When the mammoth Tap and Barrel restaurant opened at the foot of Lonsdale, there was some concern among local restaurant owners that the new kid on the block would soak up all the customers. After all, with 700 seats and a view of the water Tap and Barrel is the largest restaurant in western Canada and hugely popular in the other locations where it has opened.
But a strange thing happened. Crowds for a seat at Tap and Barrel were so big, and waiting times so long, hungry diners took their appetites across the street to what has been referred to on some maps as “Restaurant Row.” In one small block you’ll find five restaurants check by jowl, all serving different menus at different prices points.
First up, heading south towards the water, is the fairly casual Raglans, where a signboard out front highlights “happy hour” from 3-6 pm. The menu ranges from tapas at $7-$9, including items such as yam fries and tandoori prawns. You’ll also find “WestMex” foods such as tacos, burritos and quesadillas and the obligatory hamburger and sandwich list from $10-$15. The décor is funky, the service friendly, and there’s a patio outside where you can sip a drink and watch the world go by.
Directly next door at 13 Lonsdale is the more upscale District, a bustling late night Euro brasserie with Belgian beers. It doesn’t open until 3 pm, so forget about lunch. After the initial boom when Tap and Barrel opened up, things have settled back into their normal patterns. Winter hours mean fewer customers as well. The menu runs to higher priced items like short ribs and mussels.
Next up, Anatoli Souvlaki for maybe the best Greek food in town. Busy, boisterous as a Greek taverna may be, the menu is all classic Greek with huge portions. Still open for lunch. Next door at 4 Lonsdale you’ll find Burgoo Bistro, serving up “comfort food” and – guess what? – hamburgers. Menu items range from French to European. Mac and cheese, shepherds pie, chilli, chicken pot pie….
Finally, on the corner, Gusto di Quattro, top quality Italian pasta in a more formal setting for a special occasion. Hand made pastas are the specialty. Ask about their $10 pasta nights. Right across the street Presentation House Gallery is under construction and is sure to draw crowds, and the new North Vancouver Museum is planned for a 14-story tower right behind Restaurant Row. Tap and Barrel is still drawing crowds, but the Famous Five are still alive and thriving and chances are the street will only get even busier in the future. Plan ahead and make reservations.
Photo: Amy welcomes hungry diners to the casual Raglans Restaurant on Lower Lonsdale.