Food trucks, Rain City Grill, a classic breakfast and a Vancouver tiki bar
VANCOUVER - Downtown Vancouver’s Art Gallery is a great spot, with a big patio out front and big steps and a feel, to me, anyway, of a public square in London.
The best part? Food trucks.
It’s not bad enough we don’t have a public square in Toronto as nice as the one in front of the Art Gallery of Vancouver (not in my mind, anyway). No, they have to lord it over us with trucks selling the most wonderful of foods; a definite poke into the eye of a city that simply can’t seem to find a way to do what half the world is doing.
I had been told to try the flank steak tacos at Tacofino, a bright (and ugly) orange truck that dispenses fish tacos and other stuff. Since I’d had my fill of red meat in the Yukon, I instead opted for the fish tacos. They were good, but there was too much seaweed for my taste and it overwhelmed the other flavours.
Better – far better – to my taste was the truck next door – Mom’s Grilled Cheese (see photo above). For about $7, I got a thick sandwich filled with prosciutto and goat cheese. It came with a kosher pickle and potato chips and I added a ginger-lemonade for a couple more dollars.
There are trucks all over town offering Asian, pulled pork and all sorts of great items. Not to mention the famous Japadog on Burrard St.
Hey, Toronto, get with the program already…
I also managed a great dinner at Rain City Grill on Denman in the west end. It’s a wonderful spot that pretty much pioneered the local food movement in Vancouver, and it also offers great views (including a small patio) of the beach and park at the always entertaining English Bay (see sunset photo).
I had their famous grilled Caesar salad, where they chargrill the romaine before giving it the usual treatment with Caesar dressing and shaved parmesan. It’s fun, but I think I prefer it cold. The pork belly appetizer was awesome; smooth and flavourful and delicious, and they serve a wonderful halibut main dish that’s cooked perfectly and served over fava beans and just right fiddleheads; a tricky thing to cook correctly in my experience. They also have excellent wines from B.C., including sauvignon blanc and pinot gris; usually my favourite for a B.C. white.
I was going to go for a drink at the Diamond in Gastown, a bar I found out about last year. But a friend suggested the Waldorf Hotel on East Hastings so I could try the Tiki Bar. It’s a slightly dodgy arera – think Dundas West 10 years ago – but it was tons of fun, with fake palm trees and bamboo on the walls and Tahitian paintings of topless Tahitian woman and fake stars overhead and some mean drinks, including a perfect and light Mai Tai (albeit with mint, ugh) and a decent Hurricane with dark rum, passionfruit and not quite enough lemon for my taste. Two twenty-somethings near me at the bar were arguing the merits of Lennon vs. McCartney.
The front desk at The Burrard Hotel (more on that later) suggested breakfast the next day at Joe’s Grill on Davie St.. They opened right on time at 7 and I had my food at 7:07 a.m.
“The Basic” came with two eggs, toast (try the sourdough), a large portion of perfectly crispy home fries (the top thing most breakfast joints get wrong in my opinion) and four fat sausages, all for $6.50.
A great deal, for sure.
UP NEXT: A DAY OFF ON WEDNESDAY, then BACK AT IT