We meander through the neighbourhood and find ourselves on Powell Street.
Named after Dr. I W. Powell (1836 – 1915) – a doctor, businessman and politician who played a role in extending the CPR line from Port Moody to Coal Harbour and donated land for Vancouver’s first City Hall. As Maple Tree Square feeds out to four distinct streets, Powell Street is blessed with many fine restaurants, some rather stylish clothing boutiques, one of the city’s best sound clubs, an all female tattoo shop, a fun dog supply store and an interesting gift shop.
It’s Powell Street. You could spend all day here.
Rodney’s Oyster House has an excellent happy hour and the restaurant styling is very apropos to the food on the table. Low Tide is Monday to Saturday, 3pm-6pm (and all day on Sunday!) – spilling over with fresh fruits de la mer – mussels, clams, oysters and shrimp as well as Haida Gwaii Candy. Exclusive to Gastown is a secret area of the vessel – The Ship’s Hold – hidden underneath the Oyster House, this intruiging room comes complete with its own oyster bed and bar! The room can hold gatherings of up to 30 persons.
If you’re craving some good home cooked Indian food, come to Sitar Restaurant. All the classics are here as well as a few interesting variations. They make their own desserts and there are special dinner combinations for two with a vegetarian option. They have an excellent signature SITAR DINNER – Lamb curry, alugobi, tandoori, chicken dal, rice pillau, naan, papad and chutney.
The Diamond is not what you think it is. Peering through the wide old windows that look out onto Maple Tree Square, one may think this establishment, with it’s firm oak hewn cocktail bar and great crystal chandelier, procures Southern US styled fare with a limited old world drink list. Think again – the menu comprises of fresh sushi, nigiri and bowls with an extensive, albeit, invigorating composition of cocktails inspired by cities and locations along the West Coast.
The Sardine Can on Powell – and it is only slightly bigger than one– is an intimate, warm, Spanish inspired nook, made to enjoy close converstion, a ruddy good Rioja and to indulge in a lovely selction of tapas such as Champiñones, Arroz con Pollo, Chorizo con Jerez and Patatas bravas. The white tiled floor and open kitchen, along with air filled with the scent of thick olive oil, smoke and jamon, brings the visitor back to that feeling of being in Madrid and Barcelona.
Bao Down is probably one of the most unique fusion (Vietnamese/Asian) restaurants in the city. On Powell, it clearly stands out as a homerun – good portions of fresh food with interesting ingredients, that are served up fast and delicious. The staff are friendly and you’ll have taste memories for days. The Bao Chicka Bao Bao is highly recommended and the Kimchi Fries are awesome. Basically you can’t go wrong with any of their Steamed Bao and Street Sandwiches. They have house made beignets and they are licensed. Stay awhile and feel good.
Milano Espresso Lounge’s history is as rich as the coffee they roast. In the 1980’s, Founder and Master Roaster, Francesco Curatolo, brought 75 years of Italian roasting and blending expertise to Vancouver. Current Owner, Master Roaster and Protégé to Francesco, Brian Turko has mastered the art of true Italian Coffee. Are we bean lovers spoilt in Gastown? Yes. Milano has their own way of doing things and the result is unmistakable. Yet another reason to spend the day on Powell and hours in this fine café.
Just when Gastown delights us with something new and unexpected, you part ways with a friend at Maple Tree Square – one goes the way of Alexander, the other to Powell and much sooner than later, you discover that all roads lead to The Birds & Beets. For the sake of the article, say you enter the place from Powell. To your left is an ever changing but constant display of fresh flowers complete with a dainty arranger. At the end of the counter are two water taps – still and sparkling, that drain into a luscious bed of parsley. The brick is exposed; there are well-made sandwiches, a healthy supply of robust coffee and aromatic teas and an awareness that those who frequent the spot, feel at home here. Currently one of the neighbourhood hot spots and will be for some time to come.
The Alexander Gastown is a vibrant music hub. A club, lounge, and live music venue that features weekly club nights and various concerts. There is always something happening at the Alexander and that something is almost always happening. Three levels open up to plenty of dance floor space within this unique historic building that is perfect for a party.
Angel Vancouver is located in one of Vancouver’s oldest buildings (the Ferguson Block at No. 2 Powell Street – one of the two oldest commercial buildings in Vancouver built after the fire of 1886). Owned and operated by L.A. Chouinard Art Institute grad, Jackie Haliburton, Angel is an authorized Desigual dealer – unique men’s, women’s and kids’ clothing from the company, based in Barcelona. They also create custom hand-painted T-shirts, each piece, a work of art by the skilled hand of Jackie herself.
In Gastown, it’s good to know your Neighbours. It’s even better to visit them. Neighbour Woman on Powell is just for her. They have thought of everything including fragrances, skincare, jewelry, footwear, housewares and clothing. Their selection is finely curated and such a store as Neighbour Woman, is a place that you can depend on for things you actually want and will wear. Their new line of Acne Studios Dramatic Mohair Sweater in Pink Mélange or Smoky Blue is perfectly suited to our mild west coast summer evenings. They carry a fine selection of Comme De Garçons Wallets. You might buy more than one; they’re that nice.
There’s a Stussy location on Powell. They carry their own streetwear inspired brand and currently have some really nice new arrivals for Summer 2016. Many circa 90’s pastel shaded t-shirts and hats including a cool Funk Coaches Jacket in light pink.
Liquid Amber Tattoo & Art Collective is a mostly female group (along with one great guy). These talented artists each bring their own unique style to the collective that results in some incredible body art. They are special in that they offer a completely vegan tattoo experience from start to finish.
EZ Dog is a family-owned and operated dog grooming & dog supplies store. Locally owned and operated, they offer boarding, daycare, grooming and supplies. They truly love dogs and the neighbourhood and their passion for both is obvious as soon as you walk in the store. There’s a big red leather couch your pup can sit on while they socialize and have treats.
Kimprints is loaded, from floor to ceiling to window with unique and interesting gifts, cards, posters and prints. They also offer picture framing services using high quality frames. Located in the apex of the Europe Building, there is plenty of fun browsing to do, with cool items to discover and toy with.