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LF23

Vancouver Arrival, Hampton Inn Robson

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Hi, we arrive at YVR ~7:30 pm on the Thursday before our cruise departing Saturday this July. We are staying at the Hampton on Robson. We’ll be tired and hungry after a full day of travel and time change from the east coast US, flying through DFW, so we have a couple of questions on how we should plan that evening: 

 

1. Assuming we cab it from airport to hotel, about what time should we expect to arrive at the hotel?  

 

2. We’re thinking check-in, drop bags and head out for a walk and food. We like pretty much everything from pizza and burgers to steak and seafood, Italian, Asian...  Given we will be running on the minimum we can get away with of airport food, looking for suggestions for dinner convenient to the hotel, within a 10-15 minute walk, casual, with relatively quick service due to the tired and hungry part, but relaxing as in we won’t necessarily want to rush.  

If we’re feeling energetic (doubtful but adrenaline, food, first night of vacation, you never know) we’d be up for perhaps another short stroll and some fresh air on the way back to the hotel, so would also appreciate any recommended walking routes to/from dinner. 

 

Thank you!  

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The taxi to the hotel part has low variability - you're well outside any rush hour issues, so 45mins should cover from joining the walkup cab queue at YVR all the way to getting out at the Hampton. Getting off your plane the real issue is Other Planes - nobody else lands within a half-hour or so before you do and you should waltz through in a few minutes, while if a couple of widebodies arrive (as they are wont to do in the evenings) you could be talking up to an hour before you clear immigration. So unfortunately our hotel arrival could be realistically anything from 1 hour from touchdown up to almost double that.

 

Food - personally I'm not a fan of Bogarts, the on-site Hampton resto, but overall it gets decent enough reviews that you should be able to find perfectly edible options if it's been a really exhausting day. Yaletown offers you maybe half-a-bajillion dining options - even at a leisurely pace, pretty much all of those are within 10-15mins walk! With the additional criteria that they should have seats available for walkups and get your food to you quickly, that still leaves a reasonable range of options but I'm going to point you toward Homer Street Cafe for three main reasons: they have lots of tables so it's easy to get sat except at peak dining times Fri/Sat; their house specialty of rotisserie chicken is served up fast as they are all rotating away in the huge fancy oven with some ready to go at all times; they take resos up to 9:30pm on Thursdays so the kitchen will definitely be operating until at least 10pm in case you are running late (plus, we've never been disappointed with the food or cocktails!). Tip - sit at the bar for even prompter service, plus their Happy Hour menu reappears at 9:30pm nightly. Plus, if you are mentally done on arrival, for $49 per person they will just bring you a bunch of nice food with no other decisions required! If you do feel up to a bit more picking and choosing yourself, we never leave without ordering the pork belly.

 

Walking home - just continue all the way down Homer to David Lam park, which abuts the Seawall. Hang a left and walk back along the Seawall and that would work out to a ~1.75 mile/35min saunter if you skirt the water the whole way to Beatty (but you can shave off lots of corners here and there, cut straight across the park instead of skirting around it etc. to cut that back by 5-10 mins). Too short? Instead follow Seymour from the resto over Cambie Bridge then loop around the end of False Creek, ~2.25 miles/45mins

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3 hours ago, martincath said:

I'm going to point you toward Homer Street Cafe 

 

3 hours ago, martincath said:

Walking home -

 

Martincath, you’re amazing!  Homer St looks perfect, reminds me of a place we loved in Portland, Maine.  And the range of options for meandering - depending on that hour variable in actually getting to the hotel and back out again - are exactly what we were looking for.  Since you’ve read our minds...

 

What about decent coffee handy to the Hampton, and breakfast?  I’ve read a lot about Jam but looks like it might be a madhouse.  Our main goal for Friday is to rent bikes and spend the majority of the day in Stanley Park and riding the seawall.  Is there a particular spot we should consider for lunch?  Either a beautiful spot to stop with decent food, or food worth the diversion from the beauty.  Can you tell we’re all about the food? 😉.  Many thanks. 

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22 minutes ago, LF23 said:

.. Can you tell we’re all about the food? 😉.

You're really talking my language now! Jam, personally, I feel is underwhelming - the food's fine but it's the Stepho's of fancy breakfasts (translation - queues are far too long for the quality of the product; it's overhyped). I actually quite enjoy Hampton Inn brekkies when traveling (even mediocre biscuits & gravy are a huge step up from DIY waffles and other  pure-carb brekkies) but if you want to treat yourselves there are several better-then-Jam options, prime among them still being Medina Cafe - which revolutionized the breakfast scene when it opened over a decade ago and has seen many others raise their game but not quite enough to ever match it.

 

Long waits at Medina are still the norm - but unlike Jam even 45-60 mins standing around actually IS worth it for Medina food! If you want to maximize efficiency and actually book a table to guarantee no waiting, I'd suggest Catch 122 and Wildebeest in Gastown - they're both excellent, and while walkup queues are getting pretty long at Catch these days there are plenty of folks who don't realize you can book; and even more people who don't even realize Wildebeest is open (though NB: that it's technically Brunch so service on Fridays would start at 10am, too late if you want fed before you start your day of sightseeing).

 

Decent coffee - it's pretty hard to find bad coffee in Vancouver if you avoid big chains that shall go unnamed but feature in both versions of Battlestar Galactica as well as a certain whale-oriented classic American novel. Which is the bestest of all is a subject of endless debate of course... but since you're in Yaletown you might want to try Small Victory as a good example of a current local trend for fancy pour over coffees, cute pastries, and top notch breads all in one place. Rocanini is one of the best roasteries and now have a branch in Yaletown too - not cheap, but if you want a really obscure coffee they're more likely to have it than just about anywhere else. Nemesis, Revolver, Elysian and Matchstick are other local names that always appear in any 'top ten' list of good coffee spots if you are out and about and need some caffeine.

 

Stanley Park has little in the way of good dining inside - Prospect Point cafe is very casual, perfectly decent 'soup & sandwich' type options and of course ice creams, and the view across to the North Shore with the Lion's Gate bridge is very nice. The Teahouse is overpriced and underwhelming - the worst option in a chain of 'scenic' pricey restos as it actually has very little in the way of views! Even a window table you have a very narrow view over the water. Personally I'd be inclined to either leave the park (English Bay, not far outside it, offers the Cactus Club Cafe which was purpose built right on the Seawall to maximize views - it's almost like a big greenhouse with tons of glass - and the same menu for the same price as their other locations; they're a sort of local chain of 'mass fine dining' so not cheap, but great value for what you get) or bring in a picnic. Meat & Bread make excellent sammiches if you don't want to have the hassle of bringing utensils to cut your own bread/cheese etc. and there are several designated picnic areas, even with access to shelter/water/power. A couple of ziploc bags filled with ice from the hotel should be enough to ensure that you can keep any spoilable edibles cool while your cycle around for a few hours in summer.

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1 hour ago, martincath said:

bring in a picnic.

Yes! I was going to ask you about a sandwich shop to carry along.  Meat and Bread looks perfect. The breakfast options look delish too, the ability to maximize time with a reservation is appealing. We will also have a good part of Saturday pre-ship, we are after the line believers, plus more time in Vancouver. Still figuring out our priorities for the day, but breakfast will of course be amongst. Medina does look intriguing, if we were to slot that in, would you recommend Friday over Saturday, and is there a best time to shoot for?   So grateful for the heads up about Jam. 

 

Just a thought... if we find we’re afraid of being away from edible pasta on a boat for a week, do you have a recommendation for casual Italian on Friday evening?  Our other thought was, given Vancouver, Chinese.  

 

Thank you.  

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1 hour ago, LF23 said:

... if we find we’re afraid of being away from edible pasta on a boat for a week, do you have a recommendation for casual Italian on Friday evening?  Our other thought was, given Vancouver, Chinese. 

Close to your hotel, Lupo manages to stay under the radar but actually has been really good for a really long time (despite having the budget for the celeb hangouts like CinCin, my wife's company usually takes clients who express a desire for Italian to Lupo as it's much more low key and quieter but still v tasty); the best Italian in downtown Vancouver though is (according to other chefs of Italian restaurants who almost universally voted it the place they themselves would eat first other than their own resto): Ask for Luigi. It's beyond the touristy bit of Gastown a little onto the skeevier side and they have a very restrictive reso policy (only take bookings for tables in the first hour of opening, so usually between 5 and 6 in summer) so it's unfortunately not an efficient place to visit unless you are early diners - but their pasta dishes are insanely flavourful. There's also another option that replaced my previous personal 'go to' for risotto, Cinara - Autostrada Osteria at Homer & Pender. Based on the original branch, the team behind it etc. it SHOULD provide a very nice dinner indeed, I just haven't gotten around to dining there hence the caveat!

 

If you're willing to go a bit further afield for good Italian, then Savio Volpe is the 'headliner' in the magical little nook that all foodie locals know but tourists never get within a mile of - the 'golden triangle' of Kingsway, Fraser & 15th (almost every resto here somehow manages to punch about it's weight and they are incredibly varied - Tacos, French, Italian, Pizza, Vietnamese Subs, Coffee...). Same team as L'Abattoir, a fantastic French-prep locavore joint in Gastown, and it tries extremely hard (annoyingly so at times!) to be a hyper-authentic Italian 'small town' osteria, with the food options available supposed to reflect seasonal produce (it does do this well) but they also cripple themselves by refusing to offer a full cocktail service or large wine list - it's a handful of Italian aperitif/digestif type bevvies 'like the locals would drink in an Italian town' (I'm OK as that includes a Negroni, but it p*sses my wife off no end as she's a whisky-based cocktail lover and they just don't have any truck with that!)

 

So if you have any personal pedantry around regional Italian food that doesn't click with SV's style, you may also enjoy Crowbar across the street more, like we do - it's seriously underappreciated so easy to get a seat, and they served me hands-down the best pasta dish I ever ate in my life which consisted of nothing but aged butter, cheese and some seasoning tossed with warm pasta. I ordered a second helping! Not strictly an Italian - there are various Asian and other dishes thrown into the mix - but it's very Vancouver-y in it's vibe, lots of seasonal produce, the odd raw meat dish, bison and other farmable 'game' meat.

 

On the Asian noodle-y front, there are more good Ramen joints (and similar concept 'noodles in broth' but Chinese) than you can shake the proverbial stick at all over Vancouver - Ramen Jinya's premium pork broth is still my go-to (they're on Robson). When it comes to noodles not in broth Northern Chinese food trumps all others IMO - and Peaceful is very hard to argue against as the default recommendation as they make their noodles by hand which virtually nobody does any more. I pretty much always order the cumin lamb (they also make it with beef in case you're a lamb-hater) and the dan-dan noodles myself.

 

As to best time for Medina - Friday you do get perhaps more folks waiting outside before they open who want a quick brekky before heading to work, but it's later in the morning when Brunchers start to appear and that's when the queue really gets ridiculous (and far worse on weekends than weekdays). Since you have places to be and things to do I'd say show up a few minutes before they open on Friday (8am) as that gives you a whole extra hour compared to Saturday (when they open at 9am).

 

Bike rental places don't open until 8am, some even 9am, so you may be able to squeeze in a Medina brekky with almost no delay in your bike pickup depending which shop you rent from (assuming you're starting from Medina, then Simon's on Robson would get you onto a bike fastest but you'd have a few blocks of city street riding before you could get onto the nice separate bike lanes).

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1 hour ago, martincath said:

Peaceful is very hard to argue against as the default recommendation as they make their noodles by hand

 

Thank you Martincath. It’s research time. Hand pulled noodles?!  😮 

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On 6/1/2019 at 11:13 AM, martincath said:

I'm going to point you toward Homer Street Cafe for three main reasons: they have lots of tables so it's easy to get sat except at peak dining times Fri/Sat; their house specialty of rotisserie chicken is served up fast as they are all rotating away in the huge fancy oven with some ready to go at all times; they take resos up to 9:30pm on Thursdays so the kitchen will definitely be operating until at least 10pm in case you are running late (plus, we've never been disappointed with the food or cocktails!). Tip - sit at the bar for even prompter service, plus their Happy Hour menu reappears at 9:30pm nightly.

 

@martincath follow up questions regarding dinner after arrival- 

If we find we don’t want a full dinner by the time we’re able to get out, or we’re held up even later with an arrival delay, would the Homer Street 9:30 happy hour offer lighter apps/snacks and with drinks? Are there other spots in the area we should try if we end up looking for more of a drink and lighter bite, or if we miss Homer St kitchen hours?  Thank you. 

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Check the HSC menu (unlike some places, they do list the entire current Happy Hour selection - usually 10-ish options) to see how their lighter bites look for you; since they're open until midnight you won't find much of anything better if you run really late (many Vancouver restos stop taking kitchen orders as early as 9pm). Even pubs tend to go to drinks only late evening unless their license requires food to be served (in which case typical bar snacks are continued until closing, but entrees tend to stop at 9pm) - but few are open past midnight, maybe 1am, except in designated 'party zones' like Granville Street. Red Racer Taphouse on Beatty I'd happily send you to in terms of quality of beers and decent food, but they shut at 11pm Thursdays so it's a worse option than HSC! If you get in before 11pm and want to sample locals beers more than food, definitely an option though.

 

There are many fast food options on the way up Robson before you hit Homer, including some decent ramen, - but even most of these go dark between 9 and 11pm, with good old McDs pretty much your only midnight or later choice(!)

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Thanks @martincath, thats great- I misunderstood that the HSC happy hour food stopped with the kitchen at 10!  Their HH offerings look as good as the dinner menu. And thanks for the tip on Red Racer as you never know when only a beer will do, and what the cutoff is for partaking. 

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On 6/1/2019 at 3:21 PM, martincath said:

. Meat & Bread make excellent sammiches 

 

 

@martincath, looks like our Stanley Park day will be the Saturday we disembark, so we’ll be heading there from Canada Place. We are still planning to rent bikes and pick up sammies, but it looks like the Meat and Bread along the way is closed Saturdays.  The other locations seem to be opposite direction. Do you have another recommendation that’s somewhat along the route and open Saturdays?  Thanks. 

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43 minutes ago, LF23 said:

@martincath...Meat and Bread along the way is closed Saturdays.  ... Do you have another recommendation that’s somewhat along the route and open Saturdays?

Hmmmm - there's both a Quizno's and a couple of Subways conveniently-located for heading up to the park (Q is just across the street from M&B), but while you'll be able to assemble a sammich that will do the job they're not exactly Vancouver-y! Urban Fare is a local supermarket chain with a good-sized cafe/deli operation, so their branch at Bute & Cordova would be easily visited and offer a broad range of salads & sammiches that are at least a wee bit more local.

 

I'm afraid that the handful of other sammich places I like are further out of your way than the Gastown Meat & Bread location, so they'd be even less convenient. Maybe someone else has a favourite somewhere along the 'Robson to the Seawall' corridor that would be convenient to pop into, because if you go too far out of your way you might as well just look at grabbing lunch at Prospect Point cafe inside the park (it's pretty nice sounding menu right now, fancier than the last time I took anyone there, but you're looking at $15-20 for sammiches... so perhaps worth a ten minute detour to Gastown instead!)

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9 minutes ago, martincath said:

Urban Fare is a local supermarket chain with a good-sized cafe/deli operation, 

 

Urban Fare looks perfect. Thank you. 

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@martincath, there’s a post from you that I can’t find, suggesting a couple of spots for lunch near the pier prior to embarkation. One was Cactus Club, and I forget the other?  Thank you. 

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@LF23If someone was asking about generally-close restos I'd almost certainly have mentioned the pub chain Tap & Barrel (one of their many patios is at the convention centre west, just like Cactus Club); if they were asking about a fancy lunch I'd have flagged CCC and probably the Flying Pig's Water Street branch as that part of Gastown is also an ideal 'leave until close to boarding' area. There's also Rogue - original inside Waterfront Station and the one at 200 Burrard - for the more casual side of things.

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Staying 1 night precruise at The Auberge on Hastings St. in May 2020.  I love reading your post!!!  We enjoy hole in the wall or mom and pop places to eat.  Could you suggest a place for dinner and breakfast before walking to the ship? 

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17 hours ago, langleyfld said:

Staying 1 night precruise at The Auberge on Hastings St. in May 2020.  I love reading your post!!!  We enjoy hole in the wall or mom and pop places to eat.  Could you suggest a place for dinner and breakfast before walking to the ship? 

Yes, absolutely I could, but given you're looking at just one meal in your entire stay it behooves me to clarify the styles of food you love/loathe and what you're willing to drop budget-wise on dinner so you have the best possible chance of getting the best possible dinner for you. Or else just go for 'unique' and take a cab to Salmon & Bannock on Broadway (do make a reso - they're much busier these days) for First Nations food.

 

Brekkie is easier: Medina if you don't mind a short walk, still the best brekkie in town (linked above already); De Dutch at the convention centre if your idea of a good brekkie is a massive pancake with a metric buttload of toppings; Scoozis if you want a more sensibly-sized sit-down brekkie with minimal extra walking; Timmies for a brekkie sammich and donuts if you want to eat light and cheap (nearest branch is just across the street from Canada Place).

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8 hours ago, martincath said:

Yes, absolutely I could, but given you're looking at just one meal in your entire stay it behooves me to clarify the styles of food you love/loathe and what you're willing to drop budget-wise on dinner so you have the best possible chance of getting the best possible dinner for you. Or else just go for 'unique' and take a cab to Salmon & Bannock on Broadway (do make a reso - they're much busier these days) for First Nations food.

 

Brekkie is easier: Medina if you don't mind a short walk, still the best brekkie in town (linked above already); De Dutch at the convention centre if your idea of a good brekkie is a massive pancake with a metric buttload of toppings; Scoozis if you want a more sensibly-sized sit-down brekkie with minimal extra walking; Timmies for a brekkie sammich and donuts if you want to eat light and cheap (nearest branch is just across the street from Canada Place).

You are amazing!!  Love the breakfast ideas, perfect!  Dinner, I'm googling,  sometimes we aren't big dinner eaters.  Prefer a bigger lunch most times!  I should have explained,  I'm sorry.   

But I did have another question,  we'd like to walk the seawall.  Should that be started near Canada Place or does it matter? Also,  are taxis available if we wanted to ride back to The Auberge?  Is there a certain section of the seawall that's a must do?

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4 hours ago, langleyfld said:

You are amazing!!  Love the breakfast ideas, perfect!  Dinner, I'm googling,  sometimes we aren't big dinner eaters.  Prefer a bigger lunch most times!  I should have explained,  I'm sorry.   

But I did have another question,  we'd like to walk the seawall.  Should that be started near Canada Place or does it matter? Also,  are taxis available if we wanted to ride back to The Auberge?  Is there a certain section of the seawall that's a must do?

No taxis on the Seawall - it's a sidewalk and bike path, so aside from an occasional Parks Board vehicle (most of which are small ATVs about the size of a golf cart) or ebikes you won't see anything that isn't person-powered - even the carriages stick to the roadway, not the Seawall. There's usually a street very close by though, except around the outside of Stanley Park. As to which parts are Must Do - depends what kind of view you like!

 

Google very handily sent people with cameras on their backs or on bikes around the entire Seawall, and many other trails, so you can literally do a virtual walk for yourself and see which bits look best... Starting at Canada Place is logical, especially since that would mean you're traveling in the right direction for the one-way parts (most of the loop around Stanley is one-way, though enforcement of this is even less likely than enforcing the speed limit on bikes - which is very rare indeed but thoroughly entertaining when it does happen as it's the VPD mounted patrol who do it, and watching a cop on a horse chase a cyclist is something you really have to see to believe).

 

Be aware though that it's 8km/5 miles around the park loop, plus the initial mile-and-a-half to the park from Canada Place. Inside the park you won't find taxis trolling for fares - you will get a few dropping people at some of the sites, especially Prospect Point and the beaches, who may hang around for a while but you should assume you'll have to call a cab and unless you are at a spot that the cab can find easily they may be very reluctant to come get you (the one-way for cars also means they may have to drive miles out of their way without being able to charge you for it...) so frankly I would assume that once you commit to the Seawall park loop, you are walking all the way around to Second Beach before you can get a ride. If you're not up for five plus miles on foot, you should rent bikes which will save you a lot of energy!

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8 hours ago, martincath said:

No taxis on the Seawall - it's a sidewalk and bike path, so aside from an occasional Parks Board vehicle (most of which are small ATVs about the size of a golf cart) or ebikes you won't see anything that isn't person-powered - even the carriages stick to the roadway, not the Seawall. There's usually a street very close by though, except around the outside of Stanley Park. As to which parts are Must Do - depends what kind of view you like!

 

Google very handily sent people with cameras on their backs or on bikes around the entire Seawall, and many other trails, so you can literally do a virtual walk for yourself and see which bits look best... Starting at Canada Place is logical, especially since that would mean you're traveling in the right direction for the one-way parts (most of the loop around Stanley is one-way, though enforcement of this is even less likely than enforcing the speed limit on bikes - which is very rare indeed but thoroughly entertaining when it does happen as it's the VPD mounted patrol who do it, and watching a cop on a horse chase a cyclist is something you really have to see to believe).

 

Be aware though that it's 8km/5 miles around the park loop, plus the initial mile-and-a-half to the park from Canada Place. Inside the park you won't find taxis trolling for fares - you will get a few dropping people at some of the sites, especially Prospect Point and the beaches, who may hang around for a while but you should assume you'll have to call a cab and unless you are at a spot that the cab can find easily they may be very reluctant to come get you (the one-way for cars also means they may have to drive miles out of their way without being able to charge you for it...) so frankly I would assume that once you commit to the Seawall park loop, you are walking all the way around to Second Beach before you can get a ride. If you're not up for five plus miles on foot, you should rent bikes which will save you a lot of energy!

You are so kind to take time to answer our questions,  and with amazing detail!!

I totally have a better insight to my question!  Thank you so very much 

Martincath, wish I could buy you a drink or coffee.  You rock!!!!

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