26 Powell Street
T: 604 568 1350
Brief Description: A small, intimate Gastown bar that offers affordable small plates of familiar Spanish tapas.
The owners that gave Vancouverites the well-known neighbourhood restaurants Cafeteria, Pied-a-Terre, and La Buca, have added The Sardine Can to their repertoire. Since my first visit, I have been quite vocal about my love for The Sardine Can and I highly recommend it as a cozy spot to pop into for a few drinks and snacks, or make this your destination and fill up on the affordable tapas that are offered.
The space is cute and cozy – the name being an appropriate description of this tiny bar. An open kitchen allows you to watch as your dishes are prepared and the small details, such as fish wallpaper, are subtle but show that design has been considered. My one complaint is the TV that is nestled high up on the wall – it is just too distracting and it doesn’t suit the intimacy of the place.
(T) Tomato and manchego toasts, and Meatballs cooked in tomato and Rioja. (B) Roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with salt cod, and Smoked sardines on toast.
Gambas al ajillo (spicy garlic prawns) – $10
Patatas bravas (roasted fingerling potatoes, garlic aioli and tomato) -$5
The menu has changed slightly since they first opened but I am assuming that was to weed out the less popular dishes. The menu consists of small plates of tapas, including spicy garlic prawns, smoked ham and melon, chorizo con Jerez (chorizo sausage in sherry), and meatballs cooked in tomato and Rioja. Plates are ridiculously affordable with some at $5 and others at $10. Currently nothing on the menu is over $10. I have tried a lot of the menu and all of the dishes have been delicious, although I would recommend that they ease up on the jam in the bocadillos dish (little grilled sandwiches of ham, cheese and prune jam) as it over-powered the rest of the sandwich.
Bocadillos (little grilled sandwiches of ham, cheese and prune jam) – $10
My personal favourite dishes are the champiñones (mushrooms in sherry cream sauce), the tomato and manchego toasts, the chorizo con Jerez, and the Arroz con pollo (Bomba rice with Moorish spiced chicken). Wines by the glass are quite cheap with prices as low as $6 and $7. Spanish beers, such as Alhambra, are available for $5.50 a bottle.
Chorizo con Jerez (chorizo sausage in sherry) – $10
Champiñones (mushrooms in sherry cream sauce) – $7.50
Arroz con pollo (Bomba rice with Moorish spiced chicken) – $10
If you are visiting solo, perch yourself at the bar and chat with the friendly staff. If you are with a group, please note that they do not take reservations so try to get down there early to get a table, which shouldn’t be difficult as they open at 3pm.
Para picar (olives, spiced almonds, chickpea spread, bread) – $7.50
Terrina de chocolate (chocolate terrine with chili, olive oil, sea salt, toast) – $5.50
Even with prices as cheap as they are, they go one step further and give you a 10% discount if you pay with cash. Can anyone say cheap night out?
Final Thoughts: It’s about time that Vancouver had itself a reliable tapas bar. I mentioned in a previous post that I can’t vouch for the food being traditional (I haven’t sampled a lot of authentic tapas) but regardless, the prices and the quality of food make this a no-brainer. A nice little spot for some cheap eats and drinks without having to sacrifice on quality.