In Vancouver, Fraser St. is on the Up and Up.

It’s amazing to see how Fraser Street has transformed over a relatively short period. I lived there for six years when there was barely a spot to grab a cup of coffee. The shift corresponded with the announcement of a new large residential project – The Century Building by Ledingham McAllister – complete with large retail chains on the street level.

There is a fantastic photo gallery at the bottom of the post, so keep going past the end of the article!

By the fall of 2010, there were three businesses that had seized the opportunity during this transitional time. The first was Les Faux Bourgeois, a French bistro on the corner of Kingsway and Fraser. A couple months later, owner Katherine Reynolds, a veteran of the film industry, launched The Outpost Café (now closed) at the corner of Fraser and 24th.


Les Faux Bourgeois on the corner of Kingsway and Fraser St.

Just one block west of Fraser, a third business was opening its doors. Le Marché St. George, hidden away on a residential corner, has now become a hub of activity in the community. Adults and kids of all ages, along with their pets, gather on the sidewalk outside to chat and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee made from Oughtred beans. The owners are multi-talented and have exquisite taste, filling the shop with all kinds of indulgences you will want to take home with you. There are quiches, pastries, flatbreads, and homemade soup. It’s the type of space you’ll want to slow down and enjoy; to sit back, relax, and soak up the quaint European atmosphere.

After the closing of The Outpost Café, owners of artisan ice cream company, Earnest Cream, took over the space. Prior to that, they had been delivering their frozen desserts by bicycle. They pride themselves in highlighting the best ingredients that BC farms have to offer, and for their collaborations with other producers. They are always changing up the flavours, using seasonal ingredients, and many are limited edition, small batch ice creams. The day that I chose to visit, I was lucky enough to find Spruce Bud on the menu (there’s a very short window when the buds can be harvested), as well as their Café Au Lait, which uses beans from Matchstick Coffee Roasters, just down the street. I love that they are exposing their customers to ingredients so unique to BC.


Further north down the hill, you will find Sweet Salt Bakery, a shop specializing in artisanal German baked goods. The shop is very family-friendly, with an adorable play area and parent tot baking classes. I took home some of their raisin bread and it was delicious. My favourite discovery from their shop has been their fig & pumpkin seed granola, a must try!

A couple doors down, you will find a real hidden gem, BKH Singapore Style Jerky. The jerky is handcrafted and barbecued in-house on their grill. The result is extremely moist and sweet. A bonus, you can indulge without worrying about gluten or MSG. Vancouver Magazine listed them as one of the “101 things to taste before you die“. I highly agree.


A brand new discovery for me was The Artisanal Tea Bar, owned by husband and wife team, Phong and Huyen Vo. The Artisanal Tea Bar uses high quality ingredients and handcrafted techniques (like cold-infusing and in-house bitters). You can even custom blend your own tea combination to suit your palate. While I was there, I got the chance to sample a brand new concoction called Caribbean Paradise. One of its main ingredients is sour-sop fruit, and the result is not too sweet and extremely refreshing (and would be even better with a shot of dark rum). As a former executive chef, Phong understands the subtle layering of flavours. You can really sense the passion he pours into his work and his desire to keep innovating.


And that is only the beginning. Restaurants and bars continue to open, with the majority situated between Kingsway and 33rd. I sense a period of great opportunity for creative food businesses, while rents are still relatively low and the demographics are shifting. I was also happy to see that some of the original businesses were still there. European Breads makes some of the best perogies and borscht in the city. Close by, Nooru Mahal cooks up flavourful Sri-Lankan fare.

If you are visiting Vancouver, take the time to wander around this diverse and promising neighbourhood. Your taste buds will be rewarded.

— Danika McDowell

Gallery of Fraser St. all photos by Danika McDowell

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Photographer and stylist Danika McDowell enjoys exploring healthy, sustainable food systems while strengthening her connection to the people who grow her family's groceries. Visit her blog and her design portfolio ...

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