Whether you’re from Vancouver or you’re a tourist, Taste Vancouver’s Gastown Food Tour is a great opportunity to sample dishes from some of Gastown’s finest dining establishments and learn a little neighborhood history while doing so. The 2.5 hour tour includes 9 tastings, 2 alcoholic beverages and 3 delicious desserts.


Meeting Place: Starbucks (Inside Waterfront Station)

This is where the group meets up with the tour guide and the guests are asked to introduce themselves. It’s ok if you don’t remember names following this first encounter, name tags are provided!

A Starbucks barista was quick to come out with a warm beverage: Pumpkin Spice Latte, an appropriate selection given it was the first day of Autumn. I was a bit skeptical as to why an international chain like Starbucks was included on a food tour of Historic Gastown – but it turns out to be quite worthy of mention as our guide informed us that this particular Starbucks was the first Starbucks in Canada which opened March 1987.

Steamworks Brewing Co.       

After getting acquainted with everyone on the tour, our next stop was Steamworks Pub, Brewery & Restaurant (located 375 Water St.) which is one of Vancouver’s original microbreweries. Our group was seated on the downstairs level of the restaurant where the brewing takes place behind the scenes.  As we sipped craft beer, our tour guide gave us a brief history of the Brewery:

In 1995 after Steamworks aquired they’re business space, they discovered that Gastown has 6 miles of steam piping underground; a  rare system that would heat the buildings above during the frontier days. The brewmaster, who had only read of steam powered brewing, ventured forth, creating a one-of-a-kind steam generated brewery, hence the name Steamworks Brewing.


Built at the turn of the century, the building has preserved its historical splendour. The support beams in this photo actually come from lumber in Stanley Park
Steamworks Beer Flight

Brioche Urban Eatery

Our first food stop was at Brioche (located 401 W. Cordova St.), a welcoming neighborhood eatery offering authentic homemade baked goods, breakfast & Italian comfort food. All of Brioche’s menu items and recipes come from head chef and owner Eduardo, who learned how to cook when he was 13 years old by watching his mother in Sicily.

Pasta Salsicca Cheese Tortellini.


131 Water Kitchen & Bar

At 131 Water Kitchen & Bar, the group indulged in Beer Battered Fish and Chips served with Hand Cut Double Cooked Fries. The sight of this dish alone is enough to make your mouth water and if you don’t mind a little grease, this is an item worth trying! The restaurant/bar has multiple dining atmospheres: The front patio directly on Water Street,  the more quiet courtyard patio , or inside where my tour dined. People inside make good use of their board game selection which includes games such as Moods and Scatagories.

I also learned 131 Water Kitchen & Bar has a connection to Aerosmith. In the 90’s, while the band was in Vancouver, lead singer Steven Tyler was walking down Water Street being swarmed by paparazzi. The staff working that night, noticing the rock legend was in duress, invited him in to escape the crowds. Steven ended up renting out the entire restaurant for that night, taking over the joint and even making his own salad in the kitchen.

Bao Down

Next on the tour was Bao Down Snack Bar (located 221 Carrall St.) which serves “Asian bao” street food inspired sandwiches and snacks made with fusion ingredients. The restaurant takes pride sourcing their ingredients locally from a “very select list of suppliers”. Our group was served their “Bao Chicka Bao Bao” – lemongrass fried chicken with fusion ingredients wrapped in dough. For a beverage we were served Mongas which is their version of a Phillipino mango mojito. – Delicious? Yes!                




Next stop on the tour was Peckinpah (located at 2 Water Street), named after the famous and controversial movie director Sam Peckinpah, a “nasty drunk and a revolutionary filmmaker” who produced mostly violent westerns. The Carolina-style BBQ restaurant is located in Maple Tree Square – the heart of Gastown, located on the corner of Carrall and Water. The building itself is a heritage site and is actually one of Vancouver’s oldest standing buildings. Featured right in front of Peckinpah is the famous Gassy Jack statue which stands in place of a community meeting tree that burned to the ground in the 1886 Gastown Fire.

The tour was served pulled pork sandwiches, slow cooked for 14 hours delivering its moist, succulent texture and rich taste.


We were served the “Original Peak” with chocolate syrup topping.

Soft Peaks 

Next we went for a dessert at Soft Peaks (located at 25 Alexander St.) – Vancouver’s first organic soft serve ice cream. Their ice cream is handcrafted and made from locally sourced organic ingredients. The milk they use comes from the B.C. dairy farm Avalon; even their spoons, napkins and cups are from local suppliers.

Trees Organic

The group then headed up Water Street to Trees Organic (located 321 Water St.). Trees, known for their freshly roasted coffee, cheesecake and baked goods. Trees Organic was started by two Israeli immigrant women who advocated for equality and equal pay for women in the Middle East. All the coffee and ingredients that Trees sources from the Middle East must come from businesses that meet their equality standards, which has been very challenging.

Our tour sampled their Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake which was awarded “Best Cheesecake in Vancouver” four years in a row by the Vancouver Foodster Cheesecake Challenge. The Province newspaper gave a nod to Trees Organic  as “the best in the land”.


Roger’s Chocolates

My sweet tooth was satisfied on the tour as well. Our last stop was Rogers’ Chocolates where we sampled their famous chocolates which are wrapped the same way as going back to the 1800’s.



I had a great time on the Gastown Food Tour and I learned a lot about the neighborhood and what’s good to eat there too! I am excited to re-visit the establishments and teach my friends and family about what I learned. If you are looking to taste and learn a little history of where Vancouver started out, I would definitely recommend booking a tour!