BEST GASTOWN RESTAURANTS | Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood is a coveted foodie destination
If you’re the kind of person who loves to eat and drink your way through a neighbourhood, tasting your way through Gastown’s best restaurants might be your new favourite activity in Vancouver. As Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown is rich with history; however, it also has more restaurants, cocktail bars, and coffee shops per square foot than any other district.
After years of hosting our flagship Foodie Tour in Gastown, we’ve come to know Gastown’s cobblestone maze of hidden gems inside-and-out. There’s a ton of choice, a lot of talented chefs and baristas, and often, so little time.
Save time planning and let us guide the way on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour!
Whether you have the chance to join us on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour or not, here are 5 Gastown food experiences you can’t miss, and the best places to do them:
Go for Brunch
Vancouver loves to brunch and some of the best brunch hangouts are in Gastown. Our advice? Show up early and have a few back-up ideas on speed dial in case the line ups are long.
Foodie Tours Brunch Picks
BRUNCH | The chef-owned bistro style Twisted Fork is a cozy place to enjoy brunch and more. They are deservedly famous for their Eggs Benedict, a perfectly creamy and savoury plate of breakfast-time joy.
BAKERY | If you are on the hunt for baked goods, Purebread needs to be on your radar. With ridiculously delicious bread and desserts, this Whistler-born bakery has truly mastered both the sweet and the savoury. Just passing Purebread and smelling the freshly baked pastries wafting through the air is enough to be hooked. Once inside, you’ll notice their long counter piled high with brownies, cookies, scones, and nearly every delicious treat imaginable.
Read our feature on Purebread Gastown here!
Pro tip: Their meringues are to die for and each one is the size of your head! Well worth it.
BAKERY | As soon as you step into Nelson The Seagull, you’ll feel that this place has a special soul. The open bakery in the back, white brick walls and original mosaic tiling, gives an authentic feel that embodies Gastown. This is a great place to grab a coffee and get some work done, but don’t forget to take a break and order their bread and butter! It will show you how a sourdough loaf should be. If you want more than a snack, go with the picnic board – A stack of sourdough bread served with mango chutney, hummus, and a borderline addicting house-made pesto.
Pro tip: Another item to order is their soup! Freshly roasted veggies served with sourdough and butter – yum 🙂
BRUNCH & LIVE MUSIC | Sunday morning brunch with live jazz music? Yes, please! Situated above Water Street Cafe, 2nd Floor has music 7 nights a week, but we especially love coming here for brunch! Their West-Coast menu features Salmon Gravlax Benny with a dill creme fraiche (delightful!) and for sweet tooths, try their Dulce de Leche Waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream. If you’re feeling decadent, you can add a white wine poached lobster tail to any dish.
Drink some Drinks
If you hear the history from our Gastronomic Gastown Tour, you’ll know that Gastown formed from the love of booze. Today, there are amazing cocktail bars, craft beer joints, and whiskey parlours. Gastown is a favourite for local nightlife, especially on summer nights. Most restaurants will have a great selection of cocktails, beer, and wine as well, but here are some of our favourite places to grab drinks.
Foodie Tours Bar Picks
COCKTAIL TAVERN | An old-fashioned tavern in a historic century-old Gastown warehouse, Pourhouse features a 38-foot bar made from 120-year-old reclaimed wood. With a true happy hour from 5-6 and cocktails that will turn your palette upside down, Pourhouse is an experience. Their burger is amazing – a hand-packed patty, cooked till the juices run, served with aged cheddar and pork belly.
Pro tip: When you go to the bar, ask the bartender for their advice. Pourhouse bartenders love their craft and will work with you in finding a cocktail that’s the perfect fit.
MODERN TAVERN | Back in the day, the word Tavern was used to describe a place where people in the community and traveller alike could get together and bond over food and drink. This is exactly the mantra of the Alibi Room. Here you will most likely find yourself meeting new friends or catching up with old ones. No matter your beverage of choice, Alibi room has you covered: a beer list of over 50 domestic and imported brews, BC wines, and craft cocktails. Add in their juicy burgers or ultra-crispy chicken wings and you have got yourself the start to a great night.
Pro tip: Alibi Room offers some unusual beer choices. Make sure you try Midnight Train Imperial Milk Stout with Coconut or the Chaka Khan Lychee Sour with Lactose.
COMFORT FOOD & BAR| Set up in the Alhambra (Gastown’s oldest building), this local favourite is a go-to spot for comfort food favourites, craft beer and booze. Their poutine will make you weak in the knees!
Pro tip: Their loft seating on the second floor gives you a birds-eye view of the restaurant and the outside hustle and bustle. Try their Happy Hour for classic cocktails, beer, and wine at a pocketbook-friendly price.
Check out the Live Music
We love a good tune to compliment a good drink! Guilt & Co, Pourhouse, and Revel Room have weekly performers, but there are often special music nights throughout the area.
Foodie Tours Live Music Picks
NIGHTLIFE | If you love music, this is the place to go. Located underneath Local Public Eatery, Guilt & Co. puts on live music every night of the week. The dark and intimate setting will have you feeling like you are at the forefront of Vancouver’s music scene. Offering up a wide array of genres, Guilt & Co. will give you the chance to, not only find the music you like but also the music you didn’t know you’d love! So order a cheese platter and a whiskey flight and enjoy the show.
Pro tip: The dessert here is something to check out. Their guilt-free key lime pie is possibly the best vegan dessert in the city, and their homemade fruit leather is like a fruit roll-up for adults!
RESTAURANT & BAR | Pacific Northwest Cuisine has a definite champion in Is That French, a Blood Alley eatery with a wonderful array of sustainable seafood. The vibe here is definitely celebratory, with music on Thursdays and happy hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Enjoy the oysters– they’re as fresh as they come.
BAR | A small, dimly lit bar with great cocktails and some bar snacks to go along with. Live music every weekend with a rotation cast of eclectic musicians. They’ve got a good Happy Hour, too!
If you’re not hitting 3-4 Gastown restaurants in one night, you’re not doing it right. You won’t be alone if you start in the afternoon, hit a few happy hours, and keep the good times rollin’ at night!
Foodie Tours Must-Try Restaurant Picks
UKRAINIAN | Kozak’s Gastown eatery shows us exactly why feasting is such an important part of Ukrainian culture. Going beyond the bakery-centric offerings of its New West and East Van locations, this Kozak is brimming with the sweet and savoury classics that make up a glorious Ukrainian repast. Soups, roasts, pierogies, cabbage rolls, and more dishes that you may have never heard of—but are well worth discovering. The best time to come in is for lunch or join us on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour.
MEXICAN | Monarca does Mexican food with a modern vision—cue the clever mezcal cocktails and grilled octopus. You will enjoy all of the classic elements of a Mexican meal, starting off with fried tortillas and a selection of salsas. And then you’ll be given the opportunity to experiment with out-of-the-box dishes like the steelhead and kale salad. Enjoy it all.
ITALIAN | Imagine taking the basics of Italian cuisine and letting them loose in the cosmopolitan and freshness-forward setting that is 21st century Vancouver: this is Gastronomy Gastown. What does this mean? Caesar salad with broccoli, not romaine. Woodfired pizzas with intensely local ingredients. Roasted bone marrow with exquisite cocktails. Intriguing and delectable.
GREEK | Skewers Souvlaki Pita Bar is where you can satisfy your desire for next-level Greek cuisine at the most reasonable price point. The food is fresh, amply portioned, and served with plenty of unpretentious, Old world warmth.
KOREAN | Korean food is nothing if not adventurous, and Zoomak aims to deliver on that spirit. Crispy kimchi pancakes, immaculately spiced bibimbap, miso stew with tender shavings of beef. This is an upscale Korean dining experience you shouldn’t miss.
VEGAN COMFORT FOOD | Meet is a plant-based comfort food eatery that proudly declares its mission with its clever pun of a name. This is a place where people can connect over food that makes them genuinely happy and also happens to be veggie. In particular, their noodle or rice-based bowls are fun, fresh, and never leave you wanting for more.
MEXICAN | When you think of tacos in Vancouver, you think of Tacofino. What started as a food truck in Tofino is now a mainstay for many Vancouverites. One bite of their fish taco and you’ll understand why. It’s quite possibly the best in the city. Wash it down with a housemade churro and you’ve just started a proper night in Gastown. Or make Tacofino your main event. The geometric patterns give it a warm, casual vibe and the twinkle lights on the patio add that extra magic.
Pro Tip: Enter from Blood Alley (back side) to access the patio and restaurant, or on Cordova Street to take-out from their Burrito Bar!
SANDWICHES | As the name suggests, what they do is sandwiches and what they do, they do better than anyone else in the city. Their flagship sandwich, the Porchetta, a crispy, juicy slow roasted Italian pulled pork, is to-die-for. As soon as you walk in, you’ll see heat lamps illuminating the porchetta serving station – like a gift from heaven!
Pro tip: Each morning they make their ingredients fresh for the day. When they are out, that’s it.
Read our feature on Meat and Bread Gastown here!
LEBANESE | Right on the edge of Western Gastown, Nuba creates a warm and bright atmosphere that is great for catching up with close friends. One bite of their Garden Falafel or Lamb Kafta and you’ll understand why they are voted best Lebanese in Vancouver. The Najib’s Special (deep fried cauliflower) is another fan favourite and comes with homemade hummus and tabbouleh. Nuba goes the extra mile in authenticity with virtually everything made in house, even their pickles!
FRENCH | The name sounds so pretty in French. In English, it means slaughterhouse. Nestled in one of Gastown’s oldest building and once a butchery in the 19th century, L’Abbatoir is one of the top restaurants in Canada (number 22 to be exact). Upscale and inviting, the geometric tiles, original brick walls, and gorgeous long table make this a prime for large groups. Whether you order the Terrine of Duck Foie Gras or the Smoked Arctic Char, their West Coast French-inspired cuisine turns any occasion into a foodie memory.
SEAFOOD | Everyone has a favourite seafood spot, right? For many locals in Gastown, Rodney’s is theirs. While the exposed, natural brick and small storefront make Rodney’s feel like an oceanside eatery, the dishes are what truly shines. The Potato Encrusted Halibut with a housemade tartar sauce is a local favourite and the Bourbon Glazed Salmon is sweet flakey goodness.
ICE CREAM | No neighbourhood would be complete without a go-to ice cream shop. Soft Peaks is the go-to for the Gastown area. Their Organic Soft Serve Ice Cream is creamy, all-natural goodness that takes traditional ice cream to the next level. If you decide to grab it to-go or enjoy in their bright upper loft, Soft Peaks gives you creative toppings that you can’t find in other ice cream shops: local honeycomb, yuzu marmalade and cornflakes, to name a few.
Drink some Hipster Coffee
A quick look at our Gastown Greatest Hits List (see below!) and you’ll see that coffee is a big deal in this district. Coffee shops and pastry stops mark every street corner!
Foodie Tours Cafe Picks
COFFEE | Bean-to-bar is a concept that begs to be celebrated, and that’s exactly what East Van Roasters does. In fact, this roaster produces coffee as well as chocolate, sourced straight from the farm and prepared onsite with utmost creativity. We recommend their house-made hot chocolate for a nostalgic treat.
COFFEE | Revolver is the coffee enthusiasts dream. Their ethical, fair-trade coffee is nestled in cosy cabin vibes and their fresh baked goods add the final piece. Every cup is made-to-order and they even do coffee flights. Instead of a bunch of different roasts, each flight is one roast done in different ways. Try them, notice the differences, and just like that, you’re a connoisseur!
COFFEE | Located down the street from the Gassy Jack Statue, Milano makes heartwarming coffee and espresso that’s a great pick-me-up for any time of day. But what really makes Milano stand out is their coffee blends. By using up to 13 different beans in their blend, Milano is on a quest to find the perfect equation of body, aroma, and flavour. With in-house roasted beans, Milano brings you coffee at it’s most authentic. Stop in for a signature cup of brew made with either a french press or pour over, or stay in and try up to 8 different espresso blends.
So loosen your belts and get ready to #EATtheMAP – this is our ultimate food and drink list for taking Gastown like a local.
The Gastronomic Gastown Tour
VANCOUVER FOODIE TOURS
If you’re ready to kick back and get eating, join us on the Gastronomic Gastown Tour. We put over 300 hours into designing our flagship Foodie Tour and it’s Gastown’s one-and-only Canadian Signature Experience. In addition to eating and drinking at three very-Gastown restaurants, you’ll also explore historic buildings and learn about the complex evolution of the area. This is Vancouver’s #1 Rated Tour on TripAdvisor and one of Forbes’ Top 9 Food Tours in the World!
Tours run Thursdays through Mondays at 4:00 pm: Check out the Gastronomic Gastown Tour here.