia Boro Gastown

Bia Boro in Farsi means: “Come (bia) and Go (boro)” with connotations suggesting traffic, movement, fluidity, and flow of energy. When you say bia boro, you mean to say that things are busy, that there’s stuff going on, moving and shaking, or there’s a buzz happening. Yes to all of that. You feel it when when you step inside the shop, like entering into some chill beach boutique in Bali where characters with all the time in the world emerge from the back to warmly say ‘hey’!

Owner Bahram Djam, and his fluffy dog Keenu, hail from Nelson where the first Bia Boro shop was born. The brand specializes in creating bamboo made clothing for men & women.

The style is earthy, organic, free, and flowing as Bahram’s goal is to discover unique things to wear that are unlike anything here in Canada. Origins include Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Italy, Spain and many other exotic places, sold at great prices. The brand makes its own colourful underwear for women and men, and these undies can also be worn as a bathing suit.


Wallace Mercantile

Wallace Mercantile is a classic heritage style men’s clothing shop with a focus on quality and origin, with the majority of items in store coming from smaller brands producing in house garments made in North America or Europe.

Proprietor Matt Hamilton left a successful career in marketing to pursue his dream of opening the kind of menswear shop that guys would feel comfortable in and want to return to. His passion for quality, stand the test of time, wear it til it stinks kind of clothing is obvious. Brands include: American Trench, Bleu de Chauffe, Knickerbocker, Krammer & Stoudt, Le Mont Saint-Michel, Lowercase NYC, Native North, Sanders U.K., Schnayderman’s, and Velva Sheen.


Baynes + Baker

Baynes + Baker was established in order to  provide a solution to the continuously increasing costs and processes associated with custom suits. Its tailors have mastered the custom suit process, providing a seamless experience for men looking for the perfect fit.


Strike MVMNT

The neighbourhood’s understated performance shoe store with an interesting name, Strike MVMNT has long been known for creating high quality performance shoes that exist outside of any one specific category. Long standing styles like the Pace and the Chill Pill are a testament to those who crave unobstructed movement, whether it be running, crossfit, parkour, dancing or hip hopping. Strike Mvmnt has simplified active lifestyle wear to a level of comfort and fit that surpasses many other brands attempting to do the same.


Nicli Antica Pizzeria

Nicli Antica Pizzeria is the first VPN certified Neapolitan pizzeria in Vancouver. Located within a century old building where age-old brick walls stand silently, allowing a contemporary bright interior to dance subtly in and among modern light fixtures and furniture.

The atmosphere is refreshing, comfortable and spacious. A balanced wine list pairs nicely with wood fired pizzas, old world recipe inspired antipasti and insalati and hearty pastas. Linger long after dinner with an aperitif or espresso and a good helping of both house made tiramisu and panna cotta.


La Mezcaleria

La Mezcaleria is the only restaurant in the city that specializes in offering a wide variety of mezcals, along with top shelf tequilas and cocktails inspired by the different regions of Mexico.

The food here is traditional Mexican and is made using locally sourced organic ingredients and ocean-friendly seafood. Dishes at La Mezcaleria celebrate the communal aspect of shared food and the restaurant caters to a number of different dietary tastes with gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and carnivorous options.


Back & Forth Bar

Recently opened, East Cordova is home to the fun filled emporium known as The Back And Forth Bar. The place is comfortably decorated with couches and palm trees and there are a number of video game consoles hooked up to TV’s along with a bunch of Ping-Pong tables.

Bring your own food as there isn’t a formal menu, although there’s a snack menu served with chips, mac & cheese and mini pizzas.

Gastown is itself, a haven for quality men’s fashion. There are items here that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Haven on East Cordova specializes in carrying exclusive Men’s Japanese and Globally recognized apparel, footwear & accessories. The boutique carries menswear and accessories from multiple categories including headwear, socks, shoes, apothecary, belts, denim and eyewear. Notable brands include Wings & Horn, Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe.


Victory Barber & Brand

Owners, Joshua Sparrow and Matty Conrad along with their team, have been making gentlemen look dapper since 2010. Victory Barber & Brand recently took over the old 18th Amendment location on East Cordova and have settled in quite nicely. Adding their own 1920’s flourish to the joint, the lads at Victory have created an atmosphere that is comfortable, artistic and exceptionally stylish. The service is top notch with old world levels of grooming including options like a classic hot lather shave with towel, steam, lather and razor.


Milo Salon

Milo Salon is a boutique salon specializing in women’s hair styling, coloring, colour, correction, highlights, bleach & tone and balayage/ombré work. Chief stylist and owner Anja Milo is inventive and artistic in her approach to hair while still maintaining styles that are quite versatile and practical. Check out her Instagram page to see her the kind of colourful hair magic we’re talking about!


Tradewinds Tattoo

Owner and artist Devin Stacey of Tradewinds Tattoo has created an artist collective where clients can come with their own design or consult with one of the artists to take an idea from concept to into the real thing. The results are often stunning with end results bearing original and custom art.


Studio 38 Hair Therapy

Studio 38 Hair Therapy is owned and operated by Par Singh. Par has been professionally styling hair for over 13 years and has trained under the direction of Kevin Murphy and Vidal Sassoon. Par is skilled at identifying the unique characteristics in each person and then creating a style that suits the individual. He is passionate about making each client happy and looking their best.


Pony Salon

The Pony Salon provides an exceptional range of services from colour, blonding, highlights, gloss and toning, correction, styling and treatments, and cuts for men. Most services are full service, which include a consultation, shampoo and blow-dry. Owner and stylist, Kristy Davies, got her start here in Vancouver over a decade ago and has since built up a reputable salon with a team of 10. As passionate about styling hair as she is, learning about it, Kristy is dedicated to constantly growing in her craft. She has trained in New York and London.

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