Ten years ago, the northern end of Fraser Street was a pretty marginal area. Down-at-the-heel small businesses that only locals visited filled the commercial areas between stretches of scruffy houses. That’s all changing: these days there’s a bit of a renaissance happening on Fraser. The old homes are being renovated one by one or replaced by shiny new mixed retail and residential buildings, like Century at 30th Avenue and Fraser.
First Sign of Change on Fraser Street
My first clue that things were really changing was when French restaurant and bistro Les Faux Bourgeois, moved in on 15th Avenue at Fraser Street a few years ago. It offers delicious French food in all its glory and a superb wine list (of course), all at prices that are really quite reasonable compared to other French restaurants in the city. A word of warning, though: Les Faux Bourgeois is no longer an undiscovered gem. If you want reservations, you’ll have to book well in advance.
Just a few doors down, in the same little stretch of 15th between Fraser and Kingsway, is Spool of Thread Sewing Lounge. This is the place for you if you’d like to learn how to sew or improve your skills and don’t have a machine. You can rent by the hour or take a class to learn something new. Check out the schedule on their website. They’ve got a fabulous selection of designer cotton print fabric for your next project.
If you’d like to get your little ones into creative pursuits, check out the schedule of classes or drop in to a ‘crafternoon’ at Collage Collage. They also stock a great variety of quality craft supplies like wool felt, wood shapes and beeswax crayons. Collage Collage will be hosting classes for teens and adults starting September 20th as well.
Something that is not a new addition to the neighbourhood – but well worth a visit nonetheless – is the Lion’s Den Cafe. They’ve been serving up their own special combination of what the owner calls, ‘Japaribbean’ (Japanese and Carribbean) food for about eleven years now. They’re one of the only places in the city that serves really spicy ginger beer and German style alcohol-free malt beer.
Vegan Shoes and a Whole Lot More
Just a few blocks away is another interesting addition to the retail landscape on Fraser Street: Nice Shoes, at 19th Avenue. It’s a vegan shoe store, stocking stylish shoes you could wear a baby in–lots of funky flats and a few wedges, along with a small selection of heels. However, Nice Shoes isn’t just a women’s shoe store—their selection is about half men’s shoes. The shop also has a variety of accessories including guitar straps, belts from vintage Volkswagen seats, bags and wallets.
Fraser Street is still a little rough around the edges, which is part of the reason I like it. I think in another few years it’s going to look a lot like Main Street. There are definitely too many interesting businesses to mention here, so you’ll have to explore them yourself. Start at the strip of 15th Avenue at Kingsway and Fraser, then work your way south. You’ll be glad you did!
What’s your favourite Vancouver neighbourhood to explore – and your favourite places to visit when you do?
Lisa Corriveau is our East Side Contributor. When not writing, she can often be found at the park chasing her little boy, sewing clothing, cycling, reading just about anything, performing on stilts, eating chocolate or drinking craft beer. (Sometimes several of the above simultaneously.) Lisa lives car-free in East Van, with toddler, husband and a few bikes. You can also find her on her blog, The Sprog.