10 oldest restaurants in Vancouver

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Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz

It’s not all about what’s new, hip, fresh, and trendy in Vancouver–at least when it comes to food. For a city that’s 130 years young, we have managed to support a handful of restaurants, bakeries and the like for several decades, which is no small feat considering how hard the biz can be.

From a familiar family-friendly chain to funky old cafés with a new lease on life, here are the 10 oldest restaurants in Vancouver.

Notte’s Bon Ton Pastry & Confectionery (1926)

True, this isn’t a restaurant in the traditional sense, but this pastry shop has been serving up treats for 90 years and is still going strong. Though Notte moved from its original Granville Street location several years ago, it is still in the hands of the Notte family. They specialize in cakes, including custom orders and wedding cakes, as well as several other kinds of pastries and baked goods. Sit down in their tea room for a nibble Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Address: 3150 West Broadway
Phone: 604-681-3058

White Spot (1928)

Vancouver Public Library archives

Vancouver Public Library archives

Vancouver’s veteran White Spot chain goes way (way, way) back in the city’s history. Nat Bailey and his 1918 Model T-turned-mobile lunch counter was a food truck before it was hip, and he soon went brick-and-mortar with the first location on Granville Street at 67th Avenue, serving up chicken dinners. By the 1960s, British Columbians were chowing down Triple-O burgers with relish (pun intended). Things have evolved at The White Spot, but it is still as Vancouver as you can get when it comes to affordable family dining.

Address: Over 60 locations in BC and Alberta
Twitter: @White_Spot

Deutsches Haus at Vancouver Alpen Club (1935)

Find traditional German fare with a few multi-ethnic twists at the Deutsches Haus at the Vancouver Alpen Club. Here the German beer and wine are flowing, and the menu has you covered from Bratwurst to Strudel. The Club is also home to banquet facilities for event rentals, and is a prime destination for Oktoberfest festivities.

Address: 4875 Victoria Drive
Phone: 604-874-3811
Twitter: @alpenclub

Ovaltine Café (1942)

House Burger at Ovaltine Cafe (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

House Burger at Ovaltine Cafe (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz)

While other restaurants of the Ovaltine’s peer class have long since faded away, this diner is a survivor story. Mother-daughter team Grace and Rachel Chen took over in late 2014, and have since brought on industry pros to help expand not only the hours of the longstanding greasy spoon, but also its appeal. Still going strong, the menu continues to include affordable diner classics and a very no frills setting.

Address: 251 East Hastings Street
Phone: 604-685-7021

Lindsay William-Ross/Vancity Buzz

SEE ALSO: Ovaltine Café slowly rebuilds its own past while moving ahead

The Northern Cafe & Grill (1940s)

Formerly known as the LT Cafe, this easy-to-miss diner is atop a hardware store on the site of Northern Building Supply. While the National Post calls this Canada’s oldest most rundown restaurant (it’s not the oldest, for certain), the son of the building company’s founder claimed a few years back the diner has been feeding folks since the 1940s, but the diner’s modest web site dates itself to the 60s. Longevity is longevity, but there’s nothing old being heated up here; the food is made fresh and from scratch on site.

Address: 1640 East Kent Avenue
Phone: 604-313-8118

Argo Cafe (1954)

Things have evolved at the Argo Café since their greasy spoon days. For the last decade the owners have focused on serving “slow food, fast,” at an affordable price. In addition to comfort classics, Argo puts out several daily specials, which are shared with fans via email and social media.

Address: 1836 Ontario Street
Phone: 604-876-3620
Twitter: @argocafe

Nick’s Spaghetti House (1957)

It doesn’t get much more old school red sauce Italian than Nick’s Spaghetti House. Massive portions of pasta (and prices many may find a bit out of proportion) and a comfy run-down vibe have kept Nick’s a staple for families and eaters fueled by nostalgia. And, yes…they’ve got red-checkered tablecloths and shakers of parmesan.

Address: 631 Commercial Drive
Phone: 604-254-5633

The Diner (1958)

The Diner, September 2015 (Google Street View)

The Diner, September 2015 (Google Street View)

Simply called The Diner, West Point Grey has had this go-to spot for over five decades for traditional English breakfasts served up in a room packed with British memorabilia. In fact, you can get their hearty breakfast plates all day, in addition to fare like fish and chips, mushy peas, and Yorkshire Pudding.

Address: 4556 West 10th Avenue
Phone: 604-224-1912

Hy’s Steakhouse (1960)

Photo courtesy Hy's Steakhouse

Photo courtesy Hy’s Steakhouse

The steakhouse is a special category among restaurant genres, and Vancouver’s Hy’s is one of the few left from the heyday of the dark-paneled rooms and special occasion beef-centric dinners. The Hy’s legacy began in 1955 in Calgary, but it wasn’t long before founder Hy Aisenstat took his restaurant and his family further west to Vancouver. First came Hy’s at the Sands in the West End, then Hy’s Encore, which remains in the same location, with many of the same furnishings.

Address: 637 Hornby Street
Phone: 604-683-7671
Twitter@Hys_Steakhouse

Provoke_Studios_HYS_Steakhouse_Vancouver_Int_Web-1

SEE ALSO: Hy's Steakhouse debuts new upstairs cocktail bar

Helen’s Grill (1961)

Helen’s Grill is another long-lasting star in the pantheon of Vancouver’s diners. All-day breakfast served up greasy spoon style is on the menu here, and on weekends it remains a popular pick for hungry crowds of eaters eager for plates of eggs and mugs of diner-issue coffee–often to quell a hangover.
Address: 4102 Main Street
Phone: 604-874-4413
Twitter@helensgrill

10 Oldest Restaurants in Vancouver

By Vancity Buzz

 

  • Notte’s Bon Ton Pastry & Confectionery

    By Vancity Buzz

    This pastry shop has been serving up treats for 90 years and is still going strong.

  • The White Spot

    By Vancity Buzz

    Vancouver’s veteran White Spot chain goes way (way, way) back in the city’s history. There are 60 locations in B.C. and Alberta.

  • Deutsches Haus at Vancouver Alpen Club

    By Vancity Buzz

    Find traditional German fare with a few multi-ethnic twists at the Deutsches Haus at the Vancouver Alpen Club.

  • Ovaltine Cafe

    By Vancity Buzz

    While other restaurants of the Ovaltine’s peer class have long since faded away, this diner is a survivor story.

  • Northern Cafe & Grill

    By Vancity Buzz

    Formerly known as the LT Cafe, this easy-to-miss diner is atop a hardware store on the site of Northern Building Supply.

  • Argo Cafe

    By Vancity Buzz

    Things have evolved at the Argo Café since their greasy spoon days. Now they serve French-inspired elevated fare in the same diner spot.

  • Nick’s Spaghetti House

    By Vancity Buzz

    It doesn’t get much more old school red sauce Italian than Nick’s Spaghetti House.

  • The Diner

    By Vancity Buzz

    West Point Grey has had this go-to spot for over five decades for traditional English breakfasts served up in a room packed with British memorabilia.

  • Hy’s Steakhouse

    By Vancity Buzz

    The Hy’s legacy began in 1955 in Calgary, but it wasn’t long before founder Hy Aisenstat took his restaurant and his family further west to Vancouver.

  • Helen’s Grill

    By Vancity Buzz

    Helen’s Grill is another long-lasting star in the pantheon of Vancouver’s diners.

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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