Visual artist Shannon Harvey has found herself time and again using her art as a tool for social change. The founder of Monkey100 creates paintings, T-shirts, and postcards that touch on subjects like climate change out of her studio in the Downtown Eastside. As one of 400 artists participating in this year’s Eastside Culture Crawl, Harvey dishes on some of her favourite places to grab a bite within the zone of the upcoming visual arts, design, and craft festival.
Now in its 18th year, the Crawl (which runs from this Thursday to Sunday [November 20 to 23]) spans the area roughly from the waterfront to East 1st Avenue between Main Street and Victoria Drive. Harvey will be exhibiting a series of postcards called “Wish You Were Here” that explores threatened animals, plants, and ecosystems, with partial proceeds going to the Pull Together Campaign to support First Nations’ legal challenges of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
When she’s not eating at home with her husband and three-year-old daughter, Harvey frequents Harvest Community Foods (for udon and ramen), Matchstick Coffee Roasters, Union Market (a Portuguese bake shop), and Benny’s Market (known for its sandwiches). But it’s Latin tapas joint Cuchillo (261 Powell Street) that tops her list, especially when it’s date night.
“It’s a five-minute walk from where we live, and the food is amazing,” Harvey says. “It’s a relaxed, fun atmosphere with a brick-and-wood interior that feels warm. I love that they do not have a television in sight. My mouth waters thinking about their white-bean Parmesan fundido,” she says of the baked, bubbly cheese dish served with tortilla chips.
“I also love the steelhead trout ceviche,” she adds. “The flavours are really unique—basil, coriander, litchi, and jalapeño—and the trout melts in your mouth. I can order that dish every time and not get tired of it. The taqueria section is terrific, with so many good ones to choose from, like the Baja battered rockfish [with jicama slaw and chipotle aioli in a kale-and-hemp corn tortilla]. Also, they do a topnotch margarita.”
Former photographer and mixed-media artist Rachael Ashe specializes in freehand paper cutting, using a type of X-ACTO knife to create intricate, beautiful designs and altered books. Not a coffee drinker (it’s probably a good idea to avoid caffeine when you’re regularly wielding a sharp blade), Ashe still goes to coffee shops to work on her computer or for meetings. Bump N Grind Café (916 Commercial Drive), which has everything from vegan breakfast burritos to Earl Grey shortbread cookies, fits the bill nicely.
“When it comes to cafés I usually judge them by the quality of their hot chocolate, London Fog, or chai lattes, and their baked goods,” she says. “My favourite items [at Bump N Grind] are this delicious peanut butter tart [with chocolate] and also a mookie, which is something between a muffin and a cookie. The service is always personal, friendly, warm, and welcoming because it’s a neighbourhood café.”
Ashe is a fan of Japanese food, too, and likes Tatsu Japanese Bistro (1441 Commercial Drive). “This is my go-to restaurant on the Drive for a quick dinner when my partner, Boris, and I decide at the last minute to eat out instead of at home,” she says. “I like the red tuna and avocado salad or the tuna tataki salad, but everything there is really good. The fish they serve is always fresh, and the presentation is creative. It’s small and busy, but we always manage to get a table.”
Then there’s Scandilicious Dockside (25 Victoria Drive; there’s also a location at 1340 Commercial Drive). Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it specializes in Scandinavian food like kumle, a traditional Norwegian boiled potato dumpling that’s sliced, pan-fried, seasoned with thyme, and served with butter. The restaurant also serves a chocolate-bacon burger.
“The staff are friendly, the breads they bake on-site are crazily inexpensive, and they have epically proportioned meals,” Ashe says. “The breakfast I had there recently came on two plates and was enough for two meals. They are one of the few places that have waffles, and they prepare them in every way imaginable, from sweet to savoury.”
Painter Doris MacDougall, who’s also a partner in Zebo Designs, a custom furniture-finishing company, is usually covered in paint or dust from the work she does out of her Parker Street studio, so she tends to stick to casual places like Fujiya (912 Clark Drive, with locations downtown and in Richmond). While there is an eating area in the store, MacDougall usually picks up food to go. “I get fresh sushi and soup, plus they have a great bean-and-sesame or seaweed salad.”
East Side jeweller Su Foster, meanwhile, is vegetarian with a strong vegan bent. Like MacDougall, she’s recently become hooked on the goods at Crème de la Crumb (1215 Clark Drive, with two other Vancouver locations and one in Burnaby).
“Coffee is one of the most important tools on my bench, and they have really good coffee,” Foster says. “I like that they have a really, very large size to go. They also have the most delicious [Nutty Coconut] cookie with chocolate, coconut, and oatmeal. It’s huge and perfect.”