Home base for the city’s Italian, Portuguese, lesbian and activist communities is the Drive—a long, quasimagical succession of indie cafés offering expert espressos alongside truly authentic pizza joints. Post-lunch, stroll the tree-lined side streets for quiet appreciation of the many heritage homes (and nascent infill)
Of the many contenders for Vancouver’s sexiest pizza, we’re crushing on Via Tevere ( 1190 Victoria Dr., 604-336-1803. Viateverepizzeria.com). The room has a family-friendly buzz (and the intimate back patio is a dream) but the teal-tiled wood-fired oven at the centre announces the pizzaioli know their craft. A blistery, minimalist margherita with tomato, creamy fior di latte mozza, and aromatic basil shows how a few quality ingredients can shine.
La Mezcaleria ( 1622 Commercial Dr., 604-559-8226. Lamezcaleria. ca) puts a sophisticated spin on traditional Mexican cuisine. Yet while the food is delicious, the real star here—as its name suggests—is mezcal. The oftoverlooked spirit (compared to its hermano, tequila) is smoky, rich, and complex enough to merit six categories on the in-house list.
Merchant’s Oyster Bar ( 1590 Commercial Dr., 604-258-0005. Merchantsoysterbar.ca) explores the turf alongside the surf. $1.50-a-shuck oysters steal the show at weekend brunches, but weeknight dinners surprise with beef tartare and pork belly—the best of both worlds.
At Federico’s Supper Club ( 1728 Commercial Dr., 604-251-3473. Federicossupperclub.com), owner Federico Fuoco croons to crowds of ballroom dancers and bachelorettes on weekends. Chef Nick Grant’s Italian menu means business, though: start with beef tenderloin tartar crostini with black truffle zabaglione, then graduate to pan-seared B.C. albacore tuna in a pistachio crust.
Fratelli’s ( 1795 Commercial Dr., 604-255-8926. Fratellibakery. com), purveyor of fine focaccia and other fresh-baked artisanal loaves, also peddles high-quality espresso. Settle outside with an Americano (beans are sourced from Vancouver’s Torelli roasters), and Sicilian cannoli filled with rich ricotta and subtle orange zest.
José and Ana Herrera’s breezy Latin American spot Rinconcito Salvadoreño ( 2062 Commercial Dr., 604-879-2600) shouts sunny tropics. Ana’s pupusas—a Salvadorean specialty of beans, cheese, and pork stuffed into a homemade corn tortilla—are a great start before tucking into carne asada: grilled steak with rice, beans, and fresh avocado. For dessert, fried plantains with cream transport you down the Pacific coast.
Prado Café ( 1938 Commercial Dr., 604-255-5537. Pradocafevancouver. com) is almost out-of-step-chic compared to the plucky, oddball spirit of the Drive, but Vancouver coffee-scene pioneer Sammy
Produce shopping on the Drive
Merchant’s Oyster Bar