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After officially kicking off our HYPEBEAST City Guide series by divulging several of Shanghai’s hidden gems, we now turn to Canada’s West Coast in exploring the eateries, nightlife and shopping that Vancouver has to offer. While the web is abound with suggestions for tourists, this time around we are seeking out the spots that locals gravitate to. Population-wise, Vancouver can’t quite compete with urban centers such as Los Angeles or even Toronto, yet Vancouver is repeatedly singled out for its high livability rating, and moreover for its continually developing cultural nucleus. The Gastown area has been consistently showered with praise in years past for offering a selection of internationally-recognized businesses that truly belie how compact Vancouver is, yet in 2014 the neighboring Chinatown and Main Street areas are seeing notable expansion – simply a sign that Vancouver has much to offer.
A few descriptors ring universally true about Vancouver regardless of who you ask. One, there is an abundance of nature. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and a range of towering coastal mountains, the city and its surrounding areas offer access to snowboarding, hiking, swimming and everything in between. Two, Vancouver is characterized by undertones of Asian cultures, adding a distinct flavor (literally, in some cases) to the city. In other words, hitting a local sushi joint after a day of mountain biking wouldn’t be far out of the ordinary. Digging past the immediate surface of the city’s cultural outlook, we have turned to several individuals that HYPEBEAST readers may be familiar with. Mapping out Vancouver’s go-to spots for us are Garret Louie of Livestock and Fortune Sound Club, Ryan Willms of retailer and hard-copy imprint Inventory Stockroom, Rico Uno from Vancouver’s craziest weekly party REUPTRIPPYSHIT, Lyndon Cormack of accessories giant Herschel Supply Co., and designer Kenta Goto.
I love Bestie over in Chinatown. On the other hand, if I’ve had a few beers or a few glasses of wine after work, there’s nothing like a street pizza.
105 East Pender Street, Vancouver
The chicken karaage burrito at Tacofino Burrito Truck. Tacofino always hits a home-run with this burrito: fried chicken chunks, cilantro, rice and spicy-mayo combined in consistently perfect proportions knock this one out of the park every time.
2327 East Hastings Street
The Juice Truck has juice, smoothies and raw food bars, some sweet and some more healthy. Lately I’ve been going with The Green, with ginger and cilantro. They also recently did a juice with Jeff Hamada from Booooooom called ‘Brain On,’ and I’m hoping to work on a running juice with them in the next couple of months.
Abbot Street & Water Street, Vancouver
Hunger Hut. Can’t really say too much about this one, except it’s on a hiatus right now, but the best food and experience you ever tasted.
I hate blowing up a spot but this place is no secret – best sushi in town, although it’s a bit outside of downtown. It’s called Ajisai in Kerrisdale. Their focus is sushi and sashimi, no grill, no deep fryer, just the the sushi bar and a neta box with the best selection of fresh fish. Their hamster (inari sushi) selection is great too!
2081 West 42nd Avenue, North Vancouver
I love Arm’s Reach Bistro in Deep Cove. I’ve been going there for 10 years and it’s like my kitchen. It’s right on the water.
4390 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver, BC
Rehannah’s Roti. This is a tough one because Vancouver is silly for how many amazing restaurants we have, plus I like to keep some spots under my hat where I don’t have to deal with crybaby Yelpers. Rehanah’s Roti is located in Port Moody and may be a bit of a destination for most people in Vancouver but it’s unquestionably worth the trip. It’s a tiny restaurant with maybe five tables, charming as hell, featuring Trinidadian roti that cannot disappoint in size, texture and flavor. I go for the goat and shrimp roti because it’s an uncommon, delicious, indulgent combination.
2518 Saint Johns Street, Port Moody
Burdock & Co. on Main Street change their menu every couple of months so I’m learning not to fall in love with individual plates too much. Recently they had a Rosemary Smoked Mussel dish, and Bison Ribs – both were amazing. They’re just done a new menu and my current favorites are the Charred Leeks in Romesco Gazpacho and Pacific Wild Salmon.
2703 Main Street, Vancouver
For fashion, I’d go with Roden Gray. The owner Rob is a homie. I always like to pop in to talk shop and see what he’s feeling. For lifestyle, it’s Livestock. I could be a little biased but our new location in Chinatown opened recently. After being around for 10 years it has lead us to this build-out. I’m hoping you will dig it.
Roden Gray: 8 Water Street, Vancouver / Livestock: 141 East Pender Street, Vancouver
HAVEN. They’ve paid a lot of attention to detail and a lot of work to complete their incredible new space. The space is simple but the details are all there; this allows you to enjoy being in the space but makes you want to get a closer look at everything. On top of that, they buy very deep into all their featured brands so the selection is like none other. They’ve been super supportive of everything I have worked on, and I consider them family. Antisocial is still the most relevant skate shop in Vancouver, and a common denominator to all local skaters, artists, musicians, filmmakers and creators in this city.
HAVEN: 52 East cordova Street, Gastown. / Antisocial: 2337 Main Street, Vancouver
Old Faithful in Gastown does a really amazing job as a gift shop.
320 West Cordova Street, Vancouver
Gravity Pope. Vancouver is growing so quickly and there are so many go-to spots when I need different items (Roden Gray, Neighbour, Holt Renfrew, Dipt), but I end up spending most of my money at Gravity Pope on those Acne Studios pieces that always pull me in every season.
2203 West Fourth Avenue, Vancouver
Inform Interiors have an incredible selection of furniture, books and small home items, housed in one of Gastown’s nicest buildings. From Herman Miller, iitalia, and artek to high-end Italian brands and locally designed collections, Bensen and Bocci, it’s a beautiful store with an impressive variety of items. I recently bought one of the artek 60 Stools which was part of the colored collection done by Hella Jongerius, but I’ve also been looking at some of the sofas with dreams of a bigger home… and budget.
Inventory: 45 Water Street, Vancouver / Inform: 50 Water Street, Vancouver
Fortune Sound Club. We tried to build venue off the beaten track that catered to our friends (skaters, artists, music heads, fashion, etc.). A little feeling of a massive house party that we can host every night and not have to ruin your house. We based everything around good clean ‘sound’ and spent our money on the world’s best sound system. Adding art installations from our friends and family (Raif Adelberg [DBCH], The Hundreds, Tim Barnard, The Dark, Shepard Fairey, Rick Klotz, Kaput, Russ Morland, Fos and more) put the icing on the cake. We can cater to grimy punk rock shows like Off!, Fucked Up or The Meatman yet we have hosted people like Jay Z, Big Boi, Gorillaz & Drake. We like to keep it diverse.
147 East Pender Street, Vancouver
I most often don’t drink while I’m in Vancouver and do most of my drinking abroad while reconnecting with friends. The last place I got hammered was the Lido.
518 East Broadway, Vancouver
The Diamond in Gastown, it’s really where I go the most. For longer nights, on my boat, or at home. I have a fire pit in my backyard, that’s the kind of place.
147 East Pender Street, Vancouver
I DJ and promote a club night called REUPTRIPPYSHIT at L.E.D. Bar every Wednesday, and it’s the craziest assortment of people you’ll see out on a weekday and pretty much any day of the week. Art school students party with celebrities, strippers, skaters, hood rats and pro athletes. It gets hilariously over-capacity in the small venue and the newest Atlanta rap hits put a drunk spell on everybody in the room.
969 Granville Street, Vancouver
The Diamond is usually where I go with colleagues, or meet with friends from the other shops in the neighborhood. I’ve also started working on a series of events call ‘Nice Night,’ so we’ve had a couple of unofficial meetings there too.
6 Powell Street, Vancouver
Don’t bring ‘sand’ to the beach. By sand I don’t actually mean sand. Before weed was trendy on socks, Vancouver was one of the capitals of the green. Smoker’s paradise for people that partake.
Come during the summer months for perfect weather and up to 16 hours of sunlight a day to play outside. If you come during the winter months, go cop an Arc’teryx jacket at their factory warehouse.
Go to Deep Cove on a sunny day.
Find your way out of the restrictive social bubbles many Vancouverites find themselves limited to. Hang out with people who don’t look like you (there are tons in Vancouver whatever you might look like) and I guarantee you’ll learn something surprising about our remarkably diverse residents and the truly special city they make.
If you plan on visiting, come in the summer.
Nothing beats biking the seawall on a sunny day. Rent a bike, stop at the beaches along the way, get some ice cream, people-watch, buy a Japadog – you know, touristy stuff.
The Grouse Grind. You might hate it on the way up but the view and the feeling at the top makes it worthwhile. Trust me.
I like the Grouse Grind. I like torturing people who think they’re fit.
Go to Deep Cove in North Vancouver. Rent a kayak. Pull up beside some baby seals chillin’ on logs. Hit up tiny isolated beaches only accessible by boat.
I think that visiting Stanley Park and either running around it, or renting bicycles should probably be a must.
Leeside. This DIY spot is much more than a rad skate spot. It’s all in honor of Lee Matasi, who was a native Vancouver skateboarder and graffiti artist. Lee had his life taken way too early. A lot of heart has gone into this place and you can feel it.
Hastings-Sunrise, Vancouver (under the Cassiar Connector)
In the next few months the Fortune Sound Club building will represent different facets of subcultures in Vancouver all under one roof. The club itself hosts a spectrum of music, indie names to big names. They will also have a space to host art shows and brand storytelling. The new Livestock space will open soon on the ground floor for the streetwear and sneakerheads. Rumors of a pre-Fortune Sound eatery going in.
147 East Pender Street, Vancouver
The mountains flow into the ocean which surrounds the city, and that blends to make a really great culture.
Crystal Mall. Going to Crystal Mall is the fastest way to immerse yourself in a Chinese-Canadian lifestyle. The ground-floor market resonates with the frenzied energy of its shoppers while the huge second-floor food court covers the delicious gamut of Asian cuisine styles. The admittedly random shops scattered across the rest of the mall will have you parting with your money for matcha-covered crackers and deadstock Pony sneakers.
4500 Kingsway, Burnaby
I’m sure this would be different for everyone, but for me Gastown is the center of Vancouver. I started coming over from Victoria to visit Richard Kidd, Livestock and Illustrated Example when I was young, and now we’ve had our office and shop here for the past four and a half years. So for me, it really represents where my Vancouver community has always been, and it’s only grown and become stronger in the last few years with the addition of more shops, studios and restaurants.