West End Neighbourhood Guide

We ask writer, stylist and fabulist Steven Schelling to play tour guide – find out where he eats, shops and hangs out in the West End

Credit: Bill Bentley (English Bay) and Clinton Hussey (Steven Schelling)

Writer, stylist and fabulist Steven Schelling reveals his favourite haunts in the West End


“My first visual memory of Vancouver is crossing over the Granville Street Bridge on a beautifully sunny October day and seeing that postcard-perfect scene of the West End and English Bay (you know the one). I was hooked. In 15 years, I’ve lived in four different West End buildings, three on the same street. It never occurred to me to live anywhere in Vancouver without a view of the ocean. If I wanted to look into my neighbour’s living room, I would have stayed in Brooklyn.

“A lot of people see the West End as just ‘The Gaybourhood.’ Sure, there are the requisite bars, pink bus stops and the rainbow crosswalk, but once you leave Davie Street you’re in a park-like oasis.”

“And here’s a little bit of neighbourhood trivia: Davie Street was named after A. E. B. Davie, the eighth Attorney General of B.C. He was rumoured to be gay and, apparently, lived somewhat openly, creating a gentlemen’s club for his coterie of friends in the late 1800s. As with most good stories, there is absolutely no proof of this whatsoever.”

Click through for Steven’s favourite places to eat, drink, shop and play in the West End.

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Credit: Peter Holst

Fave Places to Eat in the West End

“For coffee and sandwiches, Greenhorn Espresso Bar (pictured) on Nicola is a favourite stop for me after a Seawall walk with my beagle. For takeout, Osaka Sushi on Burrard is delicious and cheap. Lolita’s Mexican Cantina on Davie has a killer cocktail list and the best fish tacos in town. If you want great tapas and a lively atmosphere, check out España on Denman.”

Fave Places to Drink in the West End

“When it comes to an after-work cocktail, it’s all about Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar (pictured) at the Sutton Place Hotel. Head bartender Justin Taylor is widely considered to be one of the best in the city and his exquisite whisky cocktail, the Boulevardier, has helped me forget many bad days at work. 1181 on Davie is my favourite late-night watering hole for three reasons: 1) the room was designed by Vancouver architects Heather Howat and David Battersby, 2) owner Jenn Mickey is one of my favourite people in the world and 3) she hires really hot, shirtless men to work the bar.”

Credit: Peter Holst

Fave Places to Shop in the West End

Tango Meats on Denman, The Daily Catch on Davie for seafood and Marquis Wine Cellars (pictured), also on Davie, for fabulous vintages and spot-on advice for food pairings. Who knew that an Argentinian Tempranillo pairs perfectly with a Southern BBQ pot roast? They did.”

Fave Places to Play in the West End

“Well, Stanley Park and the Seawall are right there. I love the summer movies outside at Second Beach. I have high hopes for the soon-to-be christened Jim Deva Park in the cul-de-sac on Bute Street (pictured). He was such a force in the community in his advocacy for free speech and gay rights, and I hope the city is able to make the tribute a fitting one.”