13 places to find pre-theatre eats in the South Granville neighbourhood

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      Having worked with the Arts Club Theatre Company for more than 12 years, Bryan Woo spends a lot of time at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Six shows at the venerable theatre every season mean that the director of sales and marketing, along with other crew and cast members, can frequently be found in South Granville’s eateries, raising a glass or two and refuelling.

      “One of our favourites is the Ouisi Bistro,” says Woo of the strip’s New Orleans–style restaurant that specializes in Cajun and Creole cuisine. “We’re always there at the wrap-up party after any performance. For Million Dollar Baby for our team dinner, we went to the Marquis [Grill]. It was really fun; we had a great time. It’s a casual, relaxed place with great food. That’s one of our team favourites. I love the beef bourguignon.”

      A New York–style spot with items like burgers, flatbreads, and bratwurst, the Marquis is just one of several options for hungry theatregoers in South Granville, an area that, much like the city’s dining scene itself, has expanded, diversified, and grown up over the years. And the Stanley’s very presence in the neighbourhood—an anchor point—has contributed to the strip’s culinary blooming.

      Coconut crumbled prawns with lime aioli.
      The Marquis

      “One of the greatest things is the diversity of choices in the area now: economic diversity, dietary diversity,” Woo says. “There are so many options. Everyone is accommodated. I miss the old Red Door [Pan Asian Grill]. There’s been a lot of change but there’s also a lot of consistency.

      “I really think the Stanley caps off an experience people can have on South Granville,” Woo adds. “There’s an incredible community feel with everyone who lives in that neighbourhood. Theatre patrons spend the day going shopping, going to cafés, sitting on a patio to grab dinner, then seeing a show. It’s an all-day outing, like a New York Broadway experience.”

      Whether they’re subscribers or taking in a one-off, like season opener Angels in America or Beauty and the Beast, the club’s holiday selection, Stanley audiences have more than top-quality theatre productions to chew on. Here are a few places nearby to fill your belly before or after a show (plus one to watch for: Bin 4 Burger Lounge, with its gourmet mouthfuls, is expected to open in November).


      If you're craving Thai food, check out Jitlada's offerings.
      Jitlada Thai Restaurant

      Here's a deal

      Who doesn’t love a discount? Show your ticket and get 15 percent off food at the Arts Club’s partner restaurants on the day of your show. Ouisi and the Marquis are among the participating South Granville spots; so is Jitlada Thai Restaurant.

      Try one or more of its signature dishes, such as lobster-mango salad or the Jitlada Aroy-D, which consists of beef or prawns on a bed of quickly cooked spinach with a fragrant blend of lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric, coconut, kaffir leaves, and fresh Thai basil.

      Then there’s Caffé Barney, another Granville Street institution, which turns 30 next year. Brunch is served till 4 p.m. daily; tapas include deep-fried Brussels sprouts and pickles, and dinner dishes range from zucchini noodles to steak frites.

      Finally, the cozy Portobello Ristorante features Italian classics such as osso buco, spaghetti Bolognese, pesto linguine with artichoke hearts, and gnocchi in rosé sauce. (The Arts Club also partners with restos on Granville Island and in Olympic Village.)


      Samosas are a must-try menu item at Rangoli.

      Rangoli's all the rage

      After Vij’s Restaurant left West 11th Avenue for bigger digs on Cambie Street, its smaller sister restaurant next door moved in.

      Now far more comfortable and warm, Rangoli offers dishes that Vij’s fans demand and adore, like lamb popsicles, as well as deliciously inventive vegetarian items such as jackfruit, kale, and cauliflower curry with rice. It has a late-night menu, too, featuring papadums, pâtés, and a samosa flight.


      Guests can find plenty of tasty vegetarian dishes at Heirloom.

      Plant power

      The bright and airy Heirloom Vegetarian Restaurant offers brunch as well as an all-day menu featuring plates like smoked seasonal mushroom Bolognese, tandoori-jackfruit coconut curry, smashed avocado on toast, and a build-your-own-salad option.

      If you’re in a rush before a matinee, there’s the Heirloom Juice Co., with nutritionally loaded juices and smoothies as well as ultrahealthy items like kale slaw and caesar salad, chickpea-curry wrap, and a Baja burrito with quinoa-nut fritters, collard greens, jicama, bell peppers, and all the usual fixings.


      The Routine: ramen poutine at the new Rise Eatery.
      Tammy Kwan

      Ethnic excellence

      One thing Woo loves about the area is its dining diversity, and several cultures are beautifully represented here. Jamjar Folk Lebanese Food offers plates that nourish the body and the soul, such as fattoush, labneh, eggplant stew, baked artichokes with seasoned beef, and fried halloumi with crushed olives, fresh mint, and tomatoes.

      Rice-vermicelli dishes, noodle soups, bánh mì, salad rolls, and spring rolls are all on the menu at 5 Spice Vietnamese Cuisine, while hungry theatregoers with a hankering for gomae, gyoza, tempura, and teriyaki can opt for the all-you-can-eat lunch or dinner menus at Kyo Korean BBQ and Sushi House.

      The flavours of the Mediterra­nean star at Siena (which prides itself on using premium ingredients such as all-natural free-range meats and produce from the UBC Farm); think risotto, ravioli, arancini, and rosemary-braised lamb shank.

      The Rise Eatery pulls it all together, the globally influenced venue coming up with all sorts of creative combinations. Take the Neer and Far, with pan-fried paneer, ratatouille rendang, and naan, or the Dish Called Wanda, which has wild Pacific salmon rillette with mini house-baked brioche buns, Asian herbs, capers, and pickled onions. Need more evidence of the resto’s cultural mashup? Try the Routine: “ramen” fries, cheese curds, miso gravy, kewpie mayo, and furikake.


      Fraser Valley pork belly is a popular pick at this dining establishment.
      West Restaurant

      Upscale eats

      Under the inspired guidance of chef Quang Dang, West Restaurant is an elegant, vibrant spot that specializes in contemporary local cuisine. It offers a pre-theatre prix fixe dinner menu.

      Examples of the kind of dishes on offer: caramelized-onion soup topped with aged Gruyère, black-pepper crouton, and sherry gastrique; duo of Fraser Valley pork (braised cheek and crispy belly, with bone broth and Swiss chard); and chamomile cheesecake with graham crumble, honey custard, and blueberry sorbet.