Vancouver neighbourhood guide: Discover Strathcona

July 31, 2017

by Grace McRae-Okine

Strathcona – originally known as the East End until it took on its current name in the 1960s – is Vancouver’s oldest residential neighbourhood. It is bordered by Chinatown to the west, Clark Drive to the east, Hastings Street to the north and Great Northern Way to the south. This primarily residential neighborhood offers a wide array of food and drink, nightlife, cultural influences and family-friendly environments, which many Vancouverites may find surprising if they’ve never properly visited. You don’t need to get out of town to discover something new; whatever you’re looking for, Strathcona is sure to deliver. [Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver/Nelson Mouellic]

Vancouver neighbourhood guide: Discover Strathcona

Come for the food (oh, and the beer)

A trip to Strathcona just wouldn’t be complete without at least one trip to a craft brewery to sample some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest beers. The recently opened Strathcona Brewery provides ample refreshment, as well as a menu sure to please any age. Nearby and close to the edge of Strathcona is Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery. These two businesses share a single building and provide a two-for-one deal, brewing both seasonal beers and delectable reds, whites and rosés in one location.

Hidden behind half-drawn shades, Hanoi Pho on Hastings Street offers classic Vietnamese dishes, from soups and subs to noodles and congees, all at very affordable prices. Some say it is the best pho in Vancouver and it’s definitely not to be missed (and is lauded by those “in the know” for its vegetarian and vegan pho).

When it’s time for dinner, head west towards Main Street and keep your eyes peeled for Ask For Luigi. This unassuming little shop is most easily identified by its constant lineup. However, any guest will tell you it’s well worth the wait, topping best of Vancouver restaurant lists consistently since opening in 2014.

Stay for the fun

Strathcona’s nightlife scene has never been lacking, as it is home to some of Vancouver’s oldest bars and pubs, with many offering live music several nights of the week. All are within walking distance of each other, including Pat’s Pub and Astoria, just a few short blocks from one another. Music fans are truly spoiled for choice, with these two historic venues hosting mainly local rock shows, and plenty of alternatives for those in search of something different. For a more low-key evening, head across the street to The Heatley, where bluegrass, country and folk concerts happen four nights a week.

During the day, be sure to stop into the Vancouver Police Museum. This beautiful brick building on Cordova is chock-full of archival materials, photos and artifacts that will take you on a journey into time Vancouver’s past. If it isn’t raining, get outside and enjoy the area’s best kept secret – Crab Park. Officially named Portside Park, CRAB is actually an acronym for Creating a Real Available Beach – though you won’t want to swim in this one’s waters! Opened in 1987, the park provides the only beach access to those living in the Gastown, Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhoods. It is a great way to get a look at a unique view of the Burrard Inlet, Vancouver’s working port, as cruise ships dock and helicopters take off from the nearby helipad. It’s also one of the best places to watch sunsets and get grilling.

Heading south on Main Street, stop into The American. Teetering on the edge of Strathcona and Chinatown, before the climb up the “mount” of Mount Pleasant, this popular, newly-opened establishment is big enough to ensure you and your crew can get a seat without waiting. Take a spin at the pinball machines, skeeball, foosball and pool tables for some classic arcade fun. You’ll find sports on the screens, DJs spinning records most nights, Good Company Lager (the house beer) for less than $5 a can, and you cannot leave without trying the classic all-American Monarch Burger, undoubtedly one of the city’s finest.

Fun for all ages

Anyone with young kids, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews knows “the pink building” a.k.a La Casa Gelato just off Clark on Venables. Offering up 288 flavours and counting (with an up-to-date flavour counter on their website), this is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for every member of the family. With ice cream in hand, head over to Les Amis du Fromage on Hastings Street to pick up stuff for a picnic. With an impressive selection of crisps, cheeses, meats and spreads, you’ll find everything you need for an afternoon picnic and more.

Now you’re ready to find a park and relax. Strathcona Park has a beautiful community garden and tons of space to spread out. MacLean Park has a busy playground set and water feature to cool off on hot summer days and nights.

Strathcona has always been a neighbourhood full of cultures mixing, families growing and people coming together. Strap on your walking shoes and enjoy the best this historic Vancouver neighbourhood has to offer.

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