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There’s nothing you can’t find on “The Drive” in East Van’s Grandview–Woodland neighbourhood. Stretching more than 30 blocks, from Venables Street to where Commercial turns into Victoria Drive, it’s an eclectic locale brimming with old-school Italian delis, vintage shops, relaxed cafés and diverse restaurants that serve everything from Lebanese to Japanese to vegan. And in case we haven’t made it obvious enough: it’s the city’s prime spot for people watching. Old favourites: Harambe 2149 Commercial Dr., harambes.com The Drive might be known as this city’s Little Italy, but that’s selling the area short. It’s home to so much more than just good pasta. Like Harambe, the perfect spot for indecisive diners with big appetites. Their signature combo platters give a taste of 16 richly spiced Ethiopian dishes atop signature springy, fluffy injera bread. You’ll want to try everything, but save a little room for the cardamom-spiced Kitefo beef tartare and the creamy peanut-chicken soup. Cafe Deux Soleils 2096 Commercial Dr., cafedeuxsoleils.com Back in the ’80s, the pre-gentrification Drive was home to the city’s counterculture. That hippie-punk political influence lives on in the neighbourhood’s street festivals, open mics and cult-favourite vegetarian eateries, like Cafe Deux Soleils. This charmingly unpretentious veggie spot is known just as well for its weekly poetry slams, jangly indie-band performances and events like Storytelling with Drag Queens as it is for its mushroom-gravy pot pie. Shopping: Gatley 1136 Commercial Dr., gatley.ca It’s one of those rare boutiques that combines a sublimely hip design sense with a solid understanding of what the Vancouver lifestyle needs. For spring showers, they have Kent Street Apparel’s handsome wood-handled umbrellas, cheekily emblazoned with “Merde il pleut,” and for summer there are wafty cotton tunics and deep straw totes perfect for packing a kombucha growler over to Trout Lake. Tierra Del Sol 2018 Commercial Dr., 604-254-5188 Living room looking a little blah? Add some pops of colour courtesy of the Latin American trinkets and treasures on offer at Tierra Del Sol, where a candy-coated Mexico-style palette dominates. Find hand-painted ceramic sugar-skull wall art, artisanal jewellery or even a piñata for your next party. Mintage 1714 Commercial Dr., mintagevintage.com So many vintage stores feel like a kooky aunt’s attic: fun energy, but it takes forever to actually find anything. Mintage is the refreshing exception: here, an impressive selection of century-spanning finds, from silk 1930s sheath dresses to classic Cowichan sweaters, is perfectly organized in a spacious boutique setting. Be sure to check out the eclectic collection of kitschy-Canadiana throw pillows, too. To Do: The gritty DIY spirit is still baked deep into the culture scene on the Drive, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Wise Hall (1882 Adanac St., wisehall.ca), a performance-space-slash-community centre with a deliriously eclectic events calendar. Catch everything from burlesque revues to Venezuelan jazz nights, or drop in on a Tuesday evening to sing your heart out with the Impromptu Rock Choir. History: The Drive is now known as a centre of arts and nightlife, but it used to have something in common with that town in Footloose where dancing was outlawed. As recently as 2002, city enforcement officers were known to ticket Commercial bars and restaurants that hosted live bands or set up a dance floor, citing a decades-old bylaw designed to keep saloons from getting too rowdy. Fortunately, city council proved none too fond of the anti-dancing rule, and now you can cut a rug to your heart’s content at many Drive establishments. There’s nothing you can’t find on “The Drive” in East Van’s Grandview–Woodland neighbourhood. Stretching more than 30 blocks, from Venables Street to where Commercial turns into Victoria Drive, it’s an eclectic locale brimming with old-school Italian delis, vintage shops, relaxed cafés and diverse restaurants that serve everything from Lebanese to Japanese to vegan. And in case we haven’t made it obvious enough: it’s the city’s prime spot for people-watching. Broadway and Commercial 2.0 Despite the area’s progressive politics and environmental bent, densification has been a tough sell around Commercial Drive, but the proposed redevelopment at the Broadway and Commercial Safeway site will mark a major new wave. Current plans include four towers with more than 600 apartments—a mix of market condos and affordable rentals—as well as more than 100,000 square feet of retail space, including a gleaming new Safeway. Modelled after the High Line in New York, a public plaza over the Grandview cut will offer terraced seating and a playground, while a grand staircase to the SkyTrain will provide fresh hangout options.