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Vancouver/Commercial Dr-Hastings Park

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East Vancouver is the area of Vancouver east of Ontario Street, a minor street just west of Main Street, the demarcation line where street addresses change from "east" to "west". East Van used to be considered more of a working-class area of Vancouver, however the area has become more gentrified as the Vancouver housing market develops.

East Van has some very happening areas. Commercial Drive, known locally as The Drive, is one of the most interesting areas of Vancouver in terms of ethnic and culinary diversity. There is also a strong artistic and activist community located in the Commercial Driver area. Main Street is also an interesting area for visitors and local; numerous coffee shops, antique stores and good quality (but well-priced) restaurants can be found on Main Street roughly between about 8th to 30th Avenues.

Get in

By public transit

The SkyTrain has a number of stations within East Van. The two most useful stops to get to the shops and restaurants of East Van are:

  • Main St/Science World - just above the start of the South Main area (you will need to walk a few blocks south to reach it), and
  • Broadway/Commercial Drive - close to the heart of Commercial Drive and connections to bus routes.

A large number of bus routes service East Van. The following are some of the most useful ones for getting in and around the district:

  • #3 runs up and down Main Street.
  • #9 runs the length of Broadway, connecting East Van to UBC.
  • #10 travels along Hastings Street, past the PNE grounds, connecting East Van to the central business district and Burnaby.
  • #19 travels along Kingsway, connecting East Van to downtown and the Metrotown shopping mall in Burnaby.
  • #20 starts in central business district and runs along Commercial Drive.
  • #99 B-Line is the express version of route #9.

By car

Like the rest of Vancouver, driving around East Van is certainly doable, but it can be slow with the traffic and lights (remember, there are no expressways). Coming from the central business area or Gastown/Chinatown, both Hastings St and Georgia St intersect with Main St, with Hastings continuing on to cross the district from east to west in the north end. If you're on the south side of False Creek (South Granville or Kitsilano), Broadway is a good option. Both Hastings St and Broadway will intersect with Commercial Drive if that is your destination. Kingsway runs diagonally across East Van and is accessible from both Main Street and Broadway.

See

  • Vancouver Giants Hockey, Pacific Coloseum (PNE Grounds on E Hastings St), [1]. Vancouver's junior hockey team. Not quite as skilled as the pros down the street in Rogers Arena, but a cheaper and sometimes more entertaining option if you want to catch a hockey game while in town. Games are usually 2-3 teams a week from Oct through April. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the Coliseum box office. $18.50/$16.50.
  • Hastings Racecourse, at Hastings Park (enter at PNE Gate 6, off Renfrew St), +1 604 254-1631 (), [2]. Horse racing on most weekends.

Do

  • PNE (Pacific National Exhibition), 2901 E Hastings St (corner of Renfrew & E Hastings, parking is accessed from Renfew St and Bridgeway; from Hwy #1 take exit 26), +1 604 253-2311 (, fax: +1 604 251-7768), [3]. Open daily from 11AM - late during the second half of August. Two week exhibition where extra rides and events are added to the usual Playland activities. Gate ticket $15, Ride ticket $27-$40.
  • Playland at the PNE, (at the PNE grounds), +1 604 253-2311 (, fax: +1 604 251-7768), [4]. Open daily from late June through August and weekends only in May and September. Hours of operation are generally 10AM-6PM; during the PNE hours are from 11AM - late. Playland is a medium-sized amusement park, like something you may find at a U.S. county fair, and activities include a wooden rollercoaster, games, shows for kids and perhaps 20 or so other rides that spin, throw and hurl you in various ways. $20 if under 4 feet, $30 otherwise. Parents of kids under 12 pay $13.
  • Parade of Lost Souls takes place around Halloween in the Commercial Drive area. It is free to go, and features live music, fire dancers, lots of costumed revellers. Under-advertised, but one of the biggest yearly festivals in Vancouver.
  • City Salsa Vibe (Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel), 395 Kingsway, +1 778 TO-DANCE (863-2623), [5]. Doors open 8:30PM, Free lesson 9PM, party 9:30PM (Thu) or 10PM (Sat). Free salsa lessons, followed by a salsa party with expert performers and a sophisticated crowd. Fully licensed bar. Free Hotel Parking. Dress Code: upscale casual or better, no torn jeans, no tennis shoes, collared shirts preferred for men. $7-$10 cover for party.

Buy

East Van has a wide variety of multicultural shopping districts.

  • A funky shopping area is Commercial Drive, [6], which was once was the city's Italian neighbourhood but which is now amazingly multicultural. Buskers, dogs, babies, pierced people, office workers, grocery shoppers share the Drive. The shops are relatively inexpensive and eclectic -- lots of coffee shops, tie-dye, toys, trinkets, and organic groceries. It's a great neighbourhood to live in because you can go out on foot and do all your shopping -- produce, cheese, sausage, stationery, pet food, hardware -- within just a few blocks.
  • South Main (sometimes called "SoMa," the parts of Main Street south of 2nd Avenue or so) is rapidly becoming the new bohemian neighbourhood of designer boutiques, Asian religious item stores, and coffee shops. Many local designers have boutiques on Main between Broadway (the equivalent of 9th Ave) south to about 29th Ave where you can buy cutting-edge and handmade clothing for reasonable prices. Between King Edward Ave (the equivalent of 25th) and 29th is a cluster of antique stores, some of which are expensive and not very good, but you can find treasures there if you search.
  • Punjabi Market, sometimes called Little India, is the area along Main Street around East 49th Avenue (literally, 48th to 51st). There are a number of Indian food stores, restaurants, and stores selling Indian style clothes and materials.
  • Farmers' Market at Trout Lake— There are a few farmers markets that occur in Vancouver [7], but this is the first, and probably the best. It is only open on Saturday mornings and only in the summer and the last market day of the year is around Canadian Thanksgiving (early Oct).

Eat

East Van is blessed with a huge number of different restaurants, many of them drawn from cuisines all over the world and very reasonably priced. Walk the couple of kilometers along Commercial Drive ("The Drive") north from Broadway to Venables, and you will doubtlessly find something to match your taste and your wallet before you get to the end.

Budget

  • Britannia Sushi, 1016 Commercial. +1 604 251-1155. This might be the best deal on sushi in the city. $4.95 for an 18 piece combo (including yam rolls) with miso soup, or teriyaki box. Decent quality and decor.
  • Sweet Lemon Cafe, on the 2500 block of East Hastings. There are a lot of great Vietnamese restaurants in this area, but some argue that the best deal is here. $5-6 tax included will get you a heaping bowl of vermicelli with a generous portion of chicken, beef, pork, or prawns. Great service and tasteful Ikea inspired decor.
  • All India Sweets, 6507 Main St (corner of Main and 49th), +1 604 327-0891. Excellent vegetarian all you can eat Indian food buffet for $9.95. Under new management and no longer has a large selection on sweets .
  • Hawker's Delight, 4127 Main Street, +1 604 709-8188. At Main and King Edward Hawker's servers up authentic Malaysian/Singaporean dishes at $4-5. Fast-paced atmosphere (as the name would suggest). Good vegetarian options.
  • Rhizome Cafe, 317 E. Broadway (Just east of Kingsway), +1 604 872-3166 (), [8]. Tu 4PM–10PM; We–Th 11AM–10PM; Fr 11AM–12AM (midnight); Sa 10AM–12AM (midnight) (brunch until 3PM); Su 10AM–3PM; Mo closed.. Good multicultural food, including a novel 'pay as you feel' lentil stew that has no fixed price. Well-lit tables in a variety of sizes added to comfy sofas gives a charming feel. Very friendly staff, with a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan and meat sandwiches and stews. Also the usual cafe fare of coffees, chais, and pastries. Regular performances by artists, and a community meeting room. lunch $8-12.
  • Samurai Sushi on Fraser, 6428 Fraser Street (at 49th Ave), +1 604 676-4479, [9]. 11AM-9PM. Well known for having huge portions for small prices. Take out available. There is another location at 1108 Davie in the West End, which is open until midnight. $10.
  • Bon's Off Broadway, 2451 Nanaimo St, +1 604 253-7242. Bon's has a great atmosphere and excellent prices including $3 breakfast all day: 2 eggs, toast, bacon or sausage, and hashbrowns. less than $10.
  • And for the best ever ice-cream experience, visit La Casa Gelato, 1033 Venables, [10]. It's a little off the beaten path, but the over 200 flavours will reward you! Follow the Viaduct east out of downtown, and keep going straight. You will pass some old style homes on your left, and a park on your right. The place is located near the train tracks. Plenty of street parking, but take care where you park at night.
  • Rico Burrito, 2280 Commercial Drive (One block north of the Commercial Drive Skytrain station), +1 604 251-6662. The dining area is spartan, the tables are worn (though clean). Maybe you'll prefer to take your food home. But such food! Huge portions of simple but delicious Mexican standards like burritos, tacos, and tamales. Ridiculously low prices. Plenty of vegetarian options. $6 for a large entree.
  • Sun Sui Wah Seafood Restaurant 3888 Main Street. +1 604 872-8822. An excellent Chinese restaurant, the chefs are excellent cooks.(Beware there are long lineups and reservations are a must.)
  • Ba Le, +1 604 875-6322. A Vietnamese sandwich shop located at 21-701 Kingsway (at the corner with Fraser) is rather out of the way for most tourists but it regularly wins local awards for sandwiches and has delicious Vietnamese subs (including a vegetarian one) for less than $3. In fact, in this area you'll find lots of small Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants where a good lunch will cost you less than $6 in the area.
  • The Foundation, 2301 Main Street +1 604 708-0881. A funky vegetarian/vegan restaurant with a hipster feel, the Foundation serves up delicious food for inexpensive prices. Be sure to try their hummus, it's spectacular!

Mid-range

  • Lime (formerly the location of Rime, a now-closed Turkish restaurant), 1130 Commercial Dr, +1 604-215-1130, [11]. 5PM-1AM. Casual upscale Japanese cuisine that serves a mix of traditional and non-traditional Japanese dishes. Live music and entertainment every night of the week. Dishes $8-$20; cover some nights $5-$15.
  • Locus Restaurant, 4121 Main Street (25th & Main), +1 604 708-4121, [12]. M-W 10AM-12AM, Th-F 10AM-1AM, Sa 9AM-1AM and Su 9AM-12AM. Local favourite with a variety of dishes that incorporate local and seasonal ingredients. Will substitute tofu for meat if requested. $20-$35 (starter + main).
  • Nyala, 4148 Main Street (at E King Edward Ave), +1 604 876-9919 (), [13]. lunch 11:30AM - 2:30PM; dinner 5 - 11:30PM Mon - Sun. Ethiopian food, served communally and eaten with the fingers using injera bread. A good selection of vegetarian entrees. The friendly owner, Assefa Kebele, may well be clearing your plates. The pottery he makes is exhibited there. $10-15/person.
  • Red Sea Cafe, 670 E Broadway, +1 604 873-3332. Open daily 12PM-11PM (open to 12AM F-Sa). Authentic Eritrean and Ethiopian food in a clean, well-run atmosphere. Delicious food and outstanding service from the two wonderful owners. Excellent value.
  • The Reef Restaurant, 4172 Main St (26th & Main), +1 604 874-JERK, [14]. Su-W 11AM-12AM and Th-Sa 11AM-1AM. Caribbean restaurant with live entertainment some nights. $15-$30 (starter + main).
  • Tio Pepe's, 1134 Commercial Dr, +1 604 254-8999, [15]. Long-time local favourite for Mexican food in Vancouver. There was a recent change in owners and some have indicated the food quality is not as good as it used to be.
  • Toshi Sushi, 181 E 16th Ave (located off of Main street), +1 604 874-5173. A small mostly family-run sushi restaurant that serves relatively cheap, good sushi. Avoid the garlic beef, but one must try the tempura. It's a popular spot so it's best to get there before 5PM.
  • Shiro Sushi, 3096 Cambie St (at the corner of W 15th Ave), +1 604 874-0027‎. If Toshi is too busy, walking west a half dozen blocks will bring you to another affordable family-run sushi restaurant with friendly service and a packet of Pocky with your bill.
  • Whole Vegetarian Restaurant (formerly Bo Kong), 3068 Main Street, +1 604 876-3088. Open daily from 11AM-9PM (open to 9:30 Sa-Su). A vegetarian Buddhist Chinese restaurant. Has an incredibly diverse menu. Get the bean curd skin rolls with black bean sauce! It's a good idea to make reservations; it's very popular. Mains about $10.

Splurge

Drink

  • Candy Bar, 2066 Kingsway, +1 604 877-1066. W-Sa 9PM-3AM. Live rock music dance club, featuring schochu. about $5 cover.
  • Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, (Kingsway and Clark, just off of Knight St). Upstairs is a funky little coffee house with lots of comfy seating, downstairs is a friendly pub, popular with a lot of local sports teams. There is a patio adjoining, with heat lamps for those cooler evenings. Friday nights are almost always packed.
  • Pacific Pub, 700 Main St (SE corner of Main & Georgia, 2 min walk north of Main St Skytrain station). Good spot for a cheap beer, but be advised that it's not a great place to walk at night, as that section is not far removed from the worst areas of the Eastside. $2 for a pint.
  • WaaZuBee Cafe and Bar, 1622 Commercial Dr (1st and Commercial), +1 604 253-5299, [16]. 10AM to 1AM. WaaZuBee is now closed. This 17 year icon on "the drive" is the place to go to for wine and a huge cocktail list. Their resident wine guy has 40+ wines by the glass, wine flights, and BC's biggest gin selection. Food is varied from small bites to organic meat and seafood dishes. Skype id: waazubee. $8 to $22.

Sleep

For such a large area, there isn't much accommodation in East Van. It is mostly older and in the budget to mid level price range. The biggest concentration of motels/hotels is along Kingsway.

  • 2400 Motel, 2400 Kingsway (near Nanaimo & Kingsway), +1 888 833-2400 (toll-free) or +1 604 434-2464. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Older motel with a number of bungalow units. Reviewers indicate rooms can be small, but they are clean and quiet with a certain charm lent by their age. $85 and up.
  • Aberdeen Mansion, 1110 Victoria Drive, +1 604 254-2229 (), [17]. checkin: 4PM-6PM; checkout: 10:30AM. Old heritage home converted to a B&B. All suites have kitchens and there are laundry facilities and internet access on site. $75-$200.
  • Days Inn Vancouver Metro, 2075 Kingsway, +1 800 546-4792 (toll-free) or +1 604 876-5531, [18]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Reviews indicate the rooms can be small but the beds are comfortable. $120 and up in summer.
  • Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, 395 Kingsway, +1 604 872-5252, [19]. Reviewers like its location and price, but some found cleanliness an issue and rooms near the bar could be noisy. $130-$140 June-Sept for a standard room, cheaper rates available in the off-season.
  • Holiday Inn Express, 2889 East Hastings Street (Renfrew & E Hastings), +1 888 428-7486, [20]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. Standard chain motel room with wireless internet in each room and a complimentary continental breakfast. Located on a busy street so traffic noise can sometimes be a problem. Will provide complementary shuttle service to downtown and some nearby attractions (although space is limited). $150 and up, suites start around $240 (summer rates).
  • London Guard Motor Inn, 2227 Kingsway (between Gladstone and Nanaimo Streets), +1 604 430-4646 or toll-free +1 888 997-7773 (fax: +1 604 736-7912).
  • Dive on the Drive, 1770 Kitchener Street (Near Commercial Drive, 3 blocks north of East 1st Ave), +1 604 215-8574, [21]. checkin: 2:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. Modern, furnished apartments for an extended stay or short term accommodation. Lots of rental options in Commercial Drive neighbourhood. $40-$95.
  • The Waldorf Hotel, 1489 East Hastings (East Hastings, between Commercial and Clark), +1 604 253 7141, [22]. checkin: 2:00 PM; checkout: 11:00 AM. The Waldorf is a creative hub in the heart of East Vancouver where contemporary art, music, food and culture convene under one roof. The programming for the space will be both artistically expansive and thematically inclusive. The complex consists of thirty rooms, two restaurants (Nuba Cafe and The Leeteg Dining Room), a Tiki bar (restored and retrofitted with a vintage analogue audiophile sound system), a hair salon (run by Barbarella Hair), a gift shop, a nightclub and a live music venue. In the works are a multi-media theater space and recording studio (tied to a residency program for visiting musicians).The Waldorf joins a new wave of Vancouver businesses that are conversing with the city, setting a benchmark for culture and hospitality. $99-120.

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