As Vancouver’s craft-beer scene has exploded, local watering holes have stepped up with their food offerings, too: no longer are you stuck with ordering a plate of nachos to go with a round of cold ones.
Check out the must-have items from a few local establishments and be prepared to dig in—and, of course, wash it down.
Alibi Room, 157 Alexander Street
Eat this: Chicken wings breaded with gluten-free chana flour, served with fresh cilantro, and thoroughly doused in house sauce, “a unique combo of honey, vinegar, roasted garlic, Thai chilies, and secrets and magic”, says general manager Perrin Grauer. Either that or the natural beef burger or meatballs.
Down with it: Brassneck King Maker Pilsner or Persephone Keller Pilsner.
Trivia: “Chef-owner Greg Armstrong is a devout heavy-metal and country-music fan, which leads not only to bizarre and highly entertaining sonic moments in our open kitchen but has also earned him the loyal following of his small and extraordinarily hard-working kitchen staff, who are likewise inclined to a quiet worship of the dark arts, whiskey-soaked guitar-playing, and the practice of a particular species of gentlemanly nihilism.”
Belmont Bar, 1006 Granville Street
Eat this: Braised beef short ribs, served with potato purée, roasted mushrooms, and bacon jus—savoury and tender.
Down with it: Elysian Dragonstooth Stout or a glass of J. Lohr 7 Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon.
Trivia: The Sausage Party charcuterie platter was originally a joke’s name created by office staff in the beginning phases of menu creation—sausage party being a colloquial term for a group of men, says Kate Bobroske, marketing and partnership manager of the Granville Entertainment Group. “Everyone in the team thought it was so funny that it just kept.”
The Bimini Public House, 2010 West 4th Avenue
Eat this: Sausage board. “This dish shines a light on our great partner Two Rivers Meat Co., who handmake all of the feature sausages,” says executive chef Alvin Pillay. The sausages rotate in variety every four months to feature different proteins and styles. The sausage board also features the guest’s choice of artisan mustards and classic condiments. Among our favourites is the IPA chorizo paired with tarragon mustard and sauerkraut.
Down with it: Postmark West Coast Pale Ale.
Trivia: Pretzels and beer are pretty much the perfect pairing, and with two dozen craft taps and five kinds of mustard to choose from—including the craft-beer black mustard—there are scores of ways to create a pretzel-and-beer combo here.
The Blackbird Public House, 905 Dunsmuir Street
Eat this: Currywurst. The pub’s ode to classic German street food, it features a house-made curry ketchup, roasted bratwurst, and golden French fries finished with mayo for extra-saucy pleasure.
Down with it: Moon Under Water Light Side of the Moon Lager.
Trivia: Vietnamese short ribs are a long-time favourite on the appetizer menu, the resto partnering with Chau Veggie, which has been making some of Vancouver’s best Vietnamese food for 30 years, to nail the recipe.
Cascade Room, 2616 Main Street
Eat this: Pan-seared Haida Gwaii halibut, served with Sole Food Farms chives and lemon arancini, fresh B.C. heirloom tomatoes, and traditional pesto. “This dish is exactly what we are about: sustainable, seasonal, and ethically responsible,” says general manager Justin Taylor.
Down with it: Bar manager Rob Scope’s Sea Wall, with de Vine New Tom Gin, Lillet Blanc, house-made falernum, fresh lemon, egg whites, and Ms. Betters Bitters Smoke and Oak. Or Main Street Brewing’s Saison #7.
Trivia: “When executive chef Tim Evans…took his first job in Canada, at Enigma on West 10th, he was nearly fired for not knowing what cilantro was,” Taylor recalls. “He was asked by the head chef to go find some but after some lengthy time had passed, the chef went looking for him and he had to fess up that he had no idea what he was looking for. Tim, hailing from England, simply called it something else—fresh coriander. The story repeated itself when he discovered that courgette and aubergine, as they are called in England, were really just zucchini and eggplant.”
Central City Brew Pub and Restaurant, 871 Beatty Street; 13450 102nd Avenue, Surrey
Eat this: Bacon breakfast burger, a blend of juicy and messy, with a fresh chuck-and-brisket bacon patty, house-made bacon jam, jalapeño Havarti cheese, fresh tomato and lettuce, pork rinds, and a fried egg.
Down with it: The brewery’s gold-medal-winning Red Racer India Style Red Ale.
Trivia: The options are almost endless with the build-your-own-burger program and its extensive list of premium ingredients. Says Josh Bentley, director of operations, restaurants: “We had a math genius do the math and there are, literally, 14,250,297,600 combinations!”
Darby's Public House, 2001 Macdonald Street
Eat this: Library burger. Traditional pub fare with a couple of twists, including fontina cheese and root-beer-and-onion jam.
Down with it: Persephone Pale Ale or Strange Fellows Talisman Pale Ale.
Trivia: Darby’s makes its own bacon and sausages in-house for its weekend brunch.
Library Square Public House, 300 West Georgia Street
Eat this: Signature burger, made using beef brisket and chuck sourced from Cache Creek and featuring two patties, sherry-sautéed mushrooms, and freshly fried buttermilk onion rings.
Down with it: Phillips Blue Buck Pale Ale.
Trivia: “Last summer, our culinary team, including kitchen managers and chefs, travelled to Cache Creek to meet their meat,” says executive chef Alvin Pillay. “An in-depth tour of the cattle farm by its ranchers gave our kitchen managers a deeper appreciation for natural beef as well as motivation to cook our burgers perfectly every time now that we know the cattle by name.”
Tap & Barrel, various locations
Eat this: Tap burger. The certified Angus beef patty is made in-house, topped with caramelized onions and white cheddar, and served on a fresh brioche bun with sea-salted fries.
Down with it: One of the pub’s Collabobeers, “a unique, single-batch, local beer brewed with the help of our staff, available exclusively at our restaurants”, notes Kira Enos, marketing and communications administrator.
Trivia: Some of its menu items are made with local craft beer, like the jumbo pretzel’s beer and cheddar sauce and the beer-battered fish and chips.