By guest-writer Joanna Lee
I’m constantly amazed at how different Gastown is and how much it has changed over the years. While this touristy locale is still well-known for the Steam Clock and cobblestone sidewalks, more and more businesses are choosing to set up shop with new and trendy lounges/bars, restaurants and eateries, and gastropubs. If you’re as much of a foodie and bar/lounge-hopper as I am, I highly suggest checking out Chill Winston and the Irish Heather. I’ve been to both several times and have yet to be disappointed by either. Chill Winston is my ideal lounge – clean, comfortable and classy (in both drink offerings and ambience). Its situated right next to The Modern, a recently-opened nightclub owned by the Donnelly Hospitality Management Group (who also owns nearby Lamplighter Pub).
Meanwhile, the Irish Heather is a smaller, easy-to-miss but very trendy Euro-style gastropub that’s been around for more than a decade. Located diagonally across from Chill, It’s great for socializing and meeting up and one of the only pubs in Gastown with no cover (!!). You don’t make up for that with drink prices either! If you’re interested in checking out both places on a weekend, my suggestion is to get on the waiting list for a table at Chill, then head a few hundred metres over to the Irish Heather while you’re waiting.
Other notables in Gastown include the recently-renovated Lamplighter Pub in the Dominion Hotel, the Blarney Stone, and The Cambie, another personal favourite. If you’re looking for eateries, check out Salt Tasting Room, Salty Tongue Urban Deli, also owned by Irish Heather group. I’ve also enjoyed eating and drinking at So.Cial at Le Magasin further up Water Street. There’s a custom butchershop and deli downstairs and a full service restaurant and oyster bar upstairs. It’s great for lunch or dinner and always seems to be busy.
What I’ve yet to visit is The Greedy Pig, an oh-so-small restaurant with a simple food and drink menu. I’ve passed by it a couple times, but it is really easy-to-miss. It’s practically hidden in between a nook and a cranny. I’ve looked at the cocktail menu on the website and I’m eager to try some (or all of them) because they’re all designed by Nick Devine (of the Cascade Room – which is where I will be celebrating my upcoming birthday).
Aside from the eating and drinking places, more and more boutiques and one-of-a-kind stores are opening up also. Take a look at Gastown’s own website: www.gastown.org. Check it out and support your local businesses.