In Vancouver the lively 16-block area of Commercial Drive (between Broadway and Venables) is an enormously popular district with locals, but is often overlooked by tourists. The main reason for tourists to come here is to discover the most diverse mix of people, dining, shopping, and entertainment that
Any walk along ‘The Drive’, as it is known by Vancouverites, will quickly show you that there is an almost complete absence of chain stores and fast-food outlets, indeed the McDonalds went out of business and became a gym. Not that this will unduly concern you for too long as you will soon be open-mouthed at the abundance of culinary and shopping choices that this vibrant community has on offer.
During the 1870s and ’80s, Commercial Drive was a skid road that supplied logs to the Hastings Sawmill on Burrard Inlet. After WWI there was a big influx of Italian, Chinese, and Eastern European immigrants.
Commercial Drive is easy to reach on the Skytrain. Get off at either Broadway or Commercial Drive stations and head towards the
Harambe offers Ethiopian food including; Tibs, beef chunks sautéed in onion, rosemary, and spiced butter; and Dorowat, chicken breast cooked in sweet onion with a barbecue-like sauce.
La grotta del Formaggio is full of cheese and bread, while next door is a sumptuous Italian bakery, Fratellis. Again, these are ideal places for picnic supplies. Tierra del Sol specializes in South American art that is obtained directly from the indigenous artists who created them.
For an eclectic choice of magazines, design books, and funky calendars, try the Magpie Magazine Gallery. Next door is the Cafe Abruzzo Cappuccino Bar, probably the best place in Vancouver to watch international football matches, with the games on around lunchtime, due to the eight or nine hours time difference between Vancouver and England, Spain, and Italy.
In the next block you will find
Finally on reaching Venables Street there is another excellent bakery, Uprising. By this time, you will be planning a further visit to ‘The Drive’ to linger in a café or buy a souvenir before returning home.