Best spots for foodies on Commercial Drive

Once a skid road for dragging logs to harbour, then a streetcar route and Italian suburb, Commercial Drive has long been central to Vancouver’s cultural diversity. Today, the foodie-focused strip is lined with restaurants, cafés and bars serving an array of international cuisines. These spots are worth checking out if you’re into food - like really, really into it. [Photo courtesy of Jamjar]

La Mezcaleria

1622 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y4

Serving drool-worthy, upscale traditional Mexican food with a focus on organic ingredients, this local haunt is also a favourite among Commercial Drive residents for its varied selection of fine mezcals and tequilas. Planning on bringing a bunch of friends? No worries. Most of the menu’s dishes are meant to be shared. Head there now for brunch or dinner and take a look at their impeccable Instagram feed first to make yourself truly hungry.

Bandidas Taqueria

2781 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4C5

If you’re a vegetarian foodie looking for excellent “hippie” Mexican food on a budget, then Bandidas Tacquerias is the place for you. Bandidas commits to affordability without sacrificing on flavour or fresh ingredients and it’s practically open all day, so you can stop by whenever the craving for tacos strikes. Some favourite dishes are the baked Stella burrito (for lunch or dinner) and the huevos rancheros (for breakfast).

La Grotta Del Formaggio

1791 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4A4

Do you consider yourself a sandwich connoisseur? Then you probably already know about the locally famous Italian deli, La Grotto del Fromagio. This family owned sandwich shop has been pressing paninis for over 35 years and boy are they delicious. After one bite, you might actually think you’re in Italy. Gourmet toppings include provolone, prosciutto, Havarti, artichokes, pesto, sundried tomatoes. Pick up some cheese, espresso or a package of truffle almonds on the way out.

Absinthe Bistro

952 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3W7

If you’re craving a traditional French meal, but unable to afford a last-minute plan ticket to Paris, look no further than Absinthe, The Drive’s premiere, family-owned French bistro. Chef Cory Pearson trained with Michelin-starred chefs in Paris before returning to Vancouver, his hometown, to satisfy local tastebuds. The menu is seasonal and fixed-price. You’ll spend $30 to $40 for a selection of French standards like duck confit, tuna tartar and crème brulee.

Dolce Amore

1588 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y2

No foodie can resist the call of authentic Italian gelato in the summer. Dolce Amore is Commercial Drive’s favourite neighbourhood gelato spot, serving unique flavours like blood orange, s’mores, and salted caramel. Can’t decide what to pick? Fear not; you can split a single scoop into two flavours.

Kishimoto Japanese Restaurant

2054 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4A9

Kishimoto is widely known to serve the best sushi on The Drive. With a claim like that, it’s no wonder there’s often a line up down the block to get inside (although, word on the street is that Tuesday nights are quieter). In terms of a menu, Kishimoto has it all: traditional Japanese specialties like kobujime nigiri (preparation involves an ancient method of curing fish in brine), and more modern, quirky creations like salmon oshi sushi with slivers of jalapeños.


2290 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4B5

Specializing in Lebanese cuisine, Jamjar definitely knows how to turn something niche into something everyone can enjoy. Veggie-heavy tapas with Middle Eastern spices and a seasonal selection of hummus? Count me in! Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant’s falafel, cauliflower stew, fattoush salad and lamb sausage all come highly recommended. You can also buy jars of their hummus and dips to take home (hence the name Jamjar).

Kin Kao Thai Kitchen

903 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3W8

Kin Kao serves excellent Thai food with some modern twists and fresh ingredients, perfect for foodies who like to snap pictures of colourful noodles and test their spice tolerance. With local beer on tap and minimalist decor, some favourite dishes are the deep fried sour cured pork ribs, the stir-fried spicy pork belly, and the red curry with duck. Go for lunch or dinner, or order takeout!

Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana

1190 Victoria Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 4G5

This spot is actually located on Victoria Drive, slightly east of Commercial Drive, but it’s worth the two-minute walk. The menu features an array of traditional Italian oven-baked pizzas (it’s hard to go wrong no matter what you order) and they have a great wine list as well. The super fresh caprese salad is also not to be missed. Finally, my favourite part: the open kitchen let’s guests watch the chefs as they throw the pizza dough in the air.

Sometimes you just need a bite of something delicious to get you from point A to point B, without the hassle of sitting down to dine on a full meal. The next time you happen to find yourself strapped for cash or time or both, let’s hope you’re near East Vancouver’s Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood – a veritable paradise of snacks and tasty munchies for under $5.
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