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The once-edgy industrial ’hood of Yaletown is but a pale reminder of its warehouse-district past, with those big beautiful loading docks and overhanging canopies making for perfect patios and restaurants. Its reputation for being yuppie central has shifted over the years as families have begun to move in, though you’ll still find plenty of trendy shops here—from dog boutiques and luxe design stores to cocktail joints and Swedish candy bars.
Credit: SITE Photography
At the Contemporary Art Gallery (555 Nelson St.) take in an avant-garde sound performance or book a free curatorial tour. This summer, Jeneen Frei Njootli uses the complex living landscape of her skin to discuss her indigenous history while limiting the consumption of it. At the Kostuik Gallery (1070 Homer St.), check out Sasha Rogers’s dreamy and stormy abstract diptych paintings (both galleries are free to visit). Tip: Check their websites for opening receptions if you want to hear about work straight from the artists.
Technically, it’s a few steps out of Yaletown, but Vancouver House is adding a major twist to the pricey area. Designed by Danish star architect Bjarke Ingels, the top-heavy building looks like stacked boxes turning and widening out as they rise 500 feet up from a triangular base of only 6,000 square feet. The top tiers of the tower are luxurious “estates,” while the 58th and 59th floors are two-storey penthouses; at the bottom will be a mix of retail shops, restaurants and public spaces. Some are concerned the building will block the view andliterally overshadow areas underneath; others say bring on the quirk.
You won’t find any here these days, but Yaletown was once home to the first gas station in Canada. Opened in the early 1900s, when horseless carriages were still something of a novelty, this service station at Cambie and Smithe dispensed gas through a garden hose.
1014 Homer St.
The pricing is on par with West Elm or EQ3, but these offerings, sourced from a wide selection of local and global designers, have a little more edge. The sofas and chairs are all spare mid-century chic, and the mantelpieces—recast from heritage buildings in Mexico—turn any plain wall into an attention-grabber.
950 Homer St.
Peruse bleeding-edge fashion from labels like Vetements and Comme des Garcons, consider a concrete pen from cult Japanese stationery brand Kohezi or treat your shelf to one of the delightfully eclectic offerings at an in-store outpost of London’s Donlon Books.
181 Smithe St.
Mirror-polished Alessi food bowls and Barbour leashes push this pup palace leagues above the PetSmart baseline. And trays of candy-coloured dog treats, done up like mouth-watering cookies, might even make a few humans jealous.
Credit: John Sherlock
Blue Water Cafe
1095 Hamilton St.
Ask locals where to go for fish, and they’ll say, Blue Water Cafe. This Yaletown institution has been the city’s definitive seafood restaurant since 1999 without ever getting stodgy. The iced seafood towers are a classic choice and the yuzu dashi sablefish rarely disappoints, but always glance at the fresh sheet first to see what’s in season.
Credit: Eric Saide
1133 Hamilton St.
By sticking to an elegant, understated approach rather than tossing in the latest food fad, the Italian/Mediterranean fine-dining restaurant has maintained itself at the top of Yaletown eateries for nearly 20 years. And the warm-and-woody atmosphere will encourage you to linger for dessert. Order the cannoli—rumour has it Drake always does when he’s in town.
Favourite Summer Activity
“Go for a bike ride! But that only begins in Yaletown and then probably takes me to Stanley Park, over the Lions Gate to the North Shore…and then, who knows?!”
Bánh mì from DD Mau (1239 Pacific Blvd.)
“But I’m not traditional. I always get my bánh mì in a rice wrap, instead of baguette. Everything else is old school—pâté, pickled vegetables, etc.”