The ultimate guide to the perfect bar crawl through Vancouver's Chinatown

Feb 17 2023, 11:13 pm

It’s Friday night, it’s been a rough week, and you’re looking for something fun to do.

Or maybe you have friends visiting from out of town and want to show them the best of the city in a short span of time.

Enter: the bar crawl.

Not just for drunken nights of debauchery (but those are fun too) or St. Patrick’s Day, the bar crawl can be a fun way to explore the best of what a neighbourhood has to offer.

Different bars have different atmospheres and moods – what works as a great after-work spot might not be as ideal for your 1 am nightcap – and the bar crawl offers the chance to try a little bit of everything.

In an attempt to make a template for the perfect night out, here are our suggestions for a perfect bar crawl through Vancouver’s Chinatown, plus a handy map to guide your way.

5:30 pm


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You’ve just finished work (maybe, or maybe you had the day off anyway because you don’t work a standard 9-5 M-F work week, but either way, we’re going to start here). Start at The Boxcar, located at 917 Main Street, and start slow with a pint of something cold and local. The nice thing about The Boxcar (of which there are many nice things) is that it’s small, dark, intimate, has a long bar to sit at, and you can also order pizza from Farina next door while you drink. It’s a great spot to unwind and start your evening.

6:30 pm

Now that you’ve settled into the evening, it’s time to slip into something a little more Italian. Head over to Fiorino, Italian Street Food (212 East Georgia Street) and grab a seat at the bar (it’s probably busy in there). We suggest ordering one of this spot’s many takes on the classic Negroni (nine to be exact) and maybe nibbling on a plate of arancini while you’re at it (because who can resist arancini?).

7:30 pm


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You can’t do a bar crawl through Chinatown without stopping for at least one cocktail at The Keefer Bar at 135 Keefer Street. Known for its Chinese apothecary-inspired interiors with cocktails to match, this place is small but an absolute must. Order from its Alumni Cocktails list – a lineup of its “greatest hits,” including the Chinatown Sour or Rosemary Gimlet. Really, anything you order here will be good, but it must be a cocktail.

8:30 pm

You’re probably kind of drunk now (or not? We don’t know your limit so that’s up to you!), so it’s time for a brisk walk through the neighbourhood. Take in some fresh air and walk towards the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (which is closed already, sadly, but you should go another day) and take a peek inside. Can you believe something this beautiful and serene exists right in the middle of the city?

9 pm


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Head to Pender Street where you’ll find Pizza Coming Soon up a small set of stairs at 179 East Pender Street. This place definitely does not have pizza (nor does it ever plan to) but it does have a fun menu of beers, natural wines, saké, and cocktails. Order something that feels good to you right now, and while you’re at it, order some food too, because you’re probably still hungry. The wings are a good choice, as is the Ramen Salad or the Weekly Fried Rice. Sit here a while, because this place is fun and it has booths and you’re tired of moving around anyways.

11 pm


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Are you tired yet? Well too bad, because now we’re going to one of the neighbourhood’s two hidden speakeasy-style bars. There’s Laowai, tucked behind BLND TGER Dumplings (at 251 East Georgia Street) and Bagheera, hidden behind the faux front of a betting shop (at 518 Main Street). For the former, you’ll access the bar via a freezer door by asking for a #7, and for the latter, you need to place a bet on “King Louie” in order to be granted access.

This might sound too complicated for this point in the night, but dealing with a secret password when you’re buzzed is kind of funny (not to mention entertaining) so just roll with it. It doesn’t matter which one you want to go to, both will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time to an era when you had to sneak flasks of booze into jazz clubs.

Bonus: 1 am


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If you’re still awake and feeling like the night’s not done yet, here’s a little extra stop for you: Head to Funky Winker Beans for its nightly karaoke. Grab a can of cheap beer, pick a song, and let the liquid courage guide you to the stage (yes, there’s a stage), because every good night should end with karaoke.

Daryn WrightDaryn Wright

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