10 May Come for the racing, stay for the food
Explore New Westminster’s exciting new food spots.
As the New West Grand Prix races run through the dinner hour and into the evening, chances are you’re going to get hungry. Fortunately, New Westminster has become a bit of a foodie destination.
The beloved Keg is gone from the old train station at Hyack Square; in its place is an array of exciting new restaurants, bistros and sandwich shops likely to satisfy any appetite.
Here is a selection of eight restaurants either right on the course or within a short walk.
Alejandro Diaz’ Mexican restaurant is in a prime location to catch the winning sprint at full blast, just meters from the start/finish line at Columbia Street and Begbie. Since he opened it in December 2015, Diaz and his chef, Shane King, have been winning fans from around Metro Vancouver with their contemporary Mexican cuisine and more than 45 varieties of imported tequilas.
“Mexican food isn’t just tacos and enchiladas,” says Diaz.
Best of all, Diaz is an avid cyclist himself. In fact, his restaurant is a sponsor of a local bike club, the Fraser River Fuggitivi. So expect the small patio to be busy and the place to be buzzing on race night.
Big Star Sandwich
Hollywood actor Liam Neeson may have helped make Big Star famous after an Instagram post that launched 10,000 likes and widespread media coverage; but the truth is these guys have been putting New Westminster on the sandwich-lovers map for years. Big Star started as a hole-in-the-wall shop on Twelfth Street, but since moving to Columbia Street, in the commercial ground floor of the historic Trapp and Holbrook blocks, they’ve really hit their stride with lineups out the door most lunch hours.
Be sure to get the hickory sticks on your sandwich. But don’t wait until the racing is all over; they close at 8 p.m.
Judge Begbie’s Tavern
If you’re looking to chase some thrilling high-speed cornering with a local craft beer, the outdoor patio in front of Judge Begbie’s happens to be a prime spot to watch the racers turn off the descent of Sixth Street onto the long straightaway down Columbia. Fortunately, the patio is on the inside of the turn, so your view won’t be obstructed by hay bales to protect the riders if they crash. The tavern features the usual array of pub grub like nachos, wraps, pizzas and salads, as well as a selection of imported and craft beers.
If watching cyclists suffer as they transition from the fast downhill straightaway of Columbia Street to the short, sharp climb up Eighth Street is your thing, pull up a stool at the window of Truffles, a bistro in the bottom of the Anvil Centre. But you’re likely just going to be able to watch the racers warm up, as the place closes at 5:30 p.m.
The Belgian version of a criterium bike race is a kermess, a rock-em-sock-em style of racing for hard-core amateurs and neophyte professionals that whip around and through a Flandrian village for two for two to three hours. Spud Shack specializes in authentic Belgian frites, hand cut, double fried to golden perfection and served with a selection of flavoured ketchups and mayos. So if you want to transport your Grand Prix experience to the cobbles of northern Europe, head to the SkyTrain platform level of the Shops at Westminster Station, just up Eighth Street from the first corner. And if owner Dan Close is at the counter, don’t hesitate to talk him up about bikes; he’s a cyclist and triathlete.
The New West version of a longtime Yaletown favourite offers a more leisurely sit-down dining experience with a selection of burgers, sandwiches and salads, accompanied by an array of cocktails, wines, sangrias and beers. The outdoor patio offers a bird’s eye view of the Grand Prix’ first corner at Columbia and Eighth.
What happens when a bus crashes into a food cart? A happy accident. Re-Up was one of the food cart pioneers in Downtown Vancouver’s financial district in 2010. Bankers and office workers lined up down the block for its pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. But after a bus crushed the cart in 2013, owner Michael Kalsaris retrenched to the commissary kitchen he also operated in New Westminster’s River Market. Now those bankers and office workers are hopping into their Porsches and onto SkyTrain for his meaty treats. But get there early; it closes at 7 p.m.
This is another Vancouver restaurant that found the going better in New West. Originally opened in the River Market by owner Andrew Wong as a satellite to his first restaurant at the edge of Gastown, it’s had his full concentration since he closed the charter location a few years ago. Wong and head chef Dante Ramos turn local, farm-fresh ingredients like Yarrow Meadows duck into a unique fusion of Asian and West Coast cuisine. But you may have to miss the podium presentations to dine here, as it closes at 9 p.m.