Lifestyle & Culture > The Perfect Day in Vancouver

The Perfect Day in Vancouver

Published: November 11, 2008

No day can be completely perfect in Vancouver if it is raining, so for the sake of this article, let the day be sunny and warm, perhaps in late May or early June. That is the ideal time to be in Vancouver, non?

With only a day to play with, it had better be a good one, and, as all the health advocates out there implore, a good hearty breakfast is the way to go. For all those masochists out there who enjoy a healthy dose of verbal abuse from time to time, The Elbow Room Cafe should get you going. Abuse is their game, and they do it well - a server once told my friend to "grow the f&ck up" when she expressed objection to the idea that he wouldn't refill her coffee mug. For the faint-hearted and more family oriented, Sophie's Cosmic Cafe, 4th Avenue's nostalgic breakfast nook, will do the trick. Egg-lovers rave over the Santa Fe Eggs Benedict, while health lovers, in true Kitsilano fashion, will have plenty to choose from.

Once full from breakfast, a trip to Granville Island and the market will get you up close and personal with one of Vancouver's hearts. If you're coming from Sophie's, just wander down 4th Avenue until you see the signs, and if the Elbow Room struck your fancy, walk down to the foot of Howe and grab the colourful Aquabus across False Creek. Once in the market, stroll leisurely through the vendor stalls, gazing longingly at Dussa's cheese selection, Siegel's fresh oven-baked bagels, and the Stock Market's incredibly delicious soups. Try to make it out of the market without grabbing a chocolate macaroon from Terra Breads - it will charge your tastebuds. After you've exhausted your sighing muscles, head outside to experience the rest of this artist haven island. Some of the best gelato in town is tucked around the other side of the Arts Club Theatre, and the street performers will keep you entertained forever (especially the British guy who chains himself up...he sucks me in every time). Head over to the Kids Market to indulge your inner child, and then indulge your alcoholic child with a tour and a taste across the street at the Granville Island Brewing Company. As one of Vancouver's most famous and most beloved microbrews, it would be a shame not to immerse yourself in the experience.

Once you're happily full of beer, you can either head back to the market to scavenge up some lunch, or head downtown for lunch at a legendary Vancouver establishment. Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House has been one of Vancouver's landmark restaurants since 1985. Right in the heart of downtown, at Thurlow and Robson (the intersection of the two Starbucks), Joe Fortes has been bringing deliciously classy meals to the city's residents and visitors for an eternity (at least in this young city). Not to worry, though, pretention lives far from here. The atmosphere is more upscale than most places on Robson, but it still maintains a casual elegance about it that welcomes everyone. The award-winning menu can certainly add up to an expensive bill, but there are also many options available to keep your tab lighter. Their oyster selection is to die for (they almost always have Kusshi and Kumamoto, along with other seasonal delights), and other menu must-haves include Dotty's Chopped Salad, the Jumbo Tiger Prawn Cocktail, and the Ahi Tuna. They also offer daily Blue Plate Specials to make the dining experience more affordable, but still delicious. Oh, and the 400+ wine list will probably have something to suit your palate.

Spend the afternoon bustling along Robson, exploring the eccentricities of Denman, and perhaps rent a bicycle from Spokes at Denman and Georgia in order to take in the wonders of Stanley Park at a quicker pace. Ensure to revel at the Totem Poles, Siwash Rock, and Lost Lagoon. Enjoy the breathtaking views at Prospect Point, and crane your neck in awe at the height and width of the magnificent sequoias. If you have time, the Vancouver Aquarium is home to some of the most beautiful aquatic life (and the cutest little sea otters around), and can be a great way to spend a few hours. If the timing is right, stop at Third Beach for an unparalleled view of the descending sun - the perfect way to relax after an exerting bike ride. Once you're refreshed, return to the bike and prepare for the evening.

If you're lucky enough to get a table, dinner at Bin 941 will be the cherry on this ice cream sundae of a day. At Burrard and Davie, this older sister of the duo (Bin 942 is at Broadway and Granville) is the best tapas bar in the city. The atmosphere is small, dark, loud, and uber-trendy, and the food is simply incredible. It's best to go with someone with similar tastebuds, since you'll be able to sample more. Any of the four different types of mussels are a sure bet to have you in food heaven, as is the navajo fry bread, and the gorgonzola basil pesto bruschetta ('s true). For larger plates, the crab cakes are impeccable and the sashimi grade ahi tuna is out of this world. Bin 942 has a couple different items, include the silent-approval-inducing Kobe beef carpaccio (with truffle oil popcorn!), and lemongrass-infused mussels. The wine lists at both match the menu so perfectly that you won't have to sit there craving anything else. If you can make it to dessert (a feat to accomplish), the chocolate fondue with homemade cinnamon doughnuts, candied pecan-stuffed marshmallows, and poached pears will literally send you over the edge. And, as the website says, foodgasms happen until 1.30am, so you've got all night to indulge.

If you feel as though you can keep going, head west down Broadway to The Shack Eatery & Watering Hole at Broadway and Trutch. This months-old Kits establishment is just what the neighbourhood ordered. Bar meets restaurant meets lounge for the 20-something crowd, The Shack has great food and wicked drinks for excellent prices (Saturday nights spell $15 pitchers of sangria, and the pizzas are only $12). The staff are great, the place is always packed, and there's a game of Jenga floating around, which always creates a laugh. You can easily stay here for hours with the right mix of friends and booze (and food, if you're really still hungry). Toast your bevvie of choice to a fantastic perfect day in Vancouver, and relax the night away.

Restaurant Information:The Elbow Room Cafe

560 Davie Street

Vancouver, BC

(604) 685-3628

Sophie's Cosmic Cafe

2095 4th Avenue West

Vancouver, BC

(604) 732-6810

Granville Island Brewing

3 tours daily, $9.75/person, includes 4 tasters, subject to availability

1441 Cartwright Street

Vancouver, BC

(604) 687-BREW (2739)

Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House

777 Thurlow Street

Vancouver, BC

(604) 669-1940

Bin 941

941 Davie Street

Vancouver, BC

(604) 683-1246

The Shack Eatery & Watering Hole

3189 Broadway West

Vancouver, BC

(604) 738-5551‎


1. Sam on November 13, 2008

Hey, what an awesome article. I've lived in Vancouver for a few years and have never been to some of these places. The next sunny day I might just try out your recipe for perfection!

2. annalu on March 29, 2009

This is a great article. Have you tried the True Confections Dessert Restaurant? It's the only purely desserts restaurants here in Vancouver. The selection is wide and the portions are huge! One of my favourites is the Devil's food cake, the marshmallow icing is to die for! There are several locations, go have a try sometime!

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