A no messing around guide to the coolest things to eat, drink and do in Vancouver and beyond. Community. Not clickbait.

Where Does One of Victoria’s Cooler Restaurant Crews Eat When in Vancouver?

What’s so great about when a kitchen crew from another city comes to town, is that they leave their hometown bias behind, bringing new perspectives and honest impressions only. Getting the opportunity to see our city through their eyes can offer a refreshing take, reminding us of old favourites and/or alerting us to new (to us) places to try. That’s exactly what happened when one Victoria restaurant came to Vancouver for a recent visit, and agreed to fill us in about their experience.

End Dive describes itself as a “weirdo pescatarian food & cocktail restaurant” with strong values in sourcing as much as they can from as close by as they can get it. The tight crew – all long-time industry colleagues and musicians – run their Herald Street restaurant with genuine down-to-earth service, good food and drinks in a laid-back room featuring cool art, rad music (via full length albums), and a bar that faces the open kitchen. Basically, eating here feels like you’re hanging out in a friend’s kitchen — if that friend played in a band and whipped up incredible meals. Short story: End Dive’s good food and counterculture charm continually draws us back in for a meal or drink whenever we’re in Victoria.

On my last visit to End Dive, Chef Mat Clarke mentioned that he and the crew had recently made a trip to Vancouver together. After a non-stop year-and-a-half since the restaurant’s opening, this much-needed break came courtesy of his brother, who gifted him tickets to see the Vancouver Canucks face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In Clarke’s words: “It gave us all a reason to finally do a bit of a food tour that we’d been longing for — albeit short and sweet.”

Curious to know more about their experience, I followed up to get their full Vancouver eating itinerary and overall impressions. Here they are:

Photo via End Dive
Mat Clarke
(Chef + GM at End Dive)

Clarke has the most years of experience in the service industry among the team and he uses the wisdom he’s gleaned over those years to run both kitchen and restaurant operations at End Dive. He’s also a Pittsburgh Penguins fan.

Where’d you eat/drink? 
Ask for Luigi, Pourhouse, Alibi Room, Keefer Bar.

Standout Dish/Drink?
Bigoli Nero w/ Frutti de Mare & Uni Butter at Ask For Luigi.

Ask For Luigi | Photo by Scout Magazine

Overall Impression?  Everything about Ask For Luigi was exactly what I desire from our industry: the service was attentive and extremely knowledgeable, yet playful and entertaining. There was nothing pretentious in any facet of this place. The room is tight and buzzing, the lighting was perfect, and the wine and food were divine. I just had simple drinks/beers at all the rest, which were great, and rounded out an incredible quick jump off the rock to the big city.

Kara Martyn
(Baker/Pasta Maker at End Dive)

Kara uses scientific know-how and insane attention to detail help her nail a range flavours and textures as the baker and pasta maker at End Dive. She also clearly has good taste in music and restaurants…

Where’d you eat/drink?
Pizza Coming Soon, Country Bar, Guilt & Co, Pourhouse, Keefer Bar.

Standout Dish/Drink? 
Miso Tomato Gnocchi, Jerk Beef Dumplings and Pina Coming Soon (cocktail) at Pizza Coming Soon.

Pizza Coming Soon | Photo by Scout Magazine

Standout Detail? I loved the music at Pizza Coming Soon! It was a mix of yacht rock with 70s and 80s pop, which is right up my alley. Super friendly down to earth service. I loved the chill, creative space, and how it sits above the street like a cool diner. The gnocchi was perfection! Just every detail of creativity from the food to the cocktails and tunes was unique and fun. I also loved the live improvisational jazz music at Guilt & Co. It’s always fun to see live music in a cool atmosphere – the cocktails here were great too.

Nate Cunnings
(FOH Manager at End Dive & Farmer)

Nate is End Dive’s personable Front of House manager who is also a farmer (not only is he on top of making sure that the floor is running smoothly, he keeps the team rolling in farm fresh ingredients). As Clarke explains: “everybody lovvvves Nate, it’s actually crazy.”

Where’d you eat/drink?
Ask for Luigi, Pourhouse, The Mackenzie Room, Bar Susu, Keefer Bar, Cafe Medina, Bacaro, Nightingale, Bao Bei.

Standout Dish? 
Bison, Potato Fondant, Creamed Spinach, Carm Shallot, Pickled Hon Shimeji Mushroom & Mushroom Demi at The Mackenzie Room; “Watermelon Daytime” (Strega with “aromatic tonic”, watermelon & tarragon) at Bar Susu.

The MacKenzie Room | Photo by Scout Magazine

What impressed you? I was very impressed with the staff at every restaurant/bar we went to, but the real standouts were the room at Bao Bei (beautiful), the live jazz trio at Pourhouse, and both Ask For Luigi and The Mackenzie Room were all-around exceptional. I left Vancouver feeling very full and inspired!

Todd Newton
(Bartender at End Dive)

Lead Bartender, Todd, has a rep for whipping up cocktails with some wild ingredients that work together shockingly well – consistently inventive but never over-the-top or gimmicky.

Where’d you eat/drink?
Dear Gus, Mount Pleasant Provisions, Their There, Published on Main, Keefer Bar, Nonna’s Cucina.

Standout Dish/Drink?
Ricotta gnocchi at Nonna’s Cucina; “Obsidian” (shelter point single malt, white port, blueberry, dandelion, green cardamom, honeycomb) at Published on Main.

Obsidian at Published | photo Sarah Annand

Standout Detail? The bar service by Liam Hatton at Published on Main was personable, professional, relaxed and genuine — the latter of which I value so much. His featured cocktail, “Obsidian”, was beautifully balanced and rich in texture as well as bright spice and earthiness.

The overall experience at Nonna’s Cucina was just awesome. Extremely talented and passionate staff who gave service akin to that of taking care of family, in a small, cozy environment of all happy and appreciative patrons. Beautifully prepared fresh pastas and paninis were absolutely delicious, with authentic Italian beverages to pair.


Game recognizes game—it’s as simple as that. When you’re constantly cooking and serving, you appreciate the effort behind each dish and drink that lands in front of you on a deeper level than the average diner might. We value this depth and think its refreshing to see Vancouver’s culinary scene through this lens.