A true gem of the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver’s bar scene has had to up its game in recent years to compete with its more hipster-heavy neighbour, Portland.
Vancouver’s best hipster bars combine mandatory quirkiness with traditional laid back West Coast culture to create some really dynamic late-night venues. As well as fun, cosy drinking holes, Canada’s western metropolis also caters to a vibrant live scene, and many places on this list draw the creme de la creme of alternative music acts. Check out our list of the best places to hang with hipster types in this bustling, developing city and let us know what you think!
10. Guilt & Co
This waterfront dive bar is a great place for live music. Quaint candlelit tables covering the floor in front of the stage provide an intimate setting even during busy weekend hours. Queues are common, so it’s best to get down early to get a set and hold on to it while live acts take the stage.
9. The Diamond
Just around the corner from Guilt, this place has more of a classical lounge feel to it. This place is best known for its impressive and often adventurous drinks menu; premium cocktails at premium prices. There is a definite sense of elegance throughout, featuring some great touches like wood-paneled bookshelves, a stunning glass chandelier and an unmarked door as the entrance.
8. Yagger’s Downtown
A sports bar and restaurant, this slender venue is a favourite downtown location for watching big games. In the back room leather sofas are set up on carpeted flooring, giving customers a sense of hanging out in someone’s living room. As the name hints, Jagermeister is the drink of choice here – they have it on tap and it’s consumed in large quantities during match days. If you’re looking for some boisterous fun and to meet some quirky local sports fans, this place is your spot.
7. The Fringe Cafe
Long established on the scene in the neighbourhood of Kitsilano. Drink specials make this bar a busy spot practically every night of the week, with themed nights ranging from poetry readings to Game of Thrones Mondays.
6. Electric Owl Social Club
Electric Owl manages to consistently run some one of the liveliest events in town while never feeling like the management are packing people in. With plenty of nice booths scattered throughout as safe havens from the dark, often wild, dance floor, this place is a really inclusive spot and a favourite of locals.
5. The Cascade Room
The perfect place to go for some more chilled out drinks. This spot is open until late and also serves up some quality snacks to eat – sliders, scotch eggs and polenta fries are particularly popular – making it an ideal bar to spend a few hours of casual conversation.
4. Hotel at the Waldorf
This is one of the larger music venues in Vancouver and does a great job of attracting top international DJs. Comprising of three different venues in one – Tiki Bar, Tabu Nightclub and the Hideaway – the Waldorf is guaranteed to have something interesting going on, usually three different fantastic events taking place simultaneously. Heading here is nearly always going result in a zany encounter with a local eccentric, and the old school exterior makes for an attractive entrance.
3. Six Acres
Located in Gastown in the Alhambra Building – the oldest brick building in Vancouver – this bar is brimming with charm and a sense of history. In old Vancouver parlance, to “gas” meant to talk freely. Six Acres remains true to this tradition, offering a great meeting place to stop by and talk with old friends or random new ones. Food and beer-wise, this spot has its finger very much on the pulse; numerous craft beers and house specialities like mussels and curry sauce maintain a vibrant, loyal crowd.
2. The Biltmore Cabaret
The dance floor is a major draw here. Heavy red lighting gives it an energetic, sensual feel. Biltmore always picks up some great touring acts coming to town, hence there’s nearly always something to entice you here. After gigs DJs take the booth and the floor becomes a mass of wild shapes being thrown. Always a lively night.
1. The Narrow Lounge
A funky terrace with a tropical theme… heady rum punch is often on offer. The interior is cosy, with plenty of stools both at the bar and around small table economising well on space. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from this place; depending on the night, and indeed the time of evening, the bar can vary between quiet and ideal for casual drinks, to vibrant scenes of raunchy bar top dancing. This in-built spontaneity and constant friendly atmosphere gives The Narrow Lounge an edge over other bars.