Like finding ourselves stepping into an intruiging sideshow, we wonder what lies beyond each different coloured curtain – some contain sumptuous food and pastries, while others are stuffed with age old antiques and oddities. Still others are housed by masters of the coffee bean and great purveyors of fineries for the home. Behind one, sits a row of barber chairs paired with endless racks of scissors while behind another, the tones of sweet flora and fauna. Choose your own adventure and unlock the magic of West Cordova in Gastown.
Bambo Café is a well known and loved Gastown spot. It has been serving excellent home cooked food for over 11 years. Family run and operated, Bambo makes most everything in house, fresh and simple. The coffee is organic fair trade and the sandwiches come on homemade focaccia bread – noteworthy are the Lemon pepper chicken breast with pesto sauce, Turkey with cranberry sauce, Roast Beef with marinated mushrooms, authentic Crabmeat with avocado. Bambo also makes their own soups that are indeed their signature item – the Lentil soup is vegan & gluten free. They have vegan and gluten free meals and snacks on the menu as well as delicious pastries, bagels and breakfast items.
Brioche is a cosy, intimate place to enjoy Italian styled fare that’s made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and Brioche is as much a bakery as it is a place to get a great hearty lunch or dinner that is full, rich and delicious. They have a robust menu for lunch and dinner including panini’s (they make their own focaccia, sour dough and baguette), pastas, pizza, quiche, choppino and primi piatti and– try their Braised Lamb Shank or Sicilian Meatloaf and treat yourself to a Crème Brulee, if room will permit.
The Greedy Pig is an interesting place. Set in a narrow, subdued room, the building resonates with the air of century old spirits that seem to linger in corners and along the bar, waiting to join you for a spell. Almost a fusion between an old Euopean pub and a caberet dance hall, The Greedy Pig often has live music and they serve lovely pot pies – duck shepherd’s pie (shredded duck leg, guinette cherry gravy , mashed potato, smoked cheddar gratinee), root vegetable pot pie, (roasted potatoes, carmelized onions, yams, celery carrot, veggie gravy, puff pastry, arugula salad) smoked chicken pot pie (smoked chicken breast, green beans, potatoes, roasted garlic cream, puff pastry, arugula salad).
Timbertrain is a favourite coffee shop to a lot of people. It’s pretty easy to see why. The grandiose windows that embrace the light, the communal –esque seating for many Macbooks and their owners (there are accessible plugs within reach) and damn good coffee. The owners and crew are friendly and passionate about the art and there are chrome taps that pump out cold brew along with sparkling and still water. The founders – Peter, Jeff and Min have brought their childhood fascination for trains and laid solid tracks that run along Cordova Street, ferrying their coffee line to the Good People of Gastown.
There are many places to get your hair done in Gastown. Not all of them can say they’ve been doing it in the same place for over 25 years. Colourbox is one of those businesses that is truly at home on Cordova. The steadfast nature of the space is reflected in the craftsmanship of the stylists. They are good at what they do and are specialists in the art of hair colouring and styling.
The word Salmagundi is derived from the French word salmigondis which means a disparate assembly of things, ideas or people, forming an incoherent whole. Yes – that about sums up Gastown’s Salmagundi’s. One really can’t say they’ve been to the neighbourhood and seen it all without a proper visit to this place. There’s the street level parlour packed with endless oddities, collectibles and phrenallogical delights. And then there’s the basement with it’s vintage postcards, toys and trinkets Give yourself enough time to pull out all 75 + drawers of the Victorian Chinese Medicine cabinet – there’s a different treasure in each one.
Uniques is the eccentric neighbour to the left of Salmagundi’s. Heavy with antiques of all shapes and sizes, you’ll find prams full of old dolly’s, teacups, jewelry, paper items and many other sorts of collectibles and intriguing items. The owner is friendly and gentle and there’s a cute old dog that keeps the floorboards warm. Hours vary and it’s best to call ahead if you aren’t in the area.
The Old Faithful Shop harkens to bygone days and for most, is but a vintage picture come to life. Like it’s neighbours on Cordova, the shop is at home here with it’s turn of the century tall ceilings, large windows and exposed brick. A Gastown icon, The Old Faithful Shop does not stock but curates – everything is carefully chosen and situated mise en place for the visitor to experience in it’s true essence. They make their own aprons and candles, among other things, and the long lasting standard of the items in the shop are top shelf.
What could appear as out of place, is in fact, very much part of the fabric of what makes Gastown what it is: a patchwork quilt. Versace Home on Cordova, is the only one in North America. Like peering into a great salon of a 17th Century Italian ruling class home, you’ll find haute couture furniture, lighting and accessories.
Heathers The Flowershop is a delightful little hive, enveloped inside and out with fresh cut flowers and small plants. They source locally, from the Fraser Valley whenever available and create unique arrangements for events, occasions and companies.
L’atelier Home is a concept furniture store that focuses on offering rare quality pieces at exceptional prices. They carry unique items you simply can’t find anywhere else and the owner and assistants are passionate about helping you make your home beautiful. They also offer a finding service as well as an upcycling and reupholstering service to completely renew and revitalize a beloved piece of furniture.