Eaters Gotta Eat: Where Laowai and Bagheera Owner Lewis Hart Loves to Eat (and Find a Little Quiet Time) in Vancouver

Where the speakeasy king sources Italian street food, chef-approved curry tasting menus and A+ cocktails with a side of good company.

Running two of Vancouver’s most popular hidden-lounge-style cocktail bars (Laowai and Bagheera) plus handling a hectic travel schedule—Macau, Singapore, Belgium, and France are on the horizon—and two young kids at home means Lewis Hart runs to restaurants for a reprieve as well as a meal. “I don’t necessarily look for food experiences, I look for good company [in the restaurant staff and crew],” he says. “Or to give my brain a five-minute break.” Here are Hart’s top eight spots to find solace in the city.


212 E. Georgia St.

“During the day, if I need five minutes away I always find myself here,” says Hart of the Italian joint just steps away from Laowai and Bagheera in Chinatown. “The lunch specials and vibe are exactly what I’m looking for, and I get to just be in my own peace of mind.” His order? A Preferito sandwich with prosciutto di parma, provolone, porcini mushroom crema, and arugula, and an Americano.

Fiorino, Italian Street Food. Photo: Lawrence Lu.

Meo Chinatown

265 E. Pender St.

Tucked under Kissa Tanto in Chinatown is brand-new cocktail bar Meo, where Hart “immediately fell in love” with their Spicy Margarita, mixed with Altos Blanco Tequila, melon milk, lime, and agave. “They have a good play on it, listing all the different peppers you can order, from ghost pepper to jalapeno. That way there’s no subjectivity on whether it’s too hot, or not hot enough—you choose your pepper, so you know the heat level you’re getting.”

Meo’s SomTum. Photo: Mark Yammine

Sula Indian Restaurant

Various locations

“I get on great with [owner Sharath Vittal]… he’s such a friendly face and we always have a great conversation.” Hart can’t ever pick a favourite dish because as soon as the menu hits the table, he’s got four or five tasty tasting plates in front of him—it’s always chef’s choice. “I also just love operators where the whole team is invested; they enjoy going to work, enjoy what they cook.”

Dishes at Sula

Botanist Bar

1038 Canada Pl.

When it’s time for a cocktail break, Hart is sipping the Botanist Marine Martini with dry gin, house vermouth, kombu, chive oil and sea asparagus. “The team over there is great, they’ve got so many of the industry OGs,” he says. “Again, I go to places where the company is good more than anything else—it’s just helpful when you have a favourite thing.”

Como Taperia

201 East 7th Ave.

“To feel like I’m in Spain, even just for a little bit,” Hart will head into Mount Pleasant’s Como for a quick bite of whatever appeals from the rotating tapas menu. “I’ve still got about 10 [of their take-home tins of sardines, etc.] for my charcuterie boards at home.”

Photo: Emily Lorenz

Oyama Sausage Co.

1689 Johnston St.

To finish building those charcuterie boards, Hart hits Oyama in Granville Island. “If I have traveling bartenders in town, friends, or family, I always head to the island to show them all the true Canadian bites—but mainly we go for Oyama,” he says. “Everything is good, but a lot of people that aren’t from Canada haven’t tried bison or elk so when you have a really good smoked elk it’s quite the experience.”


Various locations

As a family with two little ones, Hart finds himself getting sushi takeout a lot (Mr. Sushi or Sushi Town are top choices), but when it’s date night, he and his wife head to Tacofino for the laid-back vibes and tried-and-true fish tacos with tempura Pacific cod, cabbage, salsa fresca and chipotle mayo. 


Various locations

Another date spot is Hart’s wife’s favourite, Nuba—she orders, he helps eat—and it always includes the wildly popular Najib’s Special (crispy cauliflower tossed with sea salt and lemon) and the Garden Falafel lunch platter plate served with hummus, salad, pickled cabbage, and organic brown rice. 

Hummus, tabbouleh and pita
Credit: @nubatown

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