Vancouver has a lot of cool neighbourhoods. Mount Pleasant, Commercial Drive, Gastown - each part of town has a distinct vibe, and hosts a number of quality places to eat, drink, shop, and dance. But while these well-established pockets are oft-frequented by young Vancouverites, there's a final frontier in the city that is undergoing a rapid transformation.
Railtown, the industrial neighbourhood roughly marked off by Columbia St. to the east, Heatley Ave. to the west, Alexander Street to the south, and the railyards to the north, is still not completely gentrified. But the area has gained popularity for both businesses and property owners alike, and a plethora of new and interesting restaurants and cafes have sprung up in recent years.
Not sure where to go on your next dinner date? Check out these 5 cool spots:
Ask For Luigi // 305 Alexander St
A charming 34-seat Italian dinery, Ask For Luigi serves the very best pasta this city has on offer. The old-school decor, small menu of rich and uncomplicated made-in-house pastas, and family-style service all contribute to a laid-back experience that feels almost undeservingly casual given the high quality of the food. The restaurant has gained considerable popularity and does not take reservations - so if you're coming by for dinner be sure to get there early. Regardless, it is worth the wait - just check out these plates:
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday 9:30am-2:30pm
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: Tuesday-Thursday 5:30pm-10:30pm, Friday-Saturday 5:30pm-11pm, Sunday 5:30pm-9:30pm
Cuchillo // 261 Powell St.
A modern pan-Latin restaurant with an original and exciting menu, Cuchillo's sleek sexy dining room is one of the best spots city-wide for tapas and inventive cocktails. The room itself is worth a visit - exposed pipes and wooden beams, lucha libre posters, and old school hip hop blaring through the speakers add to Cuchillo's hip atmosphere. Try the duck tacos or Mexican sea prawns, which both come highly recommended, but be sure to save room for their unreal desserts:
Dinner: Sunday-Monday 5pm-10pm, Tuesday-Thursday 5pm-11pm, Friday-Saturday 5pm-12am
Railtown Cafe // 397 Railway St.
Known for its handmade sandwiches, soups and salads, Railtown Cafe is a lovely, unpretentious spot and a staple within the Railtown community. Offering healthy and fresh food prepared from scratch, Railtown Cafe's made-to-order sandwiches and artisan bread loaves are worth the trip into Railtown many times over. With a local selection of craft beer, wine, and spirits, start your day by getting some work done in the bright space and celebrate come afternoon.
Monday-Friday 7:30am-6pm, Saturday 11am-4pm
The Belgard Kitchen // 55 Dunlevy Ave
The lunch and dinner menus are excellent, but at The Belgard the real attraction is the brunch. Visit the stunning space in the restored Settlement Building on the weekend between 10am and 3pm to enjoy a diverse and delicious menu filled with everything from coconut quinoa porridge to the incredibly flavourful 'Meatball Brunch Skillet.' The Settlement Building is also home to Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery, and the combination of the three businesses creates a vibrant and exciting space worth touring to take in the eclectic and modern decor.
Monday-Friday 11am-11pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-11pm
The Mackenzie Room // 415 Powell St
Voted Top New Restaurant at this year's Golden Plate Awards, The Mackenzie Room is doing a lot of things right. A luminous and energized space with exposed brick, rustic wooden furniture and gold chandeliers, The Mackenzie Room is both inviting and elegant. Named for William Mackenzie, the founder of the Canadian Northern Railway - and incidentally, one of the owner's great-great grandfathers - the restaurant was clearly designed with pride and care. Their chalkboard menu is ever-changing, but has featured bold dishes with everything from sturgeon to pig ears. Best of all, the prices are incredibly reasonable - so next date night, you can enjoy fine dining cuisine at casual prices.
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