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Here are the top 5 food and drink openings on the North Shore in 2023

Check out our comprehensive guide to restaurant and brewery openings, closings and other notable happenings in North Vancouver and West Van
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Co-founder of Mi Tierra Latina Corp., Sonia Zebadua, stands outside the Lower Lonsdale store featuring Latin American foods and other goods. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

Despite a strange list of ingredients defining the food and beverage industry in 2023 – a list that includes rising costs, soaring rents and healthily paid executives – the business of filling bellies continued to bubble.

On the North Shore in particular, patrons kept demonstrating their acute enthusiasm for new offerings, lost favourites and pride in the fine selection of North Vancouver and West Van establishments that exchange cash for sustenance.

Here are the top openings, closings and other foodie happenings on the North Shore last year.

1. The Soup Meister’s Nephew

When the North Shore lost its greatest maker of soups in November of 2022, the community wept for Ralf Duans and his grieving family.

But tears of sadness turned to tears of joy at Duans’s celebration of life last February, when it was announced that Evan Paul would carry on his uncle’s legacy by opening The Soup Meister’s Nephew at the same counter in Lonsdale Quay.

The location re-opened in May, and has been serving new recipes along with Soup Meister classics ever since.

2. Jam Café

Like many urban centres in our contemporary age, North Shore diners are nuts about brunch. So when the infamously decadent Jam Café revealed it was adding a location on Lonsdale, locals were buzzing about the prospect of walking-distance access.

Queues were spilling out the door as soon as the all-day breakfast joint opened in August, with people eager to try its Southern-inspired comfort food like Cherry and Ricotta French Toast.

3. Beva Brewing

And you get a brewery! And you get a brewery! And you get a brewery!

While it’s not a free car from Oprah, Norgate is the latest neighbourhood in our region to receive its very own craft brewery. Opening in December, Beva Brewing joined the ranks of more than a dozen breweries and distilleries in North Vancouver.

With a sleek, minimalist tasting room at 1405 Pemberton Ave., Beva has debuted with selections including its Showboat American IPA and Gabagool North East Pale Ale.

4. Cypress Mountain Resort’s après ski area

Wet conditions may be dampening the spirits of skiers and snowboarders this season, but you can still warm your insides at Cypress Mountain Resort’s new outdoor patio and après ski area.

Featuring huge, "euro-style" umbrellas and fire pits, the expansive dining area has plenty of options for hungry mountain goers. The patio is also kid friendly, though still licensed for parents and non-child having folks.

5. Mi Tierra Latina

Bienvenida a Mi Tierra Latina, a new specialty grocer on Lonsdale that sells a wide selection of cultural foods, beverages and confections from Latin America.

After opening its first location in Davie Village nearly four years ago, the independent grocery chain has expanded to North Burnaby, Commercial Drive and now North Vancouver.

Shoppers can find items like chipotle-infused refried beans, high-quality soft taco shells and chili-spiced candy stocked on the store's vibrant shelves.

Other restaurant openings

There were other welcome additions to the North Shore dining scene last year. Those include Zaatar W Ziet, a casual Lebanese eatery at Park Royal South.

West Vancouver’s Ambleside area was also treated to several new options, like locally owned Korean restaurant The Bridge, as well as Italian spots Fred’s Restaurant and Bar Olo.

These pubs and eateries closed in 2023

The most lamented loss of the year was that of the Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub. After nearly three decades of serving up pints and pub food in a community-friendly setting, it closed at the end of November. After the freestanding craftsman-style building is demolished, the old home of the Black Bear will be replaced by a six-storey rental building with commercial space on the ground floor.

Local bar flies were also disappointed when Toby’s Social Pub shuttered in June. One longtime customer said she'll miss the strong community feel at Toby's.

The North Shore also lost two long-time breakfast favourites in Denny’s on Marine and De Dutch on Third Street West. Well-reviewed yet short-lived, Winston shut down after an apparent landlord dispute.

Though these stories didn’t make our newspaper, it should be noted that Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers as well as Lift Bakery shut down last year, after facing difficulties. Meridian Farm Market also closed for good, citing “location costs” as the reason.

Notable food and drink stories

After a seemingly bad streak of closings, many people wondered: Why are so many pubs and restaurants closing down? While it hurts to say goodbye to your favourite watering hole, closures make way for new openings with few other downsides to the consumer, explained Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.

Still, many in the community are thankful for some businesses that have remained constant over the years. Among those is Harmony Donuts, which was voted North Vancouver’s best doughnut shop in a readers poll. The store’s beloved doughnut recipe has remained mostly unchanged for 50 years.

Diamond Almas, former owner of the Seven Seas Seafoods restaurant, died in November at age 84. An inductee into BC Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2008, the legendary North Vancouver restaurateur is remembered fondly by family, staff and former customers.

On the North Shore, we’re lucky to boast some of the finest craft beverage producers around. In particular, Sons of Vancouver was recognized for making the best whisky in Canada, while La Cervecería Astilleros won gold in the herb and spice beer category at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

In a clever stroke of marketing, Shaketown Brewing released a limited number of lifetime beer memberships. Readers poured in to learn how $350 could get you a beer a week forever.

Elsewhere, trouble was brewing. The owner of Green Leaf Brewing and his former landlord Lonsdale Quay continue to be locked in a legal dispute over whether the brewery should have been able to renew its lease. In October, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the case will have to go a full trial, rather than summary proceedings.

The Quay recently announced a smorgasbord of new tenants, including Fiorino, whose existing location in Vancouver’s Chinatown has been named a Michelin Bib Gourmand eatery.

nlaba@nsnews.com
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