In the run up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver food blogger Melody Fury (Gourmet Fury) is dropping by to guide travelers to the city's hidden gems in a series of Top 10 Local Recommendations. These locations are easily accessible from Downtown (within walking distance or by public transit). The recommendations boast of the unique, international delights that this beautiful sea-to-sky city offers. —The Mgmt.
Drinkeries housing premium liqueurs, a thoughtful wine list, and an extensive beer selection is a priority for many travelers and locals catching the Olympic festivities. After all, it's way more fun to mingle with the world than to feel cooped up in the hotel lounge.
The tricky part is finding a spot that serves equally palatable small-bites to accompany the drinks. This top 10 features the our best loved bars and lounges that serve tasty pre-dinner appetizers and late night munchies.
You may notice that Gastown pops up frequently. Read up on this historic neighborhood's founder, Gassy Jack, and you'll understand the concentration. Lastly, experience B.C. to the fullest by supporting our local wineries and breweries—you're in for a real treat.
1. Chambar: This lively Belgian restaurant dishes out fantastic Petits Plats and three varieties of famed Moule Frites. They've recently crafted their signature Chambar Ale and their bar also serves imaginative cocktails that pair well with food. Blue Fig is a martini with fig-steeped gin, served with a side of Danish blue cheese. No joke. Gastown, 562 Beatty St.; chambar.com
2. Boneta: It will surprise you how quickly you feel at home in this multi-award winning restaurant, staffed by awarding winning sommelier and bartenders. Chill at the restaurant bar with a tailored cocktail and order an exquisite dish from their ever-changing, local menu. For dessert, share their apple tarte tatin for two with housemade ice cream alongside their "Anjou" pear cocktail. Gastown, 1 W Cordova St.; boneta.ca
3. Cascade Room: Bustling in the heart of Mount Pleasant, this casual-chic establishment offers revamped pub favorites. Enjoy an icy beer with a side of crispy and creamy polenta fries. Their uplifting ambiance and friendly staff will help you escape momentarily from the Downtown commotion. 2616 Main St.; thecascade.ca
4. Uva: Located inside a boutique hotel, Uva is a modern wine bar decorated with sleek chairs and chandeliers. Cibo, the acclaimed Italian restaurant down the hall treats wine lovers to delectable small bites, from antipasti to desserts. Their seasoned sommelier will happily pair the perfect wine with your choices. Downtown, 900 Seymour St. (Moda Hotel); uvawinebar.ca
5. Alibi Room: Beer lovers rejoice in this "modern tavern" that proudly features 25 beers on tap. They source numerous local craft beers and encourages you to sample them in beer flights. They designed many small plates to pair with the brew and organic wines. I'm a sucker for their smoked sablefish brandade and the Canadian cheese plate. Gastown, 157 Alexander St.; alibi.ca
6. Blue Water Cafe and Raw Bar: Dining at this renowned seafood restaurant is a luxury for most but patrons can sip on premium cocktails or select from their award-winning winelist at their raw bar. Nibble on the lobster ceviche, munch on the truffle cheese fries, and chat it up with your new mates. Yes, they serve sushi and no, you don't have to try it here. Yaletown, 1095 Hamilton St.; bluewatercafe.net/
7. ShuRaku Sake Bar: Granville Street's entertainment district is lined with bars, pubs, and clubs but I was racking my brain for one that serves notable food. ShuRaku, or "enjoyment of sake" in Japanese, processes one of the most extensive sake selection in town. Moreover, this upbeat joint serves quality traditional Japanese and izakaya- style tapas dishes. Downtown, 833 Granville St.; shuraku.net
8. George Ultra Lounge: People either love or hate Yaletown for its air of pretension but one can't deny that George serves mean cocktails made with quality ingredients. It's a swanky spot to swirl a drink and look good while doing it. The bar sticks to what they know best and leaves the food to Brix's restaurant connected upstairs. Yaletown, 1137 Hamilton St.; georgelounge.com
9. Salt Tasting Room: Tucked away in a dark alley (named Blood Alley, no less) this serious cheese, charcuterie, and wine destination is no secret to locals. Their chalkboard menu features local cheeses and small-batch cured meats. Not sure what to order? Their staff will expertly pair a flight of wine with meats, cheeses, and condiments on your behalf. Gastown, 45 Blood Alley; salttastingroom.com
10. Sandbar: Granville Island is a must-see art, cultural, and food destination. Food lovers will head instinctively to the Public Market to marvel at our regional produce and artisanal goodies. Unfortunately, they don't serve booze in the market. After sampling your fill of chocolate, cheeses, and meats, hop onto Sandbar's gorgeous patio and admire the view with a drink with some oysters. Extending to dinner is... optional. Granville Island, 1535 Johnston St.; vancouverdine.com
Bonus: Bin 941/ Bin 942: I really struggled with sharing this jam-packed tapas wine bar in fear of tourists cramming it up even more. But if we're talking about earnest dedication to food and drinks, Bin is the exemplar. They specialize in tantalizing tapas and pintos using sustainable, organic ingredients. They also never skimp on the truffle. Downtown, 941 Davie St. and Fairview, 1521 W Broadway; bin941.com
Read Serious Cocktails: Where to Drink in Vancouver for more recommendations from Paul Clarke.