Vancouver is a rare city in that almost every single tourist attraction is just as popular with locals as it is with visitors.
Take a stroll on the seawall and you’ll find a just as many tourists out for a bike ride as you will Vancouverites training for the next marathon. If you’re in half decent shape, you can make your way up the Grouse Grind and while doing so you’ll quickly understand that this is an activity “enjoyed” by just as many locals as foreigners. Just make sure you’re not one of the idiots who somehow manages to find their way to the edge of a cliff in dire need of a helicopter rescue. The path could not possibly be more defined, but this became somewhat of a trend this past summer. I would argue that it’s better to cleanse the gene pool than to strain the resources of our North Shore rescue team. But I digress.
My point is, there’s a lot of awesome stuff to do in metro Vancouver, and stuff that should be touristy just doesn’t seem to be. I would argue that one of the best examples of this is Deep Cove, a cool little town just outside of North Vancouver with an incredible view over an inlet called the Indian Arm.
In almost every other city I’ve visited, a place like this would be jam packed with foreigners touting stupidly large cameras, shops selling t-shirts with mind-numbingly bad blowjob jokes lambasted across the front, and your classic shitty restaurant perched out on the water, ruining the view for everyone who refuses to eat their $30 fish and chips. Then again, Vancouver is home to the Boat House, so I guess we’re not totally immune to overpriced slop buckets with a good location.
When Jamie and I lived in Toronto, most of our friends would escape to Muskoka for the odd weekend here or there. It was a 3 hour drive without traffic, and could be as long as 5 hours if there was an accident on the highway. Was Muskoka worth it? If you had been heading up there for years previously, I’m guessing that there would have been enough nostalgia to distract you from the fact that you don’t live in a city as awesome as Vancouver, with a cool little spot like Deep Cove only 30 minutes from downtown.
To put it as simply as possible, I love Deep Cove. You can rent a kayak and paddle around the Indian Arm, hike up to Quarry Rock and admire the view, or you can even munch on one of the best doughnuts you’ll ever have at Honey’s Doughnuts. With seaside cottages nestled in to the rock-face surrounding either side of the water, Deep Cove feels like a chill little vacation town. It also happens to be home to possibly my favourite restaurant in metro Vancouver: Arms Reach Bistro.
Whether you’re sitting inside of the restaurant or out on the patio, you’re going to have a spectacular view over the water. When I’m travelling, I usually avoid places like this at all costs. With a view that good, I figure you’re almost inevitably going to be screwed in the ear. Fortunately, that’s not the case here.
Jamie and I used to say that you could stumble in to a random restaurant in Toronto, order anything on the menu, and it would be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. There aren’t a ton of places that we’ve been to in Vancouver that can meet that same standard. Arms Reach Bistro does. I should be careful to associate this cozy little spot with the kind of restaurants that you would find in Toronto, because it’s different. For someone who grew up in western Canada, and this is the only way that I can seem to describe it, Arms Reach Bistro just feels like home. Every time I eat there, I feel like I’m thirteen years old and sitting in my parents’ living room. Which is strange. It doesn’t resemble their living room at all, but that’s how I feel. It’s just a damn cozy spot.
The calamari at Arms Reach Bistro is the best I’ve ever had. As Jamie can attest to, I’m a gross over-exaggerator, but this is a fact. It’s the best. Period. As you would expect for a place that’s on the edge of the ocean, there’s a number of great seafood options. However, and surprisingly, it’s the pasta that steals the show. The oven baked spaghetti is comfort food at it’s finest. It’s damn tasty and is guaranteed to fill you up (no matter who you are). The spicy spaghetti is also a great option, but doesn’t compare to the oven baked spaghetti – in my opinion.
I don’t normally go for dessert, but when you’re basically chilling in your parents living room, why not? If you can manage to fit a bit more food in your stomach after dinner, give the creme brulee a shot. The only thing that you’ll regret is having to share it with your S.O. I know, because Jamie was down-right pissed when I managed to steal half of hers.
If you’re looking for a place to take the family when they’re in town, or even the G.F. for a surprise date night, Arms Reach Bistro is sure to impress. It’s got the food, it’s got the view, and it’s got the town of Deep Cove. I don’t know what more you could possibly want in a restaurant.Her Take