Editor's Pick

Our Editors Draft the Best Neighbourhoods in Vancouver

It’s our first non-food draft and we decided to make it as controversial as humanly possible!

First though, a recap of the taco draft.

Neal and Nathan were in a bit of a dead heat for awhile, but age triumphed as Neal eventually pulled away (we’re going to credit that one to Fraserhood’s Sal y Limon stans). Meanwhile, Alyssa came in last place for the third straight draft. Maybe the addition of editor-at-large Stacey McLachlan for this one will help shake things up?

Speaking of which, the good folks at (a Vancouver-based rental platform for renters, landlords and property managers alike) were able to draw up this map of Vancouver’s ’hoods for us, and it’s what we’ll be using to complete what should be a fairly contentious and nerve-wracking fourth draft.

Sorry you can’t eat any of our selections, but hey, touring them is free. (Shaughnessy residents haven’t been able to get that visitation fee past city council.)

We put our editors’ names into a random draft simulator (snake style, obviously) and off we went. Here are the results and the reasoning behind each pick—keeping in mind that all of these neighbourhoods rest on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Round One

1. Nathan Caddell, associate editor: Mount Pleasant

This is the first draft I’ve landed the first overall pick, and I couldn’t be happier. Having just moved out of Mount Pleasant, the nostalgia is already so real. Sure, Kits is nice. The West End is lovely. But give me Mount Pleasant—the food, the parks, the breweries, the central location, the chill vibe—any damn day of the week.

Maybe I’m a bit of a shameless homer (I would probably draft the Kingsgate Mall on its own), but I can’t imagine snagging anywhere else with the first pick. 

If this isn’t a LeBron James-style slam dunk of a first overall pick, it’s at least a Tim Duncan. 

2. Alyssa Hirose, assistant editor: Kitsilano

I’m thrilled to pick my own neighbourhood first (and rest assured, eye-rollers, that I don’t own my home and probably never will). I’ve got my grocery store, produce market, Asian market, bars (remember those?) and restaurants all within walking distance, as is the beach. Express public transport is also a huge plus. I originally moved here because it was close to school and lived in the smallest, darkest, friendliest basement suite you ever did see—uneven floors, a couch in the kitchen, you get it. But this neighbourhood (and a couple of kickass roommates) made it totally worth it. I’m in a slightly larger, slightly less dark basement suite now, but the truth remains: this neighbourhood is awesome. I only moved two blocks away from my original basement because I simply couldn’t bare to leave.

3. Neal McLennan, food editor: West End

I’ll be honest, Kits was my first choice, Mt. Pleasant my second. But I’m still thrilled to be able to choose the West End. When I was in University I lived at 1075 Gilford St., a gem of a walk-up tucked behind the Sylvia Hotel and for a hayseed from Alberta there couldn’t have been a better spot—and I still believe that today. In our legendarily unfriendly city, the West End stands out for your ability to know your neighbours (a high percentage of whom are long-time residents) by name, nod to people on Denman and just generally act like a nice person without people getting suspicious of your motives. Plus you have the combo of Stanley Park and the ocean and as crazy as it sounds, our two crown jewels are very easy to take for granted with and not meaningfully interact with (you can spend a week in Mount Pleasant and never know we’re an oceanfront city). The catch is that the benefits of the West End are mostly reserved for locals—the parking situation makes visiting a daunting prospect unless you bike (which is a good idea, just not for going out for dinner in November). But as a place to live—this neighbourhood has few equals.

4. Stacey McLachlan, editor-at-large: South Cambie

South Cambie is a real underdog of a neighbourhood: not chic enough to be part of any glitzy tourism campaign, not gritty enough to have a cool factor. While everyone’s gushing over Main Street, she’s like 10 blocks over, largely ignored.

But if South Cambie took off her nerd glasses and overalls, you might just realize she’s the neighbourhood you wanted all along! She’s bringing you authentic Mexican subs at Los Tortas, a perfectly shabby-chic movie theatre, easy access to the Canada Line, and all the bubble tea you can drink as you stroll the side streets full of adorable heritage homes.

Don’t you see?! You’ve been searching for the perfect neighbourhood, one with #shoplocal energy (hi, Walrus!) and big-box convenience (sometimes you just need a Sunday afternoon at Canadian Tire), and it was Cambie Street, it’s always been Cambie Street! (And not to be crude but oooh did you see that bridge? Hubba hubba.) And if for some reason, you can’t find what you need here in her perfect mix of commercial and residential offerings, you’re just 10 minutes away from everywhere else you might need to be.

Ask her to the prom already!

5. Anicka Quin, editorial director: Grandview-Woodland

To be totally transparent, I would have chosen the West End as my numero uno, because I live there for good reason, but Neal grabbed it first. But I was also relieved to grab this in round one—because if I ever leave the West End, the Drive would be tops on my list of great places to live in this city. And I did, back when I first moved here almost 20 years ago. It still has one of the highest density spots for mom-and-pop shops, the Italian coffee bars are a destination for good reason (Abruzzo will never have an Instagram account, of that I feel very confident), and now that they’ve restored Grandview Park, it’s got a sweet green spot smack dab in the middle of it. Plus, like the West End, Drive folks are all about community. Take the Grandview-Woodlands Food Connection—when the Food Banks had to close in the early days of the pandemic, they immediately leapt into action, providing food for vulnerable folks in the ‘hood. It’s just a cozy blanket of a neighbourhood.

Round Two 

1. Anicka: Hastings-Sunrise

 You’ll see “it’s got lots of mom-pops!” as my common refrain throughout this draft, and the same note carries through here, with Hastings-Sunrise. It’s had a bit of a renaissance the last few years, with great restaurants and bakeries like Dachi and Black Rook popping up amidst longtime local faves Polonia Sausage house and Donald’s Market; Baad Anna’s wool shop is a sweet little destination shop for me—and New Brighton Beach’s view of both mountain and the working port is kind of just lovely. 

2. Stacey: Chinatown

For those who complain that Vancouver has no culture, may I present to you: Chinatown. The Chinese community is such a pivotal part of the city’s history and on-going identity, and Chinatown is the heart of this heritage and community… and home of the city’s best dumplings, importantly. Yes, gentrification is a-creepin’ in (pop into the Dalina and then the Tim Hortons to experience a true socio-economic vertigo) but this part of town is at a really interesting transition point where it’s cheap enough (Vancouver-wise) for young creatives to do their thing, inserting plant-based take-out joints, speakeasy comedy clubs and inclusive fitness centres (RIP, Tight Club) amidst mom-and-pop grocery stores and heritage pharmacies. Here’s hoping we can maintain this delicate balance of old and new… at least long enough for me to win this draft?

3. Neal: Riley Park

Well, this is a steal of a pick. With Mt. Pleasant going as #1, getting its brother from another mother Riley Park at #8 is like getting Daniel Sedin 7 places after Henrik. And the truth is, as much as I love visiting Mount Pleasant, when it comes to living and raising kids, I’d take Riley Park every time. Like me in my current state, it’s built a bit more for comfort than for raising hell…but when you want to raise hell, Mount Pleasant is just a short longboard ride away. Real actual families live in Riley Park and streets close down for trick or treating and people buy a lovely little Janaki Larsen piece at Marché St. George on a strolling Saturday.  And it boasts one of the seminal Vancouver moments—hopping on your cruiser and riding to a night game at Nat Bailey Stadium, watching the C’s, having a few pops and then riding to Portland Craft (to buy a beer that is somehow more expensive than it was at a sporting venue) after the game to keep the dream alive as the sun sets over Queen Elizabeth Park. And then maybe to Shameful Tiki for a quick belt before bed.

Jesus, we live in a great city.

4. Alyssa: False Creek

With both my east side and DT picks gone (Grandview-Woodland, Riley Park and Chinatown, if you’re keeping track) I’m back to the west—but False Creek is no consolation prize. As the resident culture vulture, I’m happy to have Granville Island on my team (seagulls and all) and the gorgeous downtown views… without actually being downtown.

5. Nathan: Gastown

It felt like forever waiting for the pick to come back to me, but I’m perfectly happy with Gastown here, which is one of the more fun and entertaining areas of the city. It’s a relatively small ‘hood, but I’ll gladly take good eats, great nightlife, Crab Park and actual things to do.

No one ever gripes about going down to Gastown to meet friends for a coffee (Revolver anyone?) or a drink (one of the few neighbourhoods in which you can either go classy or dirt cheap and both are very fun) because it’s just a fun place to be and experience.

Someone else can have Gassy Jack though.

Round Three

1. Nathan: Strathcona

And I’ll stay pretty close to Gastown here with Strathcona in my bid to try and gobble up most of the city’s breweries while also being in cool spots that are relevant and always seem to have stuff going on.

Its titular park may not be the best place to visit these days, but in addition to having the character that comes with being the oldest residential neighbourhood in the city, Strathcona also probably has the most cool spots per capita.

From the new Emily Carr campus (even Chip Wilson’s weird South Flatz development can’t take the cool away from Strathcona) to Strange Fellows and Luppolo and all the off-the-bike-path eateries (‘sup Tacomio) and cool finds to stumble around, Strathcona is filled with underrated gems around every corner. 

2. Alyssa: Fairview

Hello, South Granville! I’m all for perusing the home décor strip of the city and Jitlada Thai restaurant is a huge win. Also Indigo, where you can catch me looking at comic books and moving Vanmag to the front of the magazine racks (Indigo manager, if you’re reading this, I’m kidding). Also a quick google map search let me know that Michaels crafts is technically in this neighbourhood, and I would happily live in that store.

3. Neal: Shaughnessy

Can I be honest with you? You know when I said Kits was my #1 pick? I meant that it was the pick I was going to take so I could suck up to you for votes (like Nathan did when he picked White Spot in the burger draft). But in my heart Shaughnessy is the #1 neighbourhood in this city. By a mile (which is coincidentally the size of the average Shaughnessy block).

Before you freak out let me proffer (a word used a lot in Shaughnessy) a few provisos: 1. I don’t really like people and I hate small talk, so a neighbourhood where I don’t have to run into people ever is perfect. 2. I’m “getting on in years” as they say, so proximity to 33 Acres ain’t the draw that it used to be.

But that being said, it has the nicest housing stock in the city thanks to it being the only neighbourhood the city had the balls to say you can’t tear down historic houses just because you feel like it. And the houses in first Shaughnessy are surprisingly walkable to South Granville, where you can pop into the closed street in front of Stable House and suck back a bottle or two of Bella Gamay before staggering back uphill. And it’s a lot more diverse than it gets credit for—a decent number of the houses that are actually occupied have, thanks to the empty house tax, been turned over to a ragtag bunch of young renters that give the staid boulevards a shot of adrenaline now and then. And sure, you can argue that no person needs to have 1/2 acre of land and 6,000 sq/ft of living space and I’d agree with you. I might sign you petition saying those that do live like that deserve to be very very heavily taxed. Anyone who leaves one of those mansions empty? Put the boots to ’em. But don’t tell me it’s not awesome to live that way because, brother, you’d be wrong. Also, best residential trees in the city.

4. Stacey: West Point Grey

I got Jericho Beach! I WIN.

5. Anicka: Kensington Cedar Cottage

Good friends of mine have moved to Commercial Street over the past few years, and so I’ve very much come to love the charms of this ‘hood. That little block alone has more coffee shops per capita, I’m sure of it (and Flourist’s chai is one of the best in the city), plus, a neighbourhood that has Bandidas Taqueria, Duffin’s Donuts AND Trout Lake, all in one? Sold.

Round Four

1. Anicka: Dunbar

Dunbar gets props for keeping it real—and not changing all that much in the last 20 years or so. That Dunbar movie theatre is great in non-pandemic times (when they’re actually allowed to operate), Stong’s is possibly one of the best grocery stores in the city, and Dunbar Pizza and Indian Food is the great cultural mashup every city needs. Plus, the houses here all seem to have great gardens. So props for that.

2. Stacey: Kerrisdale

Did I pick Kerrisdale because I like Bufala? Yes.

But when I had a chance to reflect on my gut-reaction, carb-centric choice, I felt there was actually a lot to like here. I ride my bike through the neighbourhood on the Greenway quite a bit and I can see the charm of Kerrisdale — or “K-Dale” as Nathan is insisting we call it. It looks like it’s on a never-ending audition to be the setting of a Hallmark Christmas movie, but I could get into that (especially with a piece of pizza in hand).

I also have heard from a K-Daler that, quote, “Kerrisdale has the best fruit prices in the city.” Will confirm on my next bike trip.

3. Neal: UBC

Honestly—I’m not sure my fellow eds have made the trek to UBC in a while. Maybe ever (Alyssa, who I stole this pick from, and I are the only UBC alum and it’s possible we’re the only two to have ever actually been to the point of Point Grey). Have they never taken the stairs down to Wreck Beach on a sunny January morning to revel in our most dramatic seascape when no one is there? Never been to the Museum of Anthropology—the only truly world class museum in the entire Province? Never driven the wending boulevard that is Newton Wynd, easily one of the most dramatic residential streets in the city. Or ascended to the heights of Gage 2, a paragon of depressing brutalism known the world over for converting bright eyed undergrads into withdrawn shells of depression. Well, that last one isn’t great, I guess but it shows that UBC also has grit! But joking aside you have the start of some decent restaurants—Neptune Chinese, Virtuous Pie, Tacomio— and BCLDB with cold beer and the best sunsets in the city. Don’t need much more.

4. Alyssa: Yaletown

Neal picking University is a big upset for me; I was certain it would fly under the radar for me to scoop up at the end. You’d think after the constant digs at me for “being young” and “not knowing who Apollo Creed is” I’d at least get UBC in the draft. No such luck. I’ll take Yaletown as my last pick—pretty central, good restaurants, close to the water, and the bright light of the Roundhouse Community Centre (I’m serious—the pre-COVID arts scene there was awesome).

5. Nathan: Downtown

Well, here we are at the last pick. I was hoping to send this draft home by taking Kerrisdale, where I grew up. But Stacey decided that because it “has that pizza place”— which she originally thought was in Dunbar—that she would steal it. 

And yes, I was tempted by Kerrisdale’s other South Vancouver brethren that I spent copious amounts of time in, namely Oakridge and Marpole. But in the end, I opted for Downtown here, because it really is an absolute steal at last pick. I mean come on.

Yes, the Granville Strip is what it is, but give me the Commodore, the Vogue, the Orpheum and easy transit access to everywhere else. 

The Picks

Nathan: Mount Pleasant, Gastown, Strathcona, Downtown
Alyssa: Kitsilano, False Creek, Fairview, Yaletown
Neal: West End, Riley Park, Shaughnessy, UBC
Stacey: South Cambie, Chinatown, West Point Grey, Kerrisdale
Anicka: Grandview-Woodland, Hastings-Sunrise, Kensington Cedar Cottage, Dunbar

Who made the best calls? And what did we miss? Vote below or share your thoughts on our Instagram pageVoting results will be shared when we come back in a couple weeks for our next draft (we won’t give away the subject just yet).

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