Scout focuses on new restaurants so much that it’s easy to forget all the ones that aren’t around anymore; the short-lived flashes in the pan and decades-old icons long retired in success. It takes all kinds to propel our food scene forward. So with the assistance of diners and restaurant industry veterans we offer this growing token of delicious remembrance. They might be gone, but they aren’t forgotten!
Editor’s note: This is an ongoing project. Do you know of a deceased restaurant worthy of respectful internment here that we haven’t yet laid to rest? Let us know in the comments below.
IN MEMORIUM, ALPHABETICALLY
– PHOTOS INCLUDED ON MAP –
In June, 2014, chef Andrey Durbach, Chris Stewart, and Michel Durocher revealed their latest project, a short-lived gastro-tavern called The Abbey. Located in the old 2,500 sqft Wild Rice address at 117 West Pender Street, the 90 seat restaurant would be especially carnivorous, plating the meaty likes of potted oxtail, beef consomme, organic beef patty melts (with Tête de Moine cheese and Berkshire bacon!), lamb shanks, bangers, hanger steaks, and housemade sausage rolls. It also boasted an excellent bar program with good local beer, great cocktails, and a solid wine list. The Abbey would close in 2016, well before its second birthday.
Veteran hands-on restaurateurs Carol Gadsby and Luciano Loi (previously the owners of Papi’s in Steveston) first opened Adesso Bistro in Kitsilano in the winter of 2005. Five years later they moved the charming Italian operation into the old Parkside space under the West End’s Buchan Hotel, not only enjoy the fruits of what was then arguably the best patio in Vancouver but also to upgrade the overall dining experience and provide more seating. As before, the owner-operated restaurant and bar (now 110 seats) specialized in refined expressions of the regional cuisine of Liguria, with seafood dishes figuring highly (eg. Pacific Halibut all’ Acqua Pazza). The kitchen was originally run by Sean Sylvestre, formerly the executive chef at The Beach House (and for several years before that sous chef to Pino Posteraro at Yaletown’s esteemed Cioppino’s). Sadly, Adesso Bistro closed its handsome doors in 2018. The space is currently (2021) occupied by another Italian concept called Robba Da Matti.
Founded by Frank Hunter in 1932, the Aristocratic evolved from a drive-in at Kingsway and Fraser into what was once upon a time Vancouver’s most popular restaurant chain. Locally famous for its slogan of “courteous service, quality food, all over town”, it was well know for its cheap burgers, wonderful neon signage and the brand character of ‘Risty’ sporting a top hat and monocle. The company’s collection of casual, fast(ish) food diners – nine locations when Hunter sold the chain in 1947 – eventually grew to a dozen addresses, including 13th & Cambie, 10th & Alma, Main & King Edward (now Helen’s Grill), Granville & Smithe, Broadway & Granville, and Main & Broadway. It would also hatch sister eateries such as Risty’s and the Silk Hat on Granville St., Henri’s Grill & Smorgasbord on West Georgia, and the Flame Super Club out in Burnaby. Having suffered standards degradation for decades, the chain was eventually reduced to a single location – Broadway & Granville – until it was finally (tragically) shuttered in 1997.
An excellent wine, cheese and charcuterie bar owned by (and next door to) Les Amis du Fromage in Strathcona. They served up delicious raclette and fondues, not to mention one of the best cheeseburgers Vancouver has even seen. It opened in 2009 and closed in 2013.
One of Vancouver’s first “locavore” restaurants. Chef Jeff Van Geest’s neighbourhood trailblazer included an all-BC wine list designed by wine scribe Kurtis Kolt. Famed for its superb brunches and excellent soundtrack. It closed in 2008. The address later became Wallflower Modern Diner, now closed.
Bambudda was a 55-seat nouveau dim sum restaurant located at 99 Powell Street in Gastown. It was launched by front-of-house lifer Ray Loy in 2013 and lasted almost four years. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Strathcona/Chinatown, Loy had worked his way up through the ranks at restaurants such as “C”, Joe Fortes, Bacchus at the Wedgewood and Market in the Shangri-La before striking out on his own with this project. Bambudda was by most accounts a very attractive restaurant (designed by Vanessa Rienau), especially in the bar area with its stools lining up to the lip of the room’s convertible frontage (great in summer). The kitchen was a bit of a revolving door, with chefs Keev Mah (later Pidgin, Sai Woo), Scott Korzack (later Beach Bay Cafe, Crowbar) and Curtis Luk (later Mission) all taking turns on the line. The bar program also saw several hands on the tiller, including the talented likes of Max Borrowman (later Torafuku, Juniper). The 3,000 sqft restaurant was forced to close in early 2017, soon after the landlord informed Loy of the building’s need for extensive renovations that would require his exit (not to mention the actual erasure of the 99 Powell St. address itself). Sadly, Loy decided not to search for a new location to continue the promising concept.
Possibly hamstrung out of the gate in 2015 by its German owner, notorious B-movie director Uwe Boll (Alone in the Dark, Rampage, Postal etc.), and his pre-opening predilection for bluntly insulting other Vancouver restaurants in his own video series, the arrival of the ambitious Bauhaus restaurant was met with deafening quiet from the community it sought to join. This was despite a beautiful interior design transformation of 1 West Cordova St. (previously Boneta restaurant), the unquestionable talents of Michelin-starred chef Stefan Hartmann, and without a doubt the very best schnitzel in town. The modern German restaurant did receive the occasional award and love letter in the press, but such accolades never moved the needle in terms of its overall reception in Gastown, which remained consistently lukewarm over the course of its five-year run. Staff turnover and some rough luck with the old building could not have helped, but it was a complete falling out with the restaurant’s landlord (coupled with Covid) that led to its unceremonious closure in March, 2020.
A massively game-changing, trailblazing, award-winning restaurant conceived and originally cheffed by Gord Martin, who helped to pioneer the small plates craze. An entertaining, often wild gathering place for afterwork oenophiles and industry types. Though its heyday was in the years on either side of the turn of the millennium (former staff members tell crazy stories!), “Bin” held on to last a full 20 years (1998-2018).
Opened in 2007, Bistrot Bistro was one of several restaurants (see also Gastropod, Fuel) responsible for elevating the food reputation of a block of West 4th Avenue that needed a lift. Owned and operated by Laurent and Valerie Devin, a charming couple from France, the welcoming eatery focused on classic vernacular comforts like restorative Boeuf Bourguignon, aromatic Bouillabaisse and smoky Duck Tart. The restaurant was celebrated for nailing the details, from the quality of the baguettes to the consistency of the chocolate mousse. It closed in 2012 (replaced by La Cigale, another bistro).
Opened in the autumn of 2013, chef Brad Miller’s Bistro Wagon Rouge was the beloved follow-up to his wildly successful Red Wagon diner on East Hastings and a breath of fresh air to the 1800 block of Powell Street. Styled as a “blue-collar French bistro”, the transportive, beautifully designed space served up consistently excellent but unfussy bistro classics (pâtés, tartines, cassoulet, steak frites, beef bourguignon, etc.) and affordable wines right up until the day it closed in the late Autumn of 2019. It will be well-remembered for its wonderful service, gorgeous bar and accessible prices.
The beer-focused Bitter Tasting Room was launched on Gastown’s edge in 2011 by the Heather Hospitality Group (see Salt Tasting Room, Irish Heather, etc.). The 100+ seater was located at 16 West Hastings St. — a beautiful heritage space that had been lovingly renovated opposite Pigeon Park.
Dozens of craft brews from home and abroad were served at its unique, semi-circular bar alongside pretzels, sausages, scotch eggs, pork pies and more. Its opening predated the rush of Vancouver’s craft beer renaissance by a year or two, its vision harkening back to the city’s original love affair with beer.
“At Bitter, we want you to join us on a journey to a time when Vancouver had a bustling beer culture. Before Prohibition shut down the taps, the local breweries were countless. Delicious ales, lagers and bitters poured free. A golden era in history, before the rise of the beer monopoly, when brewers made the beer they wanted to make, not the beer they had to make.”
Bitter was purchased by Lightheart Hospitality in 2015 and became Darby’s Gastown later that year.
Blacktail Florist was an interesting (if short-lived) 80-seat restaurant concept located in Gastown’s storied 1912 Le Magasin building (200-332 Water Street). Opened by chef/co-owner Jimmy Stewart in the Spring of 2014, it took a Scandinavian approach to West Coast micro-seasonal ingredients. From the publicity materials of the time: “Wild edibles are the inspiration behind daily dishes, while a range of thoughtfully selected wines by the glass and bottle showcase the best varietals from our region. Outdoor meets indoor in the welcoming, clean and bright woodland-inspired interior.” Despite some positive reviews, an awesome look by Craig Stanghetta and the crew from St. Marie Designs, and the inevitable dropping of “Florist” from the name, the restaurant didn’t last long, closing less than two years later in March, 2016.
The original Boneta brought together a group of young first time restaurateurs (Mark Brand, Neil Ingram, Andre McGillivray) to a long suffering address in Gastown in the hot summer of 2007. Famed for its excellent cocktails, industry-friendly atmosphere and the hearty but refined French-inspired fare of its first chef, Jeremie Bastien, the restaurant (named after Brand’s mother) moved to a new location in 2011 (see Boneta 2.0).
The short-lived (2011-2013) second coming of a Gastown favourite. A concrete and glass box that was exuberantly home to excellent poutine, decadent Daube de Boeuf, an always interesting by-the-glass list, a brass stripper’s aid and a back bar filled with thousands of spent corks.
A place for cheap steaks ($10 sirloins at the time of closing) and no bullshit on the edge of Strathcona; a magnet to posties, longshoremen and neighbourhood families from 1985 to 2012. The decrepit space that housed it later became the first brick and mortar iteration of the Yolks chainlet. Now long vacant and presumed to be awaiting demolition.
Harry Kambolis’ ambitious local seafood restaurant on the False Creek seawall. The game-changing fine dining icon helped define Vancouver’s food scene from 1997 to 2014. Over the years it employed the talented likes of Robert Belcham, Rob Clark, Ted Anderson, Quang Dang, Sean Cousins, JC Poirier, Cate Simpson, Annette Rawlinson, Tom Doughty, Michael Dinn and Leonard Nakonechny. As the founding restaurant partner of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, its memory echoes in the nightly services of countless Vancouver establishments. Now home to a Peruvian-inspired fine dining restaurant (of comparable deliciousness) called Ancora.
Cafeteria was a short-lived, 30 seat restaurant from serial restaurateurs Chris Stewart and Andrey Durbach (see also “Parkside” and “Etoile” in the Restaurant Graveyard). It lasted two years in the heart of Mt. Pleasant at 2702 Main Street, opening in the summer of 2010 and closing in 2012. Previously, the address was home to a cult-hit looker called Ping’s Cafe. Though definitely expressed with a European accent, Cafeteria’s concept cleaved close to no particular cuisine style. Stewart and Durbach wanted a no-frills, “super casual” eatery with a short and sweet wine list to compliment an ever-changing menu featuring dishes that never exceeded $20. The design, simple but slick, kept customer focus on what was on the plate and in the glass. The opening day menu included the delicious likes of “Nobu-style” tuna and prawn sashimi, chicken schnitzel with spaetzle, Dungeness crab tortelloni, and butterscotch pudding. (I still vividly remember the schnitzel, which was superb.) Stewart and Durbach sold the space to chef Andrea Carlson and her partner, Kevin Bismanis, who would soon thereafter open the award-winning and critically acclaimed Burdock & Co. in its place.
One of the first stories Scout ever published was about the coming of Campagnolo restaurant in the late Autumn of 2008. Barack Obama had just been elected; the world was on the precipice of an era-defining Financial Crisis; and Vancouver had just voted in a handsome, juice-making DJ as its Mayor. I remember thinking that three fine dining veterans opening a casual pasta/pizza joint on the same block as the Ivanhoe Pub was a little crazy, but Robert Belcham, Tim Pittman and Tom Doughty evidently knew what they were doing. They had seen the rapid change that was happening on the stretch of Main Street between Chinatown and what would soon become Olympic Village. They were playing the long game. The move gave them commissary space for expansion (see Campagnolo Roma‘s arrival in 2011) and offices upstairs, not to mention room to create their speakeasy-like Campagnolo Upstairs hideaway, home of the Dirty Burger, in 2014. But at launch success was no sure thing. They worked hard for it, breaking their own backs with construction, hiring extremely well (eg. Giovanni Giardino, Peter Van de Reep), getting great press and winning big awards like Best New Restaurant and Chef of the Year. Campagnolo was even included in the 2009 “hottest new restaurants in the world” issue of Condé Nast Traveler.
Carlos ‘n Bud’s was a popular, casual, loosely American roadhouse-styled restaurant located in what used to be a mechanic’s shop and garage at the southern end of Seymour Street. Launched in 1988 by a pair of former Keg employees, Brad Hereuf and Marco Hubbard, the restaurant was beloved for its affordable Tex-Mex menu (think burgers, enchiladas, nachos, blended margaritas, etc.) and locally famous for its house-smoked ribs, which were best enjoyed with ice cold bottles of Corona beer on the patio. It was also notorious for its varied exterior signage, which included lines like “Patronized by Royalty & Nobility” and “We Cheat Tourists & Drunks”. The restaurant was closed in 2005 and demolished in 2006 to make room for a high rise condominium called The Mark. Side note: Hereuf and Hubbard purchased the Carlos ‘n Bud’s restaurant space (previously “Bud’s Good Eats”) from Bud Kanke, the same legend who would later go on to open Joe Fortes and The Cannery.
Open from 1937 to 1981, this cavernous night club (complete with fake stalactites) was the first in the city to score a liquor license. This was back in 1954, when Vancouver’s “culture of no” frowned upon the sinful combination of drinking and entertainment.
A short-lived “Modern Latin Cowboy” themed restaurant in the old Lola’s/Ballantyne’s address. It’s certainly not very often that a restaurant with a Che Guevara mural opens in an old Edwardian bank building! Especially one that came pre-loaded with a ridiculous amount of original character (wine-stained marble floors, Italian Skyros marble walls, gorgeous door frames, mirrors, chandeliers, wainscotting, bank vault, etc.), not to mention its very own ghosts (among them a murdered teller, if I recall correctly). It’s still very much there, of course, lying either dormant or beyond my field of vision as a nightclub or private function space. Too bad.
Launched in the Spring of 2013, this woman-owned, Peruvian-inspired tapas and cocktail joint in Mt. Pleasant was big on flavour, personality and unpretentious good times. Helmed by chef Shelome Bouvette, chef Allison Flook and front of house charmer Kumiko Umeno, the restaurant dished delicious things like ceviche, chicken stew-stuffed empanadas, and always perfect Pisco Sours. It played host to several memorable summer BBQs (utilizing an open-air space out back for grilling, dancing and drinking), not to mention many a drag brunch and beer dinner. It closed in 2020 at the start of the Covid pandemic and the building that housed it at 136 East Broadway has since been demolished.
Closed in September of 2017, this Gastown icon enjoyed an 11 year run overlooking the busy confluence of Alexander, Powell, Water and Carrall Streets. Though the food and drink were by no means slouches, the casual eatery’s main draw was always its large, sun-soaked patio – inarguably one of Vancouver’s best. That it so attractively sprawled out into Maple Tree Square not only helped to bring tourists back to the neighbourhood but also signalled Gastown’s viability to young, first-time restaurateurs looking to make their mark at a time when rents hereabouts weren’t so obscene. It is now the home of the second location of Local, a homegrown chainlet allied to the behemoth Joey Restaurant Group, which has 27 locations across North America.
Chow was the short-lived first restaurant from chef JC Poirier (now co-owner of Di Beppe, Pizzeria Farina, Ask For Luigi, St. Lawrence). Though it was celebrated as one of 2007’s Best New Restaurants in Canada by enRoute Magazine (and lauded by most local critics, myself included), it opened just before the global financial crisis hit and suffered its jittery aftermath. Chow ended up closing its doors on May 10th, 2009, not yet two years old.
Located in Yaletown in the voluminous space that now houses Minami, this was a stylish, high-end Italian eatery from legendary restaurateur Umberto Menghi (see Il Giardino). Opened in 2000 and sold to Bud Kanke (The Cannery, Joe Fortes) in 2006, who opened the short-lived Goldfish Pacific Kitchen in its place.
Cobre was a dark and sexy two-level “Nuevo Latino” small plates restaurant and bar located at 52 Powell St. in the heart of Gastown. It was the first swing at ownership from chef Stuart Irving, who was partnered with industry veterans Tyson Reimer and Jason Kelly. Previously, Irving had long been the executive chef at the groundbreaking Wild Rice restaurant, so his talents were the original draw. The restaurant described the cuisine as “a style of cooking that blends the passion of Argentina with the exuberance of Cuba, the sultriness of Brazil and the joy of Mexico.” This was expressed in a variety of fresh ceviches, half a dozen tacos, a deep selection of tapas dishes and some Latin-themed cocktails. Cobre enjoyed a five-year run before shutting down in 2012, with Irving moving on to open the Cuchillo restaurant a few blocks east on Powell Street. The old Cobre space is currently occupied by Rodney’s Oyster House.
Cork & Fin was a charming, unpretentious, seafood-focused wine bar located in the heart of Gastown at 221 Carrall Street. It was much loved for its seafood boils, freshly-shucked oysters and accessible price points. Launched in 2010 by industry veterans Francis Regio and Chef Elliot Hashimoto (both formerly of Tapastree), the two-level eatery concluded its six year run in 2016, changing gears and rebranding as the short-lived, Hawaiian-Japanese hybrid ONO restaurant.
The name was a bit of a mouthful and their chef (Anthony Sedlak) quit four days before the 2010 opening (which was delayed 8 months), but Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe was refreshingly different with its encyclopedia of cocktails, blue chairs and unrelenting gumption. Too bad it didn’t last a year.
In 2006, after 15 years working in Four Seasons hotels around the world, Chef Wayne Martin decided he wanted to make a change for the casual, striking out on his own to launch an unpretentious 34 seater called Crave on Main at 3941 Main Street (now home to The Arbor). The 1,000 sqft comfort food-focused restaurant featured a hidden backyard patio and a menu of consistently executed American classics like burgers, Cobb Salads and popcorn shrimp sharing pride of place alongside Martin’s more signature items, like tuna tempura rolls and short rib poutine (the latter being ridiculously delicious, as my contemporary notes recall). It was the first of three restaurants that Martin would open in the Lower Mainland; followed by the award-winning Fraiche in West Van and Crave Beachside (both opening in 2008 and closing in 2010). Crave on Main would last until 2013.
It is a cruel facet of the human experience that sometimes young, well-loved restaurants close. It just doesn’t seem fair. But such is life, and such was the fate of Crowbar. Launched at 646 Kingsway by ex-L’Abattoir staffers Jeremy Pigeon and William Johnson on the first day of summer in 2016, the woody 30 seater was for three years a reliable, unfussy place to get an interesting bite (like burgers aged so long they tasted of strong cheese) and a well-made cocktail. Though it endured some ownership and employment standards drama, outwardly it was the very model of a neighbourhood restaurant with reliable deliciousness, confident service and a vibrant atmosphere. Alas, it quietly closed/sold in the Spring of 2019 under the
Sword of Damocles yoke of a landlord wielding a signed lease with a ‘demolition clause’, which is to say Crowbar had only ever existed at the whim and fancy of an outside force that could doom it at any moment. At the time of writing (Winter, 2020), the space is home to Zocalo Modern Cantina, an off-shoot of nearby popular Mexican eatery, Sal y Limon.
The duck confit, “cellar door” Caesar salads, and Syrah-braised beef short ribs at this wine bar are as impossible to forget as its bizarre, blue-lit threshold. It was home to such talents as wine/service guru Mark Taylor and chefs Dana Reinhardt, Alana Peckham and Tim Evans. Cru lasted 9 years, opening in 2003 and closing in 2012.
The West Side’s DB Bistro Moderne was the surprisingly short-lived casual fine dining cousin of the New York original. It saw international superstar chef Daniel Boulud pair up with David and Manjy Sidoo after their falling out with chef Rob Feenie. Some background from designer Janson Goldstein’s website:
“The bar area features herringbone travertine flooring, a zinc bar top and, behind the bar, woven, polished stainless-steel surfaces framed in red eel skin. Custom handcrafted glass pendants, based on a 1960s Italian design, illuminate the space. Beyond a screen of saw-tooth-textured bronze glass, rolled-steel channeled fixtures illuminate the dining room, where custom-designed distressed oak-and-ox blood leather chairs complement banquets in chocolate-brown- and copper-colored woven leather. A private dining-and-wine room presents oil-quenched-steel wine racks and a wall covered in rich red- and brown-leather tiles.”
Located in the old Feenie’s address at 2563 West Broadway, the slick 106 seater launched in the midst of the 2008 global financial crisis; its unfortunate timing was complicated further by the advent of a new tax (HST) and the rollout of stricter drunk driving laws that scared diners. Though it met with some critical success it never really found its footing with Vancouver diners, some of whom loudly sided with Feenie in the and swore to avoid it.
It closed in 2011 to the frustration of many, including Globe & Mail food writer Alexandra Gill, who memorably (and accurately) lamented its demise thusly:
“This is excellent, innovative, labour intensive and lusciously layered food that is in a different – world-class – league from the standard fare at any other French bistro in town. If Vancouver couldn’t recognize that, we don’t deserve it.”
John “Gassy Jack” Deighton’s hotel and saloon on the southwest corner of Carrall St. and Water St. — the hospitality foundation of Gastown. Launched in 1867 and burned down in the Great Fire of 1886. The smoking wreck was immediately removed to make way for the Byrnes Block, which stands to this day (now home to Peckinpah BBQ).
Opened in 1999, Dix BBQ and Brewhouse was more than just a great place for BBQ and big screen hockey games. It was, as our Craft Beer Atlas attests, “the epicentre of good beer in Vancouver ” during the early 2000s, one of the rockets of our craft beer scene’s ascension. The list of brewers who experimented and developed their craft at the Beatty St. brewpub speaks to the evolution of the Lower Mainland’s current relationship with beer — Strange Fellow’s Iain Hill, 33 Acres’ Dave Varga, and Trading Post’s Tony Dewalt (among others) all took turns brewing at Dix. Though very much a hop nerd’s hangout (it basically mid-wifed the Vancouver chapter of CAMRA), the somewhat smelly and wholly unpretentious joint (with peanut shells scattered everywhere) also attracted its fair share of restaurant industry workers who received much of their early beer education from its many taps, thus turning them into zealous evangelists (and salespeople) for locally brewed craft beer. Dix closed without ceremony on Victoria Day in 2010. The voluminous space lay dormant and unoccupied for five years until it became Central City’s Red Racer Taphouse, which closed in late 2020.
In 2006, long before Vancouver was overrun with taco joints, it welcomed Dona Cata. The small, unassuming, family-run Mexican joint deep in East Van served up $2 tacos alongside free tortilla chips (bonus: extensive salsa bar). Sadly, it closed in 2012.
Opened in 2002 as the main floor dining room of the brand new boutique Opus Hotel, Elixir Bistro was celebrated as a chic, forward-thinking French bistro for the first half of its eight-year run. It was conscientiously cheffed by Don Letendre, who, to his credit (and despite a largely food-indifferent clientele), ensured the restaurant was a founding member of both the Green Table network and the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. Beyond the steak frites, beautiful horseshoe-shaped bar and reliably good service under pressure, Elixir was also known for its bizarre washrooms. These featured TV screens above the urinals, providing those with penis-in-hand a live feed of what was happening back at their tables. (After sixteen years and a long overdue privacy complaint, the hotel smartly/finally swapped the feed to CNN in 2018.) Elixir closed in 2010 and was replaced by a series of regrettable pop-up establishments, the first of which was called One Hundred Days (described at the time as “remarkably accurate exhibition of everything currently wrong with Yaletown”). Since 2012, the address has been home to an Italian-themed restaurant called La Pentola, which was originally opened by chefs Adam Pegg (La Quercia) and Lucais Syme (Austostrada).
Dale Mackay opened his first ever restaurant, Ensemble, in the middle of May, 2011. Unfortunately, the talented chef chose 850 Thurlow St. as the location. Though just a block away from the crowds of Robson St. on one side and Burrard St. on another, this address was infamous in the local trade for eating up and spitting out restaurants. Despite positive pre-opening press, a good review from the Globe & Mail, great staff (eg. Bradley Hendrickson, Christopher Cho), the comfy red leather chairs from Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro and Mackay’s own sterling pedigree (having helmed the kitchen at Lumiere after years working for Gordon Ramsay in Tokyo, New York, and London), Ensemble was not successful, and even endured a freak flood thanks to a broken water tank. Mackay shut it down in August, 2012, soon thereafter moving home to Saskatoon to open the multiple award-winning Ayden Kitchen and Bar. Previous to Ensemble, the space was home to Piccolo Mondo, Saveur and the Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe. After Ensemble, it swallowed the Purple Olive Grill and The Harrow before the landlords retooled it for office/retail.
To the surprise of no one, the controversial Escobar restaurant closed on June 10th, 2019 after a 14-month run at 4245 Fraser Street. The otherwise ambitious and smartly designed Latin-themed restaurant was named in exceptionally poor taste after the murderous Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. The name choice was hated so much that owners Ari Demosten and Alex Kyriazis were faced with sign-carrying protestors picketing their front door, tons of negative media attention and no small amount of online fury. The owners refused to change the name, essentially mooting the quality of a dining experience that was never able to step beyond the shadow of the restaurant’s original (and entirely avoidable) sin. It is therefore interred here as a cautionary tale rather an institution of conspicuous consequence.
The first restaurant by Andrey Durbach. The little thing didn’t last long (1996-1999) but it was popular with the early foodie set and a foreshadow of delicious things to come (Parkside, Pied-a-Terre, La Buca, Sardine Can, Cafeteria). It was followed by the even more short-lived Bis Moreno, and later by chef Brian Fowke’s Rare.
It’s always especially unfortunate whenever a space that used to be a food-service spot is converted to another use that has nothing at all to do with food and drink. Such was the eventual fate of serial restaurateur Sean Heather’s Everything Cafe, a small coffee and sandwich shop that offered a limited menu designed by chef Lee Humphries, who would later go on to run the kitchen at “C” before taking his talent and hard work ethic to the Okanagan. Heather operated the cafe – with its long, buttoned down banquette and rear gangster table – at 75 East Pender St. in Chinatown from 2010 to 2013, not far from his Gastown empire that included The Irish Heather and Salt Tasting Room (among others). Soon after it shuttered, the space became home to the second iteration of Musette Cafe, and later the short-lived Message Cafe. All trace of its former stock-in-trade have since been removed with the address now (tragically) functioning as an office meeting room.
Owned by Ed Perrow, Georgia Goritsas and chef Neil Taylor, this modern British pub in Coal Harbour/West End was launched in the old Le Gavroche house at 1616 Alberni Street in the summer of 2014. It was well known for its friendly pints, scotch eggs, fish and chips, rarebits and miniature Yorkshire puddings topped with roast beef, gravy and horseradish creme fraiche. It shuttered after a 2.5 year year run.
Robert Belcham, Ted Anderson and Tom Doughty – all veterans of the award-winning (but now shuttered) Campagnolo restaurants – launched The Fat Dragon in 2011. Located on a comparatively rough and out-of-the-way block of the Downtown Eastside (566 Powell Street), the brick-walled Asian-meets-American BBQ restaurant served up fat-slicked noodles, chicken-fried oysters, meaty bao buns, crab fried rice, Jalan Alor-inspired chicken wings, Korean BBQ pork, soft serve ice cream and many other delicious things, including bartender Matt Martin’s unforgettable Junmai Sour cocktail. (Think fruit tea-steeped sake and gin frothed with egg white and given licks of lemon, sugar, orange blossom and mint on ice.) Designed by Marc Bricault (see also Vij’s, Thierry, Thomas Haas), the long, stripped down room was low on ornament but high on atmosphere. Of memorable note was its silk-draped entranceway, neon signage (which would later appear at Campagnolo Upstairs) and ceiling hung with a curvaceous dragon motif that snaked past the bar, scales and all. Despite its unique concept, always interesting food and positive reviews, The Fat Dragon was tragically short-lived, lasting a mere nine months. The address is currently home to Dosanko, a beloved Japanese homestyle restaurant.
Owned and operated by Sean Sherwood (see also Lucy Mae Brown and Century), this was a fun, boisterous, casual fine dining restaurant on the West Side that launched in 1999 and closed in 2007. The location has seen several restaurants come and go since, most notably The New Bohemian.
This two-storey amalgam of Foo’s and Ho Ho (1998-2015) has been closed for a few years now but there’s talk of the old Cantonese restaurant making a glorious comeback before the end of the decade. Cross your fingers!
Named one of Canada’s Top Ten Best New Restaurants of 2008 by enRoute magazine, West Vancouver’s fine dining Fraiche was a breath of fresh, mountain air for the North Shore, hosting a series of sunset dinners, winemaker feasts, benefit lunches, firework viewing parties and more. Owned by nearby residents and serial diners Barbara Inglis and Paul Chalmers, the modern room was cheffed over its five-year run by the talented likes of Carol Chow, Jefferson Alvarez, Dino Renaerts, Wayne Martin and Nicholas Lim. It shuttered for good at the close of its New Year’s Eve dinner service in December, 2013.
Launched as “Fuel” in 2006 by first-timers Robert Belcham and Tom Doughty, the fine dining restaurant would morph into the more accessible (but no less refined) comfort food spot “Refuel” in 2009 (great fried chicken). It closed in 2012. Now Trevor Bird’s “Fable”.
The short-lived, multiple award-winning first restaurant effort from chef Angus An, who would later open the wildly successful Maenam in its place (also Sen Pad Thai, Freebird, Longtail Kitchen, Fat Mao and Popina). The concept was modern French meets West Coast. Sadly, Gastropod – designed and financially supported by local artist Ken Lum – was a victim of the recession, lasting just two years (2007-2009).
A fabled underground restaurant in Chinatown that served cheap and cheerful Chinese food for over 60 years (1930s-1990s). It was accessible via – ahem – a green door in the alleyway behind 111 East Pender Street. The building – now home to Fuling Gifts & Housewares – used to house a gambling establishment and a trading store. During the counter-culture era of the 60s and 70s it proved magnetic to non-Chinese, particularly students and bohemian types (who would largely abandon it when the alleyway, once commonly known as Market Alley, started to draw hard drug users in the 80s and 90s). The door itself has long since been painted other colours; for a while it was blue and now (at the time of writing) it is red. Note: There were a few other “Door” restaurants in Chinatown (eg. Red Door, Orange Door), but the Green Door lasted the longest and served the best food.
Once upon a time (in the 2000s), this was the go-to place for restaurant industry workers looking for a delicious, cheap and cheerful food experience with beer after work. The boisterous, late night eatery closed in the autumn of 2017 after 24 years in operation.
Habit Lounge at 2610 Main St. was the second restaurant from the group that has since given us the likes of The Cascade Room, The Union, El Camino’s and Main Street Brewing Company (their first was a much-loved breakfast joined in Kits called Tangerine). The restaurant had two lives. The first – born in 2005 – was a very bright, modern, minimalist 70 seater that was well-known in the neighbourhood for its delicious brunches. Sadly, it was snuffed out in a kitchen fire in the wee hours of December 8th, 2008. Nine months later, the second iteration of Habit Lounge came into being. I remember it as a dark and sexy space intentionally modelled after a 1970s Canadian home recreation room (complete with shag carpet walls and funk soundtrack). Nick Devine, one of Vancouver’s top bartenders, was in charge of the cocktail program, so the drinks – all reimagined kitschy classics – were well-executed, beautifully presented and in conceptual lock-step with the transportive look and feel of the space. Habit Lounge was closed in 2013 to make way for Charlie’s Little Italian (same owners). The address is now home to the Cuban-themed Tocador.
To be clear, Hapa Izakaya still exists in Vancouver with a single location in Yaletown. But once upon a time, before expanding to Hamilton Street, a third space in Kits and a fourth in Coal Harbour (not to mention Calgary and Toronto), the irreverent, booze-forward and enthusiastically modern Japanese concept first thrived in a dark space that made guests feel like they were being let in on a little secret. This was 1479 Robson Street, and this entry eulogizes this address only. Opened by Leah and Justin Ault in 2003, the original Hapa was an award-winning and exciting breath of fresh air for Vancouver. Like the original Guu on Thurlow St. (opened in 2000), Hapa Izakaya helped set a tone and blaze a trail for countless other restaurants to follow with its loud but sexy atmosphere, eclectic menu of small and sharable salty Japanese pub foods (to be soaked up with alcohol), and contagious damn-the-torpedoes attitude. It changed over the years, its edge softening as the company expanded (it even retooled as an oyster bar in 2010), but its golden era – say 2003 to 2007 – was something very special. The location closed for good in 2016 after an apparently impossible increase in rent.
The Hollywood Café (previously the Blue Goose Cafe), with its long lunch counter (with 25 bolted-down swivel seats), seven booths, separate formal dining room and gleaming art deco interior, was the food and beverage institution on the main floor of the Norfolk Hotel during and after the Great Depression of the 1930s. Located at 872 Granville Street between the Commodore Ballroom and the Orpheum Theatre in the heart of Vancouver’s theatre district, the Hollywood offered 30 cent lunches, dine and dance specials, and an on-site fortune-telling palmist. I have no idea as to the quality of the food, but since it lasted for a decade it couldn’t have been that terrible. Either way, it sure was pretty. The Hollywood became the Good Eats Cafe in 1949, its lunch counter demolished and converted to retail at some point in the second half of the 20th century. The whole of the space has seen a retail/restaurant split ever since (the same that saw the highly trafficked American Apparel (now Brandy Melville) and Cafe Crepe pairing of the 2000s.
Opened in Blood Alley in the Spring of 2010, this tiny, Spanish-inspired restaurant/wine bar came to us from Sean Heather and Scott Hawthorn, co-owners of Salt Tasting Room (also in Blood Alley). It was cheffed for a time by Lee Humphries. The 21 seat hole-in-the-wall featured a striking mural by local artist Robert Chaplin that spelled out the unlikely tale of a goat that led countless unwitting animals to the slaughter until one day it suffered a nervous breakdown and decided to open and operate a wine bar instead. The name wasn’t a Chaplin fantasy, however. “Judas” goats are real, as Heather explained to me long before the artist got to work on the embellishment:
“When animals are trucked to a slaughterhouse they are often reluctant to get off the truck…..go figure! Most abattoirs have a resident older goat living on the property. The goat is trained to make nice with the animals, and then lead them off the truck to the obvious conclusion. Because of the goat’s treachery, and abuse of his position of trust, he is nicknamed the ‘Judas Goat’. The tragedy of it all is that the goat is ignorant of what is happening around him and his role in it. He is just being friendly. […] The Judas Goat in Blood Alley — for numerous reasons, we couldn’t resist.”
Judas Goat closed in September of 2013. The space would become the irreverent Gringo shortly thereafter.
The 80-seat Juniper launched with high hopes after lengthy construction delays in late 2015. Beyond its modern, sleek design by Simcic + Uhrich Architects (with artwork by Ricky Alvarez and Ola Volo) and central Chinatown address (located in the new Keefer Block building facing Juke Fried Chicken and across the alleyway from Bao Bei), it boasted a great pre-opening team. From my contemporary notes, I can see that the crew included the mentionable likes of chef Lee Parsons (who left the project before construction finished), manager/somm Sarah McCauley (who lasted just a couple of months), superstar server/somm Shiva Reddy (who was also gone in a flash), and barman Shaun Layton (who was only there on a short-term contract to develop the bar program and train staff). Two of the restaurant’s four co-owners, Miranda Hudson and Reggie Tanzola, also left the project before opening day, which is to say it didn’t appear to be an easy birth for Juniper. Of course, none of this instability was public-facing intel, but it can’t have done much for the restaurant’s reputation within the trade (and if you don’t think that matters, good luck to you). A lacklustre review in the Globe and Mail that hinted at the internal chaos didn’t do the restaurant any favours, either. The food concept was on trend for the times (local, farm-to-table Cascadian) but it never really caught fire with spoiled-for-choice Vancouver diners, who may have been suffering from ‘new restaurant fatigue’ after several boom years. Despite the inarguable capabilities of Juniper’s successive chefs (Sarah Stewart, Josh Gale, Warren Chow) and its always popular cocktail program (helmed to the bitter end by the talented Max Borrowman), the restaurant quietly shuttered at the close of 2019.
Kozmas was a leafy, sunny, multi-level Greek restaurant located at 801 Pacific St. from 1974 to 1982. It had a beautiful courtyard, a long bar, a fireplace, white-washed walls and lots of terracotta tile — squint at it after a drink or two and you could have been in the Aegean. It was owned by Kosta Syskakis, Larry Syskakis, Sophie Dikeakos (of Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe fame), and the artist Christos Dikeakos, who assisted Jim McGregor with the décor and interior design. The restaurant was a game-changer in Vancouver, setting a standard for Mediterranean fine dining that would be emulated by many. “At the time,” Christos remembers, “Greek restaurants were the most exotic form of dining experience in frontier fine dining of Vancouver.”
I remember it well. Kozmas was the first restaurant that ever genuinely charmed me. I was still just a baby in 1974 when it opened, but my mother was good friends with the owners and we would go in often. It was there – at four or five years old – that I witnessed a bellydancer – Christos’ sister, Alexandra – in action for the first time, and I was enthralled in the way that only very young and impressionable children can be. I will never forget it (and still blush a little whenever I see her).
A photo of Kozmas (click on “MAP” to see) was featured in the Dream On, Vancouver feature story found in the April, 1978 issue of National Geographic magazine (Vol. 154, No. 4).
This long-running Spanish tapas restaurant from Francisco “Paco” Rivas and José Rivas (no relation) provided lively, affordable nights out from 1971 to 2014. La Bodega was among the first restaurants that I ever truly enjoyed going in my childhoods, and I vividly recall the boisterous, almost raucous late-night atmosphere around its bar, where my father always preferred to be seated. Spread out on two-levels, the place was old school until the very end; all darkly stained wood beams and brick walls, red and white chequered table cloths and a kitschy bullfighting motif repeated throughout. The food and drink stayed close to classic familiarities like garlicky gambas (my first prawns), gently spiced albongidas and cold pitchers of refreshing (albeit unbalancing) sangria. It is the spiritual godfather of the Spanish-themed “Bodega” restaurant that now operates on Main Street.
Located just around the corner from its critically acclaimed parent eatery, La Quercia, this daytime-only Italian deli plated freshly made pastas (oh, that Orrechiette Bolognese!) and fantastic sandwiches but was fated to close in 2013. Address now occupied by Yuji’s.
Open from September, 2015 to February, 2017, the 800 sqft Latab restaurant was a short-lived gift to local foodies from chef Kris Barnholden and wine pro Eryn Dorman. Located at 983 Helmcken Street (tucked behind the Wall Centre), it never got the attention it deserved despite plenty of praise from critics and industry types for its adherence to locavore principles and purposeful focus on natural, biodynamic and limited production wines. The bright, few-frills 25 seater was a real focal point of West Coast creativity and a source of inspiration to up-and-coming Vancouver cooks who appreciated the ingredient-driven, farm-to-table approach of the tiny kitchen. Latab (Chinook jargon for “The Table”) was also crazy affordable with tasting menus – aka “the whole shebang” – going for just $49. That it didn’t live to see its second birthday is a real shame.
A long-running (35 years) French restaurant in the West End that was famous for the depth and breadth of its Old World wine list (at 35,000 bottles, it was possibly Vancouver’s most extensive for a time). Owner Manny Ferreira opened Miradoro in the Okanagan in 2011.
Kids were encouraged to run guiltlessly, joyously amok at Little Nest, a memorable (if often outrageously loud) counter-service cafe off The Drive. Opened in 2007, the sprawling gift to parents run ragged was owned and operated by Mary MacIntyre, a former Lumiere pastry chef who actually gave a damn about the food Vancouver restaurants were feeding little ones. Unfortunately, Mary’s landlord was of the especially greedy sort, reportedly increasing her rent by 100% over the course of the restaurant’s six year run and ultimately forcing its closure in 2013 by demanding a further 50% increase. Though other kid-friendly establishments have opened in Vancouver since, none have captured Little Nest’s one-of-a-kind neighbourhood den mother vibe.
Opened in 2005, this immediately popular Mexican-inspired eatery featured a great cocktail list, plenty of tequila and lots of delicious share plates. Before it closed in the Spring of 2017, Lolita’s nurtured several influential talents, including chef Shelome Bouvette of Mt. Pleasant’s Chicha.
Cheffed by ex-Aurora Bistro sous Dan Tigchelaar with a front of house crew that included (if memory serves) Mark Brand and Jay Jones, this Sean Heather-owned bit of weirdness in Yaletown dished up bacon-wrapped meatloaf and mixed bourbon milkshakes but somehow never made it to see its first birthday. Tragic.
This restaurant (complete with downstairs “Opium Den”) exploded on the scene in 2001 not only as a den of total debauchery but also as a springboard of sorts for the careers of several of the city’s young serial restaurateurs. Its heyday gnaws indulgently on our memories. The building that once housed it was demolished in 2016.
The wildly creative and successful Rob Feenie era at Lumiere (1995-2011) had a unique magic to it that just couldn’t be fully reconciled with the Iron Chef out of the picture (he left after a very public spat with his partners in 2007). Home to some of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had and the breeding ground for great staff who would go on to become some of Vancouver’s most respected chefs and restaurateurs.
Opened in the winter of 2016, Mak N Ming was a sophisticated 28-seat restaurant located just up from the beach on Kitsilano’s Yew Street slope. The name was a play on the names of the operating owners, chefs Makoto Ono and Amanda Cheng. Their cuisine – a refined amalgam of Japanese and Modern European (mostly French) culinary techniques and seasonal West Coast ingredients – was confidently expressed in multi-course, wine-paired tasting menus. Designed by Scott & Scott (see also Torafuku, Kin Kao), the dining room was small, sleek and wood-panelled — an intimate space that subtly elevated guest expectations. (With no bar and the two-person kitchen tucked away out of sight, it was perfectly suited for the restaurant’s heartfelt ‘omotenashi’ approach to service.) Mak N Ming received glowing reviews in both the Vancouver Sun and the Globe & Mail, and was deemed Canada’s 4th best new restaurant by enRoute magazine in 2017. It closed in the summer of 2021, its owners stating a desire to move on to something new and on a larger scale.
The 2009 arrival of Market by Jean-Georges in the new Shangri-La Hotel was exciting. The coming of an international celebrity chef like the French-American Jean-Georges Vongerichten was trumpeted as a turning point for Vancouver, a signal that our little town had all the elements required to join the ranks of food cities like New York, Paris and Tokyo (see also the arrival of Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne). Unfortunately, its impact was lessened by circumstances beyond its control, as its opening coincided with the Great Recession. The downturn broadly hamstrung Vancouver’s dining scene and flattened the trajectory of the same rise that drew the attention of Vongerichten in the first place. Market will nevertheless be remembered for its plush dining room; its excellent service; its tight menus of Jean-Georges’ greatest hits (mmm, black truffle and fontina pizza!); and, most importantly, its employment of many local talents over the course of its 11-year run, several of whom went on to do great things, among them Lee Cooper (owner/chef, L’Abattoir), Justin Tisdall (owner, Juke), Kristian Eligh (chef, Toptable) and Paul Grunberg (owner Savio Volpe). The restaurant closed on January 1st, 2020 to make way for an as yet unnamed new concept.
A classic Chinese-Canadian diner run by an adorable couple in their 80s. Tony Fung (server) and his wife May (cook) took over the small Hastings-Sunrise restaurant in 1993 and ran it until 2014. Well known in the neighbourhood for its crotchety regulars and its dirt cheap food. The address is currently occupied by What’s Up Hot Dog.
Merchant’s Workshop (aka Merchant’s Oyster Bar) was a chef-driven industry favourite fixture on The Drive that was celebrated for its many collaborations, sun-soaked patio, off-menu items (the burgers!), memorable special events and primary focus on making things extra delicious. While it did attract many off-duty cooks, bartenders and servers, to the neighbourhood at large is was like a living room of sorts, a place to slip in, chat up the staff and other patrons at the long bar while downing a few oysters with a glass of something well chosen. It closed in 2018 after chefs-owners Doug Stephen and Lindsey Mann launched a second project, the wildly successful Downlow Chicken Shack, which served up the Nashville hot chicken they’d perfected at Merchant’s. Thankfully, the space was sold to a likeminded group of restaurant industry veterans, who gave us Ugly Dumpling.
Brian Fowke and Tim Keller’s sprawling, 150-seat Metro restaurant boasted a great design by EVOKE ID (see also Fable Diner, The Union, El Camino’s), a solid concept (Modern Canadian) and a tourist-magnet location in Coal Harbour, but it barely lasted a year after its 2007 launch. The address would later be home to a slick Hapa Izakaya off-shoot called Hapa Umi, then a Hapa Izakaya proper, then a reincarnated version of Don Francesco’s.
A good looking, wine-savvy pan-Asian fusion restaurant in the heart of Mt. Pleasant that opened in 1998 to critical acclaim. Maker of dreamy hoisin duck pancakes with scallions that still haunts our dreams. It was closed in 2007 to make way for Caffe Barney.
A beautiful dessert and champagne-focused stunner short-lived at 32 Water St. in the heart of Gastown. Designed by Craig Stanghetta and Kate Snyder of local firm Ste Marie (see also Kissa Tanto, Savio Volpe, Di Beppe, etc.), the romantic 40 seater was opened by first time owner/operators Alice Wu and Johan Friedrich on Valentine’s Day in 2015. Its staff ranks saw the talented likes of chefs Jefferson Alvarez and Dominic Fortin, not to mention the cocktail stylings of Olivia Povarchook. It quietly closed in August, 2018.
An institution on The Drive for over 62 years, the unpretentious Italian-Canadian restaurant was long famous for its meatballs and classic red sauce joint decor. It closed just before Christmas in 2017. Taking its place in the summer of 2018 was the similarly themed Pepino’s Spaghetti House.
Located at 62 East Cordova St. on the eastern edge of Gastown and launched in the winter of 2011 by first-timer Bill McCaig, Nicli was BC’s first ever pizzeria to be certified by the ‘Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana’, meaning it followed the rules governing the preparation of authentic Neapolitan pizza to the letter (ie. using a wood-burning oven, “00” Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes, proper mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, etc.). The results were game-changing, the basic pies being celebrated as pimply-crusted revelations of bright and true flavours. Even if Vancouver diners were unused to cutting their own pizzas with special scissors, the undeniable deliciousness of the product accelerated a trend toward pizza authenticity that would be followed by several other restaurants and appreciated by a dining public more accustomed to the American fast food style. The brick-walled space was arguably too cavernous for a simple, 40-seat pizzeria concept, but it was popular enough to last for nearly a decade. McCaig even opened a second location on the North Shore (which he has since sold). The pandemic ultimately proved too much for the original operation, with the shutdowns and general deterioration of the neighbourhood making reopening a non-starter.
Opened in 2005, Nu Restaurant was a bold waterfront concept from Harry Kambolis (see also “C”, Raincity Grill) that was a little ahead of its time, focusing as it did on small share plates that were often as delicious as they were fun to eat. With its sweeping views of False Creek, Granville Island and English Bay, the semi-circular location – perched fantastically over the water – was truly one of a kind. Unforgettable were the spinning wine rack (pictured above) and butt-hugging bucket chairs that some loved and others hated.
Nu (French for ‘naked’) attracted talented staff at the start, including the front of house likes of Andy Crimp, Jay Jones and Leonard Nachonechny. Much of the menu – including the memorable crispy fried oysters skewered with a squeezable syringe of beer – was designed by chef Robert Belcham, with kitchen operations being overseen by chef Robert Clark, who was supported over the years by chefs de cuisine like Joseph Sartor and Dan Creyke.
Though Nu launched to much critical acclaim – including the #1 spot in enRoute magazine’s 2006 Best New Restaurants in Canada issue – it’s light faded with the Great Recession of 2009. The menu was tweaked Greek with a 2010 rebrand (to Nu Aegean Cuisine), but the bloom was long off the rose. The once promising restaurant closed with hardly a peep in 2012.
Opened by Mike Shea in 2011, The Oakwood was a casual eatery in Kitsilano that slowly earned a solid reputation by reimagining Canadian comfort food favourites. It took a year or two for word of its deliciousness to extend beyond the neighbourhood, but the woody, warm and genuinely welcoming restaurant would eventually become a destination spot for diners across the city. It reached the top of its game under the talented kitchen stewardship of opening chef Mike Robbins, who not only plated one of the best burgers in Vancouver but also one of its best poutines. In 2014 Robbins would leave to open his own celebrated projects in the neighbourhood (AnnaLena, Their There, Hundy), leaving a creative hole in the operation that was never adequately filled despite the best efforts of his successors. The Oakwood, which also attracted front of house talents such as GM Jeff Parr (who left with Robbins as his business partner) and bartender Rob Clough, would close in confusion in the spring of 2019.
Old Country Fish & Chips was a popular fixture at 6 East Pender Street (aka the Desrosiers Block) from 1916 to 1933, back when the Downtown Eastside was still the beating heart of Vancouver and cheap, seafood-focused restaurants were concentrated in the area. Opened by Bert Love and John Dobson, the restaurant’s slogan was “Direct from the sea to the pan,” even though the posted menu included the meatier likes of pork chops, steak and onions, hamburgers, cold ox tongue, and bangers and mash. In 1923, an order of fish and chips at Old Country cost just 25 cents.
A once-upon-a-time diner of legend. Opened in 1917, the eatery – with its beautiful neon seahorse signage and horseshoe lunch counter making it especially iconic – had its heyday in the middle part of the 20th century. The facade remained a draw even after the Downtown Eastside institution was closed for good in 2009 (following a police raid that turned up a lot of cocaine and heroin on the premises), but since the sign was removed in 2015 the exterior no longer hints at the location’s storied past.
The Parker was a small, 500 sqft., 20 seat vegetarian restaurant opened by Steve Da Cruz and Martin Warren in late September, 2012 on the well-travelled Chinatown/Strathcona block of Union Street. A third partner, Tiffany Easton, came on later. Despite its tight quarters, The Parkside felt a little bigger than it actually was. This was no doubt the result of the wall of mirrors that rose above the wooden banquette seating, but it also had plenty to do with the restaurant’s lofty ambitions. It tried to play as many angles as it could, hosting wine- and sake-pairing dinners, serving up lengthy dégustation menus and happy hour prix fixes, even weekend brunch. Over the course of its three-year run, The Parkside featured the inventive, always interesting cooking of three different executive chefs: Jason Leizert, Curtis Luk and Felix Zhou (in order of appearance). The menus changed often and were complimented by a short wine list and an extensive cocktail card.
Despite its best efforts, the little spot never really took off. The Parker closed in the summer of 2015, the owners rebranding the place into a new concept called Big Trouble (a particularly apt name considering it took just four months for it to shutter as well). Though the kitchen space was extremely limited, chef Felix Zhou’s menu for the place read beautifully (eg. “Peking quail over golden beet purée with puffed wild rice”), which is to say it’s a shame it didn’t get time to settle and shine. The address is now home to The Tuck Shoppe, a casual sandwich spot.
Launched by frontman Chris Stewart and chef Andrey Durbach in 2003, this West End oasis of rich food, bold flavours, great wine, excellent service and arguably the finest patio in Vancouver fell victim to the recession, closing its doors in 2009 to become the more casual L’Altro Buca, followed by Adesso Bistro.
An unassuming, entirely average little Vietnamese pho restaurant on Kingsway at Victoria that gained notoriety on account of a phonetic (English) misrepresentation of its name. The gawking ceased when the eatery closed in 2005, but the memory endures.
Opened at the height of the 2008 financial crisis by Josh Olson and his aunt, Hiroko Yamamoto, the strikingly stylish Ping’s Cafe served up Japanese yoshoku-style comfort foods like tonkatsu and “hambagoo” steaks in the heart of Mt. Pleasant. Named after one of the building’s previous tenants from the 1980s (the faded signage of which still hung above the awning frame), the restaurant was not a little misunderstood and lasted less than a year. The address – 2702 Main Street (currently Burdock & Co.) – would later become home to chef Andrey Durbach and Chris Stewart’s short-lived Cafeteria.
Another Harry Kambolis restaurant (1992-2014), and thus an impactful facet of Vancouver’s restaurant evolution. It following the mantra of local, seasonal, organic and sustainable, fostering lots of talent in both the front and back of house. Outstanding patio on English Bay. Now the Beach Bay Cafe.
An odd, strikingly idiosyncratic fine dining restaurant (with Versace plates) that was likely just a little ahead of its time and in a not-so-great location at the south end of the Granville St. Bridge. It opened in 2006 and lasted a little over two years.
The beautifully designed farm-to-table restaurant Royal Dinette launched in Vancouver’s financial district in the summer of 2015. From the start it had a lot going for it (despite the incongruent ownership duo of chef David Gunawan – now of Ubuntu – and Jeff Donnelly of the much-maligned Donnelly Group). The opening crew was a dream team that included the likes of head chef Jack Chen (ex-L’Abattoir), bar manager Wendy McGuinness (ex-Chambar), and front of house managers Chen-Wei Lee (ex-Bao Bei) and Jonathan Therrien (ex-Cafe Medina). Other talents like chefs Alden Ong and Eva Chin would also make their marks in the open kitchen, and one of the world’s top bartenders, Kaitlyn Stewart, would see her career take off behind the wood. Sadly, despite consistently good reviews and a shelf full of awards (including Best New Restaurant in 2016), the restaurant announced its permanent closure on March 17th, 2020, just three days before Mayor Kennedy Stewart announced the immediate suspension of table service due to Covid-19.
This tiny but beloved Spanish-themed restaurant and bar quietly shuttered at the start of the 2020/2021 coronavirus pandemic after an eight year run in Gastown at 26 Powell Street. Launched by long-time collaborators Chris Stewart and chef Andrey Durbach in the spring of 2012, the high-ceilinged room was subtly stylish with a simply design — a cozy, bullshit-free respite in an increasingly scene-struck neighbourhood. A change of ownership in 2016 didn’t diminish its allure, and it kept turning out classic shareables like saucy meatballs, spicy garlic prawns and addictive <em>patatas bravas</em> – alongside Spanish beers, wines and plenty of sherry – through to a quiet end no one could have predicted.
Sea Monstr Sushi came ashore at 55 Powell St. in the winter of 2010 with the charming slogan: It’s delicious for you. The simple Gastown sushi counter from artist Alex Usow and restaurateur Mark Brand was like a cherry on top for the neighbourhood after a whirlwind of new restaurant openings brought a dozen or so exciting options to the area. Cheffed by Keith Allison (now co-owner with Usow at Pizza Coming Soon), the tiny restaurant was umbilically connected to Usow and Brand’s Sharks + Hammers retail clothing and lifestyle shop on Alexander Street. Sadly, Sea Monstr Sushi served its last wild salmon nigiri and poured its last Sapporo in 2014. The space is now home to The Birds & The Beets.
Opened in the old Coco Pazzo location (1864 West 57th Ave.) to critical acclaim in 2005 by celebrated restaurateur Manuel Ferreira (see also Le Gavroche), Kerrisdale’s Senova focused on the food and drink of the Iberian peninsula (or as the restaurant called it, the “cuisine of the sun”). Ferreira would sell the eatery four years later in 2009 and move to the Okanagan Valley, where he would launch the award-winning Miradoro restaurant at Tinhorn Creek. The new owners would keep the Senova name (Ferreira’s hometown in Portugal) but switch the concept to Italian with a focus on pastas. Though the food and service continued to be of mentionable calibre, there were always whispers of turmoil behind the scenes. Several complaints to the Employment Standards Branch were filed by staff over the next decade, with disputes over missing paycheques and ownership infighting even making the news. The restaurant – which regulars will remember for its transportive dining room, its crescent bar and its aromatic open kitchen – would unceremoniously shutter in early September, 2019.
A glorious (and hidden) whiskey lover’s dream that was once located in the No. 1 Gaoler’s Mews space behind what would later become L’Abattoir in Gastown. It’s important to note that The Shebeen is still going strong in the back of the Irish Heather today, which moved across the street to its current address at 210 Carrall St. in 2010. There was just something especially charming about the original, and we can’t help but miss it a little!
For a few decades before the advent of ruinous Prohibition, the bar at Vancouver’s long gone Strand Hotel was – since its launch in 1889 – a magnet to the emerging city’s well-heeled ship owners and brokers. It was the place to see and be seen, to be well-served and thus transported back to the posh clubs and cafes of London. According to Michael Kluckner’s Vancouver, The Way it Was (1984, Whitecap), The Strand’s head barman, Doc, “had the suave manners of a diplomat” and the lunch counter was tended by a Maori import named John Bluntish, who treated his guests like children. The establishment went out in a “blaze of glory” on the night before Prohibition began. Kluckner writes:
In the dying wet hours, there was no way to get close to the bar. The supply of beer ran out, and the bartenders served only straight drinks “and had no time for the usual persiflage.” The Strand set an all-time record for bar receipts, even though some patrons, as closing time approached, wasted precious moments singing ‘Sweet Adeline’.
The hotel and the remnants of its famous bar would be remodelled in 1939 and ultimately demolished in 1951 for the Canadian Bank of Commerce’s regional office building expansion.
Supermarine didn’t last as nearly as long as many wished it would, shuttering in the summer of 2016 just one year (almost to the day) after it opened at 1685 Yew St. just up from Kits Beach. Owned by James Iranzad and Josh Pape, the casual 36-seater was the conceptual, seafood-focused cousin of their meaty, award-winning Wildebeest restaurant (which remains a popular draw in Gastown to this day). From my notes at the time:
“Exemplar dishes include bone-roasted skate wing with white polenta and field mushroom marmalade; tempura-battered snow crab with pomme puree, bok choy, and fresh crab salad; lobster bao buns with pickled cucumber and spiced black garlic bisque; and house spaghetti vongole with spicy bread crumbs. It’s a deep menu, and a salivating delight to read.”
Pape and Iranzad closed it to test-fly another concept – Lucky Taco – in the same address. They did so under the auspices of their umbrella company, Gooseneck Hospitality, which also operates Bells & Whistles and Bufala (in addition to Wildebeest). Prior to Supermarine, the location was for many years home to a much-loved late-night hangout called Abigail’s Party.
The Spanish-themed Tempranillo wine and food bar (named after the Spanish noble grape varietal) was located in a tiny Gastown address that had room for just 26 diners. It was owned and cheffed by Bill Robitaille, who had previously opened and closed two other eateries – first the Italian ‘Notturno’ and then the Japanese ‘Kozakura’ – in the same location (280 Carrall St.). The front of house and Spanish sherry/cider-heavy drinks program were overseen by award-winning barman Ben de Champlain (formerly of Boneta and Cinara). Though small, unpretentious wine bars are a rarity in Vancouver, Tempranillo was not as successful as it could/should have been. It closed in the Spring of 2018, hardly a year after opening.
Opened on the Coal Harbour waterfront at the foot of Denman Street in late 2018, the sunny, French and Mediterranean-inspired fine dining restaurant Verre was cheffed by the talented Liam Breen. Though somewhat capable (especially in the kitchen) and undoubtedly attractive, Verre suffered the same problems as previous restaurant tenants of the same address (eg. The Change, Sol Sun Belt Cookery, Bravo Bistro, Crime Lab), the most predictable being a general lack of accessibility and visibility at the tucked away terminal of a seldom travelled cul-de-sac. This, combined with a fatal deficit of moneyed comers who prefer to be seen (and who could tell the difference between pretend and proper fine dining service), left the operation rather lost. Globe & Mail restaurant critic Alexandra Gill likely accelerated its demise when she called it “a high priced jewel run by amateurs,” but the coup de grace came with the pandemic, which mercifully claimed the restaurant at the end of its second summer.
A legendary restaurant in Hogan’s Alley (the black community that was essentially erased by the City to make way for the viaducts in 1970). Vie’s was in operation for 26 years starting in 1950, with hours that rolled from 5pm to 5am. Very popular with visiting entertainers. The staff were all women, and it’s well known that Jimi Hendrix’s grandmother used to work there as a cook.
For much of West Restaurant’s nearly 20 year run, it stood astride Vancouver’s hospitality scene like a colossus, winning innumerable accolades for excellence and attracting many of the city’s top culinary and front of house talents to its iconic South Granville door. (David Hawksworth, Mark Perrier, Thierry Busset, Rhonda Viani, Brian Hopkins, Giovanni Giardino, David Wolowidnyk and Owen Knowlton – to name just a handful of rockstar mentionables – all clocked in here at one time or another.)
Together with restaurants like the still thriving Bishop’s and long gone Lumiere, West (originally ‘Ouest’) was hugely instrumental in establishing Vancouver’s culinary identity on the high end, wowing local and visiting diners with a hybrid of classically French and new-fangled techniques applied to seasonal ingredients sourced right from our own waters, farms and forests. Though the Werner Forster-designed room’s influence would wane in the wake of the 2008/2009 Financial Crisis (and the general dumbing down of the city’s gastronomic aspirations that resulted), it remained a reliable bastion of fine dining through its second decade. Rather than eat a new and likely ridiculous lease, parent company Toptable Group made the decision to close West with much ado at the end of 2019.
Many hoped the woody, award-winning Wildebeest restaurant would reopen for limited sit-down service or takeout after Covid-19’s first wave hit in the Spring of 2020, but owners James Iranzad and Josh Pape kept it shuttered, using the voluminous space as a commissary instead. Sadly, they will be exiting the space entirely this summer, which is to say Wildebeest is officially no more. It was certainly an interesting eight and a half-year run for the casual fine dining establishment that got us hooked on smoked Castelvetrano olives and inspired the occasional, highly indulgent bone luge. The critically acclaimed restaurant will be remembered as one of the more elevated and enjoyably unpredictable dining experiences in Vancouver, a testament to an always deft team of well-trained front-of-house hands and a succession of young, highly creative and inspired chefs (eg. David Gunawan, Wesley Young, Ian McHale). Wildebeest will be missed most of all as a gourmand hangout and hospitality industry hideout, its cool quotient calculated by dim lighting, skilled bartenders, thoughtful collaborations, smooth soundtrack, and always interesting line-up of gastronomical special events. The city – and most immediately the 100 block of West Hastings – is so much the lesser for the loss.
Wild Rice was a trailblazing restaurant that took on the food concept of socially and environmentally conscious “Modern Chinese” cuisine at 117 West Pender Street, just outside the gates of Chinatown. It launched in 2001, with chef Stuart Irving (now owner of Cuchillo) plating ethically sourced food informed by co-owner Andrew Wong’s heritage and pairing it with local wines and original cocktails. The beautifully designed (by Terri Storey), multi-level, 88 seat eatery was, for a time, one of Vancouver’s most interesting and exciting establishments, winning several accolades and drawing a diverse crowd to its strikingly underlit ice blue resin bar. After its closure in early 2014, the spirit of the Wild Rice (a founding member of Ocean Wise and Green Table) lived on at its second location in New Westminster’s River Market. Sadly, its closure has been announced for the last day of 2018.
Yew Seafood + Bar was a sprawling, casual fine dining restaurant located in the Four Seasons Hotel lobby at 791 West Georgia Street. Opened in 2007, it quickly earned a reputation for being one of the better hotel restaurants in Vancouver. Its focus on sustainably harvested seafood set it apart and made it instrumental in introducing international visitors to the delicious bounty of British Columbia’s coast. Remarkable chefs came and went in Yew’s first few years, but the restaurant really came into its own after chef Ned Bell took the helm in 2011. His artful tenure here informed the publication of Bell’s excellent cookbook, Lure, in 2017. Yew was always well known for its bar program, which consistently produced cocktail cards worthy of repeat visits. It closed, along with the Four Seasons Hotel, in early 2020.
You need to add one of the top dim sum restaurants Imperial Chinese Seafood Restaurant in the Marine Building Vancouver
Fresgo’s on Davie and The Cannery
The Little Budapest.
This restaurant was in the space occupied by La Quercia at present. It served classic Hungarian dishes, goulash, Schnitzels, meats on wood plates, with red cabbage, and other sliced fried potatoes, and Chicken Paprika. They also served wicked breakfast. In its early days they had a piano, and other live music. A server ended up buying it and worked it alone at night. I believe his name was Joseph.He would work the whole room by himself. I went there as a little boy, and it was still open when I was a teenager. I am not sure when it closed, but I remember it fondly as a great restaurant with really good European food. My recollection of this restaurant is incomplete. Does anyone else have some info?
Some others worth including could be Binos, Alberts Chicken Chalet, and Captain Georges beef in a bun. Mangiamo. Century Grill. Bennys Bagels, which introduced us to Sean Heather. Medieval Inn. Brother Johns. Numerous Umbertos restaurants. Zejacs Steakhouse. The Marco Polo. The Smoking Dog.
The Dev Seafood House
and many, many more 🙁
Keep ’em coming!
The Tokay, Szasz, The Little Csarda, and The Kulacs. All were Hungarian restaurants, all sadly long gone. Only The Duna Deli on Victoria remains.
The Cannery, Me & Julios
the kettle of fish, victoria station. settabellos? upstairs on robson???
CAFETERIA! on main st
L’emotion in Dundarave its later incarnation as Mistral on Broadway. Cobra. Miramar Chinese Restaurant (now Golden Ocean), Art’s Diner, and Red Onion in Kerrisdale.
Hy’s , Morton’s Steak House
I miss Tapastree on Robson. It was the best place to celebrate a walk around the Seawall.
Originally 2700 W Broadway, heyday at 2100 West 4th, last couple of years at 2200 West 4th
La Brochette on Alexander Street approx. where The Birds and Beets is now. A wood fired grill at the front manned by a disciplined German who ran the place. It closed in the ’90’s – some of the best meals I’ve had in Vancouver.
The Normandy and Szasz’s in South Granville…
Missing the Flying Tiger and Tina Fineza’s impact on Asian Street Food ?
Please include The Flying Tiger featuring Tina Fineza’s flavour forward modern Asian street food and Jame’s fun, delicious wine list to accompany the bold flavours on her menu. The highlight in my mind still being her Duck confit pancakes ?
Latin Quarter on commercial drive, now Storm Crow
Deliliah’s in the West End. Best date night restaurant.
Just looking for the photos!
Zocalo on Main, the excellent Mexican restaurant that got toasted by that sushi restaurant back in 2009, along with Slickety Jim 1.0
I still dream of lunches from the Zakkushi group’s short-lived Kushi Box takeout place on Robson St.
so.cial butcher shop & deli. Those sandwiches were the best.
Don Don’s and Wonton Noodle House both victims to the Canada Line Cut-N-Cover debacle. Don Don’s Chicken Donburi w/spicy sauce was beyond magical. Miss that bigly.
The Montgomery Cafe on Pender, Doll and Penny’s, Deliah’s, Monk McQueens, Benjamin’s.
Orestes, Mama Golds …, ah the eighties!
The Ho Inn in Chinatown. This was a haunt of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s brass players for many years, between afternoon rehearsals and evening concerts. Also late night, after shows. Burned down many years ago.
Trevor Hooper’s Raku on West 10th. Space currently occupied by Takumi.
I second Ping’s. I miss it so much.
And was it Soma? (now 81/2 – 8th / Main) – best server in the city, consistent, lovely little room, and those iconic Emeco stools at the bar. Sigh.
Why do almost all restaurants fail in only a few years? In my experience, it wasn’t the food, it was the service.
The Abbey on Pender St, I liked that place.
A few others: Cobre, Rubina Tandoori, Tamarind, O Thai, Soup Spoons, Kettle of Fish, The Cannery, Pastis (before it became Bistro Pastis), Le Mistral, L’Emotion, Nicli Next Door, Provence Mediterranean Grill
Also the original Wild Rice in Chinatown
TAK SANGKA. A family-run authentic Indonesian restaurant on Main. St. between E. 23rd & E. 24th. where The French table bistro now resides.
Ooops! My husband has corrected me and said that TAK SANGKA was actually on Fraser St. where Penang Bistro Fine Malaysian restaurant is now.
God this is making me melancholy. Don’t forget Raintree, one of the city’s first locavore restos. Montgomery Cafe. Delilah’s. Szasz. Settebello.
Café de Paris on Denman
Isadora’s Cooperative Restaurant, 1560 Old Bridge St, Granville Island; 1983-1996
Ensemble and The Parker – both faves
Delilah’s – oh the stories in those little private booths!
Tangerine in Kits – best breakfasts!!!
Sanafir, on Granville St
Fish on Yew
How could you miss The William Tell?
Also, Cloud 9 at the top of the Sheraton Landmark
I didn’t miss it. It’s just not included yet. 😉 This is a project that we will be adding to through editorial as time goes on.
Trafalgars’s – charming French bistro on Trafalgar around 16th. All the Pouilly Fusse one could drink at lunch! Sigh.
I second The Ho Inn, which was across the street from the Ho Ho and a great favourite with starving university students in the late 60s/early 70s. We could – and did – feed 10 hearty appetites for $35 and have leftovers to take away. The Ho Ho fare was greasier and more of a “chop suey joint” while the Ho Inn seemed more authentic.
Speaking of The Cave reminded me of Isy’s Supper Club, which also had a very limited menu and probably the second liquor license; it was originally a “bottle club” where beverages were smuggled in and kept in brown bags under the diner’s chair; the club made a nice markup on the mixer. Live entertainment was more cabaret-style than the Cave, which leaned more towards Vegas-bound entertainers warming up their acts for The Strip. Mitzi Gaynor was a regular and long-running fave as I recall.
Scott’s Cafe on Granville was a nice restaurant with banquettes and what passed for fine dining back in the 60s in Vancouver. It was located about where London Drugs is now. I recall having tea there with a friend, and having my tea leaves read by a lovely lady. The “you will meet a dark-haired bearded man who will be important in your life” stuff went down well with an impressionable teenager. Especially when the dark-haired boy with a goatee who would become my husband wandered into my life a few weeks later.
Cote d’Azur on Alberni Street behind the present White Spot was one of the first French fine dining restaurants in the West End, I think; I remember it being rather chic, operating out of an old character house in 1972 era.
Before the Ironworkers Memorial bridge was built, the Number 4 and Number 5 car ferries shuttled from the foot of Lonsdale to the foot of Columbia. The trip took about 20 minutes, plus load and unload time. Both had coffee bars. When the bridge opened, the ferry service was discontinued and the Number 5 took up residence at the foot of Lonsdale as The Seven Seas floating restaurant with a seafood buffet. It opened in 1960 (or thereabouts) and went on for decades, even though the food was by all account execrable.
When The Cannery opened over on the waterfront in East Van – I think not too far from New Brighton Park – it was a new era for seafood restaurants. Again, this was in the early to mid 1970s and my peer group were just discovering food that wasn’t deep fried and overcooked, with vegetables that had colour and wow! garnishes!
Someone mentioned a German restaurant and that brought back memories of the Schnitzel Haus on Robson, back when it was Robsonstrasse with all the German/Austrian/Swiss import shops, delis, and specialty stores. An Austrian-born friend from Squamish whose husband was one of the first to develop the ski runs at Whistler-Blackcomb regularly met me there for lunch and introduced me to rouladen, spaetzel, and red cabbage slaw. Hearty fare for cold winter days!
Back on the North Shore, there was Frank Baker’s Attic at the corner of Marine Drive and Taylor Way. I recall it as a buffet restaurant although there may have been a menu as well for evening dining. There was an attempt at having live music in the evenings as well, from time to time, when Baker would sit in with his trumpet (the weathervane on the roof was a silhouette of him playing his trumpet). The ladies will remember the washroom decor, which featured a kitschy plaster statue of Michaelangelo’s David, with a hinged fig leaf over the “naughty bits.” If the leaf was lifted, a siren would go off in the restaurant and a light over the door would flash, alerting everyone that the next person out that door had peeked. Baker acquired one of the Bondmobiles and had it on display in a glass building between the entrance door and Marine Drive.
Doll & Penny’s on Davie
Raintree (first on Alberni & then on Water St).
Santa Fe Cafe
The on on
Shiru Bay in Yaletown! One of the first izakayas I had been to in the 2000s!
DV8 was a favourite. Also: Tokyo Lounge, Mesa Luna, Tribeca and Ambrosia. The Foundation, the original La Bodega and Rumpus Room.
I have lots of childhood memories at Fresgo Inn and Pepitas on Davie and a Denman too.
The Three Greenhorns
The William Tell, set the bar high for decades
Cristal at The Mandarin Hotel, service in tuxedoes
The Beach House
The Tea House
The White Tower, for after hours “tea”
Velvet, in the original Vij’s location
The White Lunch
The Butcher (my first resto job in Vancouver)
La Petite Geneve, Kerrisdale.
Avenue Grill (right next door)
Primo’s on W12th
Alma Street Cafe
Doll & Penny’s on Davie
What was that floating paddlewheeler in North Van called? The Paddelwheeler?
The On On. My stomach still aches for it.
Won Kee @ East Broadway and Quebec (now the site of a holistic pet hospital)
The Vineyard in kits
The Normandy in South Granville
Juicy Fried Chicken @ Main and 11th
George’s Grill near Main and East Broadway (now the site of Caffe Barney)
Bill Kee ( West Broadway close to where MEC is)
Brick Oven Pizza on Dunbar.
Was a staple of excellent pizza for decades. Closed when building demolished to make room for condos.
56 comments and no mention of Juicy Chicken. They were better than just a shirt.
Great piece, thank you. Did anyone mention Orestes on W. Broadway? Now THAT made a big cultural impact on the early 70s Kits community. Less for the food than the louche bohemian scene that revolved around it. In about 1974, three friends and I had about ten dollars among us—walked into Orestes, asked if could afford to dine there. They invited us in, seated us at a lovely table, and brought us each a plate of souvlaki and a glass of wine. (About two years later, my then husband and I started La Boca Bar, Kitsilano’s first espresso bar. Oh, nostalgia.)
Dolls & pennies, L’Hermitage, DV8…. I’m sure I’ll think of more….
Deliliah’s in the West End…
Quattro’s on 4th (then shortly lived on Broadway).
Benny’s Bagels (for yet more condo redevelopment).
Aki’s Japanese on Pender (previously on Alberni & Thurlow). Was in operation since 1963.
On Commercial Drive: Santos Tapas Bar (now BierCraft), Bukowski’s (now The Charlatan), Bino’s (now St. Augustine’s, after about 7 restaurants in between), Me & Julio’s (now Tangent, after a few iterations)
Mings in Chinatown. The dim sum may have been so-so, but the decor was amazing. Red velvet and gaudy gold everywhere, with a catwalk down the middle which I never saw used. It looked like a 30’s gangster would bust in and start shooting at any moment.
Lilli La Puce before the Gavroche
Massimo’s on Seymour
The Panorama Roof in the Hotel Vancouver
Is the 3 GreenHorns still there? Doubt it.
The Goulash House in S Granville
OMG – the Keg – 3 hour waits when it first opened on Granville Island
Mulvaney’s on Granville Island too
Toulouse La Trec on Pacific
The Savoury in Deep Cove
Habit on Main
La Bodega has been reincarnated by his children as Bodega, now on Main St in Chinatown…one of my faves.
The William Tell and Le Parisian on Denman
What about Skybar on granville and Smithe. And last summer it was the pop up roof garten
Tomato [email protected]
The Foundation. 2301 Main Street.
Chicco Dall Oriente. 1504 Robson Street.
I’m repeating, but got me all nostalgic for my favs:
OMG – The Three Greenhorns! The Marine Club across from post office
The Little Budapest on 4th – was my fav. Best chicken soup w dumplings in Van, also excellent breakfasts. Still miss it.
The Russian Ukrainian on Main & 16th
Orestes, Mark James in the 80’s.
Delilah’s – many boozy nights
Did’s after Luvafair
The Town Pump for bands
The Brick Oven
The On On
Hon’s (on Main)
Creole Cafe (Gran Is)
Tomato on Cambie
Perogie Perogie (?) on Cornwall, then West End
Not a bar/restaurant – the Jesus trucks, the hippies on Granville St that would stop you w insights…
Delilah’s! In the West End.
The Harvest House – North Vancouver
The Hobbit House – North Vancouver
West end lived on local legends like The Dish on Davie and The Grove on Denman. Institutions for years!
Kettle of Fish dt
Crave on Main
The Tomato on Cambie
Settebello on Robson
Prontino on Cambie
The Vineyard on West 4th
I used to love the mashed potatoes at The Rugby Club. Mmm…
EN Japanese Restaurant
Truffles on Cornwall
Savoury coast Moustache cafe cafe norte hells kitchen mortons of chicago voya bambuddah star anise sammies (sam lalji) fatzos > slims> migz > currently yaggers kits) sienna Max’s Burgers
Puccini on Main for the best Italian and the downstairs Hogan’s Alley bar where you had a drink and listened to some great jazz while waiting for your table.
Trader Vic’s at the Bayshore Hotel
Star Anise – short lived but held a spot for a while just off Granville in the early 2000’s
I really miss Ho Tak Kee wonton noodle house that was on Broadway between Main and Kingsway. They made the wonton noodles in the back room with the noodle master jumping up and down to stretch them out longer…and tasty hand made dumplings and take out chili sauce in jars. My family used to go there once a week and called it our ‘Second kitchen’.
So many good memories from reading the comments above. Vancouver would do well to keep more of its historical locations marked….The Only for example.
And I never made it to the Cannery before the port access was shut down, but the amazing chef and waitstaff moved to the Pink Peppercorn on Kingsway which serves up the best seafood meal in town with an 80’s interior decor!
Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
I shed a tear every time i walk by the “variety store” Home and Art Plus that now occupies what once was the Little Nest on Charles just off Commerical drive
I spent many a dadurday morning with my young family, friends, and neighbors in that beautiful room. Thank you for opening my eyes and palette – what you did with scrambled eggs and polenta was black magic.
Indeed. Good memories of Little Nest.
The Mansion on Davie and the English Bay Cafe. And in West Van (if I’m allowed to add a north shore icon) Peppi’s in Dundarave.
On On Tea Garden On Keefer between Main and Gore, and the Nanking nearby. The Orange Door and the Green Door. Kaplan’s at 41st and Oak and Rubin’s on Granville downtown. The William Tell On Richards Street. Peppi’s at the foot of 25th in West Van.
The E&B on Kingsway, now The Tipper.
The Three Greenhorns, on Nelson I think, at Denman. Gone in the 70s I believe.
Amorous Oyster, Oak/16th
Bianco Nero, 475 W. Georgia, crazy owner/chef but amazing Northern Italian food, huge bowl of Smarties at the front counter
Bandi’s, Hungarian @ 1427 Howe, superb roast duck with cherries
The Canvas Club
Thanks for the trip to Vancouver’s restaurant past. Here’s a list of my favourites from the early days:
There was the 1970s French Connection that came to Vancouver. Some of the best were:
• Le Napoleon
• Le Cote d’Azur
• William Tell
• La Creperie (and Jean Claude’s later restaurants : la Brochette, l Orangerie, Le Beaujolais, and the Smoking Dog)
• Chez Joel
Other memorable places that come to mind:
• Le Gavroche
• La Bodega
• Nicks Spaghetti (on Commercial…. And can’t forget Tommy O’s on Commercial too)
• The Only
• Umberto’s places, notably Il Giardino and the Yellow House
• The Air Affair (later to become Viva)…. It’s a club but a notable entry, I would say.
I know there’s more places that I can’t recall right now.
Allegro Cafe at 888 Nelson Street (now it’s a Honolulu Coffee).
DeNiro’s & Section 3 (Yaletown)
Yes to Peppi’s, Delilah’s, Kettle of Fish, and I’d forgotten all about Amorous Oyster! xoxo
Also, Someplace Else on Beatty, L’Orangerie on W Broadway, Carlos and Bud’s on Pacific, La Creperie on Alexander and The Keg Coal Harbour.
Definitely Crime Lab! Also, I see folks have mentioned Benny’s but I didn’t spit Moderne Burger on the list and that place was a true gem.
The Owl and Oarsman- Burnaby William Tell
DeNiro’s/Section (3)in Yaletown. I worked there and at Ballantyne’s in the ‘90s. Great times!
Pied a Terre
Coma food truck!, sigh.
Mission on 4th
Athene’s on West Broadway
Menya on West Broadway
The Hermitage on Robson was a great place till redevelopment made Herve Martin relocate to the French Table on Main Street.
Going back a while, there was a restaurant in the early eighties on Robson street ( where Milestones is) that I believe was called Milieu. The interior of the space was raw concrete, blackened steel with sculptural metal chairs. It had such a radically 80’s vibe that no other restaurant since, has come close to being so impressively radically modern. It certainly left an impression that I remember to this day.
Also, as mentioned before, Star Anise was at one time the best in the city.
Wow amazing job everyone! I had a huge list going but you got to most of them!
Save on Meats (orginal)
Cedar Cottage (up for redevelopment)
Fogg and Sudds
there’s also a bunch on this thread that were before my time like Big Scoop, Art’s, Lions Burgers, Blue Moon, Santa Fe Cafe, Jung’s, The Normandy, Nemeto, Kings, Texan Drive-In, The Vineyard etc: https://www.chowhound.com/post/long-closed-restaurant-vancouver-990166?page=3
Tomato on Cambie!
Fred’s Uptown Tavern
The Sugar Refinery
The China Club
The Planet Bistro
The Living Room
Aqua Riva –overlooking the cruise ship terminal (worked there for 5 years: 1995-on)
Raintree on Alberni -my first WOW! dining experience in YVR.
Capers restaurant in the original (grocery) location in West Van –great breakfast and stunning views! They later opened on W4th (on the 2nd floor), but was un-remarkable.
Presto Panini –best sandwiches in town, and a perfect spot for an early dinner before hitting the Capitol theatre.
Mimosa bakery on W Broadway –I know, not a restaurant! But it was really good!
eco il pane at Broadway & Larch?
Section 3 was originally known as De Niro’s until Robert De Niro’s lawyer issued a cease and desist order (aka Section 3)
Dukes, tried to be just like Earls, but it never caught on.
The Brass Monkey on Denman at Comox: late-night, industry hangout spot.
Hamilton Street Grill –so good!!
Umbertino’s was a fast food chainlet launched in the early ’90s by Umberto Menghi. There was a location on Broadway next to the Hollywood Theatre.
Frog and Peach on West 10th (early ’90s)
Pair Tree at West 10th at Alma (mid ’00s)
Alma Street Cafe -one of the best neighbourhood spots, with live Jazz (’90s)
Moustache Cafe in North Vancouver
Chez Theirry on Robson
Il Barino in Yaletown (now Minami)
Saltimbocca in Kits
The original Le Crocodile location on Thurlow
Piccolo Mondo at Thurlow and Smithe (later became Cornerstone)
La Virgo (on Denman close to Robson)tan by a French trained Japanese chef perhaps little known and ahead of its time, yoshoku ya also on denman, Dan Japanese in Kits and Kinome which opened after Dan closed at the same address by different owners, En cuisine which originally opened at Granville street the “grandfather” of Modern Japanese combined beautifully with French and Italian cuisine ran by Yano Yamagishi.
La Belle Auberge by the legendary Bruno Marti. Correction: En’s owner was Yami Yamagishi (auto correct )
Cork and Fin
Two Chefs and a Table
Prime Time Chicken
King Neptune in New Westminster
Was as interesting reading throught the comments as the article its self.
I remenber more of the ones in the comments that the ones mentioned in the article but then Ive been away from the lower mainland for a LOT of years.
Some of my favorites were mentioned but the one Im surprised nobody has said anything about is “the Victoria Station” a group of old railcars just east of the Burrard Bridge. Was well known for its steaks.
Also on my list of favs
The Only (on Hastings of course)
Mulvaney (on Granville island)
Fresgo’s (on Davies as well as out in Surrey for lunches)
The Three Greenhorns (had some GREAT steaks there!)
Thanks for dragging out some old memories!!
Two dead restaurants in the same location, at 1026 Granville Street downtown:
Sanafir was a Glowbal Group owned tapas place with small tapas dishes, great decor, and a half-price Tuesday menu. I’m not sure why it closed.
Later, Glowbal opened The Fish Shack in the same location and changed the decor and layout a bit. It specialized in seafood, but ut closed down too.
Seems like Glowbal has trouble with that location. It’s now The Compound, which specializes in cocktails with some pub standards.
Santa Fe Cafe!
Tops at Kingway and Earl
Reviewing the list, some of the missing gems in my experience:
Tuesday’s on Broadway (near Blenheim) – a second locale was temporarily open on Georgia @ Richards
El Mariachi (on Denman)
Jon’s Pizza (on Broadway in Kitsilano)
Briar Avenue (on Davie)
Chez Thierry (on Robson)
Mother Tucker’s (on Alberni)
Tom and Jerry’s (on East Hastings)
Danish Tea Room (on Robson)
Cloud Nine (The original years) (on Robson)
Pepita’s (@ Davie and Denman)
Trader Vic’s (@ The Bayshore Inn)
Tommy África’s (on Beach Avenue and later in Whistler BC)
Montreal Chicken (on Denman @ Haro)
Romeo’s Taverna (on West 4th Ave)
Jonathan’s (on Granville Island)
Stephen Yan’s restaurant (on Alberni)
Avenue Grill (in Kerrisdale)
Trojan Horse (on Granville)
Soda’s (on Dunbar and in Gastown)
PJ Burgers and Sons (on West 4th Ave near Blenheim)
The Saskatchewan Pavilion Restaurant (in Park Royal)
Varsity Grill (on West 10th Avenue)
The Horse and Carriage Inn (on Alberni)
The original Elephant and Castle (Downtown)
Emilio’s (on West 2nd Avenue en route to Granville Island)
Marco Polo’s (in Chinatown)
Eduardo’s (on Victoria at 33rd Ave) – Ecuadorian and Peruvian cuisine
Flamingo’s (on Cambie at 59th Ave)
Monk McQueen’s (The original on False Creek)
Don Guacamole’s (on Robson)
Hamburger Mary’s (on Denman, then on Davie)
Café Luxy (on Davie)
Roosters Quarters on Denman
Homer St Cafe
Tops 24 on Kingsway
The restaurant on top of the Sylvia Hotel with the Dine in the Sky sign.
And two of the most unfortunately named restaurants: A Touch of Greece on West 4th, and Fook Yu on Renfrew. Both were short lived.
Cher Ton Ton
DV8 — good god, I loved that place. Their fishbowl cocktails were epic, decent food, fantastic atmosphere…
Only true Vancouverites will remember (cuz the rest of you literally moved here less than 5 years ago)!
Massimo’s, on Hornby in the Anchor Point complex
Nod to all the DV8 references. Surprised to see only one other Wazubis (sp?) reference.
RIP The Tomato, Benny’s Bagels and also the Bread Garden original 24 hrs on 1st.
Back when Enron was run by the smartest guys in the room, and before the geologist fell out of the helicopter.
Carnegie’s on Broadway and Fir was lined up from Wednesday to Saturday with all sorts of commodity brokers.
Been in the industry in Vancouver for over 20 years, still haven’t met anyone who worked at Kettle of Fish.
Exile on Bute — delicious and creative.
Cho Pain on Davie — the finest pistachio croissants.
Lili la Puce ….. it was in a little house on Alberni St I believe. French Cuisine.
Then there was Bino’s……
Ritual — newcomer to the restaurant scene a few years ago on Denman & Alberni…creative, innovative chef who started strong, but for whatever reason, couldn’t build clientele. Best fried chicken & waffles, and Farm to face salad, ever!
Haha gio, good ole Carnegie’s
Most of the finer dining establishments have been listed above but a few more (sorry if repeated)
Teds the little bar a block west of MacDonald on west bday
Koon look on Fraser st
Arts the little diner and ice cream shop in Kerrisdale
Ouest/and Italian place it was before ouest
Penny lane pub
Starfish oyster bar and restaurant
Charlie’s Little Italian on Main
The Three Lions Pub on Broadway
Deserts on Commercial
The New Diamond in Chinatown
Cloud 9 in the West End
Kettle of Fish, it was across from Giordano’s forever
NOTTURNO guys (we miss you, H)
Fogg n Suds
Ocean 6 Seventeen
The Red Door
Two Chefs and a Table
Eye Scream on 4th ave late 1970’s
Rattle snake bar and grill
Century grill (yaletown)
Senior frogs (kits)
Kettle of fish!
Wazubee on Commercial
Cafe Bibbers, upstairs at Davie and Denman
Le Papillon on Broadway
Jukebox Johnny’s on Broadway and Heather (?) upstairs
Frank Baker’s Attic in North Van (rainbow drinks! Singalongs! Smorgasbord!)
The Organ Grinder
Brother John’s in Gastown
Swensen’s Ice Cream (several)
The Copper Kettle Buffet on Kingsway
The Dragon Inn at Kingsway and 33rd – giant dragon neon sign!
The seafood restaurant in North Van that was a boat floating on the water…The Seven Seas?
Bert’s on Main and 13th
The Amsterdam Diner on Granville
Bukowski’s on Commercial, where I had my first mojito.
The Vegetable Patch, Robson Street and Broadway near Granville: actual bean sprouts on your sandwich…!
Cafe Splash at the foot of Howe on False Creek. Had a female owner/chef. Great ambiance and fresh sea food.
This has done nothing other than make me incredibly sad. And hungry.
Pats in west Vancouver
Central bistro west end
Puccinis Puccinis Puccinis it was where our family celebrated all our memorable moments from the time I was 5 or 6 until it closed in the 80’s
This post has me literally on the verge of tears. I’m getting endless loops of flashbacks all the way back to high school (DV8!!!!!!!!!!! Fresgo!!!!!!!!!).
I’m going to throw in Good Wolfe in YT. Totally short-lived but holy crap was that cooking too good for the stiletto set. I miss his food truck too.
Steak & Chops all night on Kingsway at Victoria.
The Cannery – you are missed!!
I’m glad other people remember Sanafir as well
Haru on Thurlow near Davie
The Shore Club
I didn’t see it mentioned in previous comments, but for great nachos & margaritas on a sunny evening, Carlos n’ Buds. I’m still sad it’s gone.
For the kiddies, The Organ Grinder – this was a birthday pizza destination right downtown (Hornby?) when I was a young’un. There was a colossal pipe organ, and the restaurant was covered in all kinds of crazy retro ephemera. I know there are some photos of the interior floating around somewhere.
And for tiki fans, the late lamented Trader Vics. That one should never have closed.
Magnums on South Granville – great late night place to go after clubbing in the 80s – now occupied by Paul’s Omelettery
Cafe Cucamongas – small dessert place on Broadway and Oak where I met budding restaurateurs Scott Morrison and Richard Jaffray (of Cactus Club and Browns Social House) who served their “slippery nipple” ice cream. They employed a nice young man, Andrew Wong, who went on to open Wild Rice.
El Patio on Cambie & Smithe
Habibi’s on Broadway – my first introduction to Lebanese food at ridiculously low prices
Harlow’s burgers on Cambie St – closed down after less than a year – my husband still remembers those excellent burgers served on brioche buns
Ciprianos on Main St – currently occupied by The Acorn
Tokiwa/Goma on Oak St – best sushi in the city, always fresh, outstanding quality, modestly priced
Rad notes on Morrison, Jaffray and Wong. Had no idea. Thanks.
Heather Jeal, wow I wish I had known you in the day!
May I put forward
cafe new york/ Robson st
Varcity grill/w 10th
The Foundation on Main Street! I still miss those nachos.
My first gig back in ’05 was bussing tables at Savory Coast on Robson(previously Settebello, currently Fantacity Karaoke)
Someone else mentioned Tapastree.
Crave on Main
Pondok Indonesian Restaurant at Oak and Broadway. The food was god awful, but it turned into a dank Karaoke disco at night on the weekends. RIP.
Someday could you do a piece on the blues/jazz club in the late 70’s that was in the same space as the Diamond today? Same vintage as some of these restaurants, and so many incredible memories!!
Not sure if this list is meant to capture Richmond restaurants but I would add Charthouse and Happy Date Bakery & Restaurant to the list. Thought I am hoping Happy Date will be resurrected soon.
Charthouse must have been in Steveston for 40+ years before it finally closed down in 2014. So sad just thinking about it.
En – Japanese fine dining which was in South Granville 25 or 2600 block, East side of the street.
the Greek place that always had the guy dressed in a costume giving away flyers on Robson
Slighty off topic but also spot on…
Dids pizza on Davie after going to Luv Affair, Gracelands or Dicks on Dicks
Shijo Japanese Restaurant 4th + Cypress in Kits opened in 1986 with interior decoration by Tony Robbins. Chef/owner Yoshi Tabo went on to helm Yoshi’s (Denman + Georgia) then the Blue Water Cafe, followed by Ki Modern, and, most recently, Ancora. A true shogun of the Vancouver seafood scene having started at Kogi on E Hastings in the early 1980s.
Society Dining Lounge
The Fish Shack
Love to see the Raintree here. The Cannery. Moustache Cafe. Latin Quarter. Mangiamo. Delilah’s. Ouzeri. Orestes… Really enjoying this thread. Great stuff.
Diane Tucker, it took awhile to see Le Papillon thanks.
The Rail Car
McLeans on Broadway
Tiffany’s in the Hyatt
Timber Club in The Hotel Van
Seven Sea’s North Van
Can’t remember the Swiss French place in New West, it was fantastic
ChiChi’s ? in the LuLuLemon Building
The Noodle Makers
The Black Angus, both Stuart Anderson and Pops Clerides
Anjelica’s on West 4th Avenue (‘70s)
Yang’s Noodle House
Topanga Cafe – 40 years on W.4th, burnt down this week
Bo Kong – vegetarian at 15th & Main
Theodora’s at 4th & Burrard
Jinya on Broadway – tiny original restaurant of Tojo
Vij’s on Broadway – before he had W. 11th and Cambie there was this tiny spot
Rohan’s Rockpile on 4th & Stephens (not a restaurant, in the nightclub/cabaret genre)
Salmon House on the Hill (West Van)
Aki Japanese (Powell Street I think?)
Maneki Sushi (first sushi place I recall in Van, changed our lives, east Hastings Street)
Gran Sasso (dine & dance) on Commercial where Mezcal and Liberty are now, with Wazubee inbetween
Lets not forget about The Alegro and The Crime Lab, both were co owned by Matt and Michael of Lucy Mae Brown 🙂
Those were great times in the resturant biz!
I really liked Tomato in Kits. (Well it was first on Cambie where Biercraft now is, I think, then moved to Kits)
Carlos & Buds
Peppis in Dunderave West Van
The original Keg and Cleaver In North Vancouver
Shakys Pizza North Van
What about the souvlaki place on Denman close the where the Raincity Grill was? Great memories of sitting on the beach to people watch, with red wine in a paper bag, eating souvlaki.
Very fun to read through people’s entries. Thank you…
Shijo! Loved that place. Still haven’t found as good a sushi place. Trader Vics! The Little Budapest! Glad others have as happy memories of all the great food and experiences.
Chef and carpenter
Monterey lounge and grill
Bambudda in Gastown! 🙁 🙁
Love this concept and am still mourning the loss of many of the restaurants listed above. My additions:
Pig and Mortar – by the really lovely couple who ran the Pig on the Street foodtruck (where Farmer’s Apprentice is now)
Fat Badger (old Le Gavroche location)
Flying Swan/Blue Moon Cafe (Kits)
Rhizome Cafe (Broadway at about Main)
Risty’s Cafe (Marpole)
Sunset Grill (Kits)
Timbre (Commercial Drive)
Thyme to Indulge (Main Street)
Sorry, fashionably late to the reminiscing and good feels thread…..
Delilah’s 1.0/2.0 – my first martini
Tangerine/Abigail’s party – (which was first?) AMAZING breakfast, first time having sweet potato mixed in with breakfast side, really nice, happy servers
Villa del Lupo – downtown, heritage house, delicious Italian, impeccable service
Iacci’s? – on Seymour St, old school Italian
Cafe norte – original Edgemont village location, NV, eye rollin’ Mexican food
Rubina – never got over this one closing 🙁 impeccable service from owner
Bread Garden – original 1st Ave, never forget the smell (or line ups) after the bar 12am, lattes in soup bowls and sold out of chocolate croissants
Tops on Kingsway – great for late night garlic bread and lasagna
Little nest – many good memories with my daughter and her playmates! Great soldiers and eggs dish
Thanks for this chance to feel even more nostalgic for the Vancouver of Olde
Dunbar Fish ‘n’n Chips and Chinese food (Dunbar Street)
Isy’s supper club (competitor to the Cave – I played there for many years
Cheshire Cheese Inn Kerrisdale ( closed about 2015 for a condo redevelopment – the original one on Dunbar is still going
Peter’s Ice Cream on Broadway in Kitsilano – best ice cream in the world!
White Spot Drive In in Marpole – the original location.
Caffe de Medici on Robson. Best. Lasagna. Ever.
Trafalgar’s – fantastic local dishes and wonderful cocktails. Staff were absolutely amazing
The Living Room – the name said it all. So welcoming and comfortable and amazing food
Random !! Award winning restaurant that became Lolita’s!
RIP bistro pastis!
So happy to have been reminded of DV8 on Davie, not about the food but about that time in Vancouver. Also, weirdly, there is still a website active: http://www.dv8lounge.com/about/index.html
Also Red Onion in Kerrisdale
Capones on Yaletown
… the utterly unique Chez Victor’s in the West End ? Davie st.? 4 tables, haute cuisine, and mad Victor the chef, and the sweetest Notte’s Bon Ton on Granville, Mother’s Restaurant on Georgia near the park, during the 70’s ? it had a great big tea pot on its roof, The Green/Orange Doors off Pender, student affordable Cantonese fare ?, The White Lunch on Granville with those astounding post war, work project Haida murals, oh and that floating ship restaurant moored somewhere off Georgia in the fog, The Alhambra, a soup restaurant of the finest quality in eastern Gastown. There was a place near the docks, westward below Hastings, where you could get cod, halibut and salmon right off the boats for a shilling, there were so many, and we were so hungry. Almost forgot, the ” Vancouver College Cooking School Dinning Room”, attached physically to the Vancouver Art School, where you could get Lobster Newburg and baked Alaska for 2 dollars. Really, it was so good, linen and and young aspiring chefs, long before it was cool. Not a tattoo or piercing in sight.
Really liked the Soft Rock Café on 4th Ave… closed in the late 80’s I think.
Loved many of the restaurants already listed here ~ thanks for the splendid and mouth-watering trip down memory lane.
Missing the Kettle of Fish, the Mansion (it’s been sitting empty for far too long, such a gorgeous interior. ..), Delilah’s, DV8, Doll & Pennies, Tommy Africas, Montgomery Cafe, Heidelberg Haus (on Robson), La Bodega on Howe St (spent many birthdays here), the original Elbow Room (in an old house) and Fresgos downtown.
Definitely Benny’s Bagels in Kits is a big loss, as well as Gladys’ (worked there!), Fiasco, Funky Armadillo, Tomato, Vinyard, Rossinis and the unforgettable Orestes (saw the first male belly dancer there!!).
Ciprianos on Main St and more recently The Foundation being gone too is very sad.
If not already mentioned.
Puccini’s on Main Street north of 1 st
Jonathan’s on Granville island
The Yongyong Tree at 16th and ummmm Main? My intro to hot and sour soup and redpepperspicedblackbean oh my God that is hot where’s-my-beer damn that’s good! Szechuan early days.
Orestes back in the day. Baclava was great.
Litre-size margarita at 12th and Granville. Was it called Pepi’s Mexican?
Jim’s on Three Richmond, formerly Jim’s at No 4 and Steveston.
Yangs at Main and 26th. Sizzling rice brought out by grandma, “screaming by jesus” chicken, garlic prawns….I still miss that food so much!
Won Kee on Broadway for 3am noodles
Fresgo’s on Davie. OMG the mushroom burger!
Chartwell at the Four Seasons. The BEST most attentive and intuitive service in the city
Yen Lock — in a basement on Pender west of main, across from worlds narrowest building. Great Chinese banquets. I remember feeding 15 people for $110 including tip.
The Noodlemakers — same location as Three Greenhorns
The Grape Escape — Lower Lonsdale
The Keg & Cleaver original location. Steak and Lobster $5
The English Bay cafe — greasy spoon in an iconic location, where Boathouse was until recently.
New York Restaurant
Monte Christo was on Broadway near Ontario
Interesting to think of the ones still around. Olympia Pizza on Denman was there when I moved to Vancouver in 1967. Not sure when it started.
A romantic spot for us is gone. Adesso Bistro with it’s Ligurian cuisine, pro wait staff, chef’s macarons, ambiance and the lovely owners of the west end brownstone that made you think you were in New York. And Pings on Main and The Cannery, two other faves.
Cafe de Paris (several reincarnations on Denman Street).
And Biz Moreno on Hornby St.
Slickety Jim’s Chat & Chew #1
Cardero Bottega as it once was with those big tasty sandwiches
Is this list still active?
Crave on Main, which created one of the nicest patios for brunch.
This list, and all the comments, are an amazing trip down Vancouver’s memory lane. Thank you so much Andrew for writing this antidotal gem. I reread so many of the amazing lines and laughed out loud for their realness. …”the sprawling gift to parents run ragged”… is true gem
The Crime Lab
English Bay Cafe in the West End, Carnegie’s on West Broadway!
Can’t forget the Topanga Cafe on West 4th !
Latin Quarter, and Santos Tapas on Vommercial
Chez Thierry and The Chef and Carpenter on Robson
The Souvlaki Place on Denman
Sorry, one more- Jon’s Pizzaria on West Broadway.
Starlight Cafe (16th and Oak)
The Green Apple (41st and West Blvd, before McDonalds. The booths had phones to call in your order!)
Gizella’s Pastry (bad Bon Ton knock off)
La Cachette (70’s nouvelle cuisine in Kerrisdale)
The Greenhaus (on 4th avenue, owned by Doug and Julian)
Pelican Bay Restaurant
BB’s Bistro (Granville Island hotel)
I see someone has already mentioned Chez Victor and crazy chef (he hated being called a chef) Victor Coté. First on Davie between Granville and Seymour (1969 to mid-80s), then briefly on Seymour at Robson, then even more briefly on Granville south of Robson, before Victor finally gave up. I have photos of Victor and the restaurant, if anyone is interested. Also wrote a column about him for Xtra West some years ago which I can provide a link to.
Not sure if it’s been mentioned yet, but the original Blind Sparrow in the West End. It’s closing left a huge hole in my heart. In theory, it’s still in operation combined with Hook Seabar, but there was something so magical about that little stand alone location on Denman/near Robson.
Deserts on Commercial Drive! #1 missed place in Vancouver in my books.
Family run, cheap and vegetarian. The best samosas and plate deals. The owner used to give me oranges when I was waiting for my food. Closed abruptly last year (I think?) and was promptly replaced by a friend chicken joint. Their hand painted sign is still up.
Would love to see DV8 and Wazubi’s (sp?) on this list.
Spent way too much of my college years (’99 – ’04) at those two joints.
Peppi’s at Dundarave Pier now The Beach House
Janet McGuire’s Beach Side Cafe in Ambleside
Bavarian Room on West Broadway!
‘Snappers’ in False Creek (Manuel Da Silva opened around 1988) ‘The El Matador’ on West Broadway (circa 1970?) ‘The Restaurant at Mark James’ (Manuel was the FOH Manager) and the 9th Ave. Grill (Bud Kanke from The Cannery & Carlos & Bud’s) The Little Budapest (3600 Blk. W. 4th Ave. – 1960’s)
C I R C A. On Granville street lol
Oh my God YES to everything listed!
I didn’t see Papillote on Broadway… lots of great family dinners there…
Love that someone mentioned Beach Side Cafe in Ambleside…I was friends with Janet’s brother, and, in her desperation, Janet asked me to help out the first day it opened—I’m pretty sure I broke some plates that night ?? Luckily, she was amazing, and that place was a great place to eat!
Jonathan’s on Granville Island. The seafood restaurant I most want to visit in the Wayback Machine.
What about Gianni’s on South Granville???
Mescalero at 1215 Bidwell.
Kalamata on Broadway always had amazing greek food. Super busy and had the craziest owner ever
All Good Cafe!!
Cafe S’ils Vous Plait
My grandmother was a chef at Puccini’s until she retired at 70.
The Renfrew Drive Inn.
The Vic Way
What about Kitto which became Shuraku Sake Bar and then closed?
Chanel a Coco Chanel homage on 4th avenue in a stand alone building where numerous places failed. Just west of where the Tesla dealer is.
Le Menu on Davie across from the Sands which housed Hy’s at the Sands then later Checkers.
Also Tuesdays on West Broadway for Spanish Coffe and dessert.
Who could forget the Marysville Pie Co. on Robison?
The Vineyard on 4th and Vine. A wonderful late night eating spot with character, that gave way to (yawn) Brown’s. I lived in NY for seven years. The Vineyard was the closest place I could find to the wonderful Greek-owned diners that proliferate the outskirts of Manhattan (Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, New Jersey etc.).
The Tea and Silk opened in 1998 or 1989, originally on Commercial drive in one half of what is now Bandidas (next door was an Indonesian joint, I always meant to visit but didn’t mange to). They moved to Broadway and Cambie around 1990, to the space now occupied by Pho extreme xe lue, and closed in 1993. It was owned by a brother and sister team from Singapore and the menu had dishes from many southeast Asian countries.
I vividly recall their amazing tom yum kung with droplets of spicy red oil on the surface as well as their slightly singed potstickers served with a dipping sauce of finely julienned ginger, sambal, black vinegar and soy sauce. Also the incredible tapioca puddings (mango or pandan) served in a wedge in a pool of sweet and salty coconut milk.
Their decor was art deco, as the sister was a fan of antiques. Apparently it closed due to the sister having fallen in love with a fellow deco aficionado and they moved away to open an antique shop together. I haven’t heard what happened to the brother.
For my last visit there I skipped class with my high school girlfriend and took the bus across town only to find it had closed. I was totally heartbroken. Alas.
Dario’s at Italian Cultural Centre
Chez Michael, West Van
Coq au Vin
Some 90’s faves of mine
Ballentyne’s (what’s in the Century House these days?)
Brass Monkey (2000’s)
ACME Café! A lesson in kitchen magic and minimalism, service, and the heights drip coffee can attain. I weep for the baked eggs benny, and the daily sausage special.
La Broca – On Robson where Banana Republic is now. One night it turned out that Winona Ryder (in her imperial theft period) was my neighbour. I had lots of wine here and learned that salad could be something other than what the English thought it could be.
Hombres on Hastings – Near Woodwards- a whole roast chicken was on their nachos. It was sad to go there and have such excellent food and service in the late 90’s while the neighbourhood was obviously falling apart.
Presto Panini – Someone mentioned this above- just off Robson on Thurlow or perhaps Barclay or Burrard (I can’t remember). I used to wake up my room mates and let them know that breakfast was on me- as long as everyone left NOW. We often dined on waffles in boxers, dressing gowns and pajamas.
Al. Both Chez Michel and La Piazza Dario are open today. Is this breaking news about their future.
Puccini’s – Hogan’s Alley ( a great pan fried steak)
Organ Grinder – Pizza and Organs
The Bon – Great Sushi on Broadway
Ondines, one of Louis Stervino’s good ones.
One of my very favourite spots growing up in Vancouver was Iaci’s Italian restaurant, it was downtown across from the Penthouse.
I used to love their pizza bread and all the pastas.
The original Elbow room was such a blast and Patrick was on his game.
Also have a soft spot for the Texan on Georgia St.
Wow, what a trip down memory lane it has been to read this article and all of the comments! I have a few more places for consideration:
Downtown’s American Cheesesteak Co. (RIP Anthony Sedlak)
The English Bay Boathouse
The Pirate Pub under the Burrard Street bridge (now TAPShack)
The Fish House in Stanley Park
Rosie’s at the Rosedale
SOIL on Main (recently closed)
Dix (now Central City)
The Atlantic Trap and Gill
Already mentioned, but feeling the need to repeat:
Shore Club (now The Keg on Dunsmuir)
Rossini’s in Kits
The Rugby Club
Question: have you published an article for Vancouver’s Nightclub or Bar Scene Graveyard as well? Based on the comments, seems to me that some folks may need this list, too. (Richard’s on Richards, Skybar and Luv-A-Fair have all been mentioned already but would definitely be on my list!)
The wonderful old Horse and Carriage Inn on Alberni St. The only place you could drink on a Sunday night (with a 25 cent choose plate). With Jim the owner who sang like Neil Diamond and Tony Duffy the Irish singing bartender. Fun days.
Need to go pretty far in the Wayback Machine but my favourite seafood place in Vancouver ever was Jonathan’s on Granville Island.
What was the name of the Mexican Restaurant located in the old Coca Cola bottling plant on Burrard Street, Vancouver. They later opened a second location in North Vancouver and then went out of business. The Coke location was inside the plant with office windows above and seating around the perimeter?
Chez Victor, on Davie … and Saaz Deli long gone but not forgotten.
Lubiks on Abbot between Hastings and Pender. Bacon and eggs 75 cents.
Two Texan drive ins one on Georgia St and another on Broadway. Pizza Patio various locations. Johns Party Pizza (delivered pizza in a hearse). Dine in the Sky (6th floor of the Sylvia Hotel).Metro Broiler in the Burrard Building on Davie St. Best cinnamon buns ever. (My mom was the chef I washed dishes). Hippocampus on Denman best garlic fries ever.
The entire food building at the PNE. Tom and Jerrys. The concession at English Bay awesome fish and chips. The Breadline in Gastown (stew served on a tin plate and drinks served in mason jars). 4Gs drive in on Davie near Denman.
Hey! Dario’s is still there (I think?) at the Italian Cultural Centre! And Chez Michel is very much still there in West Van. Friends of mine are close with the owner….their food is very French; unfortunately a very large building now blocks the view of the ocean 😉 Such is life in the era of “capitalism”.
La Mistral on Broadway. That place was unbelievable. Amazing service, fantastic food. Also Bistrot Bistro (or Bistro Bistrot) which became something else – but it was never the same. The owners bought a trimaran and are going all over the world.
Just heard you on CBC – interesting as going to Milestone’s this evening (yes, because of the view at English Bay) so have been thinking about Rob Feenie. I knew the owner(s) of Orestes and hey, a lot of the profits went “up the nose” as it were, hopefully I won’t get sued for saying but hey, I experienced it. One thing folks probably did not know was that Aristedes (the owner – he had named restaurant after his son, Orestes) was a biohydrometallurgist!
Can you tell how old I am?
This is sweet <3
Recently deceased: Crowbar. RIP 🙁
Beatnix at Broadway & Cambie (across from the SkyTrain, where that taco place was until the building was torn down)
And can anyone tell me the name of the restaurant that was on Nelson between Hornby & Howe, quite far off the street, ground level at the back of the plaza? Closed in the late 90s/early 00s as far as I recall.
Couple more come to mind. Armandos on Pender St Cuban food. Devonshire served Alaskan King Crab. Heaped so high on the platter you could barely see over the top.
What was the name of the fish joint, bottom of Alexander St…a walk up, card tables overlooking the harbour….circa 1960’s-70’s ?
Can anyone remember a Trinidadian place called Callaloo? Also Manny’s Lunch on Broadway near Granville was Vij’s first incarnation, if I’m not mistaken and Nemoto’s for breakfast.
Surat Sweet on West 4th 🙁
Reds at Davie/Denman (Raincity Grill location – there was also a location on Cornwall)
Beach House (in Stanley Park, before it was the Fish House)
Mr. Munchies (Kingsway)
Robson Grill (Robson)
Bananas (Robson, sometime in the 1980s)
Spotted Prawn (previously 1066 on Hastings)
Suehiro (in Richmond)
Maiko Garden (can’t remember street)
Beach Bay Cafe
Mozart Tea Room (Robson Square)
Pronto on Cambie st, Blacktail Florist in Gastown, Good Wolfe in Yaletown
Fogg n Suds
Always hold a place in heart for the Fogg and all you foggers, we had some fun, 10+ stores in BC & Alberta, possibly still 1-2 left not sure, Robson? Cabbie?
Oogy Oogy Oogy! Oiy Oiy Oiy!
3 alarm white outs, chits everywhere 100 open menus gong show, Haha
Las Tapas (somewhere near Yaletown)
Salvador Deli (Broadway)
La Grec (Commercial)
El Patio – Cambie and Smithe
Red Onion – 41st near Maple
Rossini’s – Yew near Cornwall
Don Don Noodle Cafe – Arbutus near 18th
A couple more. Primos at 12th and Granville, Berts on Main St. Leos on Main St.
Mr Mikes on Granville downtown. Mr Mikes on Granville at 70th Ave. The Candia Taverina West 10th. . Two Jays Cafe on Pender at Abbot. Yen Lock on Pender in Chinatown. 69 Grill on Canada Way at Boundary. Hawaii Cafe Gilley at Marine Dr.
Pons on Broadway at Rupert. Helens at 12th and Renfrew. Loves on Granville. Branigans across from Pacific Coliseum. Varsity Diner West 10th.
How could I forget Fullers on Main at Marine
The Penthouse upstairs had the second best steak in Vancouver.
First? Vie’s, also upstairs.
Ed on Aug 2 2019 you wanted the name of the fish joint upstairs on Alexander St.
Campbell Ave Fish Dock. The walk up restaurant was both a lunch room for the packing plant and a very reasonably priced lunch venue for anyone that worked in the area. My guess is if it had another name you might try some of the old time ILWU workers from Centerm . Centerm and the Seamens Mission were right beside the plant. Likely from 70s and 80s.
I stumbled upon a 1985 book by James Barber (The urban Peasant)
James Barbers Personal Guide to the Best Eating in Vancouver
He reviews about 120 Restaurants From Hys to The Only
Fun to read most no longer exist. He highlites those with non smoking sections
In a city full of great sushi, Sea Monstr deserves no accolades.
Al Ritrovo. Italian restarurant on Franklin. I think it’s gone now replaced by apartments.
I’d sure love to communicate with anyone who worked there as they might be able to help me find my missing sister.
The Victoria Station on Pacific at Hornby .I think it was Wednesday they served an all you could eat beef rib bones. Awesome carnivore experience. Upon re reading the comments my thanks to Alex as I could not remember the burger joint just West of the Naam on 4th ave. PJ Burger and Sons. The Hawaiian Burgers was excellent
Thank you for this memory jogging web site. Besides enjoying going out for diner my interest in Vancouver dining comes from my moms Agnes Parks history as a cook/chef at so many of the mentioned restaurants
4Gs/SylviaHotel/ Metro Broiler/ Cheshire Cheese Dunbar and North Van/ Elephant and Castle/ 1066 W Hastings/ Chefs Deli N Van/
Odouls/ Blue Horizon (in the pub)/ Loves/ When she retired she would help out at many of neighborhood pubs in Kits and Dunbar
Two more . The Wolf and Hound and Cullpeppers, both in kits both owned by a woman named Jackie and two more my mom worked at.
Le Petit Montmarte, French fine dining, was on W Broadway next door to the White Spot in an old house, later moved to Carrall St in Gastown.
And for those midnite munchies when in high school The Texan on Broadway east of Arbutus. Terrible burgers!
Five Sails – William Tell – Quattros Kits
Crowbar – forever in our hearts <3
Momiji’s on Thurlow
The original Koji Restaurant on East Hastings
Mother Tucker’s Food Experience on Alberni
Bud’s Good Eats, which later became Carlos and Bud’s
Tony Romas. Small portions but cheap place to take the kids. Someone up the page mentioned Peters ice cream. My favorite was the licorice. Two locations Broadway and Park Royal South East corner
Clancys Sky Diner. It was on Granville N side of the bridge W side of the street. All done up like an airplane . On the walls they had mechanical rolls of pictures on paper that showed scenery as if you were in the air. Aprox 1960 I remember going with my mom and dad . We caught a bus infront my fare was 6 cents
Steves was a fish and chips restaurant on 3 Road just North of Bridgeport on the West side of the street. Inside you found one table 2 chairs and a pinball machine.A deep fryer, two porcelain sinks a counter and a cash register. Menu was fish and or chips. It was there for many years and became a victim of the Canada Line.
Being a truck driver any time I had a load to the airport Steves was a stop. In a city with a lot of fish and chip joints Steves was my favorite
The Three Greenhorns – pioneered fine dining in Vancouver
Umberto’s early ventures: the deli on 10th Ave in Point Grey where I used to go for lunch in the summer with my dad and have his French onion soup and lasagna; then Amacord, Umberto’s, La Cantina (then reincarnated as Umberto’s Fish House), Il Giardino, Il Palazzo, and Al Porto
Fado (high end Portuguese restaurant in the 70’s)
Orestes of course
Yuen Lock and the Ho Inn in Chinatown
Golden Lotus – early vegetarian, started around the same time as the Naam in Kits
Some Kinda Pasta
Montri’s (in Point Grey)
Provence Mediterranean Grill, then La Brasse (so sad to see that close)
Rare and Kitsilano Daily Kitchen
Lumiere Tasting Bar
Goldfish Pacific Kitchen
Adesso (when on Yew St. in Kits)
Shiru Bay Chopstick Cafe
Maurya (in its heyday, the brunch buffet)
Nosh Cafe (on West Broadway)
Next Noodle Bar
Establishment on West Broadway in Kits
Market by Jean-Georges
Oakwood (why, why, why did it close, it was always full.. arghh!)
Cacao is CLOSED
Seamonstr Sushi 55 Powell St. ? My favourite lunch spot of all time.
Its hard to find words . This covid pandemic has hit this sector harder than any other. I hope and pray that this list doesnt get any longer due to this pandemic.
What happened to Romeos, I think is was called, the Italian place where on the paper dinner table cloth they provided a box of crayons for patrons to have with art fun… it ws located on Davie Street in the beautiful old house with garden near London Drugs..it is a special place to remember. ..closed perhaps early 2000 or so …
Great post. During this COVID-19 pandemic I was just thinking of places I went to years past not already listed here. Esplanade and Lonsdale in North Vancouver had a lot of restaurants over the years. The Keg started their. A fixture for lunch for the shipyard workers was Frankie’s Inn. (Japanese food and Western food). East Side Mario’s had a awesome view of the city. There was a restaurant on the corner of Esplanade and Chesterfield and changed names a few times over the years. The Marina Grill (previous called the Anchor Inn -German food) was underneath the Iron Worker 2nd Narrows bridge. Then their was the party spots that had the early Pub Food, The Roadhouse just off the bridge and the Coach House Inn. North Vancouver had a great Mexican place on 12th and Lonsdale (can not remember the name) and then there was the Black Sheep just a block up in an Old Church.
Remember EXPO 86? Food from all over the world. The Summer of 86 was awesome one.
During these times, nice to remember , the good times with family & friends in all these restaurants that have come and gone. Hopefully many will survive during these crazy times. Support you local businesses
The restaurant under the bridge was owned by a man named Johann. My mom worked for him at that location and he also opened up a small deli/cafe on mountain just north of main in N Van
How about the Truck Stop Cafe ( last I looked it was a De Dutch).
Truckers would bring the proprietor steaks and he would cook them up and add the side dishes
Oresties on Broadway, PJ burger And sons on west 4th.
Nibbles Bistro at Broadway & Cambie -Laurier Lapierre was a partner also Alma Street Cafe
Tommy O’s Off Broadway
Someplace Else on Beatty Street (Art Deco fabulous room)
Griffins (Gryphons?) at Hotel Vancouver
Benjamin’s -on Denman -late night chaos & after bar fun
Bill Kee – Steamed Clams in Black Bean Sauce with crispy noodles in an old gas station Broadway & Quebec St
What was the name of the little French restaurant on 4th in the early 2000’s. I’m thinking that it was The Bistro? Cozy and tight but great food, and reasonable prices.
Bistrot Bistro. 😉
PJ Burger and Son
Las Tapas (on Richard St I think?)
A Kettle of Fish
There was a floating restaurant under the burrard street bridge in Vancouver in the 70’s just down from Victoria Station. Anyone remember the name of it?
McTacos – Locations in Kerrisdale, Broadway and Robson Square in late 70s-late 80s. Location at Robson Square held on the longest as Senor Tacos until the food fair closed. Kerrisdale location turned into The Red Onion using the same ‘mexi’ decor.
A&W Drive Ins – Marine Drive near Cambie, 33rd & Fraser
The Pop Shoppe – Everywhere
Binos – Kerrisdale, two Broadway locations, #3 Road in Richmond, and a Chinatown location I think on Keefer and Main… the Kingsway & Joyce location may even still exist!
Super Valu – Not sure if the Commercial & 1st location is the remnant of the chain, but Super Valu’s used to be everywhere.. Broadway near Blenheim, Champlain Mall, etc. always used to sponsor a day at Playland once a year with cheap ticket coupons.
I think Haida sandwich in Vancouver is the best:))
Hello Richard Macleod. I think it was called The Wharf. Apparently closed due to food poisoning. I had steak and lobster there a number of times
It was right behind a Westinghouse warehouse on Beach Ave John Atkins is a good source for restaurant history
Chevdo, I was the assistant manager of the A&W at Cambie and Marine. Lots of great memories working there and at Macdonalds at Marine and Ontario.
There was a well known Italian waiter/restaurant owner in the 1980s? who won the lottery. I even heard he won the lottery twice.
I think his last operation was the north east corner of Howe and Alberni.
It is not Francesgo Alongi
heather U said:
(About two years later, my then husband and I started La Boca Bar, Kitsilano’s first espresso bar.)
That is not quite accurate. There were two others in that enterprise. Lorne and….
Le Gavroche Restaurant, John’s Pizzarama, The Creperie, Iaci’s, Il Corsaro, Italian Village ,
The Mai Tai at Granville and Broadway! In the 80’s five bucks got you the Mai Tai steak with two scoops of rice covered in the best tomato gravy – wish I had the recipe!
Kam’ s Place, Gigi’s and the Cafe luxy on Davie. Gigi’s had live piano music nightly.
Greer’s became the Sunset Grill a legendary place on York at Yew owned by Fred and Gary, a great place to watch Hockey or football playoffs.
Fish on Yew became Rossini’s that had great nightly jazz. Saturday afternoons were memorable.
Momma Gold’s where Jim Burns used to play is now the Blue Martini.
Sami’s became senior frog’s which is now the local.
The original Bread Garden was on 1st at Cypress which is now a pizza place across the street from what used to be the smoking dog, now odd fish. The Epicurean was an outstanding Italian place at the corner of first and Cypress owned by a wonderful Roman family. Miss Mario and his wife and son.
Chianti’s on 4th close to Burrard which is now Trattoria!
The Classical Joint Cafe (Gastown) – lost count of how many days I spent playing chess at the raised table by window in the early 80’s. Good live jazz in the evenings, too! 🙂
Viva was a place you could go for dinner/dancing, I can only remember going in a group at Christmas time.
Also did I imagine it but in the 70/80’s, I think there was a bar called Livingstone’s (as in the African explorer) and it was full of hanging plants like going into the jungle.
La Creperie in Gastown
Santa Fe Cafe West Fourth Kits
IL Giardino the Original
Candia Taverna on W 10th . Great Greek food and very good pizzas. You had to get seated at entrance to people watch.
I have fond memories of the veggie burger at Isadora’s on Granville Island.
Robson Grill restaurant on Robson opened in 1986 just after Expo and was owned by the Irish Rovers. On the weekends, a Jazz band played. Each table got their own small round loaf of fresh bread served on a cutting board with butter of course! The bar was very ornate and wrapped right around. It had stained glass and reminded me of the Cheers bar. I worked as a hostess and the restaurant had an elaborate coat check! I couldn’t find any info on it.
Some asked about the floating restaurant under the bridge….was it Tommy Africa?
Another restaurant….Tapastree….need to check spelling
Meat Market (W Hastings, currently Nuba)
Transylvania Flavour (W Broadway, west of Arbutus)
Just wanted to say that I read all the comments and deeply appreciate everyone’s public and private input on this project. Thanks so much!
My mom wants to put in a word for Tasca, a Spanish (?) restaurant on (or near) Robson. She remembers their famous whole crab in some kind of spicy tomato-y sauce, which apparently was a delightful mess to eat and memorably ruined my aunt’s shirt when she was in town visiting from Montreal.
A good comment for the 300th. Thanks! Will look into it for sure.
I just stumbled across this becase a friend was asking… “What was that place with the huge burgers we used to eat at on 4th when we were at UBC?” And I discovered the answer here… PJ Burger & Sons.
I think most of my old faves made the list or, at least, the comments: Topanga Cafe – still breaks my heart… I will always dream about their burritos and chocolate cake… Cafe Norte… where I discovered you were allowed to put mango in a burrito… McTaco’s – the first place I ever had Mexican food and it was a revelation… Carlos and Buds – where they may not have looked too closely at your ID if you ordered a Corona… Red Onion… Tomato’s – on Cambie (the Mark James version never did it for me)… Fresgo Inn on Davie… Alma Street Cafe… Bread Garden… Another sentimental fave… Bino’s on Broadway… many late nights studying and living off cola and stupidly huge muffins… The White Spot drive in on Granville – THE treat when I was a kid.
I didn’t spot Chevy’s – was on Broadway & Cambie and had this deep fried camembert appetizer… panko crust… lingonberry jam… that was my single fave dish for years.
Living in Victoria now and I just drove past one of my fave restaurants here this afternoon to discover it’s yet another COVID casualty. So… not the worst time for a culinary nostalgia hit.
Thank you Andrew for doing this – and thanks to everyone else for sharing.
Four more memorable Vancouver restaurants that come to mind, in no particular order, are Mark James on West 10th, Aqua Riva on the waterfront in Vancouver harbour, Las Tapas (three locations: Richmond, Vancouver and North Vancouver – a friend and I closed down the North Shore premises on several Thursday nights), and the old Italian classic on Main Street: Puccini’s.
Wonderful atmosphere, food and memories.
“Yours’s and Mine on Abbot Street and later moved around the corner to the old site of Harlow’s — anyone know what became of the creative team behind Yours and Mine — Paul and Ovue ?
A burger joint on Broadway (N side) between Main and Cambie from the 60s and 70s. The two things I remember were the food was fantastic and they used to create burgers to predict election outcomes. Can anyone recall the name?
What was the European deli that was like an upscale bread garden with three locations , west van, Robson street upstairs and upstairs at the city square mall on cambie and 12th? If anyone remembers the jardinaisse spread (tomato mayonaise ???)and knows the recipe please share!
Dessert places of the 80s when people still ate chocolate cake and cheesecake.. magnums , piece of cake? Apple tarts at the Hong Kong cafe ( nobody has gotten those right since), chinese Beef jerky made on Cordova street in the building where quest food is now , with the crazy blue red and black graphics on white boxes , what was the name again ??
Penny restaurant on hastings,
fries and gravy at Sears,
iced Malt in a white styrofoam cup at army and navy and woodwards??
Hamburger and upside down icecream cone as a pointy hat , scoop of icecream decorated like a clown at the bay when it was your birthday, bella pizza on denman , Paul’s sub on Fraser street,
I used to work at Orestes so that def needs to get on. I also agree with votes for Fresgo, Doll & Penny’s & Delilah’s. Then there was the Elbow Room, Benjamin’s, Jukebox Johnny’s & Topanga Cafe
Scott’s downtown Vancouver was the place to go in the 50’s and 60’s and probably way before, think it closed down in the 70’s. Very nice family restaurant, we went there often when I was a child in the 50’s.
Friar Tuck’s, circa 1975?
Thank you so much for this great article. It brings back so many memories! Thank you also to the poster who mentioned Branigans. I drive by 5 days a week and it was driving me insane trying to come up with the name.
If they haven’t already been mentioned, Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus on Robson. Their decor would be perfect during these covid times,each table was encircled with high plexiglass partitions.
Monterey 2200 block of Kingsway
Black Sheep 12th just east of Lonsdale in North Van
Mark Twain in Burnaby for Sunday brunch buffet
BB Beltons in Burnaby
Dem Bones in Richmond
Cask n Anchor on Davie
Village Blacksmith on SE Marine
Does anyone remember Zsazas Restaurant on Granvile St, Vancouver”
Before I immigrated to Canada in 1994, I used to visit Vancouver every few years and this was the best place to eat German/Hungarian foods. They used to have schnitzels, farmers sausages, spaetzle, sauerkraut, a wooden platter with lots of selections etc. The owner (father) retired and the son didn’t want to continue the restaurant in Vancouver and apparently went to Squamish. If anyone knows further details I would certainly like to know it.
Does anyone remember Zsazas Restaurant on Granvile St, Vancouver
Before I immigrated to Canada in 1994, I used to visit Vancouver every few years and this was the best place to eat German/Hungarian foods. They used to have schnitzels, farmers sausages, spaetzle, sauerkraut, a wooden platter with lots of selections etc. The owner (father) retired and the son didn’t want to continue the restaurant in Vancouver and apparently went to Squamish. If anyone knows further details I would certainly like to know it.
In answer to D Parks question about the burger joint where they named burgers after politicians was the De Dutch Pannekoek House.
They had burgers with cute character names but added politician named burgers such as the Bennett Burger during the election term. I use to dine at their 4th & Pine location back in the 70’s. My gf (now wife) would have the Meek Myrtle while I had the Simple Simon!
I did not see Mother Tuckers on the list. Best Salad Bar ever, I think they had a Prime Rib bar as well.
FishHouse in Stanley Park
La Brocca Corner of Robson and Thurlow. I worked there having moved from Nfld in the early 90’s. I loved this job, and the sweet and patient woman who hired me. She was a great manager of many personalities. I remember Iggy pop having coffee in the front window and SNL cast members.. lots of actors and so many wonderful customers. Staff was like a family – Victor was perhaps the owner – Sylvia was one of the bosses and her boyfriend and Australian chef, Niall our very handsome Irish manager..Brian who I always called kitten because he looked like a Persian cat, and Ryan who drive me home more than once as he said it wasn’t safe to walk. ( thank you Ryan ) Also loved the Wazubee on Commercial- hello fries with garlic mayo. Another favourite a little Chinese restaurant that was about 4 doors up from Shoppers Drug Mart on Davie that had the cheapest and best vegetarian mapo tofu ever. I miss beautiful Vancouver.
Shout out to Melriches on Davie st and Hamburger Mary’s. Take me back ! 🥰
The fabulous high-end Portuguese restaurant Fado on Broadway Street was home to the likes of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on his visits here during the 1970s. The owner (or perhaps maître d’) was Swiss. I wish I could remember his name (years later after Fado closed, I ran into him as the maître d’ of the Chartwell in the now-closed Four Seasons on Georgia Street – he actually remembered me).
I’m not sure how my wife and I stumbled across it (or how we afforded it) but it became an annual anniversary sojourn. They had red carnations for the women and after-dinner cigars for the men … it was a different time.
It was also my introduction to Portuguese cuisine – Fado’s lobster bisque (flambéed with great ceremony) and stuffed stone crab (Sapateira Recheada) served in the actual shell were truly memorable. I’ve never had meals quite like they served at Fado. Ah … memories.
The Travellers at the corner of Robson & Thurlow. I used to go there in the early 70s. It was a well known hangout after the bars and clubs closed as it was open 24 hours.
Anyone remember Ruby’s Steaks? During the 1940s, it was on Hornby Street across from the old courthouse. During WW II, it was the only place you could get a steak dinner. After it closed, the owner, who happened to be my dad, opened The Barn Cafe at 1138 Granville Street. He and Nat Bailey were friends. The White Spot served Chicken in the Straw, which was very popular. Dad, wanting to compete for that business, called his dish, Chicken in the Ruff. That ended their friendship.
Finally I note a few mentions of Las Tapas my favourite European restaurant in Vancouver. I have photos from their closing day and a menu from then too.
I’m here because I’m searching for the location of the Orange Door, to add to the B&W photos I took back in 1974. May have been at 107 E Pender.
So many memories here. I think Andrew Wong was also at the Brickhouse on Main, at the beginning – before he started his own.
I first moved to Vancouver in 1966, living in Barclay Manor when it was a rooming house. Moved from there to Granville street – where the Pacific Centre mall is now. Used to eat at the Only and some of the places on Granville St.
Sadly, I miss the old White Spot, where a triple O was a triple O. Chicken in the Straw and Chicken Picken’s were my fav’s!
Today the “new” White Spot is a vulgar neo fusion bar sort of thing, serving, well we won’t go there.
Your Father’s Moustache visited in 1971 downtown Vancouver. A lot of the BC Lions players hung out there
La Gavroche used to be Lili la Puce – the owner stayed at our resort in the okanagan and so our family went to it on one occasion. French restaurant – he named it after his daughter. A blogger had a big writeup with photos at one time – can’t find it any more.
Then there was Maurices at the Park Royal mall. There are photos of it online but I don’t know where it was in the mall
Le Marrakesh Moroccan bistro which was located for a few years on Alexander St in Gastown! Don’t have anything like the food/decor/belly dancing that was there anymore in the city !
There once was a nice little place called Habibi’s around broadway and oak.
Brothers Restaurant in Gastown. The Waiters dressed as monks. I soooo miss their Fishermen’s soup. Chi Chi’s in Guildford. Good Mexican food. Mother Tuckers buffet restaurant. White lunch cafeteria. Captain George’s. Banners
So many gone, but not forgotten.
Marco Polo in Chinatown
BC Royal Cafe in Chinatown
Jade Restaurant in Chinatown
O’Doul’s Restauarnt – Robson St
Pauls Submarine – Fraser St
Two from the 1970s — Yangtze Kitchen on Denman. I believe it was the first local restaurant to serve spicy northern Chinese food.
Victoria Station. Can’t remember the street, Had a lot of British railway artifacts as decorations.
I remember a lovely small Italian restaurant in the ’70’s ” Le Boite” on SW Marine a few doors from the Fraser Arms. Also a proper White Spot dining room in Oakridge with white linens, possibly a buffet?
That was back in the ’60s when Oakridge was a small open mall without a cover.
Jean Claude Ramon’s “La Creperie” and “La Brochette
La Notte on Dunbar.
RIP Franc Petan
It has been many years that I lived in North Vancouver and Vancouver. I loved the bakeries, cafes and restaurants do much. So many memories!
English Bay Cafe, Mulvaneys, Cannery, Topanga, Naan, Frank Bakers ‘ The Attic’ in West Vancouver, the White Spot in West Vancouver- a tray was brought to slip across from the car window to window.
Orestes, Frescos on Davie, Salmon House on the Hill.
Loved the Ho In in Gastown, Fairyland, Kettle of Fish, the Dutch Pancake house…
Cafe des Paris on Denman. Pepper chicken was outrageous & the frittes amazing
The Butcher’s on Broadway. choose your own steak cut from the butcher shop
Peppi’s in West Vanc
The Heidelberg on Robson, la Brasserie (d’horloge) on Water Street, Orestes on West Broadway, Las Tapas on Cambie, Honey’s sandwiches on Hornby and Water streets, The Fish n Chip Shop, South Main st. Namoto’s on Thurlow, L’espresso di Zanatta on Robson, Venezia Gelateria, (South) Victoria Drive, Eye Scream on West 4th. Ave. , El Cerrito Cafe, West 4th. Ave. Cafe de Paris on Denman, The Teahouse in Stanley Park
So many great contributions!
I really enjoyed having my memory sparked.
Here’s my offering. I only made it there once, unfortunately, but OMG…fiddleheads!!
Most unique decor as well. Like dining in a forest.
Fresco Inn on Davie
I lived there in the late 80’s & 90’s so here are some of my picks but there are many more.
Carnegies (Broadway & Fir, next to Earls)- amazing saganaki!
Mescaleros (off Davie on Bidwell-used to be a Fogg n Sudd’s before that)- first time trying raw oysters there. Great martini’s too.
The Big Bamboo! (nightclub on Broadway that had a sushi bar on the second floor)
Jeremiah’s Pub (now called The Cove)
Ted’s(on Broadway between McDonald & Bayswater) had the best Caesar salad I’ve ever had.
Anducci’s, La Regalade
Bao Chau on Hastings.. closed in 2021!
I have memories of delicious late night cheesecake at Benny’s Bagels on Broadway in the 90’s but my wife says I am getting confused with Cheesecake Etc. Can anyone validate my version of events?
Orestes on Broadway in Kits was a Greek jewel in the 70s. Nuba has reclaimed its labyrinth of cozy nooks and crannies, keeping its atmosphere, but the mind floods with memories of this former mediterranean oasis.
List is also missing The Cannery, an institution of Vancouver’s restaurant history.
Le Menu was a tiny French restaurant on down on Davie near Denman
I recall creative, delicious meals at Kitsilano Daily Kitchen, with a focus on local ingredients. A welcoming room, gracious service.
Salt (Blood Alley)
Hey Dumplings (Keefer)
Oh, thanks for the memories! So many good ones, but I didn’t see d’Carlos. Originally below street level somewhere on West Georgia across from the Hotel Van, then they moved to Park Place. Rigatoni to die for. Also Martini’s on Broadway…delish whole wheat crust pizza. Al Porto in Gastown. So many others. Those were the days!
This article and the comments are a fantastic trip down memory lane. What gets me is the number of family and friends (and myself!) who worked at many of the vanished spots listed. What a rite of passage for so many young Vancouverites who went on to careers outside of the restaurant and hospitality business.
It makes me sad too – so many memorable outings to long-gone gems!
Tsunami Sushi on Robson not mentioned. Alabaster – short lived fantastic Northern Italian in Yaletown (?). The restaurant at Eatons downtown upstairs.
I loved reading the stories and reliving my own memories of Candia Taverna (best pizza), muffins at Bennies, Bo Kong in Richmond (vegetarian asian), I did not see Woodlands on the list. Admittedly the food wasn’t stellar, kind of a wanna be Naam, but they had this amazing cumin bread (had molasses, so flavourful) and this veggie butter that I still crave to this day. If anyone has the recipe I would be forever grateful!