Love whiskey and great food? Cabritos Tapas on The Drive is hosting another Whiskey and Tapas Experience on Tuesday, April 25th. Their guest, Colin Bussiere, President of Only Hearts Spirits will be walking and talking you through the whiskey they will be pouring that evening. Chef Alex will pair each whiskey tasting with what we expect will be very delish tapas. Tickets for this event are $95 per person and available online at Cabrito Tapas. Event kicks off at 6:00 pm.
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.
Are you good at reading people? Do you think you can spot a liar a mile away? Well now you can find out, in a rather fun way. Story Story Lie is back by popular demand. It’s a new monthly show taking place Café Deux Soleils that is part storytelling and part game show. You will hear four stories and one lie. If you can spot the liar, you will win a prize. Storytellers include TJ Dawe, Andy Cañete, Riel Hahn, Justin Ö’Hearn and Maia Gibb. The evening will be hosted by Jo Dworschak. The show gets under way at 8:00 pm and cover is a very reasonable $5. Come out and see if you can spot the liar. Note, this show is being recorded for a podcast.
A fun new show called the Best of Everything begins a short run at the Havana Theatre starting July 14th. This play is based on the book by Rona Jaffe and has been adapted by Julie Kramer. It is set in the 1950s and other adaptions have been compared to Mad Men complete with buttoned down men drinking scotch. We are rather curious to see how this adaption comes together. This production features a line up of local talent including Joanie Beaulieu, Jenna Grossenbacher, Zachary Hayden, Laura Jacobson, Jennifer Kasun, Amy Rathgeber, Jacqueline Welbers and Charles Lysne. If you wish to catch this show, it runs for 3 nights at Havana Theatre with a 1:30 pm show on July 16th. Tickets are $15 and available online via Brown Paper Tickets. Note there is a students and seniors rate of $10. Best deal is the matinee on Saturday $5.
James Johnstone is back with his popular historical walking tours. On Saturday, February 27th, James will take you on a tour of one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, Strathcona. The tour kicks off at 10:00 a.m. starting from 696 East Hastings at Heatley. This historical walking tour is a culmination of years of researching over 250 homes in the East End. Although you will find architecture is a theme on this tour, James will also focus on social history and how waves of immigrants established themselves in this area before moving on to other parts of the city. The tour will also touch on the impact of portside industries like BC Sugar, the prohibition and the proliferation of bootlegging as well as the City of Vancouver’s attempts to wipe out “urban blight”. Or if you prefer to take in the history of the Grandview Woodlands area, on March 5th James will host a history walk “Grandview: The Hood That Drives”. Each tour runs for approximately 2 to 2.5 hours and the cost is $20 for each tour. If you would like more information or to reserve your spot, email James directly at email@example.com.
The Commercial Drive Business Society is hosting ‘Family Day On The Drive’ on Monday, February 8th. This is a free community event with a number of activities lined up for the afternoon at the Britannia Community Centre. The events kick off with a Lion Dance Performance at 2:00 pm. From 2:00 to 4:00 pm, you will find face painting, balloon twister and a caricature artist on hand. There will be a free skate planned at the Britannia Ice Rink from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. For those that prefer something warmer, there will also be a free Public Swim from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at the Britannia Community Pool. As an added bonus, many of the merchants on The Drive will be offering special deals for Family Day, so keep an eye out or visit The Drive’s website for more details.
The Eastside Culture Crawl is back again for 4 days starting Thursday, November 20th. This 4 day arts extravaganza really is a must see. During “the Crawl” over 400 artists in and around the heart of East Vancouver open their studios to the public. The event which grows each year now comprises some 83 buildings from Main Street to Victoria Drive and First Avenue to Powell Street. The mediums vary and include painters, jewelers, sculptors, textile artists, furniture makers, weavers, potters, printmakers, wood carvers and photographers. There is no set schedule for this event, you go where your mood and interests take you and the array of talent is amazing. To help guide you, the Eastside Culture Crawl has a great rundown of all the artists on their website including a printable .PDF map to help you find your way. The Crawl runs November 19th and 20th from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 21st and Sunday, November 22nd from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. To figure out what you wish to see and when, check out the Issuu magazine online.
If you wish to mix things up and do some side trips in and around East Vancouver while on the Crawl, there are so many great stops en route. For instance, in Railtown there is Vancouver Urban Winery & Lounge which is a perfect start for brunch in the Belgard Kitchen before the Crawl or for a bit of wine or beer tasting after. There are more beer options if you head West a little ways including Parallel 49 Brewing Company, Bomber Brewing, Powell Street Craft Brewery and a newcomer Doan’s Craft Brewing. If Belgian beer is more up your alley Biercraft on Commercial Drive which is also a good spot for brunch before the Crawl. If you are looking for the perfect cocktail, we recommend Odd Society Spirits. Personally, we will be making a stop for brunch first before the Crawl. There are so many options in the Hastings Sunrise area and on The Drive including amazing coffee shops. If you are looking for suggestions to eat before the Crawl, in Hastings Sunrise there is the Roundel Café, Yolk’s Breakfast and Red Wagon Café for starters. On the Drive, there is Havana Restaurant, Scandillious or for the perfect sandwhich to go (big enough to share) we recommend La Grotta del Fromaggio. While there, we suggest making the walk next door to Fratelli Bakery for something sweet. You won’t be disappointed.
During the Crawl, les amis du fromage, 843 East Hastings, is another great spot to stop in and do a bit of cheese sampling. They will also have some local vendors in store doing Pop Up Shoppes. On Saturday, November 21st from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm they will have Mixers & Elixers. They produce small batch shrubs also known as drinking vinegar used in soda water and cocktails. Also on hand Saturday will be Grain which sources exclusively Canadian dry good products from farmers and processors they know. On Sunday, November 21st Noon – 4:00 pm, you will find SaltSpring Kitchen Co. in store. Melanie Mulherin makes delicious small batch preserves in some unique flavours such as Meyer Lemon & Lavender Marmalade, Sour Cherry, Rhubarb & Rosemary Jam, Blueberry & Basil Jam and the one that caught our eye Winter Wonderjam (Strawberry, Cranberry, Orange & Bourbon). Les amis du fromage is perfectly situated in Strathcona within walking distance of many artist studios.
For some more sweet stuff, the Licorice Parlour is a great stop with over 65 flavours on hand. If you are looking for coffee, there are many great options including the Wilder Snail in the heart of Strathcona, Pallet Roasters, 323 Semlin Drive and Platform 7, 2331 East Hastings St. Of course, there are an array of excellent choices along Commercial Drive including Continental Café, Moja’s Coffee and Prado Café to name but a few. If you find yourself in the Stratchona area, might we suggest a stop at Crackle Crème at 245 Union Street. This sweet little dessert cafe serves up artisan crème brûlée and authentic Belgian liège waffles as well as coffee. There will be many local restaurants, breweries and coffee shops at the ready to help you recharge your batteries before, during or after the Crawl.
See you on the Crawl.