We knew Davie Street was in the middle of the gay district but we didn’t realise just how gay this village really is. Most shops in this main thoroughfare proudly display a rainbow flag in the window to identify their pride and welcome their colourful community. Even the intersections are painted with rainbow colours and walking down the street you can’t help but feel you’re in friendly territory.
On our very first day, in search of juice and/or coffee, we wandered into a little food store called Dish and we received a huge welcome from the super friendly owner Bobby and his longtime employee Francene. When they found out it was our first day in Vancouver they made some brilliant suggestions about things to do and places to see while visiting their beautiful city. Wreck Beach was definitely one of Bobby’s top recommendations so we put it high on our agenda for the next day.
Dish is a delightful eatery which specialises in fresh, wholesome foods prepared daily by these hospitable and health conscious locals. We ate here several times during our short stays in Davie Village and chose from their selection of nutritious juice combinations, wraps and sandwiches made to individual taste from an array of fresh ingredients on display, as well as homemade, hearty soup all made on the premises with the utmost care and attention. Naturally, after each meal Bobby, the owner, insisted we finish with one of his freshly baked oatmeal and choc chip cookies, which were divine to say the least.
Granville Market was another suggestion, so we decided to head down there for lunch on one of our city tour days. To get across to the island it is best to take the tiny ferry ($3.75 CAD) from the Davie Village side of the port. It only takes about 7 minutes and you are soon disembarking and walking inside the cute little undercover fresh food market and food court. Here you will find some enticing local delicacies, a range of vegetarian lunch selections as well as your fruit, vegetable and meat requirements, all locally supplied. It’s also a great place to buy authentic maple syrup, boutique coffee and a choice of tea blends.
Davie Village has a huge variety of evening dining options. We tried a different one each night and none was disappointing.
Taki’s Taverna for the best Greek in the area. We can highly recommend the moussaka, it’s ‘just like Yia Yia makes’.
For something more exotic with an Asian flair, you won’t beat the extensive and spicy Banana Leaf Malaysian Restaurant. This place is packed every night which says mouthfuls about the food and service. Don’t forget to include the chilli ribs in your selection. You won’t be disappointed.
For something with a middle eastern taste, make your way to the Cazba. The staff will make you feel like family when you arrive and to soak up thhose beautiful balmy summer evenings you can choose to sit outside on the verandah.
For a more formal evening, or as they like to say ‘casually chic’, you might prefer the French inspired La Brasserie. The Moules Frites was so reminiscent of southern France and the wine list provided the perfect accompaniment for a flavoursome feast.
After dinner the bars are waiting.
We tried Pumpjack Pub for a few beers with the lads. This very down to earth watering hole is a fun place for a few laughs and meeting like-minded, hairy men.
Fountainhead Pub is a drinking lounge for a more refined palate. You can choose to sit in or outside and the attentive staff will make sure you have everything you need.
1181 Lounge is a cosy, sophisticated chill out venue which specialises in friendly service, digital music presentations and happy hour cocktail choices.
Move onto Celebrities Niteclub for a late evening rendezvous with some serious DJ sounds.
For our time in Vancouver we chose to stay at Sunset Inn and Suites. This place was perfect for us, centrally located a short walk from Davie Street. The room was equipped with a kitchen so we could prepare light meals when needed. The tariff also included a continental breakfast which you collected from the lobby each morning. The delicious coffee and freshly baked waffles and pastries provided a fine start to our busy touring days. The friendly staff gave us the rundown on local attractions and directions and were happy to organise a taxi when required.
(See our separate stories on Wreck Beach and Seeing The Seawall, Vancouver.)
For a fun day out you need to head down to Chinatown, Gastown and Vancouver’s stylish waterfront eating and shopping precinct.
Right near Chinatown you’ll find the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. We found this place fascinating, especially the guided tour which was included as part of the entry fee to the gardens. The venue is a relaxing retreat from the busy urban streetscape surrounding the area.
Naturally, at the end of the tour, it is essential to walk a little further up the street to one of the many local Chinese restaurants for an eastern lunch treat. Along the way there are so many interesting shops to explore, like Daniel Lui’s Chinese Tea Shop for an authentic tea tasting experience.
After lunch, make your way down to Gastown, the historic heart of Vancouver and a district which is now synonymous with shopping, dining, art and culture.
Named one of the world’s most stylish neighbourhoods, this special place will keep you entertained all afternoon, exploring the cute side streets and back alleys with their unique boutiques and galleries.
When you’ve almost shopped ’til you drop, go a little further on to the waterfront area near Canada Place for an afternoon drink at the famous Cactus Club Café right near the even more iconic Vancouver Olympic Cauldron which is still lit on special occasions.
We spent a relaxing couple of hours here, resting our weary feet, watching the passing parade and waving as cruise ships departed for far off destinations like Alaska.
Air Canada has direct flights from Brisbane and Sydney to Vancouver on their stunning new Dreamliner service which takes about fourteen hours non-stop. We found the trip long but comfortable and the service was attentive and friendly all the way.
Unfortunately the Air Canada domestic flights are a very different experience. You will pay extra for everything including checked bags, food, alcohol, tea, coffee and some seat selections. If you’re happy with water and a tiny packet of pretzels and you can fit your bag in the overhead compartment, you’ll be satisfied with the service they provide. A little disappointing really.