#LoveVancouver Neighbourhoods: Victoria Drive + West 4th Ave

We’re getting down to the final weeks of our #LoveVancouver Neighbourhood series! It says something that we’ve been able to fill this many articles with outstanding YVR districts, and this week is no different. We’ll be headed to one of East Van’s hidden gem neighbourhoods, as well as a neighbourhood that’s been called the yoga capital of North America. So roll out your mat, do a few stretches, and let’s head out!

Photo: West 4th BIA

Photo: Chau Veggie Express

Victoria Drive

You likely already know Commercial Drive, but if you follow it further south, you’ll hit another fantastic area of East Vancouver. Victoria Drive is home to a vibrant community of small businesses and great parks. With a population as diverse as the food options, this neighbourhood represents a wonderful melding of cultures. Whether it’s German, Vietnamese, Burmese, or Indian, you can find specialty shops representing each nationality. And it all happens with a clear view of the North Shore mountains

Photo: Photo credit: Vancouver Alpen Club

As part of the Victoria-Fraserview area, Victoria Drive was one of the earliest areas of settlements in the region. While the majority was still forest, as Fraser Street evolved into a logging road, eventually the area of Victoria Drive became home to farmers who would clear most of the land for their crops.

From there, more development arrived in the 1940s when the neighbourhood became home to more than 1000 returning soldiers from World War II. Many of these soldiers were of European descent, and you can still see that represented in the community today. Not long after, Chinese and South Asian families also came to the area, which opened the door for other nationalities to create homes here. The area remains a place where new Canadian migrants can settle down, knowing that their traditions will be celebrated along with all others. Victoria Drive is host to an outstanding Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in February.

Of course, our favourite Victoria Drive tradition to partake in is all the different ways to eat! Burmese-styled samosas and Biryani at Amay’s House, or East Van’s best vegan Vietnamese food at Chau Veggie Express, you’ll find a new culinary obsession on every corner. Our obsession with sampling Portuguese egg tarts in every neighbourhood continues at Harmony Cake House, one of the fantastic bakeries you’ll find on Victoria. An MVP if you’re heading to a friend’s house but unsure what to bring (a freshly made mango cake will surely get you a return invite), Harmony has got you covered.

Photo credit: Weirdo Cafe

Of course, if you’re looking for a friendly place to catch up with friends and regale them with stories of old, then The Vancouver Alpen Club undoubtedly has one of the best selection of German Beers in Vancouver. Their iconic German decor is the perfect venue for events and weddings, especially considering they have one of two original wood-sprung floors in the city. Once you perform your first Zwiefacher here, you’ll swear off all other Bavarian-centric performance spaces.

With so many opportunities to satisfy your hunger, you might be feeling a little lost existentially. Thankfully there are plenty of health and wellness businesses here that will set your body and soul at ease. A destination for acupuncture, massage, and natural remedies, you’ll find countless ways to unwind. Start with New World Acupuncture, and then stop by Sum Ying Tong Ginseng Nutrition or Wui King Herbal and you’ll be feeling right as rain in no time.

With such an emphasis on nurturing its inhabitants, it’s no wonder Victoria Drive is one of Vancouver’s friendliest and most hospitable communities. You definitely don’t need an invitation to visit, but if you do, make sure to pick up a fresh mango cake while you’re at it.

Hidden Gems:

Weirdo Cafe – Because who doesn’t feel a little weird sometimes? Weirdo Cafe is a casual-upscale eatery that takes pride in it’s eclectic tastes and unique presentations. One need only look at their stacked honey toast with milk tea dressing, or the strawberry yogurt fruit salad (beautifully layered in a martini glass) to know that they have an uncompromised vision of what food can be.

Apex Liquor Store – The most popular tipple merchant of Victoria Drive, there’s a reason why it’s customers keep returning. The friendly Apex staff is well versed in specialty products, as well as the tried and true offerings your guests love.

Lux Karaoke – It may seem like a niche market, but for karaoke enthusiasts, Lux is a lifesaver when you need to belt out. Vancouver’s only Karaoke supply store, you can pick up spare copies of your favourite jams to serenade your family with. Even if your last three copies of “Tubthumping” mysteriously have gone missing.

How to get there:

Coming from North or South?

The #20 Victoria/Downtown bus runs up and down Victoria Drive, just hop out wherever you like!

Coming From East or West?

Take the Millenium Line, or Expo Line Skytrain to Commercial/Broadway station. Or hop on the 99 B-Line and get out on Commercial Drive. From there, you’ll be able to get on the #20 bus closeby.

Learn more about Victoria Drive by visiting www.victoriadrivebia.com

West 4th Avenue

Welcome to the heart of Kitsilano! Many consider West 4th to be the main road through this jewel of Vancouver with its proximity to Kits Beach, active locales and health-focused community. Vancouverites come here to zen out, practice their downward dog, and indulge in a cheat day brunch. 

Photo credit: Rain or Shine

The street has been one of Kits’ bustling shopping destinations since 1923, and while the landscape of businesses has changed alot since then, the laidback tone of the area remains the same. There are no high rises here, no one-way streets, and you can often feel the ocean breeze blow up the hill, refreshing all in its path. It’s this relaxed vibe that has helped West 4th be voted as “Vancouver’s Best Neighbourhood” for more than five years straight by the readers of the Georgia Straight newspaper.

Not fit to rest on its meditative laurels, though; West 4th is awash with culture and things to do. Every summer prior to restrictions, the KHATSAHLANO! Music + Art Festival brought performers, food trucks, and artists of all persuasions to the area. Its reputation as a hub for new voices has become famous across the city. Then there’s also Feast of Fourth (Spring & Fall) and Miracle on West 4th (December). All family-friendly events in that fresh ocean air we mentioned.

It’d be a crime if we didn’t mention the streets’ ties to yoga, as you’ll frequently see lululemon-clad class goers scurrying to their next appointment with nirvana. In addition to classes being held in nearby parks, you can pursue the path to enlightenment at The Movement Studio, YYoga, and a handful of others. 

However, if you’re not quite on that level of focus yet, you can always just nurture your gains at fitness studios like Ride Cycle Club, Pure Barre, or by joining a jogging crew at The Running Room. 

Photo: TurF

We’re sweating just typing all of that. It’s a wonder how even though West 4th has become a Mecca of fitness, that it still has so many dynamite spots to eat and indulge. It likely is just a reminder that it’s all about experiencing sensation in perfect balance– hold on, journeying inward for a moment… dang it, thought that we were experiencing something profound, but we’re still just hungry.

There are seriously too many spots to mention, but any time we visit West 4th, we have to visit Rain or Shine Ice Cream. In the summertime, this place is a lifesaver. Nevermind the line-up, once you get your waffle cone of malted chocolate honeycomb (our fave), all worries will melt away. Speaking of lines, likely the longest of any restaurant in the area, Jam Cafe has become the name for brunch over the last few years. Red velvet pancakes, fried chicken with french toast. The anticipation of deciding is like that drawn-out moment before a roller coaster plunges into a decadent plate of heaven.

If you’re on an intimate outing or a first date, West 4th is a fantastic spot to take your sweetie as well. For special occasions, the authentic Mexican fare at Las Margaritas is a sure bet, or a reso at Thai favourite- Maenam never fails to set the stage for the romantic arena. If it’s just a casual meet up in the day however, we suggest Their There to share a creme brulee donut, or TurF to show your date that you’re health-conscious with a smoothie and gluten-free powerball. As we mentioned there are far too many spots to dine, and far too many occasions worth visiting for.

What’s important is that you explore West 4th yourself, and you’re likely to find a few gems even we haven’t heard about. Just let your mind go blank, and allow the ocean breeze to bring you to your next destination.

Hidden Gems:

Zulu Records – For record hounds, crate diggers and DJs, this is a must visit. In addition to getting all the latest releases pressed on wax, you’ll find forgotten favourites of all genres. Discover the newest addition to your mid-70s Afrobeat collection here.

Gravity Pope – Keeping the neighbourhood looking sharp, this shoe and boot specialist is the premier West 4th business to get your kicks. The neighbouring Gravity Pope Tailored Goods furthers their curating prowess with clothing from stylish brands worldwide.

Silk Road Tea – Led by acclaimed Tea Master, Daniela Cubelic, Silk Road is Kitsilano’s resource for fresh organic botanicals. Award-winning teas, premium skincare and body care, you can find everything you need here to defuse even the most stressful of days.

How to get there:

Coming from North or South?

Take the Canada Line to Olympic Village Station and then transfer to to a #4 bus headed West.

Coming From East or West?

Most buses travelling on 4th ave will head through Kits. But if you’re a bit more south the 99-Bline runs parallel to West 4th, so if you ride until the Arbutus stop, 4th is only a short walk away.

Learn more about West 4th Ave by visiting www.shopwest4th.com

Visit www.tourismvancouver.com/love for vacation inspiration, special offers and more.



Tagged: , ,

Comments are closed for this post

Comments are closed.