There are plenty of cafes, delis, sandwich shops, and restaurants that have a strong retail component. Take a place like The Dirty Apron, for example; the cooking school has a bustling retail space that sells everything from kitchen gear to kombucha, and they also have an excellent breakfast and lunch operation.
Or then there’s a place like Le Marche St. George, where “market” is built into its name, and its identity as a market-slash-eatery is well-known among Vancouverites fond of its charms (and tenacity) and crepes. You could even call Reflections, the seasonal terrace tucked inside the Rosewood Hotel Georgia a “hidden” spot–but, come on, now, we all know its there. And we are definitely not talking about Costco or IKEA. Too easy.
Vancouver still has a few surprises left, and we are pulling back the curtain on these five places for food and drink you may not have known existed, and you can’t see from the street. Happy hunting!
Jack’s Place inside Army & Navy
For one of the city’s most budget-conscious bites, make your way into Gastown’s Army & Navy and head to the lunch counter known as Jack’s Place. They’ve got a pretty standard heat-and-serve and pre-packaged menu of cheap eats, like hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches, and their white bread and processed cheese singles grilled cheese sandwiches that will cost you less than $2 a pop. Plus they are set up like a little convenience store within the store–how convenient!
Address: 36 West Cordova Street
Duck into the cool Yaletown clothing shop Global Atomic Designs and right in the middle you’ll find a coffee bar. That’s Black Echo Coffee, where you can get espresso and drip coffees, including Bulletproof Coffee, or grab a bag of beans to go.
Address: 1144 Mainland Street
Ladurée inside Holt Renfrew
You may be familiar with Ladurée Paris’ first Canadian location on Robson Street in Vancouver, but did you know they have a second boutique and tea salon that’s inside Holt Renfrew in downtown? Though Holt Renfrew does have its own on-site restaurant (currently being rebranded as the Toronto-based Collette), Ladurée is its own entity, yet you are steps away from the fancy shoes and mannequins. Punctuate your high-end shopping experience with a visit to the oh-so-French macaron mecca.
Address: 737 Dunsmuir Street
Northern Café & Grill at Northern Building Supply Ltd.
Not so much hidden inside a shop, but rather hidden within a business and perched atop a hardware store, all very off the beaten path, Northern Café is one of Vancouver’s oldest restaurants. Run by an independent leasee and known for their Chinese-Canadian diner eats, Northern is a bit of a time travel experience in a very unexpected place.
Address: 1640 East Kent Avenue
Habitant inside Nordstrom
When Norstrom came to Vancouver a couple of years ago, their in-store restaurant, Bistro Verde, made a few ripples in the foodie scene. And you can also spy their coffee counter, called the E Bar, from the Georgia Street entrance. But they’ve got one other spot hidden within the shopping floors: A bar. Habitant is a cocktail-loving shopper’s dream. Send your significant other here to occupy themselves while you shop, or make it part of your own visit to the store. Balance out the booze with bites from their bar menu, too.
Address: 799 Robson Street (Pacific Centre)