Coffee held aloft through thronging crowds, locals and tourists alike come to Robson Street (and posh neighbour Alberni) for serious retail therapy—or simply to move through the heart of the city. See and be seen along these busy blocks
Robson Street The city’s most bustling shopping thoroughfare runs from Burrard to Jervis and includes casual chic at J. Crew ( 1088 Robson St.), essentials at The Gap ( 1125 Robson St.), and impressive luxury-label cosmetics at Shifeon Beauty ( 1291 Robson St.).
Alberni Street A block north of Robson, experience our own Rodeo Drive: begin at the corner of Burrard and Alberni, where Tiffany and Co. sits fetchingly across from Hermès and kittycorner to the largest Louis Vuitton in Canada. Explore the Alberni strip further to stumble upon Brooks Brothers ( 1026 Alberni St.) and De Beers ( 1088 Alberni St.). Just around the corner you’ll find two more classic jewellers: Birks ( 698 W. Hastings St.) and Cartier ( 456 Howe St.).
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka ( 1690 Robson St., 604-681-8121. Santouka.co.jp) is for noodle aficionados. We feel it’s always worth the wait here, where long-simmered broth has an unmatched milky stickiness; the spicy version brings liveliness to what could be an overly rich experience. And naturally, the noodles are perfectly cooked. This is an outlet of the Asahikawa-based chain that has managed to keep excellent and consistent standards despite an international rollout.
On one block of Alberni, the Glowbal Group ( Glowbalgroup.com) nails extravagance with three fashion-forward, showy emporia. Italian Kitchen ( 1037 Alberni St., 604-687-2858) is gorgeous and hyper-modern,
A meal at Forage ( 1300 Robson St., 604-661-1400. Foragevancouver.com) is a celebration of the local larder. There’s plenty to love in pretty plates like elk strip loin with fir-tip jus, potato, and leek, or a bowl of Hannah Brook Farm cress with charred onion, soft-poached egg, and bison bone marrow croutons. with zero Italian kitsch. Coast ( 1054 Alberni St., 604-685-5010) boasts soaring aquamarine walls with ivory and wood accents flanking a magnificent central feature: a towering circular raw bar teeming with fresh seafood and booze galore. Black + Blue ( 1032 Alberni St., 604-637-0777) brings glamour and lightness to the steakhouse, especially the beautiful patio with its warm, glittering vibe.
Nearby: Hy’s Steakhouse ( 637 Hornby St., 604-683-7671. Hyssteakhouse.com) supplies beautifully charcoal-licked steaks in an unironic room of white jackets, metal platters, and sides like cauliflower gratin. While the 22-ounce porterhouse may be a model of understatement, the tableside caesar salad is pungent and deep. Portraits of retired waiters line the walls; those still working are all pro.
The extensive wine list favours U.S. and French reds.
The Vancouver Art Gallery ( 750 Hornby St., 604-662-4700. Vanartgallery.bc.ca) is the largest gallery in Western Canada (and a 1906 architectural icon of the downtown core). Visit to discover leading artists from around the globe, and also local legends like Emily Carr and Douglas Coupland. (The Art Gallery Café, on the expansive second-floor patio, also happens to be one of the finest places in the city to enjoy a glass of chardonnay on a sunny afternoon.) The gallery plans to move to a bold new building, following architectural plans to be released sometime in 2015. Visit this site, the original provincial courthouse, while you can.
Civic centre Robson Square ( between Hornby and Howe streets) was set to be the tallest building in town until visionary architect Arthur Erickson suggested laying it on its back. As a result, you can walk all over this three-block modernist monument, from the glass enclosed law courts to the public ice rink. Take the time to explore its several levels and walkways—pockets of quiet, and great new views, wait for you.
Drop by Christ Church Cathedral ( 690 Burrard St., 604-682-3848. Cathedral.vancouver.bc.ca) every Sunday evening at 9:30 to eavesdrop on the traditional Gregorian chant. Built in 1889, the cedar and Douglas fir interior helps the massive organ resonate. It’s the church the British royal family attends when in town.
You can’t wander the downtown streets without noticing the proliferation of cranes building the next generation of green-glass behemoths. These four, now in the works, will be among the biggest towers in the downtown core: Trump International Hotel ( 1151 W. Georgia St.), 67 storeys, expected 2016; Burrard Gateway A ( 1290 Burrard St.), 55 storeys, proposed; Beach & Howe Tower ( 1400 Howe St.), 49 storeys, expected 2015; MNP Tower ( 1021 W. Hastings St.), 36 storeys, expected 2015.
Shopping on Robson Street
TASTE TH IS Lychee Macaron THIERRY Multicoloured piles of Thierry Busset’s famous macarons ($14.75 for seven) are ideal cappers for an afternoon of exhausting windowshopping at Tiffany’s 1059 Alberni St., 604-608-6870. Thierrychocolates.com
Vancouver Art Gallery
Tiffanyy & Co.