Shopping & Style

June 9 2017

Exploring Gastown: Carrall Street

Like eagles to a certain towering redwood tree, many of Gastown’s finest restaurants have come here, all together in a harmonius pack, to stand majesctically on their own. You’ll find altruistic community based organizations that directly support women in life transition, including growing artists and writers. There’s great coffee here, well maintained historic buildings, friendly retailers and an aura that is different from any other street in Gastown. You can buy cowboy boots, jump for joy and click your heels to the beat of the street. It’s Carrall, alright.

Ranked number 13 on Canada’s Best 100 Restaurants, L’abattoir has done more than put Gastown dining on the map; it has become the map. The definitive guide to exceptional service, deeply intricate food that is purely delicious, aesthetically pleasing décor from bar to dining room to atrium and very good cocktails. There is most often a lineup outside for Happy Hour at 5.30pm and at anytime, L’abattoir is a culinary experience of which you simply must have. Suggestions include Baked Pacific oysters, Octopus grilled over charcoal and Pan-fried veal sweetbreads on toast as well as Confit halibut, Steak Diane, Lamb Loin Provençal.

What was once Kozakura has now become the Spanish inspired, Tempranillo.  Bill Robitaille, Chef and Co-Owner visioned the concept while spending time cooking and living in Spain in 2008.The name Tempranillo pays homage to the country’s “noble grape” – the main grape grown in the Rioja region, known for its early ripening and ability to produce full bodied wines that can be enjoyed young as well as aged. The small and intimate restaurant (26 seats) serves “raciones” which are bigger than a tapas plate so that each is easily shared amongst several friends, and substantial enough to be enjoyed alone. Diners can discover about 20 dishes on the menu as well as “conversas” (conversation starters) with exotic selections such as Razor Clams, Cockles and Baby Eels. To drink  there are plenty of Spanish wines, some Basque ciders, 3-4 batched cocktails, sherry (natch) and local beers.

Brought to you by the highly popular Bao Down, Carall is now home to Matthew Adolfo and Greg Edwards latest new restaurant concept in Gastown, Bao Down Snack Bar. Dubbed as “Pacific Rim cuisine with Filipino flare”, the casual eatery serves up rice & noodle bowls, fried chicken, BBQ skewers (meat and veggie) and Snackbar Dinners. They have created an extensive cocktail list and this is one great place in which to eat, drink and hang out, especially on a warm summers evening.


Six Acres is known for having a lively patio with an excellent view to Maple Tree Square. Here, you can properly relax while still feeling part of the vibe on a Friday night in Gastown. Choose from 15 craft beers on tap, ranging from popular local microbreweries to kegs shipped in from Oregon. There are high ceilings here with exposed brick and the feeling as if you’re somehow in a quasi 1870’s saloon. The food is more than the obvious nachos or yam fries – have a gander at their Seared Bison Steak Salad, Lamb Meatballs or fresh Mussels.

The Irish Heather

Every great neighbourhood should and usually does, have an Irish pub or two. On Carrall Street, The Irish Heather is a fine example of such an establishment. Owned and operated by longtime Gastown local, Séan Heather, you’ll find a cracking good whisky selection along with their gastropub styled menu of meat, cheese, condiment and themed plate selections. There are starters and mains as well, so everyone can feast, nibble, sip and savor the night away.

It goes without saying that Vera’s Burger Shack has a lot of burgers. It’s not a case of quantity over quality as they offer so many different variations, each unique and deliciously prepared. Anyone can serve a burger, but at Vera’s, they have mastered the art of the patty and buns. Choose from over 20 varieties and add some poutine, fries or Jalapeno Bottle Caps.


East Van Roasters is pretty awesome in many ways. The interior invokes memories of 1930’s Ice Cream Parlour with a little bit of Willy Wonka thrown in – they make their own chocolates right from the bean and they’re scrumdiddlyumtious! Designed to provide training and employment to the women residents of the Rainier Hotel, East Van Roasters creates organic ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate and coffee roasted and prepared on site.  You experience the magic of this coffee chocolate factory as soon you enter.


There’s a bird on Carrall and everybody knows him. It’s Nelson The Seagull and he’s flying right into your heart. Especially if you love great coffee, an inviting perch for you, your MacBook & journal and avocado on housemade bread.


Shebeen Whiskey House offers one of the largest whisky selections in Canada. The staff are quite knowledgeable and are happy to assist their guests in the art of whisky drinking. The Shebeen is a true snug where one can sit up close to friends and enjoy warm conversation while savoring the fine blends on hand.

Dubbed “The Soul Of Ireland in The Heart of Gastown” – The Blarney Stone is perhaps one of the most well known, loved and original Irish Pubs in the city. Three decades ago, the area around Gastown’s Blarney Stone was as close as you could get in Vancouver to Ireland’s fabled Temple Bar district without stepping onto a plane. Originally surrounded by a number of other Irish bars, the Blarney Stone is the only ‘original’ Irish pub in Vancouver that is still standing. (from They offer true Irish fare, a properly poured pint of Guinness and live traditional Irish music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Cead Mile Failte!


Like EastVan Roasters, Community Thrift & Vintage is a Social Enterprise initiative in which all profits go towards PHS Community Services Society.  Women from The Rainier Hotel are encouraged to work at the store as an opportunity, in transitional periods of their lives, to build skills in a supportive work environment. They have a wonderful supply of clothing and accessories that span many decades and it’s always rewarding to know that money spent at the store is going to those that can really use it. Everybody wins – that’s the Gastown way.

Lynn Steven is a woman’s clothing boutique that stands out on Carrall in all the right ways. Expect genuine personalized service and fun, fashion forward lines like Fortnight Lingerie, Line Knitwear, Eliza Faulkner, Rails, Fidelity Denim, Des Petits Hauts, Leah Alexandra, Parker, Sundry Clothing, and much more. They often hold intimate little get-togethers in the shop, launching new lines and pop up shops. A community based boutique that is on par with high street standards.

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NiftyDo is run (and owned) by a couple of passionate guys who are super friendly and honest. They carry great stuff for guys including lines like Saint James, Knickerbocker, Lady White Co. and their own Nifty Do creations – Merry Company. Ask for WoWo and he’ll take care of you.

As has been said before, in Gastown, you’ll find it all. We really are like a little self sufficient town, and like all small thriving communities, there is bound to be somewhere you can find a solid pair of cowboy boots. The O.K. Boot Corral is where it all goes down. If you can find Gassy Jack, you have located the Corral on Carrall. Clint Eastwood is outside to great you and the place is one of Gastown’s best to find all sorts of leather goods, snap button western shirts and long lasting gifts.

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Artspeak was founded in 1986 and has become a cultural epicenter for emerging visual artists, writers and critics. This not for profit art-house strives to exhibit contemporary art and to encourage a dialogue between visual art and writing. It is worth visiting when strolling along Carrall as there’s always something unique, challenging, though provoking and interesting to discover. One of Gastown’s most vibrant and eclectic galleries.