Robson / Alberni
Brandish your coffee aloft in one hand whilst the other struggles under the spoils of retail therapy. See and be seen along the busy, bustling blocks of Robson Street and posh neighbour Alberni, home to high-end design shops, darling boutiques, international brand favourites, and some of Vancouver’s best bites
Robson Street The city’s most bustling shopping thoroughfare runs from Burrard to Jervis, and boasts the likes of fast-fashion giant Zara ( 1056 Robson St.), essentials go-to The Gap ( 1125 Robson St.), and Paris-spawned premium cosmetics purveyor Sephora (1045 Robson St.).
Alberni Street A block north of Robson, experience our own Rodeo Drive: begin at the intersection with Burrard, where Tiffany & Co. ( 723 Burrard St.) sits fetchingly across from Hermès ( 755 Burrard St.) and kitty-corner to the largest Louis Vuitton (730 Burrard St.) in Canada. Explore the strip further to stumble upon Brooks Brothers ( 1026 Alberni St.), De Beers ( 1088 Alberni St.), and Tory Burch ( 1092 Alberni St.). Just around the corner you’ll find two more classic jewellers: Birks ( 698 W. Hastings St.) and Cartier ( 456 Howe St.).
A short stroll from both Robson and Alberni, Holt Renfrew ( 737 Dunsmuir St., 604-681-3122. Holtrenfrew.com) is the West Coast flagship of Canada’s premiere luxury department store: three floors of everything from Armani to YSL, for men and women.
Ramen Santouka ( 1690 Robson St., 604-681-8121. Santouka.co.jp) is worth the wait for noodle aficionados. The long-simmered broth has an unmatched milky stickiness; the spicy version brings liveliness to what could be an overly rich experience. And perfect noodles are the star of every dish. This is an outlet of the Asahikawa-based chain that has managed to keep standards consistent despite an international rollout.
A meal at Forage ( 1300 Robson St., 604-661-1400. Foragevancouver.com) is a feast of community and a celebration of the local larder. There’s plenty to love in pretty plates like Cortes mussels and spicey fennel sausage with frites, or stinging nettle risotto with hazlenut praline and saltcured duck yolk.
Joe Fortes ( 777 Thurlow St., 604669-1940. Joefortes.ca) has been a Vancouver institution for almost 30 years. The menu is a classic mix of fresh seafood (oysters galore and a daily fresh sheet), indulgent chops, and an expansive wine list (300 and counting).
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,
Tiffany & Co.
LOCAL ICONS The Marine Building 355 BURRARD ST. At 22 storeys, this art-deco skyscraper (1930) was for a time the tallest building in the British Empire. Its stature has long been eclipsed—the nearby Shangri-La is 62 floors—but its beautiful maritime ornamentations endure. Experience it from the inside, perched beneath gilded, soaring ceilings in the JJ Bean café