Need something to do this weekend? In anticipation of the first-ever Vancouver Mural Festival, which takes place this Saturday (August 20), here are five spots to discover in one of the city's most vibrant 'hoods.
Cartems Donuterie, 2190 Main Street
Mmm... Donuts. Except nothing like what Homer would crave. Here, the delicious rings are like works of art. Look for the elegant Earl Grey, with its pale tea glaze and sprinkling of rose petals, or the gorgeously drizzled salted caramel. Otherwise, forget about all the fancy stuff and opt for the Classic, made with organic vanilla bean. Cartems keeps it cool and simple, and the donuts are freshly handmade every day, using local ingredients like eggs from Richmond's Rabbit River Farms and butter from Maple Ridge's Golden Ears Cheeseworks. There are even vegan and gluten-free versions. Wash them down with an equally gourmet Elysian coffee. Look for the red-brick heritage façade, the 1913 Ashnola Apartments, and a bright, airy, wood-accented space that makes for a serene escape from busy Main Street—and that says anything but Timmy Ho's.
Much & Little, 2541 Main Street
“Much and little” may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s a surprisingly appropriate moniker for this Mount Pleasant boutique given the question you’ll likely ask after your first visit: how is it possible to cram so many things into such a small space? And not just any old things, but an impeccably curated selection of funky art pieces, accessories, homewares, foodstuffs, and other knickknacks that offer enough material to pack your next three holiday wish lists. Let’s be real: who wouldn’t love to receive a pineapple-shaped shot glass, a “so fucking blessed” greeting card, or a couple of Davie Bowie–themed pins? Locally made peach-habanero hot sauce from Jonny Hetherington Essentials, temporary hot dog tattoos by Vancouver’s Banquet Atelier & Workshop, and Japanese-style outdoor knives crafted by local woodworker James Steidle are also on-hand, plus an entire section of breezy womenswear from indie labels like Ursa Minor and Hoi Bo. Located just steps away from some of the mural fest’s largest pieces—and practically next-door to the Kafka’s mural by Pelvettica—Much is a must-visit trove of one-off finds fit for this weekend’s art-loving crowds.
Charlie’s Little Italian, 2610 Main Street
Charlie’s is a relative newcomer to the ’hood, but it’s run by the same folks who operated the much-missed Habit in the same space, and who also own the Cascade Room right next door (at 2616 Main Street), so you know you’re in for something special before you even walk through the door. The dinner menu is filled with fresh and imaginative takes on pizza and pasta dishes, but go for the weekend brunch, served Saturdays and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Brunch faves include the brioche French toast (with vanilla-bean chantilly, caramel, and candied pecans) and the sublime vegan benny, which consists of crispy tofu “eggs”, avocado, heirloom tomato jam, and a cashew-saffron hollandaise. With décor that’s a canny mix of homey and modern, Charlie’s Little Italian is equally welcoming to Main Street hipsters and young families.
Hot Art Wet City, 2206 Main Street
Assuming of course that you don’t live there, chances are good you’ll be finding yourself in Mount Pleasant this weekend for the Vancouver Mural Festival. That’s a pretty indicator that on some level you appreciate art, whether it’s hanging on a living-room wall, adorning the side of building, or airbrushed on a ’70s panel van. We can relate, which is why we love Hot Art Wet City, one of the coolest and most consistently adventurous galleries in the Vancouver. The Main Street hub isn’t afraid to take chances with its programming, offering comedy showcases and workshops and renting itself out for special events. But art is in the place’s name for a good reason, with Hot Art Wet City having hosted exhibits showcasing everything from DIY tributes to John Hughes to custom-made piñatas to infinity-and-beyond robots and astronauts. Currently on view is Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down, in which artists Flavia, Christel Chan, Jane Q Cheng, Minjoo Kim, Chelsea O’Byrne, and Rachel Wada explore how childhood nostalgia helps shape who we are as adults. Adults, we’re happy to say, learned early that art is something to be embraced in all its forms.
Brassneck Brewery, 2148 Main Street
Let’s face it: if you’re going to spend most of your day taking in Mount Pleasant’s new murals in near-30-degree heat, you’re going to want a pint at some point. Seeing as a significant number of festival events are planned to take place near Main Street and East 7th Avenue, chances are you’ll be within a block and a half of the brewery anyway. Brassneck always offers up variety, with 10 different taps to choose from and something exciting on all of them. We’re fans of the Dilettante, a tart fruit beer fermented with sour cherries, and the Wingman Amarillo- and Citra-hopped pale ale. If the heat’s really getting to you and you’re feeling something on the lighter side, the Klutz! Kolsch will definitely do the trick. Be forewarned: Brassneck’s tasting room isn’t all that spacious, so if you’re really looking to hash out the subtleties of DEDOS’s latest piece with your art school pals, head over sooner rather than later.