“The best way to travel abroad is to live with the locals”. Zach Braff
Why is it that no matter how diligently you research a place, it’s always the locals that are the true key holders to the kingdom you seek? Well that’s because locals have tried it all and they know the secrets. The “best” is never advertised, it just is. They are there, those diamonds in the rough. The golden places that are easily passed by in the rush of the maddened crowd to go where they are told to go.
Trust your gut. Always. But some sage advice from the locals will go a long way.
So come live with us dear out-of-towner!
We are happy to share the magic that will make you a proud and local Gastowner.
Timbertrain on West Cordova, is an independent coffee shop that roasts their own beans. Started 3 years ago by 3 guys named Peter, Jeff and Min, this is a very friendly coffee shop where locals come daily. The seating is largely communal and that’s the draw of Timbertrain. You can’t hide here yet you can hang out, take a meeting, work on the laptop and chat to the staff, owners and make new friends. The ceilings are tall and there is plenty of light that comes through the huge 100-year-old shop front. They serve from a slow bar, taking great care to create each cup. There are fresh baked goods on offer daily. If there was ever to be an almost perfect coffee shop, Timbertrain could be the one.
Birds & Beets is truly the spirit of Gastown manifest in tangible form. Much like the fresh cut flowers they sell (really, they sell flowers!), Birds & Beets arranges everything this neighbourhood is into one deeply inviting place. A sandwich store, coffee shop and breakfast spot, Birds & Beets exposes the age old brick that this hamlet was built on, while providing enough seating space so that a community of people can share the joie de vivre that is celebrated here. There are two entrances, one off Powell St. and one off Alexander St. You’ll find all sorts of interesting people here and like bees to honey, Gastown’s regulars are at home in the hive.
One of a Few is an independent woman’s clothing boutique specially curated with clothing, footwear, bags and objects from creative designers around the world. The boutique has many fiercely loyal customers. One of A Few constantly strives to seek out the most unique, exceptional products available from established and emerging designers while always providing fantastic customer service. The store is intimate, warm and very personable.
NiftyDo is a men’s clothing store run by a couple of passionate guys who bring together high quality goods and high levels of craftsmanship. Many of the brands are from small independent labels Made In The USA like Knickerbocker MFG. Co. who uses age old crafting and techniques in their clothing production. You can find lots of Selvedge denim here and some very nice leather made accessories. The owners and staff are denim enthusiasts and love the style and quality of the clothes they carry.
Nouvelle Nouvelle is a fantastic little shop. Their focus is on independent up and coming lines and supporting those emerging companies by carrying a wide variety of items in the store. Here you’ll find clothes and accessories for men and women including a section dedicated to apothecaries, jewelry and stationery. They are very community minded and take great care in helping customers look their best while sharing their passion for the creativity and high quality that comes from curating many independent labels.
Bao Down is a place that almost everyone in Gastown knows of. It’s a small, mostly take-out restaurant offering Asian bao buns, street food-inspired sandwiches & fusion snacks. They also serve Poke Bowls and a bunch of Asian styled fries. Any bao can be made in a lettuce cup for those going gluten free. The food is very good and it gets really busy during lunch hour. Expect this place to filled with locals.
Newly opened, Crab Park Chowdery brings New England style clam chowder served San Francisco style in a sourdough bread bowl. It’s often packed but worth the wait. You can also get a Vegan Chilli, Tomato Soup or Corn Chowder.
Meet is the place to be. Essentially almost everything is gluten free and vegan unless otherwise noted with substitutions suggested. The burgers are super good (so are the crispy fries) and most burgers can be made gluten free by removing onion rings and substituting for a gluten free bun & patty. Gastown locals love Meet. It’s a very social place to dine and the bar at the back, with it’s generous cocktail and beer list, is fun to hang out at.
Guilt & Co is Gastown’s busiest and most vibrant live music venue. Nestled beneath the Chill Winston restaurant (another happening major local haunt), Guilt & Co’s wine cellar, and vault like atmosphere is where you can find almost any type of Gastowner on pretty much any night of the week. The live acts are as diverse as the neighbourhood, ranging from Hot New Orleans style jazz with The Jen Hodge Allstars (every Wednesday night) to The Gastown Cabaret with scintillating burlesque and donut eating competitions. There are often soul music acts performing, along with reggae, blues and acoustic sets. Guilt & Co. could be the last surviving true live music venue in the city. It strives to support local and international talent, while ensuring the highest standards of musicianship and always encouraging people of all financial levels to come hear the music (most of the door costs are pay-what-you-can).