Historic Railtown/Japantown isn’t as blessed with as many restaurants as neighbourhoods like Gastown or Kitsilano, but almost every single one of them is worth a repeat visit. These are our favourites, presented in no particular order for your ranking consideration…
If you’re into beer, the Alibi Room (157 Alexander St., 604 623 3383) is Vancouver’s best foot forward on that front, with dozens upon dozens of great brews on tap and a more than capable kitchen to support them (try to score Table #11 if you can). For day-time indulgence, hit the original Railtown Cafe (397 Railway St., 604-568-8811) and people-watch the unique lunch rush with a Club Sandwich and a Moja coffee.
For idiosyncratic pan-Latin American fare, check out chef Stu Irving’s fun, lively Cuchillo (261 Powell St., 604-559-7585) and dig into Baja-style battered rockfish tacos and Peruvian-inspired sushi causa.
For Italian, there’s the always reliable Ask For Luigi (305 Alexander St., 604-428-2544), which serves up excellent pasta dishes, crisped-up polenta and superb meatballs while pouring from a little gem-filled wine list. Note that the busy spot – a perennial fixture on the Scout 25 (our reader-ranked list of Vancouver’s best restaurants) – doesn’t take reservations!
Thankfully, Ask For Luigi’s beautiful sister-eatery, the newly opened and well-reviewed St. Lawrence (269 Powell St., | 604-620-3800), does take reservations. And you might need one. Inspired by the rustic, homey cuisine of Quebec, it is an edible love letter to the home province of chef/owner JC Poirier (the tourtiere is especially fantastic).
Given the history of the neighbourhood it was a fine thing to see the recent arrival of home-style Japanese eatery Dosanko (566 Powell St., 604-251-2020). I’m partial to their omelettes but they do a fine heritage breed tonkatsu as well.
Finally, you’ve got to have dinner at The Mackenzie Room (415 Powell St., 604-253-0705)! This locavore, farm-to-table restaurant boasts – in my opinion – one of the most under-sung chefs in the city in Sean Reeve. Though the chalkboard menu is staccato in its descriptions I’ve never had a dish here that didn’t impress me (at least once a month I feel a little dumb for not availing myself of its excellence more often).
Again, no matter the order in which our readers rank these establishments in the popularity contest below, know that they’re all good! If I missed a spot that you consider worthy, please let us know via @scoutmagazine.