Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guideby our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.
The Cambie Pub
300 Cambie St.; (604) 688-9158; www.cambiepubs.com/cambie-gastown/; open M-F 8am-2am Sa-Su 8am-3am
Some places, you walk in the door, and suddenly you feel free. No, not like Narnia, but close. Free from what? You might not even know what exactly was bogging you down. But fuck it, it’s gone now. The Cambie is a place where you can dance like no one’s watching. Heck, the only person watching is dancing like a fool herself. In this spacious Gastown staple, the cool, the young and the middle-aged gather to sip beer, eat food, and be merry. Dancing happens organically, strangers grab hands and the beat just gets you moving. The space feels like a happy medium between a grimey sports bar and a flashy European club. Large wooden tables make for lively conversation. There’s a wide array of beers on tap, a full bar, and pub food, too. The music varies—there’s hip-hop and rock, with a live DJ on the decks. Turn up for Country Rock Wednesday, where country music plays, there’s free “cambie pong” for the first 16 teams, and there’s a menu of southern food where everything’s $5 CAD. If you’re feeling brave (and like cocktail sauce, steak seasoning, and tabasco), order a Caesar, a signature Canadian drink.
No cover, food from $8 CAD, beers from $5 CAD; credit and cash only after 3pm (no debit); BGLTQ+ friendly; wheelchair accessible; outdoor seating, weather permitting
CRAFT Beer Market
85 W. 1st St.; (604) 709-2337; www.craftbeermarket.ca; M-Th 11am-12am, F 11am-1am, Sa 10am-1am, Su 10am-11pm
One word: BEER. In this airy wooden warehouse space, there are over 100 beers on tap. Big metal pipes run the beer from kegs on the side, over your head, and down to the bar in the center of the restaurant. If you like beer, this is paradise. Can’t decide? They’ll let you sample some. The back opens up out onto a patio that looks out over a plaza where you can see buildings across the water. There’s a food menu too. Try the nachos to share—they’re $22, and served in a huge keg-barrel-bottom-turned-bowl. There’s slow rock music and a tinge of a Wild West vibe. You are out west, and over 100 beers is a little wild, come to think of it.
No cover, beers from $7 CAD, entrées from $15 CAD; vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options; BGLTQ+ friendly; wheelchair accessible; happy hour M-F 3pm-6pm
The Fountainhead Pub
1025 Davie St.; (604) 687-2222; Su-Th 11am-12am, F-Sa 11am-2am
Restaurant by day, bar by night, this queer establishment is a longtime hangout for Davie Village regulars. There’s more socializing than dancing, especially because there’s no space on a packed night! A pool table and dart boards sit opposite from a screen print of Lady Gaga framed by hot pink streamers. Fridays and Saturdays are when the most slayage happens. Especially in the warmer months, you can be out on the patio, trying to look hotter than the glass-covered outdoor fireplace. There’s a variety of beers on tap, and if you’re a real thirsty hoe, you can ask for your drink in the “F***ing Big Cup.” If you’re looking for a deal, devour 65-cent wings every day from 2pm-5pm, or order food from the $6 CAD menu from M-F 11am-2pm.
No cover, beers from $5 CAD, food from $9 CAD; BGLTQ+ friendly; wheelchair accessible
932 Granville St., (604) 331-7999; www.roxyvan.com; open daily 8pm-3am
With the look of a red curtain cabaret and the feel of a college-town music venue, this is a casual place to spend an hour or two listening to some live music. It has a stage with lighting and the whole shabang. It’s got the red lights and a red carpet which is somewhere between the red carpet at the Golden Globes and that on Christian Grey’s walls. There are high tables with bar stools up front, and a space for dancing, which, depending on the quality of the music, people may or may not do. Regardless, grab a drink and listen to some rock music.
Cover from $5 CAD, drinks from $6 CAD; wheelchair accessible
Graham left behind the stressed-out chaos of Cambridge for the laid back life on the West Coast. A refreshing change of pace, he assumed, until the line for coffee on his first morning took 2 mins longer than he’s used to, and the Northeast nasty jumped out. Starting in Vancouver, Graham meandered south, toning his calves being a pedestrian on San Francisco’s hills and by navigating the monstrosity that is Los Angeles using just his feet and public transit (only resorting to Uber twice!) Graham’s love for the West Coast life only increased as he sat by the Puget Sound in Seattle, sipped kombucha in the crunchy cafes of Portland, climbed into a waterfall in Yosemite and stayed in an abandoned opera house in Death Valley. By the time he hit upper 80s sun of San Diego, buff calves and sun tanned, the words “West Coast, Best Coast,” almost slipped out of his mouth. Identity crisis looming, he figured it was time to go home.