We’ll call “North” Commercial Drive north of 1st. This would include Grandview-Woodlands area
The area west of Woodland Park and south of Hastings is an industrial area that is starting to get a few little mixed use food production places.
Timbertrain Depot is probably the best coffee in the area. Has “Stadium” seating inside, but not a place to hang out. Get your beans here or a great drink, as well as really good baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, and even recently banh mi sandwiches. Go sit in Woodland Park!
Porchlight Press does letterpress printing and other custom print jobs. They have a few really nice cards, notebooks, and other paper goods you can walk in and buy.
Around the corner is the Earnest Ice Cream scoop shop, with a little parklet.
On East Georgia, Coho Commissary is new. Has a cafe inside serving Elysian coffee. A few small tables inside, some really nice picnic tables outside. Croissants, fresh baked bread, and a few sandwiches.
Woodland Park is a big park with a neighbourhood garden and lots of places for laying out on the grass.
Adanac Street, a key east-west bike route, goes along the southern edge of Woodland Park. It has two breweries in the block just west of the park. Bomber Brewing and Off the Rail. There are multiple food trucks that are starting to regularly park there to feed the beer drinkers.
To finish off this corner of the map, the north west corner has Pink Pearl Restaurant, which is a classic big Chinese dining hall style restaurant, with dim sum on weekends including steam carts being pushed around.
Andina Brewing is one of many breweries with tasting rooms in the area.
South, back along busy Clark Street, you’ll find the classic Truck Stop Cafe. Classic diner with all day breakfasts, burgers and fries, club sandwiches, and a few Chinese dishes on special.
West of Clark from there is where many artist studios are. The Mergatroid building is one studio building, and just across from there are the giant and famous Parker Street Studios.
While Clark is busy and not nice to walk along, Strange Fellows Brewing is absolutely worth visiting. My favourite beer in the area, and they often have various art and lifestyle markets and events they host as well.
The main strip of Commercial Drive starts at Venables. Right south of Venables you’ll find a cluster of great stuff. Kin Kao, refined Thai food that is excellent for dine in and take out. Downlow Chicken, always packed, take your order and go eat in Woodland Park. On the other side of the street is Bump & Grind Cafe, a nice place to sit and work or relax.
Choices is a good all around grocery story, including a basic meat, poultry, and fish section. Bread products are boring, fruit & vegetables are just OK. Various natural / organic / vegan stores are all around.
Moja Coffee is usually pretty packed, so more of a good place for people watching than sitting and working at.
Kulinarya is a fantastic Filipino restaurant, one of the best in the city.
Havana has the best patio on The Drive. Brunch or lunch outside for sure. Cuban food, and a little Theater / performance space too.
Pop up to Victoria from here to get to Via Tevere Pizzeria, one of the top 3 pizza places in the city. Always packed, you can get take out, but really eating in is a fantastic experience.
Santa Barbara Market is where everyone on The Drive shops. Really good fruits and vegetables, and in season lots of stuff in giant containers in from the Fraser Valley and Okanagan. Great deli counter with charcuterie and cheeses. No meat other than some sausages and bacon at the deli counter. Good selection of breads, lots of basics in canned goods and most other things you’ll need.
Lívia Bakery is new and so awesome. Excellent bakery, excellent pastries, excellent coffee. Brunch, lunch, dinner. Cocktails and drinks in the evenings too.
Tatsu is my favourite sushi on The Drive. Really creative presentation, super fresh, all the classics, and yeah, you’ll just be amazed at how some of it is presented.
Magnet Home Hardware is the everything store. Really good cooking (and beer brewing!) equipment, as well as a big garden section. Over on Victoria and south is Figaro’s Garden store which has indoor and outdoor plants and pots of all kinds.
Babylon Cafe is the best shawarma on The Drive.
Across the street, Norman’s Fruit & Salad has massive amounts of fresh fruits and veggies usually for pretty cheap.
La Mezcaleria is fancy and super tasty Mexican food and cocktails.
Right at first, don’t forget about The Bench Bakehouse, another one of the excellent bakeries in the area. Really, should be called Yeast Van not just for beer brewing, but also for bakeries!
Teleporting back north all the way to Powell, you’ll find The Narcissus coffee shop. Small bits of lunch fare, good coffee, really great chill place to hang out and read or work out of.
Right next door is Odd Society Spirits.
Keep going along Powell and you reach Port Town. A whole row of excellence at the foot of Victoria. The Pie Shoppe, Straight & Marrow is replacing Bistro Wagon Rouge and is going to be excellent, plus Aleph Middle Eastern. Across the street is JJ Bean, and then Scandilicious for waffles for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.
Don’t forget about the giant tasting room with food at Parallel 49 Brewing.
Also, if you turn left on Wall Street, is a chill street with little mini parks all along it until you reach New Brighton Park and the outdoor pool there.
Then there is Pallet Coffee Roasters, which has food and coffee and a couple of tucked away areas to work out of.
In the little strip mall on Hastings at Lakewood you’ll find Pacific Bread Company, rounding out the excellent bakeries. Classic French pastries and breads, as well as macrons. Pizzas and fresh sandwiches for lunch too. 7 Eleven, too, for your summer Slurpees.
Before you leave that corner, there’s Mr. Red Cafe, northern style Vietnamese that is excellent. Not far away is Pandora Park which is really nice and has a community garden in it too.
At that point you’re firmly in Hastings Sunrise, and at Nanaimo and Hastings are lots more shopping and stores, including Donald’s Market. Other than Santa Barbara, this would be the everything grocery store that most people shop at. Good prices and basically anything you want. Heading farther east from there is a whole other set of shops in Hastings-Sunrise.
OK, let’s finish off Nanaimo Street by pointing out Columbus Meats, one of the best butcher shops in the city. Italian, been around for ~40 years. Across the street is the Half Baked Cookie Company, for cookies and pies and cakes.
Back up over on Victoria is Bosa Foods. Classic Italian grocery story. Meats, cheese, frozen goods, lots of oils and spices and canned and pickled things, full deli counter with prepared foods. Plus Italian housewares and cookware.