Gastown ......................... 20
Vancouver’s oldest district is now home to high-design shops (a mustvisit for lovers of furniture and clothing alike) plus some of the city’s best dining. Weathered brick and century-old cedar are everywhere—as are the young video game designers whose studios are tucked throughout
The superb menu at Wildebeest ( 120 W. Hastings St., 604-6876880. Wildebeest.ca) may well constitute the most exciting dining experience in the city: how about roasted bone marrow with almond butter and tomato jam finished with a sherry “luge” poured down the scraped-clean bone?
Lee Cooper and Paul Grunberg have a winner with L’Abattoir ( 217 Carrall St., 604-568-1701. Labattoir.ca), a French-backboned, elegant, but entirely unfussy gem that plays host to both the neighbourhood hipsters and the city’s big-money players. Cooper’s menu reads simply, which adds a wow factor to every plate delivery (local, seasonal ingredients are given ingenious treatment, like roasted scallops with lemon marmalade). Seats at the bar, run by awardwinning tender Shaun Layton, are highly prized.
Authentic Neapolitan pizzas are the centrepiece in Nicli Antica Pizzeria’s ( 62 E. Cordova St., 604-669-6985. Niclipizzeria.ca) stark-white modern room. Pizzas come fresh out of the wood-fired oven (made of stone from Mount Vesuvius… really), the crust blistering and crispy but soft enough to fold, toppings minimalist and authentic. The wine list includes some decent buys; the service is efficient and friendly.
If you’re planning to turn a café into your office for the day, join the laptop set that hangs out amid the shabby-chic yet romantic café ambiance at Nelson the Seagull ( 315 Carrall St., 604-681-5776. Nelsontheseagull.com). Local creatives hover over strong, superior coffee—no decaf allowed!—and daily super-food salads.
Find coffee’s perfect mate at the city’s favourite “donuterie,” Cartems ( 534 W. Pender St., 778-708-0996. Cartems.com). Expect lineups for these crazy-good dunkers ($3 each; $27 per dozen): Maker’s Mark bourbon glaze and bacon shavings, anyone?
Oak + Fort ( 355 Water St., 604566-9199. Oakandfort.com) is a surprisingly affordable, pareddown space filled with clean lines and soft, wearable fabrics. A collaboration between local and Korean designers (who oversee production in Korea), the shop also displays gorgeous, minimalist accessories, many designed in-house.
Design-forward, well-heeled men make Roden Gray ( 8 Water St., 604-689-7302. Rodengray.com) a kind of ritual. They come for Moncler jackets and Jil Sander cardigans (and those mandatory Herschel backpacks).
From bold men’s and women’s collections to one-of-a-kind jewellery and accessories, everything in the dapper The Board of Trade Co. ( 206 Carrall St., 778318-9697. Boardoftradeco.com) boutique is carefully curated to showcase top up-and-coming designers.
Around the corner is swish Neighbour ( 125–12 Water St., 604-558-2555. Shopneighbour.com), which stocks labels like Our Legacy from Sweden and Mismo from Denmark, as well as an in-house line of rugby
crewneck sweatshirts made by Portland’s Columbiaknit.
Hill’s Native Art ( 165 Water St., 604-685-4249. Hills.ca) has the finest selection of aboriginal totems, masks, and carvings in the city. An inspiring collection by any standard.
Gastown is many things to many people, and nowhere does that multiplicity get expressed better than at Woodward’s ( 149 W. Hastings St.), where social housing is stacked next to luxury condos in a brave urban design experiment that helped to reshape this neighbourhood in 2009. Check out the enormous Stan Douglas photomural in its atrium, which depicts the famous Gastown Riots that shook this same area in 1971.
TASTE TH IS
Braised Lamb Shank
CHAMBAR The decade-plus success story that is
chef Nico Schuermans’s Chambar was built upon dishes such as this tajine d’Aziz à l’agneau: a complex, deeply aromatic North African stew in which a Flintstonian shank is braised in honey, figs, cinnamon, and cilantro 568 Beatty St., 604-879-7119. Chambar.com
Canadian whiskey bacon from Cartems
Board of Trade