A dine-around the expansive lands East of Main.
The east side is booming. Be it cheaper rental spaces or entrepreneurs investing in neighbourhoods they love, cool, hipster-friendly spots are popping up left, right and centre. Right on the border of east and west lies St. Lawrence, a Québécois-inspired haunt from the mind behind Pizza Farina and Ask for Luigi, chef JC Poirier. The room decor is understated French and decidedly humble for a menu so delicious (think smoked bison tongue or rabbit in mustard sauce), but be prepared to spend your well-earned dollars on a meal that’s well worth it, with entrees sitting around $38. St. Lawrence Next we’re headed south to Autostrada Osteria, a true ode to Riley Park with its casual yet intentional style developed by Lucais Syme (Cinara) and Dustin Dockendorf (the former wine purchaser for Joey, both pictured below); you won’t find an entree over $22 here, but it’s amazing how simple, well-made pasta dishes can impress. Try the bucatini cacio e pepe or the duck and anchovy ragu, and be sure to make use of the staff’s wine knowledge for the perfect pairing. Dockendorf & Syme Mediterranean vegan brunch? Not a combination you’d expect, but somehow it all comes together perfectly at Chickpea, the hippie, whimsical brick-and-mortar version of a beloved Vancouver food truck. Try the Chickcheese sandwich (crispy eggplant, soft, warm yams, zataar, vegan “cheese,” the list goes on and on!) and ask for extra napkins—you’ll need them. Jump over to the crossroads of Kingsway and Fraser to see where it’s all happening. Chickpea You might struggle to get a table at the Drive’s newest Italian eatery, Sopra Sotto, but if you do manage to elbow your way in then try the Vegetariana (zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, parsley, scamorza and grana cheeses) or the porchetta e friarielli (homemade porchetta with Italian broccoli rabe). Sopra Sotto Aleph Eatery is a new joint from a husband-and-wife team who have combined classic Middle Eastern styles spanning a multitude of countries. Try the butternut squash and halloumi Napoleon with pink onion, pea shoots and pumpkin seeds, but make sure to get a side of the ultra-crispy potatoes with tahini dressing, aleppo and roasted red peppers. Aleph Lastly, pop in to Luppolo Brewing Co. to tap into an atmosphere that feels so Vancouver, but is just off-the-beaten-track enough to not feel filled-to-the-brim with said Vancouverites. Slowly enjoy the brews, and sample some of the hand-crafted piadine (Italian flat-brad sandwiches) from people that clearly have an appreciation for the products they serve up, and the city they serve in, rather than the cheesy-bread-sausage combos that have become a greasy staple around some other Vancouver breweries. Luppolo