120 W. Hastings St., Gastown
Wildebeest is intent on defining contemporary Canadian cuisine using the best the land has to offer. The menu is protein-heavy, but scant on chicken and beef. Expect bison steak, braised goat, and venison lasagna, and a re-imagined surf and turf of tender pork belly with seared scallop and pickled daikon. Canadian die-hards will appreciate the Wildebeest iteration of poutine—duck sausage, chicken gravy, and cheese curds. The cavernous space is dark, moody, and romantic, softly lit with tea candles and a few candelabras in the same vein as nearby Diamond Bar.
6 Powell St., Gastown
Stopping by Diamond Bar feels like having a drink at a friend’s elegant townhouse, all traces of its sordid past (it used to be a brothel) renovated out, resulting in an elegant space filled with high tables and stools, big windows, brick walls, and a twinkling chandelier. Brought to you by the same people as Wildebeest, the vibe here is casual, with a stellar playlist and local Gastown clientele. Food-wise, the menu is a mix of Asian and Cali-Mexican fare—sushi and tacos, possibly the best combination. The Donatella is the most deliciously refreshing cocktail on the list—sparkling wine, pear, lemon, and apricot, all in one glass.
East Van Roasters
319 Carrall St., Gastown
Coffee with a conscience is one way to describe East Van Roasters, who provide employment and training to local women who have fallen on tough times. The teeny space is straight out of Stockholm with a clean aesthetic of all-white walls interspersed with exposed red-brick, and a monochrome, subway-style tile floor. Small but mighty, East Van roasts all their beans in-house for the perfect cup every time and makes their own chocolate, too.