Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, Gastown, grew from a single tavern founded by John “Gassy Jack” Deighton in 1867. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the area is teaming with incredible pubs, bars and nightclubs! But which spots within the trendy food and drink scene are truly worth checking out while visiting the area to shop around for Vancouver real estate? Here are our top five bars in Gastown!
Described as a cocktail lounge with an “old soul” by the Vancouver Sun, The Diamond is a trendy, laid-back spot to meet up for an expertly made cocktail and bite. Refreshingly unpretentious, the lounge overlooking Maple Tree Square was No. 17 in a roundup of the top 50 bars in Canada in April! Recently, The Diamond has also beefed up its lunch and dinner menu with the help of chef Kris Barnholden.
“In general, I’m trying to keep my cooking clean and fresh, and make sure you can taste the flavours,” explains Kris Barnholden. Think light side stripe prawns with fennel and herb salad and preserved lemon aioli or Humboldt squid with chorizo, chickpeas, chillies, yogurt and mint.
Nestled in the eerily named Blood Alley in Gastown, the Salt Tasting Room emanates a warmth found only in a well-loved space. “The alleyway vets the crowd,” explains its owner, Sean Heather. “If someone is not willing to go down an alleyway and pass some dumpsters to get to Salt, then they are probably not ready for Salt. A lot of people look at the alleyway and say, ‘Ooh, I don’t know about that.’ If you brave the alleyway, you’re adventurous. And if you’re adventurous, you’re probably up for the concept of Salt.”
The bar is known for its friendly staff, cozy atmosphere (perfect for escaping the cold Vancouver winters) and delicious tasting menus perfect for pairing wines, beers and sherries with your meal. The list of artisanal cheeses, housemade condiments, cured meats and wines are always changing, so every visit is a new experience!
If pubs are more your style, you’ll love the Irish Heather! Dishing out a classic, Irish gastropub menu, it’s the perfect spot to grab a local or imported pint, whiskey or scotch. Unlike other “Plastic Paddy” pubs in Canada, the Heather stands out from the crowd as actual Irish people own it. For just $20, you can create a charcuterie board, by selecting from the menu two types of meat and two kinds of cheeses served with your choice of condiments. They also serve whiskey flights, most notably the ‘Ed Sheeran Flight’ where you can, “learn the story behind our favourite singer/songwriter and his love for whisky.”
If you’re looking for a place to wind down after work, The Back and Forth Bar is just what you’re needing. Equipped with six ping pong tables, board games and a TV devoted exclusively to Nintendo Classic, this place is what you probably imagined what being an adult was all about. With beer and wine on tap, friendly staff and a selection of snacks, this chill hangout spot will surely become a favourite. Enjoy $4 happy hour from 4 pm-6 pm every day, as well as 12 taps of local and imported beers.
Guilt & Company, the premier live music spot rounds off our list of bars in Gastown. This dark, intimate space is the perfect place to sip on cocktails and catch a nightly act from Vancouver, Canada and beyond! The menu at this favourite local haunt includes lagers, pale ales, pilsners, stouts, and ciders, and then there’s what’s on tap, a wine list, and a cocktail menu. You’ll never run out of different drinks to try!