With so many slick, sexy spaces popping up around town these days, there’s certainly no shortage of stylish spots to head to in order to get your cocktail fix. Brand new urban beer pubs have also upped the cool-factor with the opening of CRAFT Beer Market taking place about a week ago no less. So what’s a Vancouverite to do when they’re on the hunt for a slightly less, shall we say, polished abode to hunker down at whilst unwinding after a hectic day? We think its prime opportunity to explore some of Vancouver’s best-hidden gems that might be a little rough around the edges – but offer a full serving of ambiance.
Brickhouse – head here for quality no-fuss cocktails or a generous pour on-tap. Walking along Main Street, blink and you might just miss the entrance though. Once inside on a Friday night, expected to be greeted by their door staff that may or may not charge a bit of cover, they’re pretty casual at this joint.
There’s a pool table tucked off to the side, plenty of semi-tacky but comfy couches to hold court, cheap and Leo – the resident bartender running a solo show exceptionally well. Sit at the bar and take in the scene as you drink up a little kitschy history (never ending nick-knacks that adorn the wall, right down to a Frisbee featuring Lady Diana and Prince Charles). Go see for yourself, Brickhouse is located at 730 Main Street.
The Ivanhoe Pub – nip a few blocks down to 1038 Main Street and you’ll stumble upon another one of our recommended watering holes, the Ivanhoe Pub. From the outside, weathered looking signage might not immediately draw your attention (let alone draw you inside), but once you cross the threshold; it’ll be worth it. The Ivanhoe offers a cool vibe, cheap drinks and is a great venue for random gatherings on a rainy day. A coin-operated Juke Box adds a certain je ne sais quoi we love. Décor is dated – yet lends the space the right character that seems to go with the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time, alongside a lot of regular Ivanhoe characters. Expect to catch some great live music acts and nosh your way through some of YVR’s best Poutine. Once done, head over to the Pinball machine and play away, just don’t piss off some of the rougher looking regulars – just our word of advice.
The Railway Club isn’t so much a ‘dive bar’ per se, but it definitely fits the ‘rough around edges bill’ for our purposes. It’s located tucked downtown – just off of Dusmuir at Seymour Street, upstairs. The space is cosy and a bit worn looking but always pretty much packed with regulars. Relatively cheap drinks and a weekly rotation of theme nights offer up plenty of entertainment we think you’ll love. Score yourself a $10 Railway membership and you’ll gain free entry to one show each weeknight plus other perks too. Since opening in the early ’80s, the Railway Club has hosted musical acts from across the country – and beyond, so don’t be surprised to see a few familiar faces grab the mic and get crooning on a random Thursday night. Find your way to the Railway Club at 579 Dunsmuir Street.
The Cobalt (again, another reason to head to Main Street) is located at 917. Be sure to check out this funky underground venue located in the old Cobalt Motor Hotel off Prior at Main. This is the place you want to head to for great live music, plenty of old school fun (think Nintendo 64, pool and Foosball tables as well as an eclectic mix of pinball games to keep you occupied). Again, it’s a no-fuss type of venue with an interesting blend of locals, hipsters and random newbies (like you), but you’ll feel at ease by the super friendly staff. Aside from cheap cocktails and a solid selection of craft beer, The Cobalt hosts a series of monthly events that ought to give you reason to get off your own couch and wander down to theirs. Saturday features their Electric Circus ’90s themed night with new DJ’s on the circuit while Sunday offers up a chance to take centre stage with a bit of Karaoke action. Check out all The Cobalt’s offerings here.