Vancouver: Where to Go, Stay, Eat

Just like Seattle, Vancouver is flush with inviting neighborhoods full of shops and restaurants. Don

Category: Winter Olympics Guide


By Amanda Ross, Neal McLennan, Deanna Duff, Cynthia Nims, Nick O'Connell and Virginia Smyth, with Alexis Morley and Jacquie Perez
Photos by Graham Winterbottom

Our northern neighbors are gearing up for the Big Event—the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. But with venues ready to go and an exchange rate that’s once again in our favor, there’s really no reason to wait until February to head north (and with tickets largely sold out and hotel rooms hard to come by during the festivities, pre-Games trips may be a better bet). From exploring new neighborhoods to checking out venues open now for touring (and Olympic racing slopes that will soon be covered with snow), you can head north for an Olympic-size experience long before the Games begin.

All in the Neighborhood
A great city to visit at any time, Vancouver’s star has risen even higher with the upcoming Games. Just like Seattle, Vancouver is flush with inviting neighborhoods full of shops and restaurants. And though we still love Robson and South Granville, we also adore exploring emerging neighborhoods that are adding to this city’s already vibrant tapestry.

South Main (SoMa)
This emerging neighborhood spans Main Street from Second Avenue to 28th and is where Vancouver’s artsy, ethnic East Side meets its wealthy, reserved West Side. The result is independent restaurants, edgy boutiques and a vibe that captures laid-back Vancouver cool (at coffee shops, brown sugar is served in communal bowls). Post-Olympics, the nearby athlete’s village will transform into condos—sure to bring an influx of yuppies.

No dish captures the SoMa vibe like the Nicola Valley venison sirloin at The Cascade Room (2616 Main St.; 604.709.8650; It’s locally sourced and boasts epicurean sophistication, but at $19, it keeps it real on the price point. It’s easy to walk by Ping’s Café (2702 Main St.; 604.873.2702; with its deliberately obscured window and door. Inside this yoshoku (Japanese versions of classic western meals) joint, modern white walls and a massive canvas by art star Rodney Graham hint at a true hipster’s hideout. The food—such as the hambagoo, a tasty bunless burger with a tangy Japanese sauce evocative of ketchup—is pure fun.

The 3600 and 3700 blocks of SoMa are home to a white-hot scene of boutiques carrying Canadian independent clothing designers. Clothing granddaddy of the ’hood since 2000, Eugene Choo (3683 Main St.; 604.873.8874; carries dresses, suits and other urbanwear essentials. Our other favorite local designer outposts along this strip: Smoking Lily (3634 Main St; 604.873.5459;, with its feminine cuts in comfy fabrics and cool silkscreen graphics (think Ballard’s Velouria); and Twigg and Hottie (3671 Main St.; 604.879.8595; for fun, edgy frocks, throws and separates.

Vancouver Special (3612 Main St.; 604.568.3673; pays homage to all things designed for the home with a West Coast twist, from a portable beach barbecue that folds out to a mock notebook, to lighting from local success story Molo Design. For those who think old school is a 40GB iPod, a visit to The Regional Assembly of Text (3934 Main St.; 604.877.2247;