Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Canada
Reload this Page >

Please help with Friday night in Vancouver, and breakfast in the morning

Please help with Friday night in Vancouver, and breakfast in the morning

Sep 28th, 2009, 07:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,116
Please help with Friday night in Vancouver, and breakfast in the morning

My husband, 17 yo daughter, and I will be staying at the Westin Grand Downtown (entertainment district per Hotwire) Fri Oct 9, then driving back to Bellingham Sat for a wedding weekend.

My husband likes gypsy jazz. We hope to get a feeling for the city, maybe go to a club and walk around Fri evening. Do you have suggestions for inexpensive dining in that area, and interesting places to walk?
stokebailey is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 09:17 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,116
Oh, and breakfast in that area, somewhere local color-y?
stokebailey is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 07:15 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,638
Your daughter is only 17 so wont be getting into Richards on Richards as the club age is 19
In yaletown is Capones, Jazz resteraunt,
1141 Hamilton
live42day is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 08:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,116
Thanks, noelle887 and live43day. Looks good!
I appreciate the restaurant review link.
I'll have to check out Love Seat Deluxe when I'm on a computer with speakers. Richard's might be too happening for us anyway.

Is there an online source for who's performing where, or should we just buy a newspaper when we arrive?
stokebailey is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 08:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 916
I highly doubt Doolin's is what you're looking for unless you're seeking unremarkable fake Irish pubs. Also, Richards on Richards was demolished a month ago - it's a big pit in the ground. Literally, dirt. For what it's worth, Richards was a generic nightclub but it was also used as a live music venue for touring rock bands. RIP Richards - it was a great concert venue, but a lame nightclub.

This is just an assumption, but based on what you've written, it sounds like you're looking for neighbourhoods in and around downtown Vancouver which will offer you a bit of eccentricity, something apart from the same old generic franchises and perhaps something with a bit more character and soul than yuppy hangouts, is this right?

If that's the case, while your hotel is close to Yaletown, which is cool in its own way (lots of trendy restaurants located in heritage lofts, many high end independent boutiques) it's a bit of a superficial bubble of a neighbourhood and quite popular amongst the city's yuppies. The place does come alive on a weekend night due to all the bars and lounges. Capone's is definitely a jazz restuarant there, though I've never been impressed - I find it overpriced for the kind of food they serve.

But I'd actually stroll down Davie Street to English Bay and head up Denman Street. This is Vancouver's West End - a real hodgepodge of restaurants, cafes and stores - a real taste of Vancouver. Unfortunately there aren't too many jazz venues, although on Sundays and I think Wednesdays, Dulcinea on Denman (a Spanish dessert bar) hosts free live flamenco!

Another neighbourhood you'd probably love is Commercial Drive. It's just east of downtown - you can take the skytrain to Broadway station and walk north. It's Vancouver's Italian-turned-Bohemian neighbourhood. Lots of great little restaurants, sometimes they'll have live music/DJ's, live poetry readings, live reggae bands. It comes alive in the evening, and I can't think of any place there that wouldn't allow your daughter in.

Vancouver, unfortunately, doesn't do a lot of jazz. There's a restaurant in Kitsilano called East is East, and upstairs they have a restaurant called Chai where they host special music events once a month. The event's called Chai Shekere. I'm not sure if it'll be happening when you're here, but worth looking into.

Also, Nuba Restaurant in Gastown actually puts on performances every few weeks which may be sort of the scene you're looking for. Nuba's a Lebanese restaurant but the music events are all over the place.

The newspaper you really want to look at is called the Georgia Straight. It's free and it comes out every thursday, adn it'll list every kind of event happening in the city, from live music, to readings, to art galleries, restaurants, etc.

And for restaurant reviews, I highly recommend browsing www.dinehere.ca to read candid reviews written by locals.

For breakfast the Elbow Room Cafe on Davie (between Richards and Seymour) is pretty famous locally. Be aware that they play up "the customer is always wrong" - they'll playfully be lippy. They'll serve you a cup of coffee and if you ask for a second cup, they'll tell you to get it yourself, etc. If you don't finish all the food on your plate, they'll get you to make a donation to a local charity.

Another breakfast joint off the top of my head is the Templeton on Granville (by Nelson, I believe) which is a tiny hole-in-the-wall diner, but very popular. But because it's popular, waits can be long.

I used to go to Subeez (on the corner of Smithe and Homer) for breakfast...well, brunch. It's kind of a cool art-school-chic hangout - big warehouse, local art on the walls, cool music playing. A variety of choices from eggs benny to strawberry cream cheese French toast. They serve breakfast until 4pm which is why it's typically a Saturday place for me.
Carmanah is offline  
Sep 28th, 2009, 08:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 916
And this may interest you... not quite gypsy jazz, but just as passionate! The only catch is that it's in North Vancouver, so you'd have to take the seabus over and cab it to the theatre:

Carmanah is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 06:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,116
*very close to knocked out with appreciation*

Oh, perfect, Carmanah. You couldn't have assumed more correctly. We are as non-yup as it comes. Also love flamenco, and our daughter is a dancer. She and I might have to let my husband do his gypsy search while we explore Denman and Commercial Drive. May I assume it's reasonably safe walking and taking public transport in those areas at night for a babe and her mother?
stokebailey is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 08:08 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,638
Carmanah I had thought that Richards on Richards had closed too, but when I googled it, it still shows upcoming shows....just goes to show you cant always trust the internet.

Stokebailey I think that if you just stay away from the downtown east side, chinatown area at night you will be fine. I dont think that you will even be in danger there, just perhaps uncomfortable.
Vancouver is a pretty walking safe area IMO. Especially Denman area. People are out walking all night Denman and Robson and that whole area.
live42day is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 916
You're welcome

All these places are safe - it's just some blocks are prettier or grungier than others, and some blocks can be sterile while others are more interesting. That's what makes downtown Vancouver particularly unique - often one block over the difference can be night and day. You may find the area immediately by the Broadway Skytrain station grungey, but it's completely safe.

The area you'll want to avoid strolling through is located between Gastown and Chinatown, along Hastings west of Cambie. It's not that it's unsafe (it's not a violent place, and the chance of getting mugged is slim), it's just a depressing, dirty, sad site - lots of drug addicts - many who are mentally ill, prostitutes, and the down and out. But you won't be heading that direction. You will likely see beggars in and around Vancouver. Again, they won't do you any harm.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like you'll be able to see the flamenco at Dulcinea (or at the Centennial Theatre in North Van), but if you stroll down Denman, it's worth a visit!


Other favourites on Denman include Legendary Noodle (for handmade Chinese noodles) and Kingyo (for lively Japanese ikzaya). Both are fun places, although Denman is all about hole-in-the-wall ethnic eateries sandwiched between gelato shops and cupcake shops and coffee bars.

I think for Friday night Commercial Drive makes sense. Note that it's mostly restaurants along Commercial. Any bars, pubs or nightclubs won't allow anyone under 19.

Commercial Drive's community village spans from about E 15th Avenue (so a few blocks south of the Broadway skytrain station) northbound to Venables, although many argue that it really feels the most vibrant north of E 1st Ave.

Cafe Deux Soleils should be hosting live music that night, which might be worth checking out:


Havana restaurant sometimes has events happening, although I've never been impressed with the food:


The Rio Theatre is hosting local singer-songwriters that night, which will definitely give you a taste of the Commercial Drive vibe:


There's also Latin Quarter, a Spanish tapas restaurant, which sometimes hosts like Spanish music:


Just looking at the Georgia Straight's October 9th listings, and it looks like Gogol Bordello, a gypsy punk band will be playing at the Vogue Theatre... which is actually downtown Vancouver. May be amusing!

Carmanah is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 05:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,116
Really appreciate it, Carmanah. Now all we need is more time there.

So they'd card a tall teenager with obvious parental types along? All of us just oozing respectability? Well, we'll check out the restaurants anyway. At the very least I want some of that Dulcinea hot chocolate.
stokebailey is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 06:35 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 916
You're very welcome!

By the way, I just a typo up above. Where I wrote to avoid Hastings west of Cambie, I actually meant *east* of Cambie.

Bouncers at nightclubs will definitely card anyone at the door because nightclubs are all over 19 here. Restaurants, even brewpubs? That shouldn't be a problem.

Dulcinea's great. If for whatever reason you don't get out to Denman Street, Chocoatl (a Mexican chocolate boutique in Yaletown) is a short stroll from your hotel, and they have amazing infused hot chocolate (infused with rose petals, or chili, etc). Maybe you can visit both and compare.
Carmanah is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 12:09 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,628
stokebailey - With the weekend ending, I hope you had a great time in Vancouver. Would you mind taking a minute to post your adventure? We'll be there in May next year for a week, and your report would be very interesting.
sludick is offline  
Oct 13th, 2009, 09:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,116
We're back, and we loved it there. Thanks for asking, sludick. It was all too brief, though. My overall impression was of a cosmopolitan, friendly city with lots going on.

We breezed over the border and followed our noses across Granville Bridge. Luckily our family had called to warn us that we couldn't turn onto Robson from Granville St., so we were able to find our hotel by a different route.

The Westin Grand was perfect. Our 2 room suite was on the 20th floor, with a wall of windows facing southeast. Very comfortable and stylish. Hotwire.com find.

We walked on Davies to Denman, found Dulcinea right away on that end. My husband wanted to try a cuisine we'd never had before: Malaysian would have fit that bill, but there was a 30 min wait at the Banana Leaf. We settled on a mediterranean place just because it smelled so good and was handy-- though did not fit his "new" criterion --then went back to Dulcinea for hot chocolate. Nice. Friendly counter persons at both places. Robson towards the West End and Denman had lots of Korean and other restaurants that we will have to go back and sample.

At Granville St. we walked down past the barricaded pedestrian area to check out the crowds chatting outside the clubs. We didn't know if the clubs don't open until 11 PM, or if people were just enjoying the fine weather. The Symphony let out of the Orpheum, and the bluehairs and greybeards walked out past the spikyhaired and tattooed.

We were content with walking and enjoying the street scene. My husband skimmed Georgia Straight and seemed satisfied not to seek out any music beyond the busker type.

It turned out that we had to leave town by 1130, so we were out looking for breakfast by 0730. Subeez was closed, so we looked at and rejected a couple of places on the way to Elbow Room. Elbow Room provided my daughter one of her favorite breakfasts ever, and the rest of us were well pleased, too. Our young waiter seemed innately too polite to go the full Bad Attitude route; maybe he has to work up to it. An older guy, came in later and started talking with locals as he waited tables. It really seemed quite the local spot.

My husband took the bus to go birding in Stanley Park while I kept my daughter company window shopping. 45 min after he left, my husband called and said, "It's magic here!"

We will definitely go back. My daughter is sold on the U of Puget Sound for next year, so I hope we'll all spend more time in that area.

The only hitch was trying to get back over the border. The US is apparently far more particular about these things; we had a choice between 70 min and 40 min waits per the electronic board, so went with the eastern option that took 45 frustrating minutes in idling car. (PS Canada: I'm more likely to want to sneak into you.)
stokebailey is offline  
Oct 15th, 2009, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 1
Crossing into the U.S. by car even on a weekday is a frustratingly long ordeal. The last few times it took us between an hour and an hour and a half of waiting in line to go through Customs at Blaine, Washington. For some reason, the U.S. does not want to supply enough agents to handle the flow. In contrast, going through Canada Customs is a breeze--10 minutes maximum any day of the week, day or night.
Dannyk is offline  
Oct 15th, 2009, 03:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,116
It made me feel somewhat less patriotic, I must say.
stokebailey is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:03 PM.