One perfect day in Vancouver's Gastown

Explore the tastier side of this Vancouver neighborhood

L'Abattoir restaurant

L'Abattoir, Gastown's swanky-industrial french resturant, features delicious cocktails and food made with local ingredients.

Janis Nicolay

Old Faithful Shop

Old Faithful Shop features unique handmade items like terrariums and cheese knives.

Janis Manning

Meat and Bread

Meat and Bread sandwich shop makes addictive bites like porchetta sandwiches and homemade condiments.

Janis Nicolay

Diamond Bar

Diamond restaurant and bar is the perfect place for a bird's-eye view of Maple Tree Square in the Gastown neighborhood.

Janis Nicolay

Why go now: The Olympics hubbub has died down, but this neighborhood continues to boom with new shops, restaurants, and watering holes.

Its name comes from: Gold prospector "Gassy Jack" Deighton, who built the first tavern here in 1867.

The vibe: Once-gritty, now more SoHo than Skid Row.

Best place to chat with a local: Irish Heather Gastro Pub (210 Carrall St.; 604/688-9779), where a huge whiskey list helps along conversation.

Canadian soul food: Try poutine, french fried doused in gravy and cheese curds, at Boneta ($$$ U.S.; closed Sun; 12 Water St.; 604/684-1844). 

Walk off that gravy: Head five blocks to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden ($14 U.S.; 578 Carrall; 604/662-3207).

Hot table: New Nicli Antica Pizzeria ($$ U.S.; 62 E. Cordova St.; 604/669-6985) is already famous for its authentic Neapolitan pies.

Get the inside scoop: Keep up on Gastown's goings-on at

Fine dining in Blood Alley: Upping Gastown's name is new, swanky-industrial L'Abattoir (its name is French for "slaughterhouse," a nod to the location near a former butchers' alley). A see-and-be-seen crowd comes for killer cocktails, while the food is a happy marriage of modern French technique and local ingredients. $$$ U.S.; 217 Carrall St.; 604/568-1710.


One-of-a-kind finds: Most of what's in the artfully curated Old Faithful Shop--custom teardrop terrariums, reclaimed-wood cutting boards, rosewood cheese knives--is handmade, so you can feel good about surrounding yourself with beautiful things. 320 W.Cordova St.; 778/327-9376. 

Porchetta heaven: Queue up with a young 9 to 5 crowd at Meat and Bread sandwich shop. You'll be treated to the cozy aroma of herby roasted meat and the shop's addictive porchetta sandwiches--crusty rolls that give way to juicy pork loin and crispy cracklings. $; closed Sun; 370 Cambie St.; 604/566-9003. 

After hours: Climb the dark stairs to the Diamond restaurant and bar for a bird's-eye view of Maple Tree Square, the epicenter of the neighborhood. This candlelit boîte has a speakeasy vibe, and the clever cocktail menu with categories like "proper," "delicate," and "boozy" gently guides you to your ideal drink. $$ U.S.; 6 Powell St.;

Make it a weekend: The Victorian Hotel may look a bit faded-rose from the outside, but inside, the newly renovated boutique hotel has 49 cushy rooms that blend fine antiques and modern details like contemporary crystal lamps and white chaises. From $99 U.S.;

3 ways to get your outdoorsy fix without leaving city limits

Hike & forage: Harvest strawberries and miner's lettuce in the wooded foothills of Fraser Valley on Swallow Tail Tours' half-day hikes. You'll learn how to identify the edible flora all around you, and finish with a three-course picnic. $57.33 U.S.;

Pedal the park: Just a half-hour walk from Gastown is Stanley Park's 1,000 acres of green space. Hop on a bike at Spokes Bicycle Rentals (from $17.50 U.S. per hour; 1798 W. Georgia St.; 604/688-5141) and cruise along the English Bay waterfront and under Lions Gate Bridge.

Leafy retreat: Walk 57 feet above the forest floor in a leafy rain-forest canopy at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, where the themed gardens stay uncrowded in summer. $8.34 U.S., plus $12.51 U.S. for canopy walk; 6804 S.W. Marine Dr.; 604/822-9666.

Printed from: