Brunch is a Vancouver staple and Cafe Medina is where the locals head. With lines around the corner, some come for its waffles, some for the coffee and others for the cold-pressed juices, the creation of Nectar who have a juice truck a short walk away. Others come for the decor. With pastel tiles, intricate woodwork and an artfully faded ‘Medina’ painted across the back wall in vintage type, it captures the bohemian Parisienne vibe perfectly. A chalkboard displays their list of suppliers, dishes come dressed in edible flowers and the menu, with its unique mixture of ingredients, encourages conversations. Everyone looks happy – good food does that – and there is spice aplenty, proof that breakfasts can be a savoury affair.
Waterfront dining is also essential and for this I propose Ancora with its view’s across to Granville Island and flair for fusion cooking. Mixing Japanese and Peruvian traditions with the bounty of the west coast, here dishes are perfectly balanced. The sophisticated interior, full of glass, mirrors and mosaic tiles, ensures the attention remains on the food and local wine pairings (although the meal should always commence with their pisco sour).
An evening must also be passed in historic Gastown, which brims with cobblestones, gas lamps and stores catering to the design savvy. This is the domain of L’Abattoir, situated between the atmospherically-named Gaoler’s Mews and Blood Alley. With an appealing brunch, dinner and dessert menu there is much to entice culinary aficionados, yet I was here for the cocktails, each drink coming with its own tale L’Abattoir’s most popular tipple; the Avocado Gimlet, was created by accident when the kitchen ordered a few too many avocados and the bar team decided to experiment. Adding rosemary and olive infused gin, Apfelkorn schnapps and lime, they were left with a pastel-hued drink that tastes like a summer evening spent in a forest. This goes down a treat with rich oysters accompanied by garlic butter and truffle shavings – just one of chef Lee Cooper’s appetisers.
Hunger sated, you require somewhere to rest your head – and you never fed quite as cosy as you do in a motel. The Burrard originally opened in 1959, a time when life was simpler and patterns bolder, and after an extensive renovation, now playfully mixes 1950s design flourishes with all necessary mod-cons, ensuring guests have a good night’s sleep in an era they thought long gone. There is a greenery-shrouded courtyard, teal and yellow room doors and neon signage that adds character to a city already refreshingly vibrant. Clearly in Vancouver flavour and creativity come in all forms, meaning there is something for every taste.