Vancouver: the obrienaternal basic survival guide

Sometimes Medievalists–even meta-meta-ones–are obliged to interact with post-medieval external reality in a less observational and commentative way. To live in it directly.

(More on this in another post in a moment.) To make it more fun, this exercise that is the practice of everyday life can be thought of and treated as a Poohian expotition: short-term escape from Medievalism. Fitting, as right now we are still vehemently in summer-holiday mode. Clinging desperately to the last fleeting wisps, others might say. The churls.

This post is principally for my buddies RA-M and BO-A. Hope it’s useful!

UPDATED: some added comments on the Naam. review of Medieval Rampage 2

Caveats: I do not lie entirely. Some of this is basic. “Survival” is meant with tongue firmly in cheek. No claims to truth, accuracy, objectivity, or consensus. This may or may not be useful, but at least it’s a start. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Basics = easily accessible from UBC by public transport, usually along main arteries such as the 99, 44, or Canada Line routes. Compatible with the carrying of bags, without turning into a Major Expedition.

Basics =  flat-footed everyday survival. Food. Drink. Clothing and footwear and toilettries, i.e. a barrier against the elements. Household stuff, for maintenance of roof over head. A few less basic things may have crept in (ex. nice gardens, the occasional bookshop)

Scroll down to end of post for the meat and potatoes, aka the map.

For a bit of fun, a Google image search for “medieval everyday survival” is highly recommended. Top and most plentiful search results: depictions of combat, of which more or less parity between manuscript images and photographs of reenactments. And weaponry. Fair amount of cooking. Some of the more curious and/or eclectic findings punctuate the present post.


  • The Georgia Straight,  Taste (BC Liquors’ magazine, free in-store)
  • blogs & online reviews: The Georgia Straight, UrbanspoonChowtimesFood Vancouver, DineHere > Vancouver. Also many, many, many gastro-blogs.
  • lower quality but have still been known to be useful: Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Magazine
  • hipper local publications, Main/Commercial (google search, or better, wander down and pick up there)
  • directions & transport: combination of Google maps (+ directions) and Translink. NB some buses are more reliable than others (especially late night). Though mostly pretty good. Often faster (and more reliable) to go c/o the 99 or other express bus or Canada Line. Taxis on speed dial.


  • supermarkets: the comically misnamed Save-on-foods, Safeway, Capers/Whole Foods, Parthenon (also more, much more: Main, Commercial, Richmond inc. Costco)
  • local farmers’ markets: UBC farm (Saturdays 9-1, to late October)–see their blog for updates re. what’ll be in, Kitsilano market @ Kits Community Centre, 10th&Larch (Sundays 10-2 to late October)
  • nearly-local markets: Granville Island, Lonsdale QuayVancouver farmers’ markets (, BC Association of Farmers’ Markets
  • produce/greengrocers: Young Bros, others on Broadway, Apple Market on 4th, Granville Island produce @ University Village, markets as above, etc.
  • good cluster in Kerrisdale, on the 41/43 route towards Oakridge Mall


  • 4th & Vine: Terra Breads, Cob’s
  • 4th & Alma: Beyond Bread (used to be the Transylvanian one on Broadway)
  • A Bread Affair c/o Whole Foods@Cambie, also at UBC farm market
  • 10th & Alma (behind the 7-11): Patisserie Bordeaux
  • 10th & Sasamat, area thereof: Mix, Pane e Formaggio
  • Broadway & Balaclava up to MacDonald: Baguette & Cie., Cobs
  • Bagels: Solly’s on Broadway, Siegel’s @ Granville Island Market (sublime rosemary)


  • The Parthenon
  • Les Amis du fromage, The Cheese Place @ 4th&Alma, Benton Bros (41/43 route, Granville Island, Cambie)
  • Whole Foods@Cambie (carry a great selection–European, Québecois, local–inc. very good goat and some of the cheapest and best Parmesan in town)


  • BC Liquor: NB opening hours
  • Liberty (Sasamat, Granville Island)
  • Okanagan @ Alma&4th
  • Lennox–behind hospital @ City Square Shopping Centre


  • University Village: One More Sushi, Red Burrito, underground food court–inc. excellent curry. If short lunch-break and Sub queues are horrid, call and pick up takeaway from University Village places, and eat back in dept: faster and nicer.
  • The Sub: The Pit pub, the Pendulum, sushi downstairs, Blue Chip cookies upstairs; Subway etc. if desperate and hungry. Warning: That bagel place is to be avoided at all costs (further details available on request)
  • Bread Garden, White Spot, Sage, Ike’s Café


  • 99 bus to 10th & Sasamat: Ginger & Chili, Sun Sushi, the superb and sublime En, Provence, bread shops
  • 99 to Alma: Baru, Dharma (excellent vegetarian place: best tempeh I’ve had in years), The Wolf & Hound, the Cellar (+good jazz club), Olive & Crocodile
  • 99 to Macdonald: Acropol taverna (NOT Minerva’s, do not be tempted–same goes for their deli), Banana Leaf, Kitsayaya sushi (and others), bistro moderne, Tang’s noodles
  • 99 to Cambie: Peaceful noodle house, Sha Lin, sushi, (back up towards Granville) Great Golden Wall; also several other Szechuan & seafood places (for more: Richmond)
  • 84/44/4 to 4th & Alma and a bit further up: La Quercia; diners on right, ex. Aphrodite’s organic pie place (decent brunch). Further along, the Naam: vegetarian, open 24h/day.
    Now, thing is, I deem the Naam grossly overrated–the food is neither that good nor that special, there are other veggie places here that are better (Dharma for instance), and I do have some standards for comparison, mostly concentrated in the north-eastern US, plus Seattle, and my personal yardstick by which veggie diners are compared is in a different league: On the Eighth Day (in Manchester, the UK one).
    But it’s OK. No-one died. No-one even threw up or otherwise had to leave.
    That having been said, there are two caveats.
    (1) we went for dinner; service was lousy; the food mediocre (but we were sober and otherwise uninfluenced); and it was slow, slow, slow (but see previous parenthesis; also, we wanted out in under, errm, 2 hours so as to see FIREWORKS!!!)
    (2) my good friend MR–a Vancouverite and a man who knows food and is wise, whose judgement I would therefore respect–tells me that their breakfast is splendid: particularly very late at night/very early in the morning.
  • 84/44/4 to 4th & Vine, within 10 min walk: Gypsy crêpe place (NB: the Café Crêpe chain is mediocre at best), Maenam, Incendio pizza, Bibo pizza, sushi bistro, bistrot bistro (best chocolate mousse in town), Sophie’s cosmic diner, Hapa sushi, Local Public Eatery, Connie’s noodles
  • Downtown: Tropika, Raincity Grill, La Crêpe bretonne, La Bodega, Nuba (decent falafel etc.), restos attached to Loden (Voya) and Opus (Elixir); both very gorgeous stylish hotels and good for a weekend away…, Pourhouse (best crème brûlée outside Cambridge–equal to the gold standard of Peterhouse, Pembroke, and Trinity), and a plethora of good Korean & Japanese places down Robson (after the shops, heading NW towards Denman and Stanley Park), Bella for proper good ice-cream


  • famous fancy places: Bishop’s, Vij’s, Tojo’s
  • Chambar, Tomato, East is East, Crocodile, Le Gavroche, Lumière, Cioppino’s, Au Petit Chavignol, Les Faux Bourgeois, Refuel, Cibo, The Fish House @ Stanley Park
  • not yet “done” all of Robson …
  • … nor the gastronomic cornucopia Down South: Richmond! Aberdeen Centre!!
  • the cafe/food place at the science-y end of UBC campus

because you can't slay dragons, cast down demons, fight for justice, or otherwise make the usual everyday stand for the forces of good ... on an empty stomach or in the wrong shoes


  • Gravity Pope @4th&Vine
  • Broadway Shoe Salon @ Broadway near Macdonald
  • various, along Robson
  • good cobbler @ 2nd


  • Gravity Pope, Broadway, Umbrella Shop @ Broadway, welly shop @ 4th
  • MEC and other shops on Broadway between Cambie & Main, for shoes, rainwear, other outdoor gear; see also 4th&Burrard area, with lots of ski/surf/etc. shops. The Running Shop. UBC REC has a good sports shop.
  • Hat shops: Broadway & Granville, Main, Granville island market


  • tools, utensils, kitchen- & bath-ware, furniture: IKEA, Canada Tire, Best Buy, Nood, Ming Wo (several locations), cookworks, call the kettle black, place on Davie (forgot the name)
  • Broadway & Yukon or so: MEC plus other sporting-goods, sports-wear, rainwear, hiking boots, backpacks, and other outdoor-compatible stuff
  • malls and department stores: Pacific centre–Holt Renfrew, Ronsons’s, Sears, The Bay, H&M, assorted other shops for clothes and so on, Apple store, TBS, Crabtree & Evelyn; Oakridge–similar, plus Zellers, Murale, and nicer & airier than Pacific C; Richmond. Roughly the same (very decent) food-courts in all three.


  • various malls (see above)
  • second-hand / vintage clothes, hats, spectacles, etc.: Main, Commercial
  • outdoor stuff: MEC and other shops on Broadway between Cambie & Main, for shoes, rainwear, other outdoor gear; see also 4th&Burrard area, with lots of ski/surf/etc. shops
  • the usual chains on Robson (their bigger branches, -ish: Banana Republic, Zara, Roots, Gap, Club Monaco, etc. plus smaller boutiques; good combination with Pacific Centre (and to be punctuated by lunch & snacks on Robson)
  • Gastown, Main, & Commercial for more interesting boutiques
  • Spank, Gravity Pope, others… on 4th
  • Tenth & Proper by 10th&Sasamat

re. our good friend Trotula, c/o “How to Fake Virginity, Medieval Style“, The Mother’s Handbook: A Tongue-in-Cheek Survival Guide

GROOMING: ladies’ and gentlemen’s necessaries

  • drugstores: Shopper Drug Mart (several locations, big 24-h one at Broadway@Burrard), London Drugs
  • Whole Foods/Capers and other health-food shops (WF still has best range of them, Finlandia is fair)
  • Sephora (Pacific Centre), Murale (Oakridge), Crabtree & Evelyn, TBS, L’Occitane, MAC downtown (all thee in or near Pacific C), Holt Renfrew for widest range of dept-store and high-end (plus the other dept. stores–the Bay, Sears), spa boutiques on 10th down the hill from Sasamat
  • hair-management etc.:  several around 4th & Vine. Kitsilano Barbers: from 4th&Vine, walk back up 4th, towards UBC, just after Safeway: splendid  unisex hairdresser, who (barbering aside) do a good no-fuss dry cut for women and–best of all–THEY LET WOMEN SIT IN THE MEN’S FABULOUS RED-AND-CHROME CHAIRS!!! Robson; various salons inc selling hair stuff, on Broadway, downtown,…

alternative guide, for academics--and others--who find themselves stumbling around in a state of overworked glazed haggard desperation; yet, paradoxically, are relentlessly pursued by beings trying to suck dry (what little remains of) their brains.


  • NB mix of places been to, to which I would willingly return; more regular haunts; and The Wish-list.
  • Doesn’t include, as far as possible, places which were not good, or which were so-so, like many another, or otherwise “meh.”
  • Doesn’t include places further afield (Punjab Market, North Van, etc.)

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