The Best Places in Vancouver to Grab a Drink or Glass of Wine

With the 2010 Winter Olympics coming to town (starting next week), I though I’d mention a few of my favourite places in Vancouver to grab a drink. I’m not going to bother breaking it down by neighbourhood; there are others already doing that. Instead, I’m just going to list out the wine bars and restaurants that get my drinking dollars on a regular basis. Let’s get down to it:

Uva Wine Bar
This is pretty close to where I live, so I like to head over there when I just want to get out of the apartment and have a glass of wine. Sommelier and manager (?) Sebastien Le Goff does a great job of choosing wines – mostly Italian and well-priced – and the food menu is great for nibbles and mains, which are available from the neighbouring Cibo Trattoria‘s menu.

900 Seymour Street in the Moda Hotel Vancouver – (604) 632-9560

Salt Tasting Room
To me, this was the first wine bar to hit a badly needed sweet spot in this city – great wines by the glass/bottle paired with well-chosen charcuterie. As they say on their site, “Salt is a tasting room specializing in artisinal cheese, small-batch cured meats, and a dynamic array of wines, beers and Sherries.” It’s definitely worth the quick jaunt down the still-sketchy Blood Alley and is next-door to the soon-to-open (early March) Judas Goat Taberna, which is also owned by Gastown über-entrepreneur Sean Heather (who also owns the Irish Heather – next up in my list).

45 Blood Alley, Vancouver – (604) 633-1912

The Irish Heather GastroPub
There’s something that draws me to this place. When I lived in the Gastown area, this was my go-to bar in which to grab a pint (or 4). They’ve since moved across the street, but still pour Vancouver’s finest pint of Guinness and have improved both their menu and wine list. With Shebeen Whiskey House, Vancouver’s largest selection of Single Malt, Bourbon, Rye, Scotch and Irish Whiskies, through the back, this is a great place to spend your evening.

210 Carrall Street, Vancouver, BC – (604) 688-9779

Pourhouse Restaurant
This hotly anticipated restaurant and bar opened back in September (I think) and hasn’t missed a beat since. The location on Gastown’s tourist strip should guarantee they’ll have a lineup out the door into March. Don’t let that keep you away though. Co-owner Jay Jones and his posse of talented mixologists turn out some of Vancouver’s finest cocktails along with a decent wine list and a few great beers on tap. Chris Irving dishes a solid food lineup from his kitchen as well. I look forward to my visits there. So should you.

162 Water Street, Vancouver – (604) 568-7022

Au Petit Chavignol
This wine bar/charcuterie/restaurant is owned by local cheese Gods, Les Amis du Fromage (super-ugly web site alert) and their influence shows on the menu. The wine list has a bit of a Riesling bent, but that’s a good thing. They also have a rotating selection of wines from around the globe. If you like wine and cheese, make sure to check it out. It’s fantastic.

843 East Hastings Street, Vancouver – (604) 255-4218

The Alibi Room
This is without a doubt my favourite spot in town to grab a pint of beer. It’s another place at which I was a regular while I was living in Gastown… until both the food and service started to suck. Fortunately, in 2006 new owners Raya Audet and Nigel Springthorpe took over and rejuvenated the place with the bar focusing on well-made craft beers, most of which are on tap. The have rotating cask-aged ales from various brewers on tap that are a real treat for anyone who loves a good brew. The menu has also seen a makeover and shows much improvement over past efforts. I had a buffalo meat “Sloppy Joe” there last week that was really tasty.

157 Alexander Street (at Main Street), Vancouver – (604) 623-3383

The Diamond
This is another room where the focus is on the cocktails, rather than the glass of wine or beer – though they have those as well. Mark Brand (who also co-owns Boneta), ex-Chambar bar manager Josh Pape, and Sophie Taverner head the staff. A small novel-sized book of cocktail choices shows their love of mixology and the small, but tasty food menu is headed up by the delicious Handmade Pork Gyoza, Peking Duck & Chicken Sub and daily specials. The room is a knockout too.

#6 Powell Street (the corner of Powell & Carrall in Gastown)

Well, there’s a brief list of the places I would personally recommend. Others I have been meaning to try that may have made the list if I’d had the time are the just-opened corner suite bistro de luxe on Thurlow Street, Mis Trucos on Davie Street and the relatively new beer mecca, St. Augustine’s Restaurant and Lounge over on Commercial.

What are your faves in Vancouver? Let me know in the comments below.

the corner suite
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