This is the fourth feature in our series written by residents who love their neighbourhoods (Mt Pleasant, The West End and Yaletown preceded it). Want to pitch your own story about what makes yours awesome? We’d love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choosing a neighbourhood in Vancouver is so easy but so hard all at the same time. There are a million and one reasons to choose any of them - the North Shore gives you quick and easy access to the mountains and their trails; Kits puts you close to the beaches; Downtown feels so close to everything; and on and on. I’ve lived in many neighbourhoods in my time in Vancouver but none have captivated me as much as Hastings-Sunrise. The high ratio of single-family homes in the ‘hood make me feel a bit like I’m back home in my Northern Ontario roots. The plethora of small grocers within a 2km radius allows my Euro habits to show with multiple shopping trips per week to grab a few things for dinner. Here are a few of my favourite things about it:
Best Brunch: Roundel Cafe
While most people will wait in the line up around the block for Red Wagon (I must admit, I’ve never been), I prefer to loiter around the front windows for a table at Roundel Cafe. The menu is delicious, they make all their own condiments from ketchup to jam and hot sauce, and the staff are an eclectic mix that you quickly fall in love with.
Shout out to the amazing bakery two doors down that always suckers me into buying a half dozen Portuguese buns and a sweet treat on my way home even though I’m stuffed from breakfast.
Best Nachos: Jackalope’s
Ever since Foundation closed up shop, I’ve been searching for a go-to place for when all you want is a mountain of chips and cheese. I’ve tried many places and while there are some close contenders, when I ordered my first slab of nachos at Jackalope’s I knew I’d never look back.
This self-professed neighbourhood dive bar offers four different combinations of chip, cheese, and toppings depending on your proclivities plus add-on such as my favourite - smoked jackfruit. They come in three different sizes depending on how many people you’ve brought and how hungry you are.
Bonus points - it’s owned by Kristy (and her friend Alexis), who also owns Black Rider Tattoo next door and Long Live Cats and Dogs pet food and supply store up the street. They’re a supporter of Neuterhead: Ace of Spays, a local non-profit that uses rock and roll to raise funds to support local and responsible pet rescue groups with the cost of spaying and neutering.
Best Grocery Store: Donald’s Market
Discovering Donald’s seems to be an East Van ritual. Everyone I know has a story about edging their way through the crowded and narrow aisles, grabbing bunches of kale or heads of cauliflower for a couple dollars, or finding their favourite food item that no one else seems to carry. Having it within walking distance is perfect for quick shops every few days for the things I need for meals but also for when I forgot something and can just quickly pop over to grab. More often than not, I run into someone I know in the aisles, which always makes me smile and feel more than ever that sense of this being my home and my community.
Best Way to Spend a Rainy Afternoon, Outdoor Edition: Neighbourhood Wanders
My favourite thing to do in Hasting-Sunrise, in East Van really, is to grab a coffee from one of my favourite three spots (Pallet, Far Out Coffee Post, or East Café) and walk around the neighbourhood, daydreaming about which house I’d like to live in, ducking into alleys to lurk on the amazing backyard gardens/see what kind of East Van Free Stuff has been put out, checking on the community gardens, and marvelling at the houses that still have their Christmas lights up in June.
Best Way to Spend a Rainy Afternoon, Indoor Edition: Record Hunting
Stepping into Red Cat Records almost feels like stepping into a library - it’s quiet, the records are neatly organized, and the person behind the counter is always helpful whether you’re looking for concert tickets or a special record request. There’s always a few boxes of records for under $10 by the door for those that want to start a record collection on the cheap.
Right up the street is the VGH Thrift Store. They’ve got stacks and stacks of donated records and if you have the time to sift through them, you might find some gems. You’ll run the risk of whether or not they’re too scratched to be worthwhile but at the prices you’re getting them for, that’s almost part of the fun.