bumble's pick of Vancouver

What's up, culture vultures? bumble here, and I'm back with your must-read guide to some of my fave spots in good ol' YVR (that's Vancouver, to you out-of-towners). Not sure how that airport thing caught on, but anyway. Now, you know I'm a hardcore plantophile (not sure that's even a word, but hey, I'm a bee...), so not surprisingly I've got some seriously plant-based recommendations for ya. Whether you're a vegan, an omnivore following a plant-based diet, or just someone into cool people, places, and things, you'll want to check these out!

Arbutus Coffee

Proving that cool and friendly can in fact coexist in one beautiful package, Arbutus Coffee is the ultimate neighbourhood coffee shop.

Once a local corner store, the cafe is still very much a part of the local community. But you don't have to be a local to enjoy the relaxed vibe and the eclectic soundtrack. 

Arbutus Coffee shop entrance
The old Kits heritage home of Arbutus Coffee

Almost everything on the menu is made in the kitchen on-site, from breakfast and lunch fare to delicious baked goods - including some great vegan options (love the pumpkin loaf!). And let's talk coffee. The house dark roast makes just about the best espresso in town (l catch a serious buzz off my regular quad-shot misto with nut milk) - sooo good I could go on and on and on about it. Really, I could.

What makes Arbutus Coffee really stand out is the amazing and talented staff. So nice to start the day with a friendly chat and a perfectly pulled expresso in a cool joint. It's hands-down bumble's spiritual home. 

2200 Arbutus Street (at 6th Ave), Vancouver, BC V6J 3Y1

Visit Artbutus Coffee online.

Chickpea

Entrance to Chickpea Restaurant in Vancouver
Find your chickpea bliss.

Two F words pretty much capture Chickpea in a nutshell: fun and fresh. All you have to do is walk in and you'll already feel just a little happier. Bright colours and menus stuck inside children's books set the stage, and energy of the place makes you feel like you're about to go on an adventure. At least a culinary one. 

Now comes the fresh part. The food is so fresh you'd swear they had a garden in the back, and the humous tastes like it was made seconds before. If you don't like fresh humous, you probably haven't tried it. Seriously, the chick pea is a beautiful thing. Just order anything that looks good to you - it's impossible to go wrong. 

And they do brunch. Get the french toast. You've been warned.

4298 Main St (near 28th Ave), Vancouver, BC V5V 3P9

Visit Chickpea online.

Gluten-Free Epicurean 

Don't ask me how I managed to fly all the way to Brooklyn and back without a map (it's a bee thing), but anyway, I thought Clementine's Bakery in Clinton Hill had spoiled me forever. Ok, I'll always have a soft spot for it, but Gluten-Free Epicurean is Vancouver's answer to Clementine's, pushing the temptation envelope with some ridiculously decadent vegan and gluten-free baking, a crazy vegan pizza bun, and custom vegan cakes made to order. There's something magical about a working bakery, and you can see it all happening in the big room behind the counter. 

Display case at Gluten-Free Epicurean bakery
Dreamy display case at Gluten-Free Epicurean.

My advice is to grab a table and get into one of their insane mint chocolate brownies. It's all I can do to fly home afterwards - - probably a better idea to just take a nap and then order something else.

633 E 15th Ave (near Kingsway & Fraser), Vancouver, BC V5T 2R4

Visit Gluten Free Epicurean online.

O-5 Rare Tea Bar

Rare is the word, alright. The first time I flew into O-5 Rare Tea Bar on a busy stretch of West 4th Avenue in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood, it was the tranquility that hit me. It was the last thing I expected, given how close the bustle of passing Kits shoppers and the steady stream of late afternoon traffic. 

Selection from O-5 Rare Tea Bar

I don't know how they do it, but this place is an oasis. The door closes and you're literally transported. Sitting at the bar and enjoying what is probably the best kombucha I've ever tasted, I start to notice the care and attention that goes into creating the experience. The decor has a natural feel, lighting is subtle and unobtrusive, the many varieties of tea (from matcha to oolong to pu er) artfully arranged alongside gorgeous tea sets and other tools of the trade. What matters though, is that this is an amazing place to hang out for a quite chat with a friend, or just to sip something special on your own.

The staff are friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and they offer workshops if you want to learn more.

Whether you're a tea afficionado, or you're just intrigued by the mystery of tea traditions from other parts of the world, pay a visit to this rare gem - you won't regret it.

2208 W 4th Ave (near Yew St.), Vancouver, BC V6K 1N8

Visit O5 Tea online.

PlantBase Food & Natural Products

Waffle with fruit topped with Plantbase BacUN
Gorgeous PlantBase BacUN.

PlantBase is not so much a place as a phenomenon. This is vegan cuisine so good you'll suspect the genius behind it of being some kind of mad plant-based alchemist. And you'd be on the right track. This stuff is gold. From the wonderfully smokey No-Ha(R)m Roast (perfect for a holiday meal), to a satisfyingly spicy vegan taco stuffer, to the highly-addictive BacUN (guaranteed to bring the BLT back to every vegan's top 10 list), David's impressive (and extensive) list of plant-based food products should be staples in every pantry.

And if you're lucky enough to get one of his cinnamon rolls (look out for the next batch on the PlantBase Facebook page), you'll never want any other. They're that good.

All of the above being proof that ethical eating with no sacrifice or compromise is real. Why not get on board?

Visit PlantBase on Facebook.

Pulpfiction Books

Book selection from Pulpfiction Books
A few faves from PfB.

Reading. Not the easiest thing for a bee to master. It's not the words. It's the books. Just so heavy. Audio books have been a real godsend for me as a bee bibliophile. But enough about me. 

There really is nothing else in Vancouver like Pulpfiction Books. Everybody sells books now, but Pulpfiction gets two things absolutely right: buy interesting books and hire interesting people who know books and love books. This is the one-two punch that makes every visit to PfB something to look forward to.

What you get is a curated selection of great books, and people who get excited about them. Take the lovely Emily from the West Broadway location. Always happy to chat about the latest books, or take care of a special order. Remembers your name.  It's the little things. 

Now if only they'd open a cafe at one of their locations.... Maybe they should team up with Arbutus Coffee. A bee can dream....

2422 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3E2

1830 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4A5

2754 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6K 2H2

Visit Pulpfiction Books online.

Tera V Burger

Tera V's "No Bull" burger with vegan bacon (thanks to the lovely PlantBase) and vegan cheese is bar none the best burger in the city, maybe the country, possibly the world. Notice I said "burger." Not "veggie burger." I'm serious.

An audacious claim, I hear you say. Maybe. But until you've had the unalloyed pleasure of stuffing one of these absolute beauties into your face (along with the highly recommended yam fries), I suggest you hold your fire. 

This is the kind of burger you really want to eat in a dark room all by yourself, or maybe in the car. Basically somewhere nobody can disturb you, or see you liberally smeared with condiments and grinning like a fool. A deliriously happy vegan fool.

Don't be fooled by the unassuming storefront or the decor - Tera V Burger is the straight goods. You need it, you know it, I know it. It's closed now, or I'd be running down there to grab one right now. There's always tomorrow.

2961 W Broadway (west of Macdonald), Vancouver, BC V6K 2G9

Visit Tera V Burger online.

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Ok, well that's it for now from your roving bee-in-the-field. Get out and enjoy some of these delights. Make yourself happy. Be kind to others. You get the idea. Peace out.