Vancouver Neighbourhood Guide: North Shore
Our friends at Vancouver Magazine take us across the Lions Gate Bridge.
In the third edition of our five-part collaboration with Vancouver Magazine, we cross a bridge or two to check out one of Vancouver’s fastest-growing counterparts.
For most, the North Shore provides the misty mountain backdrop against which the city sparkles. But those who live mountainside know that life across the inlet, among the old-growth rainforest, is really that much greener. Parks abound. Hiking, biking, and skiing opportunities are endless. Luckily, so are the opportunities to refuel at eateries that know their stuff.
La Régalade (2232 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-921-2228) plays the French card and excels. The blue cheese and pear tart makes a simple but elegant beginning, paired with frisée salad topped with crispy bacon and a soft-poached egg. Pâtés are rustic and flavourful, and come accompanied by Dijon mustard, housemade onion preserve, and a jar of cornichons. Try the beef bourguignon or braised lamb shank with apricots and couscous—both served en cocotte. The lemon tart is wonderful and complements the rich entrées. Owner Alain Rayé won Vancouver magazine’s Chef of the Year award in 2013.
Gusto di Quattro (1 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver, 604-924-4444) is the godfather of a mini-chain of Italian fine-dining joints. Classic starters like grilled boccon-cini wrapped with prosciutto and radicchio set the stage for dependable mains. Pastas are consistently excellent—especially the handmade rotolo pasta roll stuffed with four cheeses—as is the service. The Italy-focused wine list might well be the best on the North Shore.
The Beach House (150–25th St., West Vancouver, 604-922-1414) provides the most spectacular views of Vancouver and Stanley Park. Enjoy a lazy weekend brunch or a fine seafood supper (regulars swear by the cod and chips; the scallop sushi tower is a more elegant choice) with unobstructed views from either the majestic heated beachside patio or the spacious dining lounge.
Far slicker than the counter-service kebab joints in Vancouver’s Little Iran, Zeitoon (1615 Lonsdale Ave., North Vancouver, 778-340-1500) offers a flower-bedecked patio outside and inviting dark wood in. The menu doesn’t stray far from Persian favourites like garlicky, minty kashkeh bademjoon (eggplant dip), rich gormeh sabzi stew (turmeric beef and kidney beans with spinach, parsley, and cilantro gravy), and a long list of skewered meats, the best of which is the succulent torsh (tenderloin chunks marinated in pomegranate molasses). Finish with the golden saffron ice cream.
Savary Island Pie Company (1533 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-926-4021) serves up divine old-style fruit pies (as well as hearty house-baked breads) that locals know are worth the slightly higher price. In time for Thanksgiving, hundreds of pre-ordered pumpkin pies line the walls.
Residents hike the nearby mountains just so they have cause to drop by Deep Cove’s Honey’s Doughnuts & Goodies (4373 Gallant Ave., 604-929-4988) for honey-dipped and chocolate-frosted doughnuts. The nearly spherical orbs of deep-fried dough are certainly dense. With their cakey weight comes staying power: these North Shore mainstays will definitely outlast the fancy-doughnut trend.
The bountiful Village at Park Royal (Taylor Way at Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-925-9576) takes an open-air approach, with more than 40 shops on hand (including Lululemon, Kate Spade, and Pinkberry) to complement the several hundred indoor options next door.
The gateway to North Vancouver, Lonsdale Quay Market (123 Carrie Cates Court) gets its fair share of foot traffic. In addition to the folks fresh off the SeaBus, the shopping hub is home to 80 food vendors, artisanal specialty shops, and restaurants. Grab dinner to go or linger and dig deeper. Locally foraged mushrooms at West Coast Wild Foods, essential oils with healing properties at Vancouver wellness company Saje, smoked wild-salmon jerky in a painted Haida box from the Salmon Shop—there is more than enough treasure to fill your reusable tote.
Thomas Haas, founder of Thomas Haas Chocolates (128–998 Harbourside Dr., North Vancouver, 604-924-1847), is a fourth-generation pâtissier who makes a strong case for the dessert gene. Among his otherworldly chocolates: ganache with infusions of lemon and thyme, blue cornflower and bergamot, or yuzu and Tahitian vanilla; drinking chocolates also flaunt ambition—think bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup with Douglas fir-infused Chantilly.
It takes a heck of a lot to become Vancouver’s most visited natural feature. The wilderness paradise that is Grouse Mountain (6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, 604-980-9311), 15 minutes from downtown, has something for everyone—whether inclined toward the pleasurable or the masochistic—year-round. Those who’d rather not break a sweat opt for the glorious Skyride Gondola, North America’s largest aerial tram system, which takes visitors on a 1.6-kilometre (1-mile) jaunt 1.1 kilometres (3,700 feet) above sea level. The committed prefer to climb via the Grouse Grind, known as “Mother Nature’s StairMaster,” a thigh-scorching trek 850 metres (2,800 feet) straight up. Come winter, powder fiends head here for convenient skiing, snowboarding, and the hotter-than-ever snowshoeing scene.
Make like Man on a Wire and tickle your toes with a quick jaunt across Capilano Suspension Bridge (3735 Capilano Rd., North Vancouver, 604-985-7474), a 137-metre (450-foot) swaying footbridge strung 70 metres (230 feet) above the rushing Capilano River. And the Cliffwalk feature is, you guessed it, a literal walk on the side of a cliff. You’re perfectly safe, but you’ll still feel badass.
Photos: Lions Gate Bridge and Gondola (Canadian Tourism Commission), Food (Zaitoon), Lonsdale Quay Market (Tim Kelly), Dessert (Thomas Haas Chocolates), Cliffwalk (Lucas Finlay), Shipyards (City of Vancouver Archives)