Cozy pubs for a low-key night out in Vancouver

If Vancouver’s bar scene is too social or slick for your night-out requirements, these cozy nooks offer a relaxing alternative, and they’re the closest you can come to a true European pub experience on this side of the Atlantic. Check out these laid-back locals for a solo pint or a low-key get-together with friends. [Photo credit: iStock.com/ gpointstudio]

The Fringe Cafe

1
3124 Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6K 2H3

Kitsilano’s answer to Cheers, The Fringe Café has served regulars and one-time visitors since 1990. Manager Tom Graham has overseen the narrow, fairy-light-lit pub for more than 10 years. Perhaps it’s the “lived-in” feeling, or the paraphernalia and trinkets strewn on the walls and above the bar, which makes the Fringe Café so welcoming. Customers can choose from more than 30 scotches, a wide selection of local and international beers, or one of the $5 drink specials. Regardless of where you live, I recommend thinking of Fringe Café as your go-to local.

The Narrow Lounge

2
1898 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3B7

One of Vancouver’s worst kept secrets, The Narrow Lounge is accessible via a side door off Main Street and down a set of graffiti-scrawled stairs. Here underground, an intimate space with room for no more than 30 people greet the brave and in-the-know. Leather booths, dark lighting, an LP player, and antique paintings of Old Vancouver create a snug atmosphere. The drinks list is extensive, from cocktails to wine to beer, while a limited menu of hot and cold food will prevent you from having to leave this perfect burrow for hours (I recommend the nachos). A winter essential.

Pat's Pub & Brewhouse

3
403 Hastings St E, Vancouver, BC V6A 1P6

One of Vancouver’s worst kept secrets, The Narrow Lounge is accessible via a side door off Main Street and down a set of graffiti-scrawled stairs. Here underground, an intimate space with room for no more than 30 people greet the brave and in-the-know. Leather booths, dark lighting, an LP player, and antique paintings of Old Vancouver create a snug atmosphere. The drinks list is extensive, from cocktails to wine to beer, while a limited menu of hot and cold food will prevent you from having to leave this perfect burrow for hours (I recommend the nachos). A winter essential.

The Ouisi Bistro

4
3014 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3J8

Also a restaurant that serves the finest New Orleans food this side of the 49th parallel, Ouisi Bistro nevertheless qualifies in all major pub categories – from the candlelit ambiance, to friendly staff who are attentive without rushing you, to the perfect bar to prop your elbows upon while you sip a locally brewed pint. Enjoy snacks such as alligator bites or cornbread under the watchful gaze of painted jazz legends, or sit in a dark corner soaking in the live jazz every Sunday evening.

The Winking Judge Pub

5
103-888 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1X9

The wide array of British and Irish beers, dark interior, and penchant for debauched merriment, make The Winking Judge one of the most authentic pub experiences in the city. Since 2008, the bar has welcomed after-work commuters, cinema goers and dating couples with open arms and taps. While the menu is varied – as you would expect from a pub in such a multicultural city – there are enough pies and English chips on offer that, if you try, you’ll feel like you’re in a village local in the Home Counties.

The Lennox Pub

6
800 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1K3

Located at the corner of Granville and Robson Street, this Irish-themed pub is surprisingly tasteful given its surroundings. Light wood panels and moss green velvet provide an elegant, homey atmosphere. Downstairs, steal a window table for some prime people watching, or sit at the bar to enjoy a sports game. An intimate upstairs area is perfect for large groups or quiet conversations.

Johnnie Fox's Irish Snug

7
1033 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1L4

When it isn’t bursting at the seams with St. Patty’s Day revelers, Johnnie Foxes provides a cozy and quiet option for a Guinness alone or with friends, and a welcome break from some of the gauche offerings on Granville Street. While previously discoverable through a non-descript red door, the pub’s new glass-front façade makes for perfect people watching. The ideal accompaniment is Irish nachos: an indulgent platter of deep fried potato rounds, topped with piles of guacamole and cheese.

With its unparalleled views, nearby ocean and reflective glass skyscrapers, Vancouver really shines in summertime. When not on the beaches, much of the city sips a mojito or glass of the Okanagan’s finest on a patio. Here are some of the best summer staples and undiscovered spots for catching up on Vitamin D.
Wheel around the alleys of East Van and it won’t be long before you stumble upon one of the city’s craft breweries: on par with yoga studios for their popularity. During Vancouver Craft Beer Week, you can sample more than 300+ different brews (and ciders) from around the world. Check out some of the Vancity breweries that’ll be pulling pints at the festival at the PNE from May 26 to June 4. [Photo via Doan's Craft Brewing]
What better way to stay cool on a summer day than with a refreshing, crisp and refined cocktail from Great Britain? These Vancouver bars and restaurants offer the finest Pimm’s Cups in the city. Pinkies up ladies and gents! [Image courtesy of Cactus Club Cafe]
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