Vancouver Neighbourhood Guide: Kitsilano
Vancouver Magazine show us around the city’s quirky Kitsilano Neighbourhood
In the fourth edition of our five-part collaboration with Vancouver Magazine, we don our yoga gear to check out Vancouver’s juice-loving, beach volleyball-playing hood, Kitsilano.
Once the counterculture crossroads, now an affluent yuppie enclave, Kits (as the locals call it) still has one constant: the scenery. All residents, from university students to young families and well-to-do retirees, share a love for the stunning beaches, plus panoramas of downtown and the North Shore mountains. On main drag W. Fourth Ave., you’ll find some of Vancouver’s best independent boutiques alongside a string of award-winning restaurants.
La Quercia (3689 W. Fourth Ave., 604-676-1007. Laquercia.ca) is one of our most beloved casual rooms; it nails food, service, and wine selection in a space too small to hide any gaffes. Proprietor Adam Pegg takes a yeoman’s approach to the craft of running a first-rate restaurant. The predominantly Northern Italian menu changes frequently, with classics like branzino with fennel and vitello tonnato making frequent appearances. Pegg’s pasta may be the best in the city, with the agnolotti di Guido (veal, chard, ricotta) a firm favourite—though the spring variation, earthy and ethereal with stinging nettles, is better yet. Seven impeccable courses for $50 explains why you might have to reserve a few weeks ahead.
Thai ingredients blend seamlessly with local ones at Maenam (1938 W. Fourth Ave., 604-730-5579. Maenam.ca), where warm service and a terrific wine list complement a tight menu of classic dishes like pad Thai and jungle curry—chef’s selection makes ordering easy. Speaking of chef, Angus An trained under David Thompson at the world’s only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant (Nahm in London), and splits his time between his Vancouver room and the street-food Longtail Kitchen (116–810 Quayside Dr., 604-553-3855. Longtailkitchen.com) in nearby suburb New Westminster.
Until teleportation exists, the charming Au Comptoir (2278 W. Fourth Ave., 604-569-2278. Aucomptoir.ca) is the quickest way to get to Paris from Vancouver. It’s French fare at its most mouth-watering. Whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner, every dish is simple, classic, and magnifique: pain au chocolat, grilled skirt steak with golden frites, or duck confit.
Kits loves to eat healthily, and Tractor (1903 W. Fourth Ave., 604-222-2557. Tractorfoods.com) specializes in tasty, filling, good-for-you options. There are creative salads galore (say, organic quinoa, kale, pomegranate, butternut squash, and mint), but also proteins (flank steak, roast pork, albacore tuna) and sandwiches to satisfy the omnivores and carnivores, too.
Blend with locals at the original home base of Lululemon Athletica (2113 W. Fourth Ave. 604-732-6111. Lululemon.com), where yogawear unabashedly doubles as daywear. Founded in 1998 by Chip Wilson (who lives in the ’hood), Lululemon Athletica is both a symbol of the neighbourhood and a brand with a global following.
When the flagship for Nicole Bridger (2151 W. Fourth Ave., 604-730-1129. Nicolebridger.com) finally opened, her impassioned following rejoiced. Stop by to browse the Vancouver-born, Vivienne Westwood-trained designer’s eco-friendly line, which proves green clothing can satisfy the sophisticated businesswoman as well as the enlightened earth mama.
Gravity Pope (2205 W. Fourth Ave., 604-731-7673. Gravitypope.com) stocks timeless footwear staples like Vans and Clarks alongside high-end labels like Church’s and Acne. Next door, Gravity Pope Tailored Goods is so skilled at sourcing in-vogue apparel that it’s a magnet for visiting designers (like Rag & Bone founder David Neville).
Stepback (2936 W. Broadway, 604-731-7525. Stepback.ca) is a perfectly curated space for the nostalgic and design-conscious alike. The inventory at this lifestyle/curiosity shop is a mix of vintage odds and sods (industrial furnishings, ceramics, taxidermy, school maps) and new items with old-school flair (journals made with recycled vintage book covers). Succulents growing in vintage coffee tins, Eames chairs, and a 1930s-era “Frog Dissection” biology chart are examples of the quirky items co-owner Chris Switzer finds on days off from touring the world as a guitar/drum technician for bands like Radiohead and (local celeb) Sarah McLachlan.
Outdoors enthusiasts need look no further for all of their skiing, hiking, climbing, and snowboarding needs. Arc’teryx (2033 W. Fourth Ave., 604-737-1104. Arcteryx.com) is North Vancouver’s own globally renowned clothing and sporting goods company, famous for its integration of technology and design. Patagonia (1994 W. Fourth Ave., 604-732-8670. Patagonia.com) started as the go-to destination for rock and alpine climbers but is now a one-stop shop for skiers, surfers, trail runners, and the like.
Vancouver’s only saltwater swimming pool is at Kits Beach (2305 Cornwall Ave.). Its adjacent park teems with picnicking families, half-naked students blowing off steam, serious muscle heads, and addicted sun worshippers. Claim your spot, but don’t nap. Whether for toddlers learning to bike, enthusiastic beach volleyballers, or seagulls in pursuit of lunch, it’s advisable to keep one eye open.
Nearby: The city recently completed a $6-million extension of the Seaside Greenway, a 28-kilometre bike and pedestrian path linking neighbourhoods from Stanley Park downtown all the way out to UBC on the West Side. That means you can dip in and out of parks all the way from Kits Beach to Jericho and Locarno to UBC, with its storied clothing-optional Wreck Beach.
Photos: Gravity Pope, Maenam and Kits Beach (David Strongman), Stepback (Janis Nicolay), Au Comptoir (Andrew Querner), Vancouver Museum (Tourism Vancouver/Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce)