Our favourite hot spots on the West Coast.

ELLE (Canada) - - Escape -

For a ca­sual-cool din­ner

The French-Asian food at Pid­gin in Gas­town is de­li­cious but not fussy. The flavours and plat­ing are rem­i­nis­cent of French or Ital­ian haute cui­sine (case in point: the divine Parisi­enne gnoc­chi)—but then you’re sit­ting on wooden benches drink­ing Tiger Beer out of a can. – Aliyah Shamsher

For a kitschy trip back in time

Even if the sun is blaz­ing out­side, the Shame­ful Tiki Room’s blacked-out win­dows en­sure that it’s al­ways mid­night in Poly­ne­sia. This Main Street main­stay is a truly lov­ing homage to the Tiki-lounge scene, a time when swiz­zle sticks were cher­ished and Trader Vic’s was king. The Zom­bie is fan­tas­tic—it’s the orig­i­nal 1934 recipe—but for pure the­atrics, the Vol­cano Bowl, a four-per­son drink that comes com­plete with thun­der, is the ticket. Take a cab home. – Guy Saddy

For the best din­ner and drinks combo

Although other ex­cel­lent new restau­rants have made in­roads into still-edgy Chi­na­town, Bao Bei Chi­nese Brasserie re­mains the stan­dard. They don’t take reser­va­tions, so lo­cals go early, put their name down and wait for a call—while sip­ping a fab­u­lous cock­tail at the al­ways-hip Keefer Bar just down the street. Order an Opium Sour at the Keefer and then chow down on Shao Bing, one of Bao Bei’s sig­na­ture dishes: cumin-spiced lamb sir­loin, cilantro, green pep­per and chilies on se­same flatbread. Amaz­ing! – G.S. h

For the best new ho­tel-lobby bar

In a city full of great ho­tel bars, the lobby lounge in the Fair­mont Ho­tel Van­cou­ver’s dark and at­mo­spheric Notch8 is the lat­est heavy­weight con­tender down­town. It’s great to see the ho­tel claw its way back from ir­rel­e­vance. With Notch8, the city’s grande dame is once again draw­ing lo­cals. – G.S.

For the quin­tes­sen­tial lo­cal adventure

Whether you walk, run or bike, the best way to feel like a Van­cou­verite is to join the lo­cals in Stan­ley Park, the city’s iconic nat­u­ral land­mark. If you are vis­it­ing and with­out wheels, stop by Cy­cle City Tours near the park en­trance to pick up a rental or join a three-hour guided cy­cling tour. My Van­cou­ver must-do is a bike ride around the sea­wall. I like to go in the morn­ing—the ocean air is so in­vig­o­rat­ing, and it’s such a great way to start the day. – Christina Reynolds

For a laid-back luxe visit

Book a suite at the Fair­mont Pa­cific Rim. (Ask for a room over­look­ing the har­bour with a view of the Van­cou­ver Con­ven­tion Cen­tre’s ver­dant green roof.) This ho­tel is so tech-savvy—the “spa” light­ing set­ting in the bath­room is per­fect—but so un­der­stated and com­fort­able. And I love that there’s live mu­sic ev­ery night in the Lobby Lounge. Even if you don’t stay for a drink, you feel like you’re part of some­thing cool. – C.R.

For an un­ex­pected shop­ping spree

Sleekly retro Sahn bi­cy­cle hel­mets? Check. Out­er­wear from Dan­ish cloth­ing man­u­fac­turer Rains? You bet. From gor­geous hand-carved hard­wood cheese slicers to clas­sic Sh­effield wrist­watches and cock­tail syrups, the de­pend­ably eclec­tic Wal­rus De­sign on Cam­bie Street is a clas­sic cabi­net of won­ders. I’ve never been to Wal­rus and not come away with at least some­thing. Usu­ally two some­things. – G.S.

For a look at the Cana­dian land­scape

Head to the Van­cou­ver Art Gallery for Em­brac­ing Canada: Land­scapes from Krieghoff to the Group of Seven (from Oc­to­ber 30 to Jan­uary 17), a wide-rang­ing look at 19th- and 20th-cen­tury Cana­dian artis­tic in­spi­ra­tion. If it’s a sunny day, take a mo­ment to sit on the mu­seum’s mam­moth front steps and take in the vibe in the sur­round­ing square—it’s great for peo­ple-watch­ing, and there’s al­ways some­thing go­ing on. – C.R.

For two zen mo­ments

Es­cape the bus­tle of Chi­na­town and slip into Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Clas­si­cal Chi­nese Gar­den be­fore head­ing to see the con­tem­po­rary art at the nearby Ren­nie Col­lec­tion in the his­toric Wing Sang build­ing. De­spite how busy it can some­times be on the sur­round­ing streets, I’m al­ways shocked by how quiet it is when I visit this peace­ful gar­den oa­sis. At Ren­nie, head to the rooftop deck for an up-close look at a neon sign by artist Martin Creed that says “Ev­ery­thing is go­ing to be al­right.” – C.R.

For a lo­cal de­signer fave

Van­cou­ver sta­ple Ni­cole Bridger re­cently moved her flag­ship shop from Kit­si­lano to Gas­town. Ev­ery time I’m in Van­cou­ver, I pick up her new­est take on a sweater wrap or a drapey top. I love the brand’s ef­forts to be so­cially con­scious in ev­ery­thing from its fab­ric se­lec­tion to its man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses. – C.R. n

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