Fresh, made-to-order Mexican dishes might not be what one would expect to see in Vancouver's Chinatown district, but that's just where the family behind Hogan's Alley Cafe plates its hearty breakfast and lunch dishes. Red, green, ranchero, and mole sauces, ladled over the restaurant's egg dishes, enchiladas, and chilaquiles.
Owners Karl Gregg and Allan Bosomworth channel their sundry culinary interests into Two Chefs and a Table, a French-cuisine-inspired bistro with a robust catering wing and a focus on delightful wines. Their laid-back eatery immerses diners in artful food preparation at the chef's table, where cooks prepare meals in the open to assuage the anxieties of claustrophobic cheeses.
The menu and its carefully selected complementary wines change with the season, variously sating appetites with fresh salmon, British Columbia boar, and a slew of other locally sourced ingredients. Occasional Wine Drinker dinners match themed five-course meals with ideal wines as patrons mingle in merriment. For special events and social gatherings, the catering service supplies appetizers and plated cuisine.
On the menu, a list of 10 Deacon's Corner-specific rules reminds visitors that food is meant to be enjoyed and that gluttony is underrated. Homestyle comfort food is the specialty here, with pulled pork, burgers, and French fries made to order, including during expanded hours that allow patrons to visit for dinner. Breakfast is also served around the clock, letting customers get their fill of truffled hollandaise sauce on eggs benedict or a veggie scramble any time of day.
Looking around, dark wood accents lend a sleek, modern feel to the place, courtesy of a recent makeover. But changes didn't just affect the décor; there are new additions to the menu, too. Newcomer plates include the Nick & Jade, a sandwich named after two of the diner’s servers that features chipotle mayo with fried chicken, cheese, and bacon on a bun. It’s listed on the Bigmouth Fellas list of colossal sandwiches, each of which the menu advises is "best enjoyed with two hands while planting your face into it and eating your way around."
The woks at Terracotta Modern Cuisine sizzle with Chinese tapas-style dishes that meld traditional flavours with contemporary plating. The menu teems with small plates of golden squid, shiitake mushrooms, and five-spice crispy chicken sliders nestled in golden mantou buns, as well as vegetarian options including vegan spring and rice paper rolls, sesame noodle salad, and vegetarian noodle soup. The staff regularly visits Chinatown for ingredients for their fresh desserts, such as the housemade baked tapioca Happy Ending paired with green-tea gelato from La Casa.
Beneath the modern dining room’s softly glowing pendant lights, terracotta warriors styled after those of the Qin dynasty stand guard over the dark wood tables. Cushy, high-backed leather chairs encourage a leisurely meal punctuated by diners swapping tales or shouting "comma" every few words.
A raw bar packed with ice, oysters, and crab greets diners when they enter Cork & Fin, offering a glimpse at a menu of refined seafood and contemporary cuisine that Zagat rated "very good to excellent." In addition to spotlighting seafood by creating towers of oysters on the half shell, dungeness crab legs, and albacore tuna tartare, the chefs demonstrate their culinary skills by introducing new flavours. Saffron aioli adds a distinctive, Mediterranean spark to seafood fritters, barbecued mackerel arrives with the restrained zest of a beetroot vinaigrette, and wild mushrooms lend a savoury decadence to six-ounce cuts of grilled sirloin.
This commitment to simple yet refined cuisine complements the split-level dining area's clean, minimalist decor. Exposed brick walls supply a rustic vibe that acknowledges the building's historic Gastown roots, but the room also features modern accents, including track lighting and an electron microscope. Bordered by a stately white banister, the mezzanine level presents guests with a semiprivate dining option for parties or special events.
Touting accolades from Vancouver Magazine and the Vancouver Courier, Save On Meats sates appetites with a butcher shop and grocery, all-day diner, and traditional sandwich counter. A weathered fluorescent sign, painted blue and adorned with the shop's signature leaping pig, welcomes patrons as they step into an eatery infused with a retro '50s atmosphere but free from con artists claiming to be Lucille Ball’s dentist. Chefs pile plates with hearty diner fare ranging from all-day breakfast platters and simple sandwiches to ribs, meatloaf, and pot pies. Kitchen scholars helm cooking classes focused on grassroots food preparation and tactical food-fight strategies in butchering and canning. Colourful apparel and wares such as T-shirts and coffee mugs let visitors display their loyalty.