The West End
Vancouver’s West End is the area west of Burrard, east of Denman, and south of West Georgia.
English Bay Beach is the most populated beach in Vancouver’s downtown core. Take a stroll along the seawall, meet up with friends for a game of volleyball, rent a kayak or paddleboard, or just have a lazy day in the sun. For a change of scene, walk in the direction of Stanley Park and check out at Second or Third Beach. Second Beach has a large, heated outdoor pool, and Third Beach is a popular place for evening barbeques and sunset watching.
An evergreen oasis of 1,000 acres right in the downtown core, Stanley Park is an incredible destination for tourists and locals who are looking for an escape from the concrete jungle. Get a sense of the natural Westcoast atmosphere with the mix of towering cedar, hemlock and fir trees while exploring one of the many paths. Stanley Park hosts many attractions, including the Miniature Railway and the Vancouver Aquarium. For more information, including a map of the park, check out the Vancouver Parks and Recreation website: http://vancouver.ca/parks/parks/stanley/
On a sunny day, be sure to take a stroll around the Seawall, a 22km path that lines Vancouver’s waterfront from the convention centre on the Burrard Inlet (Coal Harbour), around Stanley Park and False Creek, past Granville Island and ending at Kits Beach. The path is divided into two paths – one for walking, jogging and running, and another for cycling and inline skating. There are a number of stores where you can rent a bike or a pair of inline skates for just a couple hours or an entire day.
The neighbourhood is home to many families and attracts people of all ages. Stanley Park has a number of family-oriented attractions, including Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium, the outdoor pool at Second Beach, and English Bay Beach.
Every year, the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival heads down Denman Street and ends at Sunset Beach where there is food and music.
– Take the 5 Robson heading Westbound from the corner of Robson and Burrard. Get off at the corner of Davie and Denman.
– Take the 6 Davie heading Southbound from the corner of Granville and Georgia. Get off at the corner of Davie and Denman.
With one transfer:
– Take the 22 MacDonald heading Southbound from the corner of Burrard and Georgia. Get off at Burrard and Davie, and transfer to the C23 Davie heading Westbound from the corner of Davie and Burrard. Get off at the corner of Davie and Bidwell.
– Take the 10 Granville heading Southbound from the corner of Granville and Georgia. Get off at Granville and Davie, and transfer to the C23 Davie heading Westbound from the corner of Davie and Granville. Get off at the corner of Davie and Bidwell.
– Take the 16 Arbutus heading Southbound from the corner of Granville and Georgia. Get off at Granville and Davie, and transfer to the C23 Davie heading Westbound from the corner of Davie and Granville. Get off at the corner of Davie and Bidwell.
The West End is a very densely populated neighbourhood with a diverse population consisting of old and young, Canadians, immigrants and international students. It is home to Davie Village, which is Vancouver’s gay district, generally situated on Davie between Burrard and Bute. The West End is also home to many children, and has two elementary and a secondary school. During the sunny summer months, this neighbourhood is bustling and vibrant as many tourists and locals alike flock to this area.
Forage – 1300 Robson Street
Forage, located in the Listel Hotel, is a recent arrival with an emphasis on local, innovative food. It sheds the insultingly high prices of many “top” Vancouver’s restaurants, and proudly emphasizes zero waste.
La Brasserie – 1091 Davie – This intimate Franco-German restaurant bar is an absolute must! Their unique menu includes classic dishes such as steak tartare, truffled poutine, suckling pig and housemade bratwurst. Choose from an extensive selection of French, German and Belgium beers. Open for dinner daily and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-3. No reservations so showing up a bit earlier is recommended.
Raincity Grill – 1193 Denman – Showcasing the best of Pacific Northwest cuisine, Raincity Grill is home of Canada’s premiere restaurant 100-mile menu and award-winning Pacific Northwest wine list. Try their prix-fixe lunch (2 courses for $22) or their early-bird prix-fixe dinner (3 courses for $30). For the full experience, order from the 100-mile tasting menu. You won’t be disappointed!
Tavola – 1829 Robson – Modern Italian food served “family style” in a warm environment for good value. Order from their antipasto bar featuring delicious items like Buffalo and Burrata Mozzarella, artisan proscuitto and salami, sliced to order, along with an offering of crostini and salads. Their pasta is truly al dente and hearty, but if you are looking for meat, I highly recommend their 24oz. dry aged prime rib steak. Their wine list is extensive and knowledgeable, featuring wines from Italy and the Pacific Northwest. Limited reservations are available so be sure to call ahead to book your table.
Nook – 781 Denman – Nook offers no-nonsense approach to fine Italian food with a simple menu consisting of pizza and pasta mains, in addition to a handful of crostini, antipasto and salad options. The atmosphere is unpretentious and the staff are knowledgeable and passionate about food. Open seven days a week at 5pm. They don’t take reservations so on weekends, I suggest showing up when they open their doors, or have a late dinner past 9pm.
Central Bistro – 1072 Denman – Central is always packed full of locals and for good reason. The food is beautifully crafted with the freshest ingredients. Their martinis are delicious and unique – my favourites are the Twisted Ginger, with passion fruit vodka, fresh ginger and a hint of rose, and the Judy Bloom, with blueberry vodka, cassis and a tart lime juice. Go on a Sunday at 8pm and wind down your week with live jazz.
Jang Mo Jib – 1719 Robson – One of the most successful Korean restaurants in town. To start, you will receive a variety of side dishes which include offerings like kimchi, seaweed, bean sprouts, radish and sweet potato. Try the bimbimbap, a signature Korean dish consisting of rice topped with vegetables, meat and a raw egg, served in a hot stone bowl. The egg cooks against the sides of the bowl, and the bottom of the bowl is coated with sesame oil which creates a layer of crispy rice. I also recommend the beef bulgogi – marinated barbeque beef served with a vegetable medley and rice, as well as the galbi – grilled marinated beef short ribs in a ganjang-based sauce (Korean soy sauce). The majority of their patrons are Korean, so you can expect quality food and an authentic experience.
Guu with Garlic – 1698 Robson – Popular traditional Japanese izakaya (tapas) spot with the motto “Garlic is sexy!” Their menu boasts items like karaage (deep-fried chicken served with garlic mayo), okonomiyaki (traditional Japanese squid and cabbage “pancake”), kimchi udon and much more. Sake goes well with garlic, and they offer it both hot and cold. If you are looking for something fruity, don’t miss their cocktail list. I highly recommend the aloe vera shochu and crushed pear vodka.
Gyoza King – 1508 Robson – Intimate Japanese izakaya featuring hand-made gyoza (dumplings). They also offer a selection of tapas which include raw, deep fried and robata (grilled) items, in addition to a variety of noodle dishes. The intimate setting and friendly staff make this a favourite amongst locals.
Banana Leaf – 1096 Denman – Award-winning restaurant offering traditional Malaysian cuisine. To start, they offer an appetizer sampler for a taste of their most popular appetizers. For the main course, I recommend the Singapore Chili Crab – whole crab, shell-on, cooked with chili sauce blended with lemongrass, tomato and egg. If you have room, don’t miss the Pisang Goreng – deep-fried banana served with vanilla ice cream and topped with crushed peanut.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka – 1690 Robson – Traditional Japanese ramen noodles served in a rich pork-bone based broth that is prepared over two days. Try the Chef’s special Goro-Niku fried pork gyoza and the Tonkatsu Miso Ramen. I recommend trying one of their meal combos with the small rice bowl with salmon. It is a very busy spot so you can expect to line-up, but it moves quickly and is well worth the wait.
La Belle Patate – 1215 Davie – Authentic Quebecois restaurant featuring over nearly thirty variations of poutine. The fries are hand cut and double cooked, the cheese curds are fresh and squeaky, and surprisingly, the gravy is vegetarian (I didn’t believe it!) Stick with the traditional poutine or explore their specialty options. I’ve tried a number of them but I always come back to the smoked meat poutine.
Babylon Cafe – 1156 Denman – This hole-in-the-wall cafe offers quality Middle Eastern fare for good value. For approximately $8, you can fill up on one of their shawarma plates (chicken/beef/lamb), which comes with delicious rice, greek salad, potato, pita bread, hummous and tzatziki. It is primarily a take-out spot – there is a small ledge with bar stools and a set of tables outside; however, for the best view in the house, grab your food and head over to English Bay Beach.
Nat’s New York Pizzeria – 1080 Denman- New York style hand-tossed pizza . The crust is thin and crispy, yet chewy, and the toppings are simple but fresh. If you are not in the mood for pizza, try the footlong veal cutlet parmesan hero. It will make your tastebuds sing! Local delivery is offered.
Baguette Time – 1231 Davie – Offering fresh and delicious baguette sandwiches made with quality ingredients. The owner and service staff are friendly. The prices are not the cheapest but the sandwich is well worth the price. I recommend the Soprano which is made with Italian deli meats, pesto mayo and jalapeno peppers.
Delany’s Coffee House – 1105 Denman – Busy neighbourhood coffee house and gathering place that is regularly packed full of locals. Featuring hand crafted Caffe d’Arte espresso blends and a selection of fresh pastries and sandwiches.
Melriches Coffee House – 1244 Davie – Friendly neighbourhood coffee house that offers all-day home-style breakfast. Their most popular item is the breakfast sandwich which is available in a meat or veggie option, and your choice of multigrain or sourdough bread. A great place to catch up with friends.
True Confections – 877 Denman – Award-winning dessert house with a wide variety of delicious offerings. Serving the Canada’s largest selection of “made from scratch” desserts, and taking pride in using fresh ingredients with no chemicals or stabilizers. If one slice isn’t enough, take home a whole cake for continuous gratification.
Gelarmony – 1094 Denman – Artisan style gelateria featuring over one hundred flavours. A variety of sorbetto, soya gelato and yogurt are also available. Flavours include everything from tiramisu to pistachio. The ingredients are fresh and the key ingredients are all sourced from Italy.
Marble Slab Creamery (1184 Denman) – The creamiest ice cream served with your choice of mixins – made just the way you like it! The waffle cones are made in-store and the mixins include a variety of fruit, gummy bears, marshmallows, graham crackers, M&Ms and more! Watch your creation come to life before your eyes as the mixins are combined into the ice cream on a cold marble slab. They also offer a variety of delicious tried, tested and true options.
Tanpopo – 1122 Denman – Quality sushi at affordable prices, featuring an all-you-can-eat style menu. Eat to your heart’s content for only $13.95 during lunch or late night (9:30pm and onwards), or explore the more extensive dinner offerings for $24.95. Service is prompt and drinks are very reasonably priced.
Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna -1124 Davie – Stepho’s consistently has a line-up out the door, even on rainy days! The food is good and the value is even better. I don’t suggest ordering an appetizer unless you are very hungry or want to take home leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. That being said, the calamari is tender, light and crispy, and the massive portion makes it perfect for sharing. My favourite main is the roast lamb – moist, tender and flavourful. Great place to satisfy your appetite!
Mediterranean Grill – 1152 Denman – Popular family business serving traditional Greek cuisine. They are known for their lamb dishes, but they also offer souvlaki and shawarma plates, in addition to a variety of pita wraps, stew and more. The prices are very reasonable and the portions are generous. Great for take out during the summer as English Bay beach is just steps away.
Lolita’s – 1326 Davie – Mexican cuisine with a twist served in an intimate atmosphere. Try their version of Cochinita Pibil – moist sliced pork presented in a banana leaf with rice, cumin flavoured beans, plantain and pickled red onions. The beef taquitos are also delicious and served with a pico de gallo that will awaken your taste buds. Lolita’s fills up quickly so I suggest arriving early. Open daily from 3pm to 2am.
La Gavroche – 1616 Alberni – Award-winning French restaurant that is known as one of Vancouver’s most romantic places to dine. Located in a beautiful refurbished Victorian house featuring a fireplace and a private reception room for up to 28 guests. Classic French cuisine prepared with fresh local and seasonal ingredients. Try the $39 prix-fixe menu complete with wine pairings for an additional $28. It will be an experience that will leave you with a lasting impression.
Ayoub’s Dried Fruit and Nuts – 986 Denman – Recently opened second location offering a selection of quality Persian nuts and dried fruits in a boutique-style store. Try the roasted nut mix consisting of pistachios, almonds, cashews and hazlenuts. Try the addictive sour roasted almonds. Or if you are looking for something sweet, the dried fruit mix contains mangoes, plums, kiwi, figs, oranges, apples, bananas and persimmon fruit. Make your own mix from their bulk selection, or opt for their pre-packaged selections.
Homewerx – 1055 Davie – Modern lifestyle store offering a unique retail experience. Choose from a unique selection of home decor, kitchen tools, books, gourmet food and more! Great place to find that perfect gift.
Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware Etc. – 1553 Robson – Whether you are an amateur in the kitchen or a seasoned professional, you will find what you need to execute your culinary creation at Chocolate Mousse. Offering a solid selection of kitchenware on the ground floor, in addition to gadgets and gifts on the second floor.
Club Annex – 538 Davie – Sleek and stylish fashions for both men and women. Carrying designer brands such as Diesel, Jack & Jones, True Religion and Miss Sixty. The staff are true fashionistas and will be happy to assist you in putting together an outfit that suits your style.
TopDrawers Apparel – #115-1030 Denman – Exclusively specializing in underwear for men. The store is small but it is packed full of all your undergarment needs. A wide selection of everything from your standard boxers and briefs, to swim wear, long johns and shirts.
Marquis Wine Cellars – 1034 Davie – Offering a comprehensive selection of local and international wines from $10-$1400. They host special events and tastings, so be sure to check their website to see what’s coming up. A wine delivery service is also available within BC with a one case minimum.
Celebrities Nightclub -1022 Davie – Celebrities is Vancouver’s largest gay and lesbian nightclub. It has been voted the number one dance club in Vancouver, gay or straight, for 5 consecutive years (since its re-opening) by readers of the city’s most popular publication, The Georgia Straight. Internationally acclaimed DJs and performers are brought in from around the world, including the likes of Boy George, Deadmau5 and Tiesto.
1181 – 1181 Davie – Although they call themselves “Vancouver’s Premiere Gay Lounge”, 1181 attracts a diverse crowd and is open to anyone looking for a good time. The interior has a unique layout with three spatial configurations: a lounge, bar and high-tech zone complete with a large projection screen that features local artists, retro films, performances and more.
Oasis Ultra Lounge – 1240 Thurlow – Newly renovated lounge dubbed “the hottest gay spot in the city.” Offering live music, quality pub fare, nightly drink specials and a fantastic view of Davie Village.
The Three Brits Public House – 1780 Davie – The Three Brits serves as the West End’s first craft beer house, featuring 10 taps of BC and American craft beer. Great location and fun for people watching.
Dover Arms – 961 Denman – Long established neighbourhood gathering place that offers quality pub fare and daily specials. The atmosphere is unpretentious and the service is prompt and friendly. Great place to relax and catch up with friends!
The Pumpjack Pub -1167 Davie – Popular low-key watering hole that attracts a predominantly gay crowd. Don’t be fooled by the dark and stark interior – the crowd is friendly and the atmosphere is laid back and casual.
Score – 1262 Davie – Neighbourhood sports bar offers reasonably priced pub fare. TVs are placed so that every seat in the house has a good view. Check out their website for their scheduling and daily specials.
West End Community Centre (870 Denman) – More than 50,000 square foot facility that includes a full gym, library, pottery studio, auditorium, out-of-school children’s care centre, a pre-schoo, the West End’s only skating rink/arena and more! Programs and courses are offered for all ages.
– For more information, including hours, current schedule and lessons, visit the Vancouver Park and Board’s website: vancouver.ca/parks/rec/pools/index.htm
– Vancouver Aquatic Centre (1050 Beach)
– Second Beach Pool (Stanley Park Drive)