The MacKenzie Room — Vancouver

When I was a kid, my mother used to take me to Powell Street to buy Japanese rice. It was the only place in town that you could get the authentic Kokuho Rose brand, but it was an area overridden by drug abusers. I nicknamed it Scary Town as a five year old. 

Fast forward about 30 years, and Powell Street and the famed needle park called Oppenheimer is still a social issue, but the gentrification of the neighbourhood has become more than evident. As Vancouver real estate prices have soared, neighbourhoods like East Van have become the only affordable places for creative young entrepreneurs to set up shop. 

Enter The Mackenzie Room. Billed as "honest west coast food," you'll find cleverly named meals that make good on promises of foraged greens, and local rabbits. The beer list is from the future with mostly lower alcohol ISA and other reasonable hop-forward, yet easy to take brews. 

While the menu and distressed decor is almost overwhelming on-point, the quality of it, and the sense of adventure to get there might just make this restaurant a local favourite. 

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Chris Stenberg is a photographer, filmmaker, occasional wordsmith, and traveller. In his spare time you can find him hanging out with his family and/or biking and boarding in the mountains of British Columbia.