Gastown Christmas Culinary Tour

Think you know Gastown like the back of your hand? Eat, drink and be merry with Gassy Jack on this Christmas-themed Taste Vancouver Food Tour.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Tour Kick-off with Warm Drinks and Sweet Treats

After putting on our wireless headsets, so as not to miss a word ol’ Gassy Jack had to say, we were treated to festive caramel brulee lattes and the classic West Coast dessert, the Nanaimo bar.

Nothing like a big sugar rush to kick things off!

Credit: Aaron Barr

Look Up, Look Way Up

This tour was a great reminder to stop and smell the roses—well, to stop and admire the stunning, historic architecture that we pass by, unaware, every day.

Take Waterfront Station and the story behind the grand hall’s artwork, and the significance of its coffee shop: it’s fascinating stuff that you’ll have piped right to your ear.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Craft Brewery Powered by Gastown’s Steam Line

Next we made our way down the stairs of another landmark building to whet our whistles with their Nirvana nut brown ale, which is brewed on-site and powered by the steam line that the establishment is named for.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Canada’s First Chocolatier Celebrates 125

Rich in history (and chocolate) our next stop was founded in 1885, and many of the shop’s original recipes remain the same, like the chocolate caramel nut square we greedily gobbled down.

Pictured is one of the commemorative 125th anniversary tins from Canada’s very first chocolatier.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Explore Gastown’s Unique and Historic Architecture

Our guide helped us admire the exterior and interior detailing of some of Vancouver’s oldest buildings. Nicknamed for his propensity to talk, Gassy Jack had plenty of stories to share about his neighbourhood’s colourful past.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Step Inside This Inviting Eatery for Authentic, Homemade Pasta

Have you ever been in a place, but never had the chance to really experience it?

I’d popped into our next stop—watched over by Zeus himself—for a coffee before, but I didn’t know about the secret, cozy room in the back, or the story of the passionate Italian owner whose made-from-scratch pastas, breads and baked goods are said to be some of the best in town.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Taste the Featured Flavour of Vancouver’s Best Cheesecake

I’ve written about Vancouver’s best cheesecake before, but I hadn’t tried this month’s feature flavour: the sinfully delicious chocolate orange.

Credit: Aaron Barr

This Gastown Landmark Lets Off A Lot Steam

Next we paused to admire the world’s first steam-powered clock. Right on cue, its whistle blew as we stopped to appreciate its design and hear the story of its upkeep.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Crab Cakes Have Graced this Restaurant’s Menu Since Opening in 1988

We were served delectable crab cakes on the second floor of this restaurant that resides in the only building that didn’t burn down during the great fire of 1886.

Fortunately, we were spared from meeting the ghosts that are rumoured to haunt the staff late at night.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Gassy Jack’s One-Time Saloon Burned to the Ground in the Great Fire of 1886

Gassy Jack stands next to a statue of himself atop a barrel of whiskey, and over his shoulder(s) is the site of his former saloon. As you can see, its present-day incarnation still has a little flavour from the Wild West.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Sit Down to Some Slow-Cooked, Southern-Style BBQ

And flavour abounded in the lip-smacking Carolina-style beef brisket and pulled pork we excitedly sat down to.

Credit: Aaron Barr

Warm Up with Gourmet Teas at the Site of Vancouver’s First Jail

For our last stop we warmed up with gourmet tea and a sliver of hot-out-of-the-oven cheese scone that was unbelievably good.

With the warm and inviting brick and wood beams, you’d never guess this building was the site of Vancouver’s first jail.

Take a Christmas food tour with Gastown’s famed saloonkeeper


I love being a tourist in my own city. Even more, I love to eat, drink and be merry, so the Taste Vancouver Food Tours Culinary Christmas Event that my husband and I joined in on last Saturday was a little slice of holiday heaven.

Running Thursday through Sunday until January 8, 2012, the Christmas tour ($39 per person) makes over a dozen stops. You’ll pop into some of Gastown’s best eateries and watering holes for more than just a history lesson: the tour is led by Gassy Jack, a legendary character from Vancouver’s past.


Think you’ve learned everything there is to know about Gastown? See if you can guess some of the locations in the slideshow above.