Going to Vancouver is almost overwhelming – not that the city is too big, too loud, or hard to get around – there are just too many must-dos. You must take a side trip to Whistler. You must have sushi. You must walk the seawall at Stanley Park.
Okay, you really should do all of the above. But in addition to the standard Vancouver bucket list items, you should add the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. Built around Main Street, a short bus ride from downtown, Mount Pleasant stretches from 1st Ave to 16th – but many great businesses are just a short walk further south.
Located at Main & 21st, Coco et Olive is a beautiful, bright café with delicious coffees and pastries (on my first visit, we went back three times in four days). The cappuccino was a highlight, as was the almond croissant. For heartier brunch fare, go north a few blocks to Slickity Jim’s Chat ‘n’ Chew, which does all the breakfast standards – bennies, omelettes, huevos rancheros – to perfection.
For dinner, few places serve better, more original food than Meet on Main. Meet specializes in vegan and vegetarian dishes, with mushrooms subbing in for seafood (like the oyster mushroom po’boy, which will make you swear off shrimp) and cheekily named favourites like butter chikkin poutine.
Meet also has the requisite local beer menu, but if you’re still thirsty, there’s a pair of excellent breweries not far from Main. 33 Acres Brewing on W 8th Ave. fills up quickly, but it’s worth standing in line to try a glass of their suds – particularly “33 Acres of Ocean,” a crisp west coast pale ale. Not far from 33 Acres is Brassneck, another great craft brewery. Their selection is more dizzying (by selection, not ABV), so it’s best to get a flight. For the pun-loving traveler, we recommend “Bjorn Again.”
For any sports fans, it’s also a treat to take in a Vancouver Canadians game at Nat Bailey Stadium, which is south of Mount Pleasant proper, but within striking distance. The Canadians are a minor-league affiliate of the Blue Jays, so you might see a future star in the making. If nothing else, you’ll see a sushi mascot race – top that, Skydome.