Although there is bar seating along the windows, no one comes to Gringo for the view. This is especially true now that full demolition is going on across the alley in front of them. Actually, the teardown was kind of a cool old brick building. It makes me sad but hey, people need to live somewhere. Gringo is located on Blood Alley by the way, which neither got its name from abattoirs or executions.
I eventually overcame my inclination to fall off the stools and we got seated at the window (not for the view as mentioned previously). We ordered some tacos from our enthusiastic server who was very good at remembering our names. He also gave good ordering advice. The menu is short at Gringo including some bowls, burritos etc. We came for the tacos and were not sorry.
We started with tortilla chips and some very good guac. Chips are not house-made but they were warmed and proved to be adequate vehicles for the dip.
The tacos arrived, one of each that they offer. Four-inch double corn tortillas were a good start and each was generously filled. There were the usual suspects; ground beef, brisket, pulled chicken, pork, poached pollack (which fooled me into thinking that I was eating ceviche) and surprisingly, jackfruit. The toppings varied from pickled onions or jalapenos to fried onions, salsa and cracklings. A decent feed of tacos for $3 each.
I expect that the main attraction at Gringo for most people are the libations. A full bar offering beer and various Margherita's is probably the perfect companion to a taco (or visa versa).
Despite being chronic teetotalers we enjoyed Gringo and its relentless 80s theme including song after song which triggered old memories and anecdotes. 
For what it's worth, we give Gringo 3 out of 5.

Gringo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Manoush'eh - Vanfoodster's Pizza Challenge

I first visited Manoush'eh as part of Vanfoodster's Pizza Palooza a little over a year ago. Despite their pizza related event participation, Manoush'eh is actually a Lebanese restaurant. It is small, welcoming and has a limited but tasty menu. It boasts a big gas-burning  'pizza' oven and serves manoush'eh which is the best-known street food of Lebanon.
On that first visit, Manoush'eh prepared their flatbread with falafel on one side complete with tahini Sauce, tomato, pickled turnip and parsley. The other half was the simple Lahm be Ajeen (spiced ground beef). It was a very nice introduction to the fairly recently opened store. I knew that I would be coming back.
It was the Pizza Challenge that finally got me to return. This time I was intent on trying a couple more items from their menu.
For those who have trouble making decisions, they offer another combination on their main menu. Zaatar, which is wild thyme, sumac, sesame seed and oil on one side, and Jabneh which is Akkawi cheese! The cheese was rich and melty, but quite mild and comparable to mozzarella. The thyme side was obviously more herbaceous while the sumac lends a citrus flavour. Very nice! 
Finally, there was their challenge offering. The Manoush'eh Pizza had all the ingredients that you might normally choose but again featured their house-made Akkawi cheese. Oregano led the way in the sauce while black olives brought up the rear. This was a pizza that I would order again especially as the crust featured just enough char from their oven
Just in the interest of humility, I must confess that I walked out with my boxes of leftover pizza, without even paying! You order at the counter and pay usually, I believe. Rather than tackle me in the street, the manager gently came outside and reminded me, to my chagrin. We all had a good laugh and eventually, my red face returned to normal.
For what it's worth, we give Manoush'eh 3 1/2 out of 5.

Manoush'eh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Black Rice Izakaya

We are big fans of the whole izakaya concept. It's nice to have a variety of small tastes rather than throwing all your eggs into one main course. You can even try some things you might otherwise be shy about trying. I also like to say the word and pretend that I know what I'm talking about. It really rolls off the tongue.
We've been meaning to try Black Rice for some time. It seems that we have been to many of the Guu izakayas but not many others. This restaurant is a little on the reserved side compared to some we have visited but we were made to feel welcome and seated right away. I find the challenge is in deciding how much to order. One strategy is to be conservative and then order more if you choose. Most items are quickly prepared so the wait does not become egregious.
We started with Tebasaki (house sauce glazed chicken wings). They arrived so hot that it took some self-control not to burn our fingers as we wanted to tear right in. The house sauce was on the sweet side, not too startling but very good while the chicken was tender and moist.
We shared the Mentaiko Cream Udon which we always enjoy and this was no exception. Marinated pollock roe is the main flavour but with a cream sauce, bacon and onion. Loved it.
The Spicy Shrimp and Bacon Ishiyaki arrived next. I startled our server as she wanted to mix the bowl for us but of course, I wanted to photograph it first. Taking pictures of all our food is one great annoyance of the modern first world for which we can thank social media. Oh well, I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it and didn't crave the 'likes'. Ishiyaki is evidently the hot stone and an ancient tradition. Of course, we loved the crusty rice at the bottom and the shrimp were a little spicy but not overly so. The bacon just added what bacon always adds. A nicely conceived dish!
They offer a variety of Kush -Yaki (single skewers ). We found both the Galbi and Tsukune (ground chicken) to be amazing but at $4 for each, things could get expensive quickly. As mentioned earlier, ordering additional items could be a good idea and so we decided to try their nigiri aburi in the form of Albacore Tuna.
They were generous pieces and had a slight torching. At this point, I am still not convinced by the point of this technique. I have not tried aburi often but so far, I am just as content to have my nigiri un torched. BTW, the albacore was great! 
I would call Black Rice chic and comfortable although some tables are a bit squeezed together. There is an open kitchen which is always cool. Service was very good and multiple people checked on us to make sure everything was fine. It's a little on the expensive side perhaps.
For what it's worth, we give Black Rice Izakaya 4 out of 5.

Black Rice Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

AJ's Brooklyn Pizza Joint - Vanfoodster's Pizza Challenge

Although I have finally given into the truth that I will never complete a Vanfoodster Challenge, there will always be participants in each challenge that fascinate me. Such was the case with AJ's Brooklyn Pizza Joint which has introduced Detroit style pizza to Vancouver. What is Detroit style pizza? Read on. Located on East Broadway near Kinsgway in a surprisingly gentrifying area, AJ's has a 'neighbourhood feel'.
We arrived Friday noonish, and ordered the Detroit Red Top. 
Evidently, dating back to the 1940', Detroit style is first of all, a rising crust pizza which made me a little nervous as Delissio is the only name that I had previously associated with that feature (I have never had one, btw). 
This thick crust turned out to be more fluffy than heavy. The Red Top is thick with melty rich Mozzarella and white cheddar, to the point of overflowing the sides of the fluffy crust. On the edges, it forms into a sort of cheese tuile but thicker and darker. This we found to be the most wonderful part of the pizza, cheesy (obviously) and partly crispy partly chewy. It could be packed and sold separately like muffin tops (unless you watched Seinfeld, that will sound stupid) or the crispy rice we all covet at the bottom of paella or stone bowls.
Finally, topped with amazing tomato sauce after it leaves the oven. We asked for one side pepperoni and one side vegetarian (fresh basil and sun dried tomato). We loved the Detroit Red Top. At $33, it is the most expensive pizza in the challenge but I think the quantity of cheese accounts for much of that cost. We ended up leaving with half the pizza so this thing could easily feed 3 or even 4 people.
Try it with Mike's Hot Honey which is on the tables but be prepared for a kick.
The menu at AJ's offers several pizza options including by the slice and Sicilian squares as well as meatballs and a full bar. AJ really is from Brooklyn which as much as anything, qualifies him to run this little piece of his hometown. The place is loaded up with baseball memorabilia which I love. Evidently the man is an ardent Yankees fan but I would never hold against him, especially as Big Maple is now pitching for them. I follow the Mariners but until Vancouver gets a team, I will never really have a horse in the race. If I lived nearby,AJ's would absolutely be my place. We will be back to taste more, even though it is a bit of a drive.
For the unique experience and delicious pizza we give AJ's 4 1/2 out of 5.

AJ's Brooklyn Pizza Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I think of Granville Island as one of the great places to visit in Vancouver, but being limited to weekend jaunts (I live and work in the Valley) means a slow crawl with the multitudes of others who also love the place. And while the variety of available good quality fruits, vegetables, meats and fish is amazing, prices are not overly impressive and so there is no reason for it to be on my weekly grocery list. The result is that we don't go very often.
One thing that has sprung up since our last visit is Popina! I knew it was there because it has been exploding on Instagram. This also means that I know that we are the last ones to try the place. Better late than never.
Our first choice was the Fried Chicken Sandwich (possibly the most Instagrammed) with which we ordered a side of Shoestring Fries.
It is fortunate that I am able to unhinge my jaw like an anaconda or I never would have gotten a bite of this thing! It was wonderfully crisp and yet so tender and juicy. Perfectly fried chicken and quite a lot of it. While the outside was perfect, as time passed and we got to the centre, the toppings had rendered the chicken less crispy but still tender and tasty.
We had a less spectacular experience with the fish and chips. Maybe a touch undercooked (not a terrible thing with fish), the coating while crisp for the most part was a bit mushy in places. We were less than thrilled with this and assume that the fish could have used a little more time in the oil. The fries were of the smaller sort and nicely crisp. The coleslaw that accompanied the fish was vinegar based and very good.
A nice little dining area is adjacent to the kitchen and has the wonderful view that we come to enjoy on the island. From pictures, I was under the impression that this was more or less a big tent but it is truly semi-permanent and pretty comfortable. Folks are friendly here and you place your order at the outside counter and pick it up inside.
For what its worth, we give Popina 3 1/2 out of 5.
Popina Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dock Lunch Off Main

Stepping into Dock Lunch Off Main got me thinking about my being at my Grandmother's house in Newton back in the late 1960s. There is stained glass over front windows and over doors (OK that part is not my Granda's house but definitely from her era). Of the collection of six brass candle holders on the bookcase, two were matched. Mismatched comfortable chairs and silverware all contribute to a pleasant homey atmosphere, making you feel like are dining in someone's front room!
This welcoming atmosphere was added to by our down to earth, friendly and efficient server who was managing the room by herself on Saturday morning.
The menu at Dock Lunch is short and changes daily (they post it on Instagram and elsewhere I am sure). There are maybe two or 3 items and a couple of deserts many of which lean in the direction of southern soul food, This particular day we enjoyed Hoppin' John and Cornbread with a Fried Egg. This black-eyed pea dish had a generous amount of amazing smoked turkey along with tender vegetables. The cornbread was neither sweet nor cheesy but a more classic delicious version with some wonderful texture that paired perfectly with the stew.
We also enjoyed their Japanese Pancake with Octopus and Miso Black Cod. The pancake was the vehicle for the octopus pieces while it was topped with various seaweed, bonito flakes and a very nice creamy sauce. The cod was perfectly cooked and made us smile. 
We had room for dessert for a change and ordered a piece of their Lemon Custard Tart with Sumac Birch Syrup. This was a creamy not too sweet tart with a subtly lemony syrup that we enjoyed a lot.
We didn't leave overfed. The portions are reasonable and considering the craft and creativity involved without actually being tweezer food, the prices are very decent. All of this and the fact that the menu changes daily and the atmosphere is unique, this has to be considered a bit of a hidden gem.
Make a trip downstairs to the washroom, even if only to wash your hands. I chose not to post a picture of a toilet, but you need to see the claw foot tub. Be careful on the stairs. They were built before the building code considered the slope.
For what our opinion is worth, we give Dock Lunch off Main a 4 1/2 out of 5.

Dock Lunch Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Top Pot Hand Forged Donuts - Bellvue

Vancouver has Cartems (among others), Portland has Voodoo Doughnuts (also among others) while Seattle has Top Pot (among...well you know). The original location complete with the iconic vintage repurposed "Topspot" neon sign is downtown but the Bellvue location (one of about 10, I think) was only a block from our Hotel. Perfect!
One thing for sure that all Top Pot locations have in common is really good coffee and amazing doughnuts. There is not a lot of the novelty doughnut stuff that you will find for example at Voodoo. We had a couple of doughnuts and some very good coffee.
I cannot resist their Old Fashioned Glazed. The icing soaks just enough into the doughnut to make it a near perfect experience. Marie's weakness is the Apple Fritter.
This is another offering worthy of some kind of award. Just enough actual apple inside and just a little taste of cinnamon. Very Nice!
Such a pleasant environment. Blond wood chairs and a library if you can actually separate yourself from your laptop.
That being said, I wouldn't criticize you for bringing your laptop and enjoying the surroundings while working. 
We got a couple more to go, the names of which I do not recall. Both were the filled kind. I tried to carefully split one in half and you can see they are not cheap on the filling.
At least once per visit to Seattle we make a stop here for doughnuts and coffee.
For what it's worth, we give Top Pot 4 out of 5.
Top Pot Doughnuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sopra Sotto - Burnaby- Vanfoodster's Pizza Challenge

I get excited about each new Vanfoodster Challenge but I seem to have some bad luck with them. Once, I was served the wrong burger, another time someone had run out of tacos, another restaurant was not aware of the challenge, and at yet another, the 'guy' was not there who was the only one who could assemble the featured item! Sigh! Not smart enough to give up and being a lover of pizza (who isn't ?), Marie and I have embarked on the difficult task of eating pizza!
We had already visited, reviewed and loved Sopra Sotto On Commercial Drive, so we thought we would try the Burnaby location this time.
Another beautiful and comfortable restaurant, we were happy to be seated adjacent to the wood-burning pizza oven where we could watch the pizzaiolo ply his trade.
Sopra Sotto's Pizza Challenge offering is called the Cortadina. It features my absolute favourite cheese in the world, Taleggio! It also had smoked pancetta, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and green onions. "There is no sauce", Marie commented as we watched the pie being assembled, and it was true. The pizza was not dry however and the generous amount of cheese and the tomatoes were just enough and allowed the wonderful crust to shine. We watched it bake for almost exactly 120 seconds. 
Upon arrival, we quickly each took a piece and folded it to eat New York style. It was wonderful Taleggio! I asked the pizza master (as he was creating right next to me) and he mentioned that they were out of Taleggio and he had used Raclette. My disappointment must have been palpable as our wait person came around soon and insisted that they give us a discount (about 20%) which was not necessary but a very professional way to handle things. Stuff gets used up and sometimes you just don't get restocked on time. I understand that. While disappointing (and I have another  Vanfoodster challenge story) the pizza was amazing and we loved it.
We also enjoyed their Friturri Misto which was squid and prawns (they were out of smelts as well). Salty, hot and crispy, this was also very good and made a nice companion to the pizza. I chalk it up to timing and assume that usually, all the ingredients are available. I would not hesitate to recommend either of the Sopra Sotto locations!
For what it's worth, we only give this location 4 out of 5 due to the lack of ingredients.

Sopra Sotto Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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...