Never heard of Railtown before? Well you soon will! Railtown, the unofficial name for the area just east of Gastown, is an up-and-coming neighbourhood that is quickly becoming a hot spot in the city for amazing restaurants. Gritty, historic, and teeming with artist lofts, design shops, and tech companies, this neighbourhood is an interesting mix of new and old.
Here are our top five foodie reasons you should visit:
1. H.A.V.E Cafe (374 Powell Street)
The HAVE Culinary Training Society is a culinary training school that provides food service job training and work opportunities to individuals in Vancouver who experience barriers to employment. H.A.V.E.‘s students are youth and adults facing mental and physical disabilities, poverty, addiction and homelessness. Over the past 5 years, they have successfully trained 500+ students with over 75% of those students gaining steady employment in the tourism and hospitality industry. Plus they have an amazing cafe serving up all kinds of great food. Try the tomato soup, it will blow your mind!
2. Vancouver Urban Winery (55 Dunlevy Ave)
With 24-foot ceilings and over 7,000 square feet of space, even the building (built in 1924 for you history buffs!) is impressive. Even more impressive? The wine on tap concept. Relatively new to Canada, this movement is taking hold all over the city (they currently supply over 70 restaurants throughout Vancouver). Essentially wineries from all over Canada send in their wine and these guys put it into steel kegs to sell on tap to various establishments. All the flavour of the wine is unchanged with the added benefit of less bottles in the landfill and no corked wine that goes bad!
You can stop in for a wine tasting at their beautiful tasting bar which includes 5 samples of wine including their very own brand, the Roaring Twenties. Pair that with some delicious bites from Railtown Cafe and you’ve got yourself one fantastic night out. P.S they are open late on Friday night!
3. Railtown Cafe (397 Railway Street)
This bright and airy cafe opened last summer and it is a great addition to the neighbourhood. They specialize in a cooking technique known as sous vide. For those of you not addicted to reality cooking shows, sous vide is a method of cooking food (mostly proteins) that involves sealing the food in a vacuum pack and then boiling it at a very specific temperature for long periods of time. Yes, it sounds a lot like boil-a-bag but I assure you this is much more complex. The benefits? Perfectly cooked food with no oil and lots of flavour. Railtown cafe has a great assortment of home-made salads, sandwiches, soups, and sweets. They are only open during the week so if you are looking for a new work lunch spot, this is the place to head to!
4. Big Lou’s Butcher Shop (269 Powell Street)
Big Lou’s Butcher Shop is not owned by Big Lou. Big Lou was the childhood mentor of Karl Gregg who is co-owner of the busy shop along with 2 Chefs and a Table, another popular eatery in the neighbourhood. When asked why local butcher shops are gaining in popularity, Karl answered “I think people are starting to appreciate sustainable and traditional nose-to-tail butchery. Nowadays, people want to know where their meat is coming from.”
The meat at Big Lou’s is sourced from local farms including Polderside, Pemberton Meadows, and Sloping Hills. The display cases and deli counters are a tribute to old-style butcher shops and they have a wide selection of fresh cut meats on offer and deli sandwiches made fresh. My favorite is the pastrami sandwich. This mammoth of a meal includes one pound of pastrami topped off with house-made pickles, hot mustard, and sauerkraut. Yes please.
5. Cadeaux Bakery (172 Powell Street)
Do you like delicate sweets that are beautiful to look at and bursting with flavour? Do you like an airy bright bakery with an open kitchen and modern design? How about lovely staff headed by two world-class bakers? Well guess what, Cadeaux bakery has all of that and they are just around the corner! Opened in January 2012, owners Eleanor Chow and Slavita Johnson have impressive resumes (Lumiere, Blue Water Cafe, and Chambar to name a few) and an even more impressive repertoire of recipes. All of their products are seasonal and made on premise and are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Now, want to visit all these places in one amazing afternoon?
We just happen to have a fantastic culinary tour that will go to all these wonderful places where you get to try a sample at each place and meet the owners and staff that make this neighbourhood thrive! The Railtown Tour runs every Thursday and Friday afternoon from 1.30-3.30pm. Cost is $50 with 5% of the ticket price being donated to the HAVE Culinary Training Society.
To book or for more information visit: https://vancouver.offtheeatentracktours.ca/tours/railtown-tour/