Vancouver’s annual Fringe Festival returns this week (September 6 to 16), bringing a slew of theatre performances and other events to the city.
Besides the standard theatre etiquette, it’s never a good idea to attend a show on an empty stomach. A handful of food trucks will be on-site on Granville Island, but if you have time to spare, why not enjoy a sit-down meal?
From authentic Thai food to traditional Afghan dishes to Nashville fried chicken, here are five eateries near Fringe Festival venues on the island and the East Side to check out.
1. Afghan Horsemen Restaurant (202–1833 Anderson Street)
The first Afghan dining establishment to open in Metro Vancouver, four decades ago, the Afghan Horsemen continues to wow its guests with its traditional, breathtaking décor. Filled with colourful lamps, pillows, and textiles, the space makes guests feel like they’ve been transported to an exotic country. Its menu caters to meat lovers and vegetarians alike, with dishes like pakawra (batter-fried potatoes with chaka [yogurt-based cheese] dip), lamb shoulder, chicken and beef kebabs, and sambosa (spiced mixed veggies and potatoes wrapped in dough and deep-fried). It’s also steps away from all the Fringe performances on Granville Island.
2. Hoshi Sushi Bar at the Sandbar (1535 Johnston Street)
Located inside a well-loved Granville Island eatery, Hoshi Sushi Bar is an attraction in its own right. Run by the humble and talented master sushi chef Tsutomu Hoshi, the newly renovated sushi bar is on the Sandbar’s second floor. It only has 10 seats, so those who are able to snag a front-row spot will get to watch chef Hoshi prepare dishes for guests throughout the restaurant. His menu offers everything from fresh sashimi—such as sea urchin, albacore tuna, and sea bream—to nigiri to Japanese appetizers. After the meal, you won’t have to walk far to catch your show.
3. Downlow Chicken Shack (905 Commercial Drive)
It’s been a couple months since this Nashville hot chicken joint opened not far from the Cultch, near the corner of Venables and Commercial Drive, but it still commands lineups out the door every night. If you love spicy food and fried chicken, it’s worth the wait and you won’t be disappointed with this eatery’s menu. Guests can choose their chicken’s heat level, which ranges from mild to extra-hot, as well as “A Side of Milk”. Quarter birds and full birds are on offer, as well as popular fried-chicken sandwiches. Pair it with sides like wings, coleslaw, corn bread, pickles, macaroni salad, and fries.
4. Kin Kao Thai Kitchen (903 Commercial Drive)
Don’t judge this tiny restaurant by its size, because its dishes are packed with flavour. This no-fuss eatery focuses on authentic Thai creations—think street food or comfort cuisine. If you’re looking for a classic dish after a Fringe show at Havana Vancouver, go for its pad Thai. If you’re a little more adventurous, try pad see ew (chicken or tofu, wide rice noodles, gailan, egg, garlic, and fish sauce) or stir-fry with Thai basil (minced chicken, pork, or eggplant with garlic, long beans, Thai chili, onions, and oyster sauce). Pair your meal with Kin Kao’s rotating roster of craft beer, because you will definitely feel the heat if you don’t usually indulge in spicy food.
5. Sopra Sotto (1510 Commercial Drive)
This relatively new Italian restaurant has been attracting plenty of attention, which is no small feat in a neighbourhood that’s saturated with pizza joints and Italian eateries. Its Italian-grandmother cooking concept and farmer-style menu feature local ingredients, family favourites, and seasonal items. Diners can choose from a variety of dishes, including maccheroni al forno (baked macaroni in a creamy cabbage-and-mushroom sauce), chitarrine al ragù (square spaghetti in Bolognese sauce), margherita pizza, and Italian cured meats, among other tasty things. Top it off with affogato or torta della nonna (Italian custard tart) for dessert.