Thursday, 4 August 2016

vancouver schmoozer

Schmoozer is definitely a word; you know exactly what it means. To be a schmoozer, to be schmoozed or to participate in the act of schmoozing, whatever it is, schmooze your way through the bustling little city of Vancouver with this killer list.

Whether it's exploring the cocktail and food scene, local craft breweries, immersing yourself in nature or just wandering around, the city has got a lot going on but it’s nice to know the good spots to make the best of your time there.  

When I worked at UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar I used to handwrite a tailored list for customers visiting the city. Yes, I’m that nice.  So here are some of my favourite things to do and see in the city that stole my heart.
Downtown & Yaletwon:
§  Café Medina $$ – a Vancouver favourite with the best brunch in town, be prepared to wait for a table (it’s worth it!), amazing coffee, waffles and Mediterranean inspired dishes. They’ve also branched out into brunch cocktails! Try their signature lavender latte and Harrisa Plain Plait Burger. 
§  UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar $$ - classy but casual downtown cocktail lounge open ‘til 2am every night, happy hour 2-6pm including the famous $1 oysters, plus live jazz every Saturday night. Perfect for wine flights and cheese/meat boards.

§  Cibo Trattoria $$ - the sister restaurant of UVA, specializing in authentic Italian; seasonal, local and organic.
§  Johnnie Fox’s Irish Snug $ - cute little Irish hole in the wall on Granville street
§  The Granville Room $ - dimly lit hideaway on Granville Street, open ‘til 3am every night
§  Ramen Jinya $ - one of the best ramen spots this side of town, but there are so many others to check out too.
§   Homer St. Café $$$ - classic comfort food, adventurous wine and cocktail list in a beautiful historic space
§  The Parlour $ stylish, laid-back atmosphere with amazing Gluten Free pizzas

§  Start your day with a coffee at some of the best cafes in the area: Revolver, Prado and Timber Train
§  L’Abattoir $$$ – Pacific Northwest food with a French touch in an industrial-chic setting. Great cocktails, try their famous Avocado Gimlet.
§  The Diamond $$ - bustling casual craft cocktail lounge with a stunning view of Gastown and a hidden back bar. A late-night industry favourite
§  Gringo Taco Bar $ – late night Mexican dive bar in Blood Alley. Upbeat and unfussy, cheap booze and super tasty food.
§  Salt Tasting Room $$– If you want to get your wine and cheese on this is place specializes in pairing regional wines with cured meats, cheeses and condiments. Right next to Gringo in Blood Alley
§  Tacofino $– seriously good tacos and cheap cocktails.  Open for lunch and dinner
§  Six Acres $$ - quaint little two story nook with large selection of bottled top-shelf local and imported beer. Warm, cozy and candlelit.
§  Pourhouse $$ - beautiful old colonial American style bar, great lunch daily deals and live jazz on Sundays. Get a bit googley eyed at the sleek and shiny 38ft bar.
§  Portside Pub $ - an industry favourite, nautically themed unpretentious basement pub. Open late (3am) on Friday and Saturday nights
§  Guilt & Co. $ - another downstairs basement pub with live entertainment every night of the week and giant Jenga. Enough said.
§  Blacktail Restaurant $$$ - local, seasonal Canadian cuisine and craft cocktails. The food is incredible here and a great place for a date night 
§  The Irish Heather $ - modern Irish pub, $5 Guinness at happy hour  and good grub
§  Sheebeen $$ - back bar to The Irish Heather, boasts the largest whiskey list in the city
§  Meat & Bread $ - Try the best sandwich in town, several locations
§  Calabash $– Caribbean  “reggae-centric” bistro, amazing authentic food and the best Dark n’ Stormy's in town! They have a great live music schedule and feature local art too so go online and check it out
§  Wildebeest $$$Meat-centric farmhouse fare with creative craft cocktails in a warm cozy setting. “The staff are well-mannered and well-dressed, with a clear fondness for good, vintage fashion” - BarChick
§  The Alibi Room $ - modern tavern featuring 50 taps of local and imported beer, sustainable food in a casual dining space
§  The Urban Winery $$ - boutique winery with warm, casual space, live music (The Set List ) and wine tastings on Sundays
§  Cuchillo $$ - Latin American small plates, tequila flights and creative agave based cocktails. Plus the best Baja Fish Taco I’ve ever had!
§  Ask for Luigi $ - refined Italian designed for sharing
§  The Mackenzie Room $$ - Locally sourced New American eats, craft cocktails & a daily punch 

§  The Keefer Bar $$ – Chinese Apothocary cocktail lounge. Entertainment most nights. Every Tuesday live music with Alex Maher and Soul Sessions with DJ Mykro Douglas
§  Bao Bei $$ – Chinese/French fusion with amazing cocktails and an energetic vibe. They don't take bookings so pop over to the Keefer Bar while you wait for a table 
§  Mamie Taylor's $$ - authentic heritage American with lots of fried chicken, rye whiskey and seriously good-looking bartenders and taxidermy. Weekend Brunch 11am-3pm
§  Phnom Penh $ - insanely good traditional Vietnamese/Cambodian food
§  The Union $ - step into an Asian market place and enjoy Pan-Asian eats with creative Asian-inspired cocktails. Seriously good food at a great price. Weekend brunch 10am-3pm
§  Upstairs at Campagnolo $$ - Solera aged Negroni’s and lots of wine.
§  Pizza Farina $ - bustling, minimalist pizza joint with tradition Italian style thin-crust pizzas. Open until the dough runs out.
§  Matchstick Coffee $ - hand-crafted preparation of single-origin coffees in casual designer space
§  Bestie $ - friendly little German sausage and beer parlour with a late night take out window on Friday and Saturday nights until 3am
§  Chambar $$$ -  “Experience fine dining in a warm and inviting atmosphere” in this Belgium restaurant with three-star Michelin trained chef. Choose from an immense selection of beer, wine and cocktails, and marvel in one of the most stunning designer spaces you'll see in the city. Date night material

Mount Pleasant, Main Street and Kitsilano:
§  Shameful Tiki Room $$ - Exactly what its sound like, filled to the brim with beachcomber and tiki kitsch this hidden vintage-style Polynesian bar. They seriously respect traditional tiki cocktails here so have a go at a Zombie and be prepared to fall the floor after a few. Lots of fun always had, good vibes. Go-Go dancers on Sundays
§  Burdock and Co. $$ - local, organic small plates and Naturalist wines. Communal and cozy.
§  The Fox Cabaret- Sunday Service comedy show at 9pm, get in early to snag a seat)
§  The Narrow Lounge $ – hidden dive bar with an intimate setting. No signage, just look for the little red light
§  Cascade Room $ - lively eatery with West Coast comfort food, craft beers and classic cocktails. $6 cocktails for Happy Hour Sunday-Thursday 5-7pm, say whaaaat?!
§  Portland Craft $ - locally sourced offerings inspired by the Portland food scene with a large selection of North-west craft beers
§  The Acorn $$ - Stunning local, seasonal and organic vegetarian food and creative cocktails often featuring vegetable juices. “Visually alluring and more important, delicious” –NY Times, “#2 Best Vegetarian in the world!” – Daily Meal
§  Lucy’s Eastside Diner $ – Get your late night munchies on at this 24-hour retro diner whipping up Canadian and classic comfort food 
§  Pho Extreme Xe Lua $ – best 24-hour Pho in town!
§  Super Marine $$- quickly becoming a hip Kitsilano hang-out, Super Marine specializea in sustainable and seasonal seafood and craft cocktails. Octopus chips people!
§  The Corduroy $ – Hip eatery & bar with wood panelling serving Canadian fare. Monday nights Rock Paper Scissors are a blast as well as Tuesdays Open Mic night
§  Vij’s $$ – celebrated Indian restaurant offering inventive cuisine in a lively atmosphere. Spices and cooking techniques remain Indian while the produce is locally sourced, driving seasonal menu changes. 

West End:
§  The Score on Davie $ –This fun casual, neighborhood hangout serves up Canadian pub fare, has weekend brunch and is perfect watching hockey matches. By far the best Caesar’s in town. Oh how I miss Caesar’s….
§  Espana $$ – low-lit intimate Spanish tapas with a impressive selection of wine and sherry
§  Exhile Bistro $$$ - small, healthy artisan restaurant featuring local, wild, seasonal cuisine. The lentil and nut pate is to die for, and would pop in often just for this and a delicious cocktail with nutritional ingredients such as blue-green algae, turmeric or aloe vera.
§  Sushi Maumi $$ – owned and run by a lovely Japanese couple, Maumi is open for dinner only and with a capacity of only ten or so people, this place packs out pretty quickly. They specialize in purely authentic  mouth-watering Nigiri and Sashimi, all the way from Japan to your plate.
§  Lolita’s South of the Border Cantina $– snug little tequila bar with tiki cocktails and gourmet Mexican food. Happy Hour 11pm – late weeknights.

Commerical drive:
§  La Mezcaleria $$ - bringing you the beauty of Mezcal and Tequila (either in cocktials or by itself), along with delicious familia style Mexican cuisine in a stylish, busting atmosphere. The Aztec volcanic rockpots are a must, especially the orgasmic Queso Fundido (famous molten cheese fondue).
§  Libra Room $ - Funky hangout and live music every night of the week
§  Biercraft $ -  A spot for craft beer enthusiasts offering over 20 brews on tap 
§  Falconettie’s $ -  Laid back rock n’ Roll with live music most nights
§  Prado Café $ - great local coffee spot, good for people watching and’working’

Scenic activities and the great outdoors:
§  Hiking – there are so many possibilities and lots of options depending on your skill level and time frame. Check out Vancouver Trails for more info
§  Stanley Park – a wonderful green oasis right next to the city. Ride, run or rollerblade around or through the park. Be sure to hire bikes from a shop along Denman Street as it’s cheaper
§  The Seawall – walk, run or ride along the 28km seaside greenway (the worlds longest). Visit the lovely parks and enjoy the stunning views along the way, you can ride all the way to Wreck Beach if you’re feeling up to it!
§  Wreck Beach – a Vancouver must, nudist beach right next to the university, need I say more?

§  Granville Island Market - one if the most touristy spots in town, but it's definitely worth a look. Take a small water taxi over from one of the many locations. There are boutique shops, breweries/distilleries as well as street performers to keep you entertained. It's absolutely packed during the summer and almost a ghost town in the winter. Buy some fresh produce and have a picnic in a park close by (if it's not raining that is)
§  Craft Brewery Tour by bicycle – join a tour group or customize your own. Some of my favourites are Big Rock Brewery and 33 Acres
§  Watch the sunset at Sunset Beach – a popular way to unwind from the day, many people come down just to watch the sunset and relax with friends in the summer
§  The Grouse Grind- a.k.a. Natures Stairmaster. Climb this 2.9km beast of a trail and prepare yourself for an epic view. An extremely good cardio workout but not for the faint hearted. It is only one-way though, so you get to enjoy the Gondola on the way down!
§  Vancouver Lookout Tower – located on West Hastings Street in Gastown, this little gem is one of the best ‘touristy’ things to do. 360 degree views of the city, it’s neighborhoods and its surrounding mountains. Full interpretive display describing history and facts about the city. Your $16 admission fee is valid throughout the whole day, so be sure to come back for sunset or a nighttime view of the cityscape. 
§  Tuesday drum circle at Third Beach enjoy the afternoon sitting on the beach, looking across the ocean, watching the sunset over the mountains. Hundreds of people gather to play and dance to the beat of the drums
§  Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge – Take the bus over to Lynn valley for an easy hike, free suspension bridge and a nice escape from the hustle and bustle. Snap that typical Canadian landscape photo at Rice Lake
§  Vancouver Island and Victoria - If you have time catch the ferry over to Vancouver Island and visit the quaint little town of Victoria. There are plenty of thing to do and see including lots of cools bars and breweries

Tofino - is another must n Vancouver Island but requires a little more time, although VanCityBuzz featured an article describing 72 Hours in Tofino
SSnowboarding/Skiing - There are three local Mountains, Cypress, Grouse and Seymour plus a short day trip to either Whistler or Mt Barker (in the US). Snow sports sorted.

Fortune sound club - dance club with awesome sound system and shows
Celebrities -  after-dark dance hub


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