Vancouver Neighbourhood Guide: Yaletown
The best places to eat, shop and play in the historic Vancouver ‘hood.
Yaletown was once home to one of the first railway stations in the city, but today historic red-brick warehouses and railroad platforms serve as stylish boutiques and sunny patios for the nü yuppies who populate the neighbourhood. The offerings here reflect the trend-loving population, with dog boutiques, nail salons and luxe design shops peppering the narrow streets. By day, the seawall and coffee shops are packed; come night, the plentiful bars and cocktail clubs are bumping.
A Little History
Yaletown owes much of its heritage to the railroad, but in 1907 it also saw the opening of Canada’s first gas station. Gasoline was hand-transferred to cars from a large wooden barrel with the help of a single attendant—and several bucketloads.
The seawall, Yaletown’s southern boundary, makes a lovely spot for a sunny waterfront stroll, with its lush neighbouring city parks and beautiful views of False Creek. Afterward, grab a coffee at a close-by café, or take a self-guided walking tour of the many heritage sites in the area.
1. Mainland Street is home to many luxury clothing and gift shops, and Fine Finds Boutique (1014 Mainland St.) is one of our favourites. Think one-of-a-kind jackets, vegan leather bags and backpacks, and Vancouver-sourced handmade soy candles. It’s chic and trendy—and undeniably Yaletown.
2. The Cross Decor and Design (1198 Homer St.) has become a staple in the Vancouver design scene, known for its playful, feminine style. Here, find unique handwoven textiles, original art pieces, whimsical paper products and custom-designed furniture.
3. Have a sweet tooth? Head to chic candy shop Karameller (30–1020 Mainland St.), based on the Swedish tradition of Saturday sweets given to children. Its sophisticated white-on-white decor, as Scandinavian as the products, ensures the colourful candy really pops—from licorice to fizzy rainbow rolls.
1. What’s cooler than cool? Turns out it’s liquid nitrogen ice cream, a dessert trend that Mister (1141 Mainland St.) ice cream parlour may have perfected. Rotating artisanal flavours like avocado, double Oreo and crème brûlée can come in cone, cup or sandwich form. Add the shop’s sleek geometric design and constant waves of liquid nitrogen fog, and it’s an experience that borders on the ethereal.
2. Already well known and well loved around the city, Nuba (508 Davie St.) has finally opened a much-anticipated spot in Yaletown. Its lively decor mixes pastels with pops of
brightly coloured tile, and pointed archways add the finishing touch to its sunny Middle Eastern look. It offers lunch and dinner service and new, daily rotating specials, along with classic hummus, falafel and all the staple favourites.
3. If you’re craving pie, head to The Parlour (1011 Hamilton St.) and order the Goldmember: caramelized onions, mushrooms duxelle and Yukon Gold potatoes drizzled with truffle oil. If you’re going to commit to pizza then you might as well put potatoes on it, right?
What do you love about this neighbourhood?
“It’s beautiful, it’s scene-y and it’s close to the seawall, so it’s a coveted place to live in the city. There’s a misconception about Yaletown being a little snobby, but it’s actually the opposite. The glitterati are here, definitely, but it’s vibrant, friendly and fun, too.”
“You can’t go wrong with Le Petit Belge (340 Robson St.). They hardly ever have a wait, and the waffles and pastries are amazing. I also love the Distillery for brunch. They’ve got a menu item called ‘yesterday’s lasagna,’ which is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s fabulous. I love their Gorgonzola omelette, too.” Le Petit Belge, 340 Robson St., lepetitbelge.ca; Distillery, 1131 Mainland St., mjg.ca/distillery-bar-and-kitchen
Best Wine List: Cioppino’s
“Cioppino’s has the best wine list in town and probably always will. It’s an institution.” 1133 Hamilton St., cioppinosyaletown.com
“It’s all white marble and brass and wood—just the right amount of hipster with really high-quality coffee and tea.” 1088 Homer St., smallvictory.ca
Best Patio: Provence Marinaside
“It’s right on the water, so it’s got a beautiful view, plus the people-watching is great. I’m obsessed with their happy hour and small plates like the trio of smoked fish or the saffron risotto balls. Their wine bar next door has lots of local wines on tap, too, and great specials.” 1177 Marinaside Cres., provencemarinaside.ca