Despite November’s unpredictable weather, one thing we can count on is a healthy dose of colourful art via the Eastside Culture Crawl. From Thursday, November 15th through Sunday, November 18th, more than 500 Vancouver artists, designers and makers will be welcoming us into their spaces to get rare, behind-the-scenes looks at their creative processes and practices. As you navigate your way from Main Street to Victoria Drive and back, don’t forget to eat and drink. Here are a few spots we suggest for doing just that…
Warming up with some steamy soup and dumplings along with a glass of wine at this new Commercial Drive spot is a no-brainer. The restaurant’s location and hours (slightly north of Graveley; every day during the Crawl from 6pm until late) makes it the perfect place to fill up before your Thursday or Friday art trek and/or wind down over the weekend. Pro tip: If you want something especially tasty and memorable try the “Staff Meal” chalkboard special. There’s no hidden agenda here; just simple hunger satisfaction.
While you’re Crawl-ing this weekend, take a lunch break at Strathcona’s airy new The Garden cafe to dig into one of their nourishing vegetarian grain bowls, which are loaded with goodness to keep you energized – like kale, mushrooms, all assortments of pickled things, veggies and seeds. Then feel extra good about grabbing one of their city-famous vegan salted chocolate chip cookies for the road.
Hand yourself over to the spirits experts when you’re deciding where to spend your obligatory mid-Crawl intermission or post-Crawl cocktail session. Resurrection Spirits’ lounge hours are perfectly aligned for your drink fix if you’re Crawl-ing Thursday through Saturday (they’re closed on Sunday, but otherwise open from 6pm to midnight). Good art and good booze go hand-in-hand after all, especially if you’re looking to strike up some unfiltered conversation about what your eyeballs have just absorbed.
THE PIE SHOPPE
Allow yourself to get sidetracked by the delicious smell of freshly baked pies wafting from Powell Street’s The Pie Shoppe. We’re only human, after all! Besides, a warm slice of seasonal pie or one of their special “gems”, along with a hot coffee, is just the thing to get you reenergized mid-Crawl, before making your way west from Victoria.
THE DOWNLOW CHICKEN SHACK
If you’ve done the Crawl proper, then you’ve covered a lot of ground. You deserve a treat! May we suggest adding the Downlow Chicken Shack to your itinerary for one of their hot chicken sandwiches and fries? You don’t even need to break your stride if you order in advance and grab ’em to go. Bonus: the Shack is open on Sunday from 11am until 4:30pm, so it’s also a great spot to sop up your weekend libations with some greasy goodness before heading back out on your final Crawl lap.
PEPINO’S SPAGHETTI HOUSE
The new restaurant from the Savio Volpe team might not be easy to get into (it’s pretty damn popular), but it’s worth checking out just the same if you’re down with classic Italian-American fare like spaghetti with meatballs, calamari fritti and tiramisu.
Located in the heart of the Crawl zone, the newly renovated Havana restaurant is the perfect place to slip into for a transportively tropical margarita and a proper Cubano sandwich.
CAFFE LA TANA
Our new favourite cafe on the Drive is also the perfect first stop or pit-stop for a proper coffee fix and just the right amount of sugar buzz, if you follow our suit and explore the pastry selection.
HUNNYBEE BRUNCHEONETTE / SOAP
You can have your Crawl and brunch, too! Hit up newbs Hunnybee Bruncheonette, located super conveniently on the Union Street bike path at the corner of Gore, to start your Crawl right with some yummy shakshuka and ricotta pancakes. Then circle back after you’re all Crawl-ed out when the cafe is transformed into the hip night spot, Soap. Time it right and you might even be able to take advantage of their daily Happy Hours, from 6-7pm and 11pm to midnight.
The first of its kind in Canada, Callister is a brewery that contracts its facilities out to two other up-and-coming brewers at a time, which means that the beer drinker can expect to find a good range of styles, from crowd-pleasers to experimental brews. Currently taking over five of the twelve rotating taps, which include three cask engines, are Sundown and Good Buddy. They also serve up real old fashioned house brand sodas for the kids and non-imbibers. Bonus: you can always expect an assortment of impressive local art adorning the small space’s walls. In fact, Callister is home to the Goldmoss Satellite gallery, so you can check one off your Culture Crawl list while you sip!
A properly made Old Fashioned cocktail and some delicious ham grenades make this Chinatown haunt a no brainer of a spot from which to launch one’s Crawl explorations, especially if you’re inching your way from west to east.
EAST VAN BREWING CO.
It’s been almost exactly a year since East Van Brewing Company opened their doors in the heart of the Crawl-zone. While you’re in the hood, get in there and celebrate a year of beer with a pint of Community Lager, and maybe sneak in a game of pool while you’re at it.
Cold beers, stiff drinks and tonnes of authentic Austin, Texas BBQ with all the OMG sides you can think of. We’re talking everything from brisket, sausages and baked beans to pulled pork, tater tots, fried chicken and waffles. Best to go after your Crawl once you’ve worked up the appetite.
STRANGE FELLOWS BREWING
Strange Fellows is no stranger to the arts. Christine Moulson’s signature illustrations adorn everything from growlers to the washroom doors, and the tasting room’s adjacent Charles Clark Gallery hosts monthly art shows. On display in the gallery now and for the remainder of November is Klee Larsen Crawford’s “MILK RUN” show. Although the space isn’t included in the Culture Crawl, it’s still a natural pit-stop on your route to enjoy a glass of my go-to brew, the Talisman West Coast Pale Ale, or any of their other solid selection of beers on tap.
Whether you’re done for the night and in the midst of it, this Mexican spot on The Drive fits the bill on account of their variety of tacos, share plates and deep shelves of tequila and mezcal. We’re partial to the queso fundido with chorizo and a classic, summery margarita.
Mid-November marks almost exactly one year since Yolks moved into their bright Campos Studios designed space, within the spiffy Boheme building. The new location is only three blocks east of the original East Hastings spot, easily within the Crawl’s boundaries. Get in there and warm up with hot coffee and some fried chicken and waffles! Bonus: the new digs also has an expanded beer and cocktail list, if a pint of suds or “Breakfast Sangria” sounds up your alley.
This hugely reliable neighbourhood spot is always on our Crawl radar. Sneak in for a Negroni, some crispy ceci and a delicious plate of tagliatelle with pork ragu and pecorino.
While you’re touring the Strathcona neighbourhood, take some time to slow down (it’s a Crawl, after all!) and warm up with a coffee and lunch fix at Finch’s Market. Weather-permitting, their baguette sandwiches are the perfect parcel to take around the corner to Maclean Park for an impromptu autumnal picnic.
JUKE FRIED CHICKEN
After a Thursday or Friday evening of gallery and studio hopping, Juke is the perfect landing spot to wind down with some comfort food and a drink. The Chinatown establishment is located at the westernmost point of the Crawl, so if your route started in East Van then you definitely need to reward yourself by filling up on some tasty fried chicken, good cocktails and killer tunes.
A neighbourhood institution that’s a bit off the beaten Crawl track – but next to the train tracks – the Alibi is also within easy walking distance to no less than eight Culture Crawl stops. Its communal set-up, warm and woody interior and convivial atmosphere make it the perfect evening spot to converse about art over dinner and a paddle or pint(s) of stellar craft beer. Try to score table #11 if you can.
One of the most consistently excellent pan-Asian restaurants in Canada. Chef Clement Chan and his kitchen crew are always up to something interesting, and the cocktails are the best on this stretch of Main Street. It sports the coolest communal table in town — a Scott & Scott designed suspended concrete beauty (if it’s packed try for a seat at the bar).
STRATHCONA BEER COMPANY
Pouring plenty of quality beers in a large, modern, well-lit, Simcic & Uhrich-designed space dotted with booths and high-top communal tables, this brewery looks like a proper restaurant ever though it’s a counter-service operation. Bonus: they make ridiculously good pizza.
LUPPOLO BREWING CO.
Located within eyeshot of Parker St. Studios, this Italian-themed brewery just celebrated its second birthday at the beginning of the month, so if you haven’t been in for a pint yet this is a perfect occasion to toast to the milestone occasion.
Given it’s location near Main Street, The Union makes for a good place to either start or close your crawl. Warm up with their kimchi fries or some fried rice paired with one of their delicious and exotic cocktails.
If you’re looking for a bit of seasonal creativity on your dinner plate, The Mackenzie Room is the place to find it. Chef Sean Reeve’s ever-evolving chalkboard menu of deliciousness is a joy to explore in any season, but this time of year it gets hearty. Dig in! Bonus: excellent cocktails.
HASTINGS MILL BREWING COMPANY
The hearty burger, a plate of fries and a pint of Pat’s Classic Lager are all legend to those who live in the area. If there’s a game on, know that this is where die hard Canucks/Crawl fans will retreat for a period or two. There’s also a bank machine to replenish your Crawl funds. Bonus: Griswold Winter Ale & Scottish Ale might be available – ask nicely.
Slip in for a cheap and warming won tun soup art this no frills pan-Asian (mostly Thai/Vietnamese) cafe on The Drive. It’s piping hot, restorative, intensely flavoured, and merrily cheap at $4 a bowl.
A great place to go to fuel up before slipping into Crawl gear, especially at brunch. Aim for either the Wagyu Meatball or Mediterranean Polenta skillets.
THE TUCK SHOPPE
Fast, affordable and unpretentious, we dig this quick and easy sandwich joint. Scout is on record loving their French Onion Dip sandwich with brisket and fresh horseradish but we’ve never tried their mojo-marinated pork belly Cubano. We hear it calling…
Located in Railtown close to Oppenheimer Park, Dosanko serves a selection of home-style, Japanese comfort food — ideal for fill-ups between studio visits.
We’ve been huge fans of this small but extremely capable Thai restaurant since its launch just over three years ago. Scott & Scott designed, it’s a good looking spot to while away an hour between studio visits with some sour cured pork ribs, Pad Thai and local craft beer.
The Famous Perogy Lunch Weekend is going down at the Strathcona Ukrainian Hall smack in the middle of the Eastside Culture Crawl territory (Pender and Hawks). Dig into generous helpings of homemade perogies, sliced sausage, cabbage rolls and bowls of borscht. Don’t be put off by the line-up at the door. It moves fast and you might make friends (perogy eaters are generally a jolly bunch). Also expect crafts, baked goods and all manner of trinkets. Details here.
Putting your chilled face over a steaming, wood-fired, certified Neapolitan pizza at this neighbourhood joint is one of the low-hanging fruit options during the Crawl, especially if you start or end yours near its easternmost boundary. Open a bottle of wine and breathe in the smells of proper dough and hardwood smoke as you reflect on what you saw over the course of your evening’s adventure.
Grab a sandwich and a drink here as you wander the streets of Strathcona looking for crows and yellow balloons (the two tell-tale signs of a Crawl studio). They have a take-out counter at the back of the shop with some quality snacks. We recommend the pastrami and the hot spot sandwiches, and if they have their potato and bacon soup going, pounce on that hot acton! If nothing else, Janet and Ramon will point you in the right direction.
Right in the middle of the Adanac bike route and ground zero in the most densely populated area on the Crawl map is The Union Market. Slip in for some traditional Portuguese chicken (Gloria always makes extra chicken on the Crawl weekend) or a not so traditional (but totally addictive) curry pocket. Enjoy the handful of outdoor tables under cover.
A mid-crawl cocktail is a grand idea. Make your way to the lovely tasting room at Odd Society Spirits on Powell Street for a Sour Owl or an Odd Aviation and calm your nerves after even the most crowded of studio visits. Odd Society is open 1-11pm on Friday and Saturday, 1-7pm on Sunday and is located a stones throw from The ARC building – which is jam packed with Culture Crawl artists.
Fujiya is great for take-out sushi. It’s nothin’ fancy, just fast, healthy and cheap. Sometimes that’s all you need! You can even order your sushi online and pick it up.
HARVEST COMMUNITY FOODS
This little noodle cafe and grocery store is located one block east of Main Street, directly on the Union Street bike path, making it particularly convenient if that’s your method of Culture Crawl transportation. Harvest’s small menu makes the most of local produce and a bowl of noodles with some on-tap kombucha will nourish and warm you (on cool days when the door is closed the space gets especially steamy) so you’ll leave feeling revitalized for the continuation of your Crawl.
A hot cup of coffee can go a long way in making the Crawl a warmer, more enjoyable experience. The jolt of caffeine doesn’t hurt, either. Ideally located in the thick of it, Agro – which roasts their own beans – is our neighbourhood go-to.