Gastown Neighbourhood Guide

We ask social entrepreneur Mark Brand to play tour guide – find out where he eats, shops and hangs out in Gastown

Credit: Kathleen Almeida (Gastown) and Clinton Hussey (Mark Brand)

Social entrepreneur Mark Brand reveals his favourite haunts in Gastown


“I love Gastown predominantly because of its proximity to the other ’hoods I love: Hastings, Chinatown, Strathcona… in a nutshell, I love East Van but specifically Gastown because it’s my home. I’ve built my life and career here and love all the things most people hate about it. It’s difficult, real and consistently amazing. I don’t buy into the stereotype that it’s unsafe. If you don’t leave your laptop on the front seat of your parked car, you’re fine. I feel more comfortable (with the sense I’m actually safer) at Main and Hastings than on Granville any night.

“Gastown is one of the few genuinely social ’hoods. People from every demographic engage and I encourage you to do the same. Come for the things beyond the obvious and be sure to explore outwards. If you’re coming to Gastown and don’t stop by Hastings and Chinatown, you’ve missed the point.”

Click through for Mark’s favourite places to eat, drink and shop in Gastown.

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Fave Places to Eat in Gastown

The Black Frog on Cambie has the best pub fare, and for takeout I only do the diner at Save On Meats on Hastings. I enjoy brunch at the Alibi Room on Alexander and other genuine establishments working hard at their craft like L’Abattoir on Carrall and the Pourhouse (pictured) on Water Street. For finer dining, Ask for Luigi on Alexander is the best. JC Poirier has been my favourite chef (besides my own, of course) in this town since 2004. He’s the truth.”

Credit: Alexandra Grant

Fave Places to Drink in Gastown

The Black Frog is at the top of my list. I love the owners and staff like family. The Greedy Pig on Cordova for the exact same reason. For cocktails, Wildebeest on West Hastings and The Diamond (pictured) on Powell. There are lots of great spots, but those two rooms have my current favourite bartenders in them. I like The Metropole Pub on Abbott and The Charles Bar on Cordova for a quick no-bullshit can and shot. The staff at both are consistently fantastic.”

Fave Places to Shop in Gastown

“Social enterprises like Community Vintage on Cordova and East Van Roasters on Carrall (pictured). I also like The Gam Gallery studio/boutique on East Hastings and Roden Grey on Water Street (if not for owner/creative director Rob Lo’s curation alone). LYNNsteven on Carrall will make any woman in your life happy and Litchfield on Water Street for home decor.”