South Main Street ...........38
This cool-kid utopia of young artists, bearded baristas, and web designers with French bulldogs in tow, will remind you of Portland. Embrace it. The culture here offers a rare and undeniably pleasurable mix of independent cafés (full of laptop-toting locals), smartly edited boutiques, and some of the city’s most adventurous eats
The décor is upscale basement (concrete walls, bare-bulb-styled fixtures, moulded-wood chairs), but the food at Campagnolo ( 1020 Main St., 604-484-6018. Campagnolorestaurant.ca) is traditional Northern Italian with touches of local inventiveness. Fried garbanzo beans, or ceci, are a favourite to start. A nice selection of pizzas and pastas are in the $14-19 range, with a few carefully chosen mains at $21-24. The changing side dishes are inspired. Behind the main room is a small bar and a few tables, fun for watching games on the TV or clustering with a group. Routinely packed at dinner despite the no-reservations policy.
You don’t expect a vegetarian place to be named one of Canada’s best new restaurants. There are many surprises in store at The Acorn ( 3995 Main St., 604566-9001. Theacornrestaurant.ca) with chef Brian Skinner at the helm. The menu unsettles then delights diners, most of whom are not veg: raw beet ravioli with macadamia cheese; undeniably meaty hen of the woods mushrooms with golden beets in an apple-green, creamy nasturtium emulsion. Do try a house cocktail.
Chef/owner/evangelist Andrea Carlson at Burdock & Co. ( 2702 Main St., 604-879-0077. Burdockandco.com) is a pioneer of the locavore scene, crafting deeply satisfying comfort food like panko-breaded buttermilk fried chicken and biscuits, quail cas- soulet, and German butter potatoes with pickled garlic.
The Alibi Room’s Nigel Springthorpe thought Conrad Gmoser, who’d spent 15 years at Steamworks (his Pilsner won gold at the 2012 B.C. Beer Awards), would need a few weeks to mull it over, but convincing him to open a brewery with a tasting room “took about 13 nanoseconds—it was a very firm ‘Yes!’ ” Their barebones Brassneck Brewery ( 2148 Main St. Brassneck.ca) features 12 beers, rotating often on the taps and for growler refills; when you get hungry, cross fingers there’s a patient food truck waiting outside.
The second location (after Kitsilano) for favourite coffee roaster 49th Parallel is a 100-seat gem that boasts the inclusion of side project Lucky’s Doughnuts ( 2902 Main St., 604-872-4901. Luckysdoughnuts.com) under the same roof. We like the addictive coconut bismarck (glaze and cream filling!) and the salty-sweet bacon apple fritter.
Vancouver Special ( 3612 Main St., 604-568-3673. Vanspecial.com) stocks Danish sofas, stylish tabletop accessories, and a sweet library of art and architecture books. It’s also where you’ll find Vancouver-designed screenprinted bags and linens by Forest and Waves.
Shops on Main can feel a little dear, but Much & Little ( 2541 Main St., 604-709-9034. Muchandlittle.com) delivers a smartly edited selection of home goods that combines en vogue aesthetics with actual utility. German-made shoe-shining brush kits, cozy wool Pendleton blankets, and classic coffee bean grinders are favourites. Plus, they’ve sourced honest-to-goodness ostrich feather dusters.
F As in Frank ( 2425 Main St., 604568-5130. Fasinfrankvintage.com) stocks vintage snapback hats, RayBans, a killer Polo collection, and a sea of Levi’s cutoffs. Given that the owners sort through over 100,000 pounds of clothing a day, it’s no wonder they also wholesale their awe-inspiring “top shelf” inventory of garments to high-street retail monsters like Urban Outfitters, along with renting it out by the piece to us little guys.
Nineteen Ten Home Boutique ( 4366 Main St., 604-558-0210. Nineteenten.ca )— named after Coco Chanel’s debut year—is a one-stop shop for vintage and modern décor. Edison-era cage lights and Eames-style chairs (at non-Eames prices) add eclectic elegance. The kids’ collection is mischievously chic.
Local starchitect Bing Thom’s flower-like Sunset Community Centre ( 6810 Main St., 604-7186505. Mysunset.net) features a restrained West Coast palette of concrete, glass, and wood, and is topped by a dramatically curved roof. The indoor ice rink and basketball courts offer year-round fun for families, and drop-in exercise and sports classes from yogalates to qigong to pickleball.
The ridiculous seven-foot canine known as the Main Street Poodle ( Main St. at E. 18th Ave.) wants your attention. That’s why he’s perched on a 25-foot pole and has his own Twitter account. Artist Gisele Amantea envisioned her giant faux porcelain figurine speaking to Main Street’s underlying aesthetic that glorifies kitsch. Although the price tag on the public art enraged many, the sentiment sounds just about right to us.
Main Street Poodle
Nineteen Ten Home Boutique
Burdock & Co.
49th Parallel / Lucky’s Doughnuts
TASTE TH IS Finnochiona PIZZERIA FARINA This one transports us straight to Napoli with its combo of fennel sausage, tangy tomato sauce, chewy provolone, delightfully stinky parmesan, and spicy pepper kick. 915 Main St.,...