We are often asked where is a good place to go for brunch, coffee, dinner, live music or drinks in East Van. We started our brunch series with setting out some of our favourite spots in the Hastings Sunrise area. Next up we’d like to feature some very delish spots along Commercial Drive, some we’ve tried and some we’ve heard great things about through our grape vine.
Bandidas Taqueria, 2781 Commercial Drive
Brunch 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
We confess we have not tried this spot. We have noticed that it is a rare occasion that this spot is not busy, no matter the time of day or night. Bandidas Taqueria serves brunch daily from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm as well as breakfast all day. Most of their items are gluten free and we like that they get their gluten free bread from local fav spot, East Village Bakery. Eggs, beans and guacamole are featured heavily on their brunch menu, but we have our eye on the Cornbread Muffin Tops with honey butter. Bandidas Taqueria will make any breakfast vegan. This spot is certainly on our list to try not only because of the food, but their focus on minimal impact to the environment and their of support local smaller distributors. Bandidas Taqueria is located just North of 12th Avenue on Commercial Drive. Just a 5 minute walk from the Broadway Skytrain Station if you are travelling from elsewhere in the City.
Café Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive
Breakfast 8:00 am – 3:00 pm Weekdays + 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Weekends
You can’t miss this spot for the colourful mural outside. Cafe Deux Soleils is a long standing business on The Drive having been there for over 20 years. Here you will find eggs, but you won’t find meat if that’s what you are looking for. You will though find Veggie Ham or Veggie Sausage and lots of other great items as well as a kids menu. It’s a popular spot day and night as this spot includes a stage where you will find many local performers whether comedy, music, poetry and much more.
Cabrito Tapas, 2270 Commercial Drive
Brunch Friday to Sunday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Havana Restaurant, 1212 Commercial Drive
Breakfast 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Daily
Havana is a great spot for many reasons, people watching from their patio is certainly one of them. It’s always a busy hopping spot that offers modern Latin fare and Caribbean cocktails. It is another long standing business that has been on The Drive for 20 years now. Havana serves breakfast 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm with some great offerings including a Pulled Pork Breakfast Taco. Another thing we love about Havana Restaurant, is they are a great supporter of local arts. They have a small gallery in the back next which is situated next to a small theatre which features some great local theatre groups. It’s a great intimate space if you haven’t checked it out already. We recommend it.
Biercraft Tap & Tapas, 1191 Commercial Drive
Brunch Saturday, Sunday & Holidays 10:00 am – 3:30 pm
On the Drive since 2005, Biercraft Tap & Tapas is another long standing business on the Drive. Everyone has their own unique spin on brunch on the Drive, as does Biercraft with Bangers and Mash, and Stovreji Hash browns topped with Belgian beef stew, blue cheese crumble and two poached eggs for those with a hearty appetite, but we like the Eggs on Cornbread and for those coming with kids, they have a kids breakfast menu for $6.00.
La Mezcaleria, 1622 Commercial Drive
Brunch Wednesday to Sunday Until 3:00 pm
This is a fun lively spot at any time serving delish Mexican fare including breakfast as well as a great selection of mescal and tequila should you wish to go there. They have some creative dishes, but what we have a hankering for is the Pan Frances which is Brioche French Toast topped with bananas, dark rum, salted caramel sauce, candied pecans, strawberries and gooseberries. If that doesn’t sound like a bite of heaven, we don’t know what does.
Storm Crow Tavern, 1305 Commercial Drive
Brunch Saturday & Sunday 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Now if you like sci-fi and consider yourself a bit of a nerd, or want to experience something a little bit different, than the Storm Crow Tavern is your spot. As you can see, their window for brunch is a little smaller, likely as they’ve been up playing games until the wee hours of the morning. This is an eclectic spot with a menu to fit. If you wish to hang around post brunch to play board games and have a beer, they have choices out of the whazoo.
Tangent Café, 2095 Commercial Drive
Breakfast 8:00 – 3:00 Saturday – Tuesday & 8:00 am – 2:00 pm Wednesday to Friday
Although this spot is home to great live jazz music on Thursday and Sunday evenings, they also have a great breakfast menu. If you are a meat lover, you will find several options here, but if looking for vegan options, they have that too including a Malaysian Vegan Scramble.
While you are in this part of East Van, there is so much else to see, do and taste while on The Drive. Whether it’s coffee, gelato, pasta, art, bookstores, cheese, licorice or chocolate. If it’s cheese you are after, La Grotta Del Fromaggio is our go to spot. We recommend one of their sandwiches to go, or if you’ve built up an appetite wandering, they are delish. If you love licorice, a stop at the Licorice Parlour is a must. If you aren’t a licorice fan, they also have handmade chocolates. If you are looking for beer after a wander, Biercraft offers quite the range of Belgian beers. If it’s whiskey, then a stop at Fets Whiskey Kitchen would be in order and side note they do serve brunch as well. For coffee, well we can’t just pick one, there are so many places offering great coffee, you can’t go wrong whether it’s Continental Cafe, Joe’s Café, Moja’s, The Drive Coffee Bar (you will find Cartem donuts here though) or any other café. Gelato, there are a few offerings which you can’t miss if you are walking The Drive, but if are looking for pastries, our personal favourite is Fratelli Bakery which an amazing selection of sweet treats. If you find you’ve done a fair bit of walking on the Drive and want a light bite such as pizza, take your pick, Famoso Pizzeria, Lombardo’s, Marcello’s or a quick wander over to Via Tevere on Victoria Drive. Of course, if you wish to pick up some pasta to cook later at home, we recommend The First Ravioli Store on Commercial at 3rd Avenue. We could keep going as this area has so much to offer from Venables to 12th Avenue and a bit beyond on either side of that. If you want to learn about what’s available for food and events, visit TheDrive.ca.
If we missed your favourite brunch spot that you think should be included, drop up us a line ILiveInEastVan@gmail.com and tell us why it should be included.