A Guide to Eating & Drinking Like a Champion During the Eastside Culture Crawl

The reality of Vancouver’s winter hits home in November. Fortunately, the Eastside Culture Crawl breaks up the month’s grey and rainy monotony from Thursday, November 16th through Sunday, November 19th. Over 500 Vancouver artists, designers and makers will be welcoming you into their spaces to get rare, behind-the-scenes looks at their creative practices. As you navigate your way from Main Street to Victoria Drive and back, you’ll need to address your hunger and thirst as much as your eyes and mind. Here are a few spots we recommend to fuel your artistic itinerary…

CALLISTER BREWING | 1338 Franklin Street

The first of its kind in Canada, Callister is a brewery that contracts its facilities out to three other up-and-coming brewers at a time (plus one cidery) which means that the beer drinker can expect to find a good range of styles, from crowd-pleasers to experimental brews, all entirely exclusive to the brewery. Currently taking over seven of the twelve rotating taps are Morning Star, Night Owl and Real Cask. They also serve up real old fashioned sodas for the kids and non-imbibers. Bonus: you can always expect an assortment of impressive local art adorning the small space’s walls. In fact, Callister is home to the Goldmoss Satellite gallery, so you can check one off your Culture Crawl list while you sip!

MAMIE TAYLOR’S | 251 East Georgia Street

A properly made Old Fashioned cocktail and some delicious ham grenades make this Chinatown haunt a no brainer of a spot from which to launch one’s Crawl explorations, especially if you’re inching your way from west to east.

EAST VAN BREWING CO. | 1675 Venables Street

We haven’t been in since we previewed it a couple of weeks ago but they’ve just opened their doors and it’s right in the middle of the Crawl zone. Get in there and welcome them to the neighbourhood by raising a pint or three between studio visits.

DIXIE’S BBQ | 337 East Hastings Street

Cold beers, stiff drinks and tonnes of authentic Austin, Texas BBQ with all the OMG sides you can think of. We’re talking everything from brisket, sausages and baked beans to pulled pork, tater tots, fried chicken and waffles. Best to go after your Crawl once you’ve worked up the appetite.

STRANGE FELLOWS BREWING | 1345 Clark Drive

Strange Fellows is no stranger to the arts. Christine Moulson’s signature illustrations adorn everything from growlers to the washroom doors, and the tasting room’s adjacent Charles Clark Gallery hosts monthly art shows. On display in the gallery now and for the remainder of November is Richard Cole’s ‘SMALL PORTRAITS’ show. Although the space isn’t included in the Culture Crawl, it’s still a natural pit-stop on your route to enjoy a glass of my go-to brew, the Talisman West Coast Pale Ale, or any of their other solid selection of beers on tap. Bonus: On November 18th & 19th, Strange Fellows will host a printmaking workshop, 1-4pm Sat and Sun. For kids it will be a simple relief printing technique using foam and no sharp tools, while older kids and adults will be shown how to make a linocut print. The idea is that people can take a break from Crawling, come by and grab a beer and make some art of their own. Limited space – first come, first served.

LA MEZCALERIA | 1622 Commercial Drive

Whether you’re done for the night and in the midst of it, this Mexican spot on The Drive fits the bill on account of their variety of tacos, share plates and deep shelves of tequila and mezcal. We’re partial to the queso fundido with chorizo and a classic, summery margarita.

YOLKS | 1298 East Hastings Street

This is the last weekend before the popular all-day brunch spot moves from its original location (the old Brave Bull address at Clark Drive) to its new one two blocks east on Hastings (detailed here). Get in there and warm up with hot coffee and some fried chicken and waffles!

CAMPAGNOLO | 1o20 Main Street

This hugely reliable neighbourhood spot is always on our Crawl radar. Sneak in for a Negroni, some crispy ceci and a delicious plate of tagliatelle with pork ragu and pecorino.

FINCH’S MARKET  | 501 East Georgia Street

The blue-brie, pear, walnut and prosciutto sandwich at Finch’s Market

While you’re touring the Strathcona neighbourhood, take some time to slow down (it’s a Crawl, after all!) and warm up with a coffee and lunch fix at Finch’s Market. Weather-permitting, their baguette sandwiches are the perfect parcel to take around the corner to Maclean Park for an impromptu autumnal picnic.

JUKE FRIED CHICKEN | 182 Keefer Street

After a Thursday or Friday evening of gallery and studio hopping, Juke is the perfect landing spot to wind down with some comfort food and a drink. The Chinatown establishment is located at the westernmost point of the Crawl, so if your route started in East Van then you definitely need to reward yourself by filling up on some tasty fried chicken, good cocktails and killer tunes.

ALIBI ROOM | 157 Alexander Street

A neighbourhood institution that’s a bit off the beaten Crawl track – but next to the train tracks – the Alibi is also neighbour to no less than five Culture Crawl stops. Its communal set-up, warm and woody interior and convivial atmosphere make it the perfect evening spot to converse about art over dinner and a paddle or pint(s) of stellar craft beer. Try to score table #11 if you can.

TORAFUKU | 958 Main Street

One of the most consistently excellent pan-Asian restaurants in Canada. Chef Clement Chan and his kitchen crew are always up to something interesting, and the cocktails are the best on this stretch of Main Street. It sports the coolest communal table in town — a Scott & Scott designed suspended concrete beauty (if it’s packed try for a seat at the bar).

STRATHCONA BEER COMPANY | 895 East Hastings Street

Pouring plenty of quality beers in a large, modern, well-lit, Simcic & Uhrich-designed space dotted with booths and high-top communal tables, this brewery looks like a proper restaurant. Don’t be fooled…it’s a counter-service operation. Bonus: they make really good pizza.

LUPPOLO BREWING CO. | 1123 Venables Street

Located within eyeshot of Parker St. Studios, this Italian-themed brewery just celebrated its first birthday so if you haven’t been in for a pint yet this is a perfect occasion to celebrate its arrival.

MACKENZIE ROOM | 415 Powell Street

The Mackenzie Room

If you’re looking for a bit of seasonal creativity on your dinner plate, The Mackenzie Room is the place to find it. Chef Sean Reeve’s ever-evolving chalkboard menu of deliciousness is a joy to explore in any season, but this time of year it gets hearty. Dig in! Bonus: excellent cocktail.

PAT’S PUB | 403 East Hastings Street

The hearty burger, a plate of fries and a pint of Pat’s Classic Lager are all legend to those who live in the area. If there’s a game on, know that this is where die hard Canucks/Crawl fans will retreat for a period or two. There’s also a bank machine to replenish your Crawl funds. Bonus: Griswold Winter Ale & Scottish Ale might be available – ask nicely.

FIVE ELEMENTS | 1046 Commercial Drive

Slip in for a cheap and warming won tun soup art this no frills pan-Asian (mostly Thai/Vietnamese) cafe on The Drive. It’s piping hot, restorative, intensely flavoured, and merrily cheap at $4 a bowl.

THE TUCK SHOPPE | 237 Union Street

Fast, affordable and unpretentious, we dig this quick and easy sandwich joint. Scout is on record loving their French Onion Dip sandwich with brisket and fresh horseradish but we’ve never tried their mojo-marinated pork belly Cubano. We hear it calling…

DOSANKO |  566 Powell Street

Located in Railtown close to Oppenheimer Park, Dosanko serves a selection of home-style, Japanese comfort food — ideal for fill-ups between studio visits.

KIN KAO | 903 Commercial Drive

We’ve been huge fans of this small but extremely capable Thai restaurant since its launch almost three years ago. Scott & Scott designed, it’s a good looking spot to while away an hour between studio visits with some sour cured pork ribs, Pad Thai and local craft beer.

PEROGY LUNCH | Ukrainian Cultural Centre (805 E. Pender Street)

There’s a Perogy Lunch at the Strathcona Ukrainian Hall this weekend. Dig into generous helpings of homemade perogies, sliced sausage, cabbage rolls and bowls of borscht. Don’t be put off by the line-up at the door. It moves fast and you might make friends (perogy eaters are generally a jolly bunch). Also expect crafts, baked goods and all manner of trinkets. Super bonus: this event takes place smack in the middle of Eastside Culture Crawl territory (Pender at Hawks) and fits in nicely between studio visits. Sat, Nov. 18 + Sun, Nov. 19 | 11-3:30.

VIA TEVERE | 1190 Victoria Drive

The classic, VPN-certified Margherita pie at Via Tevere.

Putting your chilled face over a steaming, wood-fired, certified Neapolitan pizza at this neighbourhood joint is one of the low-hanging fruit options during the Crawl, especially if you start or end yours near its easternmost boundary. Open a bottle of wine and breathe in the smells of proper dough and hardwood smoke as you reflect on what you saw over the course of your evening’s adventure.

BENNY’S | 598 Union Street

Grab a sandwich and a drink here as you wander the streets of Strathcona looking for crows and yellow balloons (the two tell-tale signs of a Crawl studio). They have a take-out counter at the back of the shop with some quality snacks. We recommend the pastrami and the hot spot sandwiches, and if they have their potato and bacon soup going, pounce on that hot acton! If nothing else, Janet and Ramon will point you in the right direction.

THE UNION MARKET | 810 Union Street (between Campbell & Hawks)

Smack dab in the middle of the Adanac bike route and ground zero in the most densely populated area on the Crawl map is The Union Market. Slip in for some traditional Portuguese chicken (Gloria always makes extra chicken on the Crawl weekend) or a not so traditional (but totally addictive) curry pocket. Enjoy the handful of outdoor tables under cover.

ODD SOCIETY | 1725 Powell Street

A mid-crawl cocktail is a grand idea. Make your way to the lovely tasting room at Odd Society Spirits on Powell Street for a Sour Owl or an Odd Aviation and calm your nerves after even the most crowded of studio visits. Odd Society is open 1-11pm on Friday and Saturday, 1-7pm on Sunday and is located a stones throw from The ARC building – which is jam packed with Culture Crawl artists.

FUJIYA | 912 Clark Drive

Fujiya is great for take-out sushi. It’s nothin’ fancy, just fast, healthy and cheap. Sometimes that’s all you need! You can even order your sushi online and pick it up.

YAMA CAFE | 2007 East Hastings Street

This cozy Japanese cafe is located at the eastern most point of the Crawl (on Hastings at the corner of Semlin) which makes it a great place to kick off your day of Crawl-ing. Take advantage of one of their morning or lunch sets, or be blown away by the magical transformation of vegetables with a vegetarian rice bowl (a visual masterpiece). Then stock up on an assortment of bite-size treats, including the mochi “moffins” and coffee to fuel the journey ahead.

HARVEST COMMUNITY FOODS | 243 Union Street

A restorative bowl of ramen at Harvest Community Foods

This little noodle cafe and grocery store is located one block east of Main Street, directly on the Union Street bike path, making it particularly convenient if that’s your method of Culture Crawl transportation. Harvest’s small menu makes the most of local produce and a bowl of noodles with some on-tap kombucha will nourish and warm you (on cool days when the door is closed the space gets especially steamy) so you’ll leave feeling revitalized for the continuation of your Crawl. Oh, and don’t forget to snag a salted chocolate cookie for the road.

AGRO ROASTERS | 550 Clark Drive

A hot cup of coffee can go a long way in making the Crawl a warmer, more enjoyable experience. The jolt of caffeine doesn’t hurt, either. Ideally located in the thick of it, Agro – which roasts their own beans – is our neighbourhood go-to.

GOLDEN ERA | Food Truck 

Rumour has it that Golden Era Burgers will be available during the crawl. After keeping your eyes peeled for the big orange truck with a lineup of hungry burger groupies, your best bet of tracking down Golden Era is to follow their Instagram – sometimes Carlos will post his location. Stay committed though – these old school smash-type burgers are goooooood.

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