Joe's Cafe

I like Joe's Cafe but I always have the feeling that I am intruding. This authentic little cafe, broken window repaired with Tuck Tape and all,  was here long before Commercial drive was trendy. I kind of worry that my coming in here and taking pictures, being fascinated with the surroundings, disturbs the vibe.
Local guys watching the football match on TV and drinking their coffees could not care less about my blog or Instagram, so we do our best to not upset things. That being said, I expect it is all in my head because no one has ever even sneered in our direction. Everyone is friendly enough.
We have never eaten here. I expect that you might be able to partake of some decent food. We do however, love the coffee.
I am a Starbucks, dark roast, no room for cream guy and I freely admit it but at Joe's, I can be talked into a cappuccino. Rich and not too sweet, deep coffee flavour. Very nice.
Marie likes her coffee a little sweeter and had an Espresso Americano with a bit of extra sugar. This was another hit the spot kind of drink especially on the first rainy day that we have had in a long time.
Come in, have a coffee and maybe a sandwich. Maybe watch the game. Just don't act like such a foodie!

Joe's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Loyal - Richmond

I had been intrigued by the reviews of Cafe Loyal. Many pointed to its decent chow, unique menu and ordering system and good prices. It has been on my list for a while. So we were in the area and hungry, and decided to give it a try.
I'm not typically put off by sketchy locations or run down strip malls so we rolled up and walked in despite the low rent exterior.
I had already looked at the menu and felt some confusion. I hoped that looking at it in person would solve this, but it did not. The menu is a sort of hodge podge of combinations and single items with miscellaneous exceptions and additions, all in campy hard to read graphics. Put a bunch of people in front of the menus all at the same time and I'm sure the result will be chaos! My advice would be to print some menus and let people struggle on their own instead of in line with other people waiting! That being said, it was not busy when we arrived. We figured it out, ordered and our food was ready to be picked up quickly. 
And here is the thing, the food was very good! I admit that I was prepared to be disappointed but everything we had was tasty and satisfying! Marie had a Fish Soup Noodle Set with Crispy Chicken and Pan Fried Pork Dumplings on the side. The noodles had some nice chew, there were lots of fresh vegetables and a generous very tender piece of chicken breast all in a very good broth.
The dumplings were nicely seared, also had good texture and decent pork filling. You can't ask too much from add on dumplings but we were happy with these.
I had Satay Beef with Rice. Also a not too fancy but satisfying dish. Tender, slightly sweet with a few vegetables and rice to soak up the sauce. Each of our combos came with a drink and I was amazed to only pay $25 for the whole meal! So value for decent chow is the whole point here. You could probably order anything of the confusing menu and be happy. There is an eclectic (sort of faux eclectic, I assume) mix of tables and chairs and the folks were friendly enough. You can even buy Cafe Loyal T shirts! I'm impressed!
Cafe Loyal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Down Low Chicken Shack

I watched David Chang's Memphis Hot Chicken episode of Ugly Delicious on Netflix many months ago and immediately began trying to figure out how I could get there to eat that stuff! Then came the blessed announcement that Down Low Chicken Shack was coming here, the first local establishment to serve this southern delight!
I have waited patiently for the opportunity to get to DL and Marie and I waited patiently again for the quick moving line to get us in the door where we could place our order.
Seating is a little on the lean side but much of their business seems to be take out. There are a few picnic tables outside but this rainy Saturday morning did not seem to be the time to take advantage of that. Inside the joint was, as they say, jumpin'! The music got us into the best mood possible (imagine Earth, Wind and Fire etc.) and the staff seemed to be enjoying themselves also!
We ordered the Hot Chicken on a Bun which was every bit as wonderful as I had dreamed. The chicken breast was moist (I assume brined) and was so crispy. With sauce, slaw, pickled onions and butter pickles, it was a complete and wonderful package for $12. We decided to try the Macaroni Salad with pimento cheese (pimento cheese would be another reason to travel to the American south).
And there was much rejoicing. This was not anything like the disappointing macaroni salad that you get at fast food places. It had impressive depth of flavour, a lot to ask from pasta salad.We also ordered a 1/4 Dark (leg and thigh), and a wing. 
We ordered both the sandwich and the quarter, mild and got brave with the wing ordering it, hot. 
Mild had a bit of heat and hot had some more but neither was overpowering. For those into pain, there are two hotter levels offered. The butter pickles were omnipresent and so fine (house made). We loved it here. It was not too expensive being less than $30 for all of this and a couple of cokes. Maybe the best fried chicken I have had in Metro Vancouver!
The Downlow Chicken Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vancouver Foodster's Commercial Drive Tasting Plates - Part Two

When last we saw our heroes, they were emerging from Rosemary Rocksalt on Main back into the summer heat and smoke on Commercial Drive. They (we) now continued north to the impressive Hustle Pizza!
We found it cluttered with other folks like us on the tour but our host at Hustle seemed to revel in the attention and was rightly proud to provide tastes and details!
We were more than a little impressed by the fresh herbs growing right in the shop. Their basil makes its way into their pesto and the baby arugula provides a peppery note, sprinkled fresh onto various pies. They offer Sicilian style pizza with a chewy tasty crust that is crispy on the bottom. Vegan, Vegetarian and carnivorous tastes are all accommodated here!

Don't tell my partner that the pulled pork is not pork at all! She did not notice! On the other hand, the pepperoni was just what you expect.
I was totally impressed with the Funghi Pizza with mushrooms (obviously), potato, truffled Alfredo and vegan mozzarella, , peppers and baby arugula. This base was creamy and rich and the vegetables satisfying. I could do without the cauliflower to be honest. Nicely done though!
Next came a little hike back to The Drive Coffee Bar where we enjoyed a couple of very nicely crafted beverages.
I am told that a full white is an Australian drink. This one was raspberry flavoured. Once the syrup is stirred into the coffee, you have desert!
This Macchiato and the accompanying biscotti also made me smile. If I lived around the corner, this would be my hangout. Nice East Van art on the walls, comfortable seating and even a table outside. The order taking and delivery of beverages seemed a little confused, and the place was awfully warm but that would be perfect in the winter and rain.
Last stop (and close to our sky train exit from the tour) was Daddy's Kitchen. I'm having a little trouble getting past the name.
As full as we were, we tucked into two little tacos each which gave us a look into what Daddy's does.
Britannia (fresh ahi tuna) and Dragon Breath ( fresh Atlantic salmon) came with perfect trimmings on flour tortillas. A whole raft of extra house made sauces were available but mostly unnecessary.
These were followed  by Chipotle Prawn Tacos which featured fat tasty prawns, corn, black beans, olive, cilantro, tomato, avocado and chipotle sauce. We couldn't eat another bite but a Thai Iced Tea kept us hydrated on the trip home.
Thanks Vanfoodster for another enjoyable event!
Hustle Pizza Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vancouver Foodster's Commercial Drive Tasting Plates - Part One

Doing battle with the smoke like everyone in the city and province, we arrived humidity frazzled, with slightly burning eyes at The Drive Coffee Bar on Commercial to check in and meet with Richard Wolak and everyone else participating in this event. We would be back here for a coffee when things had cooled down a bit.

Once on our way to our first destination, we temporarily forgot our global warming related woes ( we should never really forget this) in anticipation of some good eats.
First stop was at Pasture to Plate. We visited their Denman Street location as part of West End Tasting Plates not too long ago and their offering was spectacular.  This location is a butcher shop rather than a restaurant so we enjoyed our tacos standing outside.
This was a very tasty pulled pork taco with cheese, avocado and pico de gallo. Being on the thirsty side, we were disappointed that the promised Kombucha was unapologetically not available. Oh well! On to the next stop!
Rosemary Rocksalt offered respite from the heat of the evening and although a beverage was not part of their sample, we were able to purchase and enjoy an Italian soda to go with a couple of very nice Bagel sandwiches
I have never been here before but loved their chewy and delicious Montreal style bagels (boiled and then baked). One was topped with a nice helping of very good Montreal smoked meat while the other was served exactly as bagels should be, with lox, cream cheese, capers and red onion! Wonderful and maybe my favorite taste of the evening!
Marie loved the little cheesecake sample but unfortunately, cheesecake is not on their regular menu. It definitely should be! This is a friendly and comfortable place to stop for a decent snack or pick up some bagels for home. Check out their website and note that they have impressive ethics that include decent treatment of their employees. This impresses me as much as the food!
Stay tuned for part two of Vanfoodster's Commercial Drive Tasting Plates!

Rosemary Rocksalt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

RibFest - Langley

Attending the first ever Langley RibFest taught me a couple of important things for next time (as I hope we will be calling it an annual event at this time next year)  ; 1) don't think you can taste everything in one afternoon and, 2) bring cash! This was an amazing event that was well organised. Parking was plentiful as were tables, games for the kids, and pretty decent live music! And oh yeah, there was barbequed meat also!
Tunes, as mentioned were pretty good. The Elton John tribute band that was playing when we arrived was fairly spot on. The lead singer / piano player even looked the part of Elton albeit circa 1970 or so. Following them was the Brookswood Country Band, who played some Eagles, Clapton and whose lead singer had a Stevie Nicks voice that was quite impressive.
The Ribfest surprising contribution to the world of sports was Human Foosball!
I have never seen Human Foosball before and I have the feeling that exterior control knobs for the players may have been tried but proved impractical.
The real stars of this festival were the pit masters of course, and low and slow over wood was the main event. However, we were not blown away by the final product! We tried the ribs at a couple of the stands, Boss Hoggs and Smoke and Bones. The sauces were quite impressive (and top secret) but in both cases, Marie and I encountered at least some 
of the portion which was unchewable! Seriously, some of the ribs on each  plate were tender and excellent while some was not very impressive at all.
At Smoke and Bones, we got a two meat combo with slaw. Brisket was our second meat and it was truly delectable ( and the slaw was very good also) ! Should this be BrisketFest? I feel like the downfall of the ribs has to do with advance preparation and reheating. Given that the average cost of a half rack seemed to be around $18, we shouldn't be having this discussion. I'm not a barbeque snob (or any other kind of snob) but I have had enough barbeque (not to be confused with grilled meat) to be able to comment.
Next time, I may just steer clear of the ribs altogether. Brisket, pulled pork and chicken all may stand up better to being served in quantity at an event like this. Aside from barbeques meats, there were plenty of other good things to eat and drink.
Well done, Langley!

Richmond Night Market - Again!

We like the night market but frankly, I am not a fan of the crowds and the lines and it is not a cheap date night. I got smart and bought a zoom pass this time, $25 for 6 passes and you can skip the long gate line up. Do this! We were a group of 10 or so (Marie's family including the folks visiting from the Philippines) and we declared an every man for himself system for snacking but kept meeting up to see how everyone else was doing.

Fusion was a theme for me starting with Fusion Wraps Kimchi and Bulgogoi Wrap. The wrapper itself was a highlight being cooked to order on the flat top. It was parantha like being layered and very tasty. Evidently listed as one of the top ten fan favourites at the market, others in our group were equally impressed.
I tried to stay away from things that we had previously tasted but Marie and I find it hard to resist the deep fried squid.
It was, as always tender but crispy. More people walking by asked, "Where did you get that?" than anything else we ate all evening! The torrential down pour that followed proved efficient for clearing out the less dedicated among us and for the balance of the evening, lines were short. Sitting down became impossible though as all the seats were soaked! An extra hand was required to hold an umbrella which was challenging as was not whacking folks in the crowd with said umbrella! 
Thai Rolled Ice Cream made my must have list as soon as I found out that it was here! I only last week, listened to a podcast about its migration from Thailand and have been keen to learn more. This was delicious with mango flavour folded into the ice cream as it is made right before you! 
I wanted a light bulb. It was my plan to use the light bulb if we got into a poorly lit area of the market.
OK, so it wasn't quite bright enough for that! Blue is of course, my favourite flavour so I enjoyed this.
Fish Sticks. OK, we tried this last time also. This time with Wasabi Mayo and Tartar Sauce. At $13, I still find them to be one of the better deals at the market. Hot and crispy, the fish is not thick but there is just enough to get a taste. What is better than food that comes on a stick?
No wonder I spend so much money at the night market. Every new thing, I have to try. Some Filipinas have tapped the fusion market with burritos. This stand was called Star Burritos by Palate Catering. My photo of their booth did not turn out but remember that name. My burrito was Kare Kare (beef and peanut sauce) but you can get coconut chicken and other favourites. The burrito comes with all the extras that you expect from a Mexican burrito, beans rice etc. Very Nice! Finally on the way out, we came across a young fellow giving out samples of Pork Crisps! Free samples and crisp pork...need I say more?
These are made by C + P or Chao + Pan. I know you are thinking chicharon or pork rinds but this is different. It is deep fried pork ears in small manageable bits! Delicious! Check them out on line. Their Lao products including sausages are readily available.
I had fun this rainy night partly because I got to say, "You aren't made of sugar. You won't melt!" often to the annoyance of my companions! As a life long BC resident, I always have umbrellas nearby. That's all it takes!

About Us

Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...