Vancouver Neighbourhood Guide: Main Street
If I have a single favourite street in Vancouver, it is hands down Main Street. It is one of the few shopping streets that is still free of the big box stores that now dominate the downtown core and is home to many small cafes, bars, and restaurants.
If you are a tourist and are looking for something a little more local and authentically Vancouver, Main Street or Commercial Street are both good areas to check out.
As always, let’s start with the caffeine options (which are thankfully plentiful). I tried my hardest to pair down my coffee list for this post but still came out with five options that I simply cannot slim down any further. Matchstick Coffee (near Riley Park) is probably the best out of the offerings if you are looking for somewhere to get some work done on a laptop. Matchstick Coffee is also a small Vancouver chain that many of us locals are quite fond of. Trafiq Coffee is much more central on Main Street and is known for its delicious coffee but also for the cakes and tarts that they produce. Coco et Olive is a lovely delicately decorated spot. I love their coffee and their grilled cheese sandwiches! 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters is also a well known coffee shop in Vancouver and because they also are home to great donuts, they get a double star. Once you are fully caffeinated, turn your attention to the wonderful shopping.
Whatever your style, Main Street has something for everyone. My two favourite vintage shops in the area are Woo Vintage and Front and Company. Their consignment sections are quite large and it’s not hard to find a few things that you want to take home. 8th and Main is a personal favourite shop in this area. Carrying both men and women’s wear, this large shop carries sassy graphic tees, cozy Vancouver-appropriate sweaters, and warm woollen socks. Eugene Choo and Woo To See You are my other two favourite clothing shops in this area.
If you are looking for something to take home with you (should you be visiting our lovely city from elsewhere) check out Giving Gifts. This shop offers exactly what you would expect: a wide range of small objects that make the perfect gift. Regional Assembly of Text is a funky stationary shop where you can write you own letter on their typewriter, choose some lovely cards, or send a postcard to loved ones elsewhere. Lion and Sun, which carries unique products, including amazing wallets and purses (I am currently saving up for one!). Vancouver Special is a home shop that specializes in distinctive furniture; however, they also carry smaller home items that are quite funky and colourful.
The best though? My top three shops on Main Street are the ones that I visit every single time I am in the area and almost always purchase something small.
The Soap Dispensary is the first refill shop specializing in soaps, household cleaning, oils and vinegars. I love being able to bring empty containers and refill them. Even if you aren't interested in picking anything up, check it out. The design is beautiful and they have a lovely selection of elegant storage options.
Second on my list is Nineteen Ten. It is one of my go-to’s in the city to find beautiful gifts or that special something for my home. Carrying items like concrete light pendents, handmade pottery, and local honey; this shop is not be missed.
Finally, Welk’s General Store: the one stop shop on Main. We go here to restock on household products, containers, garden gear, beauty supplies, and just about anything else you can thing of. We love wandering through the aisles of this unique general store.
By this point, I usually am looking for a light lunch or pick me up. Nectar Juice carry great juice options if that is more your style. MeeT on Main and the Arbor are the perfect lunch spots if you are Vegan or Vegetarian (have the artichoke sandwich or a glass of lemonade at the Arbor). Organic Acres is a great little grocer that carries lots of snacks that are on the healthy side. East is East is open for both lunch and dinner and serves amazing Afghan cuisine (many nights you can also find live music here). Not quite feeling Afghan? Hawker's Delight Deli specializes in Singapore cuisine and serves some of the best noodles on Main. If you want West Coast flavours, try the Fish Counter. I love their bouillabaisse (a seafood soup with a tomato base) and fish tacos. Last on my list is Anh and Chi, which is a fantastic choice for either lunch or dinner. This is the best Vietnamese in the city and to enjoy full experience, try the Vietnamese Crepe or the fresh mango salad.
If you are looking for something a little more substantial (or for dinner), the Acorn is my favourite restaurant on Main. It is Vegetarian but I swear it has satisfied for every carnivore I have dragged there. Further towards the end of Main street is Fable Diner, serving up classic diner food with a side of amazingly decadent milkshakes in a retro atmosphere.
If you are stopping for a libation during your wonderings, I would suggest Brassneck Brewery for a pint, the Shameful Tiki Room (if you like Tiki drinks), or the Nomad Restaurant for a classic cocktail. Slightly off Main Street is 33 Acres Brewery which serves up my favourite beer in the city (33 Acres of Sunshine).
As always happy exploring!