Looking for a cool place to meet up with friends and grab a drink? Vancouver is absolutely riddled with restaurants, pubs, bars, and nightclubs, so it’s ridiculously easy to find a place to wet your whistle. You simply need to step out onto the street and walk a few steps in any direction. But are you looking for a place that’s a little different than the rest? Somewhere kind of wacky, strange, quirky, or unique? These can be a little harder to find but there are a few hidden gems to be discovered throughout the city. Check out these pubs and bars for an evening out of the ordinary.
Storm Crow Tavern
Storm Crow Tavern is one of the absolute favorites amongst the geeks and nerds of Vancouver. The space is a nerd haven, with walls adorned with axes, blasters, a massive Cthulhu statue, and countless other pop culture oddities scattered around. This Commercial Drive location has been open since 2012 and has only become increasingly more popular as time has passed. Patrons can participate in the regular special events that are held, such as Saturday morning cartoon brunch, trivia nights, and LGBTQ2+ friendly game nights. Those are are regularly designated as the dungeon master will be happy to know that you can book a DM & Dine night which provides you with your own personal DM to host the tabletop RPG of your choice.
Storm Crow Alehouse
Storm Crow Alehouse is the sister pub to the Storm Crow Tavern and this location can be found on West Broadway. The Alehouse features 150 seats, a patio section, strange and unusual pieces of taxidermy, a TARDIS, and plenty of other decor intended to please the geekiest of hearts. Like the Tavern, they also offer DM & Dine bookings, trivia nights, LGBTQ2+ game nights, and the famous Storm Crow Random Shot menu. Roll a 20 sided die to choose your pop cultured theme shot and if you roll a 20 you’ll be rewarded with a super sized mega shot and you can keep the glass.
Back and Forth Bar
Located in South Vancouver, the Back and Forth Bar is a great place to go for cheap beer, games, and a casual atmosphere. All beer is $5, or $4 during happy hour. You can also order wine, spirits, and small snacks like chips and popcorn. If you’re feeling peckish for something a little more substantial, no worries, they’re cool with you bringing in your own food or ordering some delivery. If you’re looking for something to play, they have 6 ping pong tables, a slew of board games, and a TV dedicated to Nintendo Classic.
The Shameful Tiki Room
The Shameful Tiki Room, located on Main Street, is a dimly lit, windowless den of exotic decor and masterfully mixed vintage cocktails. On their menu, their drinks are given strength ratings, such as mild for the Pago Pago, or Yowza! for the Zombie and the Tiki Puka Puka. If you’re up for sharing with a friend, try one of their bowls, like the Blood of the Kapu Tiki or the Volcano Bowl.
The Tiki Bar at the Waldorf
Another tiki bar that deserves a mention is The Tiki Bar at the Waldorf. Relax amongst the faux palms and the deep blue painted sky in this Polynesian oasis. Within the Tiki Bar you’re surrounded by bamboo, exotic carvings, Polynesian artwork, and an aura of tropical charm. Their cocktail menu is loaded with libations that taste as if you’re sitting on a hot sandy beach. Reserved for the most adventurous patrons are the punch bowls, filled to the brim with rum and a handful of other tasty additions.
Because you can never have too many tiki bars, the Sneeki Tiki is one more tropically decorated spot definitely worth checking out. The interior of this place is jam packed with islandy decor or you can move outside to enjoy some sun in the bamboo enclosed patio. The drink menu is a rum lovers paradise of classic and signature cocktails, tiki bowls, and specialty Sneeki cocktail creations. When you get peckish, you’ll notice their food menu is as exotic as their decor, with coconut shrimp, Polynesian wings, Maui sliders, a PuPu Platter.
The Black Lodge
The Black Lodge is a Twin Peaks themed, vegetarian gastropub located in the Mount Pleasant area. The space has an incredibly rustic feel, with countryside murals and artwork along the walls, old wood floors, and a creepy Twin Peaks dream sequence styled hallway towards the bathrooms. This 70 seat space features 4 wooden cabin-like booths which can seat up to 6 people apiece. Their vegetarian menu offers vegan and gluten-free options, with a drink menu loaded with specialty cocktails and shareable punch bowls.
The ambiance of Hail Mary’s is simply gorgeous, with the entire space surrounded by deep red walls accented in brick and wood. Roman Catholic artwork is hung from every wall and there is a tiny curtained confessional where you can unburden yourself of your sins, or perhaps commit a few more. Try one of their appropriately named cocktails, like the Penance or the Bleeding Hearts, or indulge in one of their 7 Deadly Sins specialties.
Jacklope’s Neighbourhood Dive
Jacklope’s Neighbourhood Dive may be one of the quirkiest bars to chill in, based on its atmosphere alone. The walls of this self proclaimed dive bar are covered in rock band and horror movie posters, random thrift shop treasures, art by local artists, and some pretty funky lookin’ stuffed animal heads. The vibe is friendly and relaxed and the music is an endless stream of rock ‘n’ roll, metal, and classic country. If you’re feeling brave, try one of their suspiciously named menu items, such as the Soylent Green, Swamp Thing, or Slaughter House.
Score on Davie
Opened in 2007, Score on Davie located in the heart of the West End. It has received awards for Best Casual Bar, Best Gay Bar, Best Breakfast, Best Sports Bar, and Best Place to Catch a Game, which all adds up to a pretty well rounded personality for a neighboorhood pub. Ordering one of their epic caesars is a must, which are loaded with burgers, chicken wings, onion rings, taco bowls, and even slices of pie. Leave your mark on their magnetic walls with their old school plastic alphabet magnets that you definitely played with as a kid.
Any of these spots make a fine escape from the normalcy of everyday life. In these strange bars and pubs you can sit amongst your fellow nerds, you can surround yourself with loud and vibrant decor, and you can play some games other than your typical barroom sports like darts or pool. Every one of these bars are just as unique and special as the exceptional individuals who frequent them.