If you’re like us, you’re constantly looking for unique hole-in-the-wall places that feel like uncovering a secret. A bar, restaurant, or cafe that feels like stepping into another world – or at the very least into a different city. So if you’re craving a new experience inspired by other parts of the world, tune in.

Here are 17 restaurants, bars, and cafes that will make you feel like you’re not in Vancouver.

Loulas Taverna 

 

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Fancy a trip to Greece? Loulas Taverna on Commercial Drive is as close to visiting as it gets, complete with a light, airy interior with white arches, red bougainvillea flowers, and an ‘island’ shade of blue that will have you dreaming of the Mediterranean. Only you won’t have to travel anywhere to indulge in family-style Greek fare, drink ouzo, or break plates.

Where: 1608 Commercial Drive

Collective Goods

This adorable “French-ish” bistro is nestled in the neighbourhood streets adjacent to the Drive in an ‘old-timey” General Store. Decorated with blue and white curtains and charming place settings, this spot will make you feel like you’re dining in a cozy cottage in France.

Where: 3532 Commercial Street

Marche Mon Pitou

Speaking of French-inspired fare, March Mon Pitou is the quintessential Parisian cafe experience in Vancouver. The South Granville location has several cute outdoor tables with heaters overhead and offers the perfect location to enjoy a croissant or Croque Madame and people-watch.

Where: 1387 West 7th Avenue

The Flamingo Room

 

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The Flamingo Room is the Drive’s newest hotspot for live entertainment and late-night eats, inspired by the vibrant bars in Miami. In addition to eclectic eats & drinks, the bar features a stage line-up of local musicians, Latin and jazz groups, weekly DJ sets, and dedicated evenings for stand-up comedy.

Where: 1212 Commercial Drive

The Shameful Tiki Room

This small, heavily decorated spot is always in high demand no matter the time of year, and for good reason. The windows are completely blacked out – but inside lies a tropical paradise. Diners can enjoy Polynesian-inspired eats, rushing waterfall sound effects, stunning cocktails (with varying amounts of alcohol), fish bowls ablaze, and even a small stage for authentic hula performances.

Where: 4362 Main Street

Joe’s Cafe Bar

Not only does Joe’s Cafe feel like stepping into a classic New York coffee shop, but like stepping back in time. With a no-frills yet cozy interior, this cash-only spot is decked out in soccer memorabilia. Opening back in 1976, visitors here will find a slew of pool tables, bar seating, old TVs, and the best cappuccinos in town.

Where: 1150 Commercial Drive

Afghan Horseman 

This award-winning restaurant happens to be the first Canada’s first Afghan restaurant, opening back in 1974. Serving up delicious, authentic Afghan staples like dahl, palaw, shish kebabs, borani, and chalaw – Afghan Horseman is a must-visit for those with all dietary preferences.

Conveniently located adjacent to Granville Island, the restaurant offers diners traditional floor seating on ornate cushions that are as comfortable as they are beautiful. Oh, and they have live belly dancing performances every Friday!

Where: 1833 Anderson Street, #202

Pax Romana

This new spot on the Drive brings the quintessential European hang-out vibe that our city is sorely lacking. With Mediterranean tapas, wines, and cocktails inspired by the Golden Age of Rome, this cozy eatery is the ideal date night spot.

Where: 1670 Commercial Drive

Arcana Spirit Lounge 

One of the newest bars in Vancouver is occult-themed, inviting guests to indulge in a variety of spirits – and we don’t just mean drinks. So if you’re looking for a unique spot that offers a variety of innovative sips and upscale French comfort food, get ready to visit this spooky yet cozy hole-in-the-wall.

Where: 238 Abbott Street

Monarca

Looking for delicious Margarita Monday or happy hour deals? Monarca transports visitors to Mexico, surrounded by butterfly art that pays homage to the monarch butterfly, a symbol of Mexican heritage and culture. The sister restaurant of Ophelia, Monarca serves up everything from upscale tacos and enchiladas to Ceviche de Camaron, to Sopa de Pobano y Elote.

Where: 181 Carrall Street

The Red Accordion

Situated in a two-level character house, The Red Accordion is the perfect place to pop in for a spell. And by spell, we mean a round of happy hour drinks surrounded by vintage decor & seating. This pick feels like home, if the home was a Victorian-esque house in San Francisco surrounded by heirloom antiques.

Where: 1616 Alberni Street

LIVIA Forno e Vino 

 

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As far as Vancouver bars and restaurants go, LIVIA truly does it all. With tasty brunch, espresso beverages, aperitivos, and pasta, LIVIA is a lovely spot that will make you feel like you stepped inside a Wes Anderson movie. Oh, and if you’re an Espresso Martini fan, do yourself a favour and order their tasty Fig & Hazelnut Espresso Martini.

Where: 1399 Commercial Drive

Is That French

This intimate spot is tucked away in Gastown’s Blood Alley, serving a rotating menu of freshly shucked oysters and BC wine. A hidden gem if there ever was one – Is That French offers guests a cozy, warm ambiance and stunning seafood plates that are almost too beautiful to eat.

Where: 45 Blood Alley Square

Bar Haifa

 

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Beloved Toronto restaurant The Haifa Room has expanded to Vancouver with Bar Haifa – named for the port city that signifies a longstanding “spirit of co-existence between Arabs and Jews.”

On the menu? Everything from their signature Fennel and Apricot Labneh to their fresh-made hummus.

Where: 410 West Georgia Street

Como? Taperia

Next up is Como Taperia. And while dinners here are fantastic, we have to hand it to them for making happy hour truly memorable. On the menu? Authentic Spanish drinks (think vermouth and cava), and various tapas dishes, which are offered free of charge for those who are seated at the bar during happy hour.

Stepping inside, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a lively little spot in a quaint Spanish town.

Where: 201 East 7th Avenue

Don Oso’s Restaurant – Commercial

Picture bright oranges, reds, blues, and yellows as you step into Don Oso’s for some traditional Mexican and Latin fare. This includes their famous quesabirria tacos and a variety of chimichangas – and even fusion dishes like birria ramen. Diners can also enjoy regular live music and karaoke nights, making it the perfect place for special occasions.

Where: 1305 Commercial Drive

Key Party

 

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This cozy speakeasy is peak ‘New York’ or ‘London’ vibes, if you ask us. Secret entrance that’s hidden in plain sight, delicious pours, Renaissance-inspired art, and plush booth seating. What more can you ask for?

Where: 2305 Main Street

And that’s a wrap on some incredible restaurants, cafes, and bars in Vancouver that feel like stepping straight into a different city. Enjoy!