The Best Pubs and Restaurants to Watch the Playoffs in Vancouver

Vancouver's top chefs and bartenders reveal where they raise a pint for the Canucks during the playoffs

Credit: Red Card Sports Bar

Find out where Vancouver restaurant insiders go to watch the NHL playoffs

Vancouver is caught up in Canucks fever. The team is questing for its first Stanley Cup in team history. Vancouver hasn’t won the coveted trophy since the 1915 Millionaires pulled it off. When will the drought end? Fortunately, there’s no drought at any of these hockey-loving establishments recommended by some of the city’s top chefs, restaurant owners and bartenders as ideal spots to drown your sorrows or raise a glass during playoffs.

Credit: Cactus Club Coal Harbour

Vikram Vij, Chef/Owner – Vij’s, My Shanti, Rangoli’s

Where: Cactus Club Coal Harbour, 1085 Canada Place

Why: “Great people watching and atmosphere.”

What to eat: “The chicken wings here are a delicious indulgence.”

What to drink: “I always have the Feenie Goes Haywire. It’s a local white wine blend, easy drinking, $40 a bottle and goes really well with chicken wings.”

Credit: Gringo

Karl Gregg – Master of Meats at Big Lou’s Butcher Shop and Chef at the Jericho Yacht Club Galley

Where: Gringo, 27 Blood Alley Square

Why: “It’s got a killer location in Blood Alley and on playoff nights, they turn the Magnum PI reruns off and put the game on.”

What to eat: “Look no further than the Lacko Taco, the only Canuck-approved taco. And, for only $2.42 (Eddie Lack’s goals against average), you can eat a bunch and tell your friends it’s all for good mojo.”

What to drink: “You could go for the cheap beer and brown-bag shots or step up your game and go for a White Girl Wasted – a double shot of vodka in spiked lemonade.”

Credit: Charles Bar

Dennis Peckham – Executive Chef at The Observatory Restaurant on Grouse Mountain

Where: Charles Bar, 136 West Cordova Street

Why: “I like that they have lighter food options. The last time I went to a bar and had a huge deep-fried platter watching the game, I felt greasy afterwards. I feel a lot cleaner if I have a beer and a salad. Plus the staff are nice and friendly and the service is always good.”

What to eat: “They have a great spicy chicken salad that I really like and the fish tacos are good too.”

What to drink: “They usually have a Parallel 49 beer on rotation and I always go for the Gypsy Tears.”

Best seat: “Right in front of their 9′ HD screen!”

Credit: Mamie Taylor's

Thor Paulson – Bar Manager at The Diamond

Where: Mamie Taylor’s, 251 East Georgia Street

Why: “I like hanging out at Mamie Taylor’s even when there’s not a game on so to be able to go to one of your favourite restaurants and see a game is really great. I like the way that the room has grown organically – there are so many knick-knacks there now – it’s really cosy. And I love the ‘Great Wall of Chinatown’ with all the old photos and stuff.”

What to eat: “I love their elevated twist on American classics. The burger has its own flourishes, like the killer bacon mayonnaise.”

What to drink: “Always cocktails. I learned a lot from (co-owner) Ron Oliver when I worked with him at The Diamond and his no-nonsense, beer-forward cocktails are delicious.”

Best seat: “Try and grab a seat in the elbow of the L at the L-shaped bar, you can see the screen well from there.”

Credit: The Cove

Jason Laidlaw – Roving Bartender: Vancouver Rowing Club, Liberty Distillery, Blacktail

Where: The Cove Pub, 3681 West 4th Ave

Why: “It’s probably as old as I am! It’s been the same pub since the ’70s. The names have changed, but it’s an institution in the neighbourhood and I like that vibe. It is what it is – and what it is is a pretty awesome place to watch a hockey game.”

What to eat: “I’m usually just a burger and fries guy, but the food here is great for pub food. Ed the chef keeps things as locally sourced and as high quality as he can, it’s good, fresh food.”

What to drink: “I’d recommend a pitcher of whatever’s on tap.”

Best seat: “There are tons of screens here so the best seat could be almost anywhere. Get there early ’cause it gets packed on game nights with everyone in a jersey.”

Credit: Local Facebook

James Iranzad – Co-owner Wildebeest

Where: Local Public Eatery, 2210 Cornwall Avenue, Vancouver

Why: “It’s got such a good energy, it’s always busy and so bright and airy that you feel you’re by the ocean. The natural light is beautiful but doesn’t detract from the TV – it feels like you’re getting a day at the beach while watching the game.”

What to eat: “The burger is pretty excellent, that’s one of my favourites and I have a soft spot for their take on squid – it gives you all the satisfaction of a greasy dish without the grease, it’s really fresh.”

What to drink: “We almost always just drink beer here; they have a couple of dozen local West Coast craft beers here that are really well-chosen.”

Best seat: “They have a really good amount of TVs but it’s not overbearing. It’s a big space so you can get a good view almost anywhere and have a collective experience without people watching the game looking in different directions.”

Credit: Red Card Sports Bar

Justin Taylor – Beverage Director, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar

Where: Red Card Sports Bar at the Moda Hotel, 560 Smithe Street

Why: “If I was to recommend something other than the Gerard Lounge – where our two TVs and cozy fireplace set a perfect atmosphere to accommodate hockey-loving fans with chef Alex Chen’s delectable fish sauce caramel and sambal chicken wings and my delicious Negronis that are on tap – I’d say Red Card because it’s a wicked room with fast service and great beer.”

What to eat: “Their pizzas are fantastic, in particular the Diavola with Soppressata salami, hot peppers and Calabrian chili.”

What to drink: “They have great beers from around the world – my go-to is Peroni.”

Best seat: “I love sitting at the bar, of course! The chairs are amazing.”

Credit: The Lamplighter

Jon Smolensky – Hawksworth Bar

Where: The Lamplighter, 92 Water Street

Why: “There are multiple TVs, great sightlines to all screens, fantastic beers on tap and you can play pinball during the intermissions. Why would you not want to watch the big game there?”

What to eat: “The chargrilled short ribs.”

What to drink: “Four Winds IPA.”

Best seat: “The very front shared table on the far left side which faces the big screen. That way you can watch the game with audio, while spying on the out-of-town scoreboard above the bar to your left.”

Credit: Darby's

Daniel McGee – Head Chef, Au Comptoir

Where: Darby’s, 2001 Macdonald Street

Why: “I just moved to Kitsilano and it’s just around the corner from me. Also, it’s got a really nice rooftop patio so you can hang there in the day and then go down and check out the game.”

What to eat: “They have really great hot wings! The nachos and burgers are good too and I really like that they make a lot of stuff in-house, which is cool for a pub.”

What to drink: “They’ve got a really excellent craft beer selection with plenty of taps. I always go for Fat Tug, nothing fancy.”

Best seat: There are tons of TVs so there’s not a bad seat in the house.

Credit: Via Tevere

Ned Bell – Executive Chef at YEW seafood + bar and Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver

Where: Via Tevere, 1190 Victoria Drive

Why: “I go with my No. 1 wIng man Max Bell and we get to watch the pizzas being made while we watch the game and eat the city’s best pie.”

What to eat: “Pizza, pizza pizza, and then the bloody delicious homemade doughnuts by the owner’s mom.”

What to drink: “Share-sies San Pellegrio Fizzes.”

Best seat: “Kitchen Bar.”

Credit: Score

Shoel Davidson – Co-owner Gringo

Where: Score on Davie

Why: “There are few places that you can watch a game while sitting on a patio in the sunshine and there’s nowhere else you can get an entire cheeseburger on your Caesar.”

What to eat: “You have to have any of the loaded-high Caesars. They’ve all got different names and they’re always good for a ‘whose is biggest’ contest. I recommend the Chicken and Waffle Caesar or the burger on a Burger Caesar.”

What to drink: “It depends if we’re winning. If it’s going well, then it’s a shot per goal, but if we’re losing then probably a few more shots.”

Best seat: “It has to be on that patio. There are a lot of places that show the game – just not many where you can get a tan.”