Vancouver Favorites

Russell and I went to Vancouver, Washington for the past two weeks — we chose the area because it’s within a couple of hours of lots of hikes and day trips, and we stayed an extra week to work remotely. Vancouver seems like an incredible discovery — it’s close to a big city, and they have lots of great food and coffee.

Here are our best recommendations from our trip. These are just our favorites — they’re not necessarily the most well-rounded selections, just the ones we liked the most. In each category, I’ve listed these in order; the ones we liked the most are first.


The Great North

This is my favorite place, and Russell liked it a lot, too. I loved the Cinnamon Honey Latte, and we grabbed a couple of their breakfast sandwiches to go on the way to a hike — they were filling, fresh and a great way to start the day. We didn’t find this place until the end of our trip, but we would’ve been back more if we’d stumbled on it earlier. (They also sell freeze dried craft coffee — we bought a pack, and it saved us at the airport! We didn’t have time to make coffee before heading out, but we just added water and still had a great cup of coffee.) (The Great North shares a parking lot with Duck Tales.)


We worked and ate here a couple of times. Their location on Vancouver’s waterfront (they have two in Vancouver, but we only went to this one) had plenty of seating and is a great place to work. The coffee here is perfect, and we even had a couple of snacks from their kitchen, which were good but pretty pricey. (Still, it saved us in a pinch.)

Compass Coffee

This is Russell’s favorite coffee shop — he loves their Vanilla Latte and their ham and cheddar croissants. (I tried a croissant, too, and he’s right — they were incredible.) We went back here a few times, and I also had the raspberry green tea, which was fantastic. They have plenty of inside seating if you need to work. (Compass is next door to Blind Tiger.)


I enjoyed Relevant; Russell felt like they had too many rules. They do have a lot of rules, including no cell phones inside (which I appreciate, but did make it a tough place to get work done), waiting to be assigned a table (but you still need to bus your own table) and an hour time limit before you need to leave your table. They do have outside seating that doesn’t have as many rules. They have great coffee, and they have a few small items, like journals, for sale as well.

Terrain Coffee Project

I believe this place just opened! We really enjoyed working here for an afternoon. The baristas were eager to help, and their nitro coffee was just what I needed on a tough afternoon. Russell enjoyed his latte as well. He also loved working from their bar that faces out of a window because he missed his stand-up desk … but I preferred a table.

River Maiden

River Maiden serves Stumptown coffee, and they make a nice latte. They also have breakfast sandwiches to go, and we planned to try them but never did. They aren’t open inside due to covid, so you’ll put your order in and then find a parking space assigned to your order number. They were quick and kind, and it’s a good place to grab a quick coffee if you’re on the go.


Duck Tales Kitchen

This is my favorite place to eat! Duck Tales (I believe the owner’s last name is Waddle, and that’s where the name came from) is essentially diner food done perfectly. We went for breakfast twice (we tried to go three times, but there was a freak plumbing accident) and ordered the same thing both times because it was so good. Please try the Scramble with an English Muffin. It’s incredible! (Duck Tales shares a parking lot with The Great North, and the only drawback of Duck Tales is the coffee, so I’d recommend walking over to grab a cup.)


Christine’s is like going to grandma’s house — it’s decorated with antiques and printed wallpaper, and the food is outstanding home cooking. We loved it, but a little too full afterward — only a problem because we were headed back to work.

Syrup Trap

Syrup Trap is only open Friday through Sunday, and they don’t have too many tables inside (or a bathroom we could find), but I’d still recommend it. They serve waffles that trap sugar inside, so syrup isn’t necessary (find a complete explanation on their website). I got the breakfast sandwich with a sausage patty and scrambled eggs, and it was absolutely perfect. They serve espresso drinks, too, and they were excellent. We took ours to the park for people watching after breakfast.

Joe Brown’s

Joe Brown’s is a traditional diner/greasy spoon. We went on a very difficult day for the staff, but the food was still good, and it was fun to have a diner experience.



For pizza, Vinnie’s was our favorite spot in Vancouver. You’re right in the middle of downtown, so it’s conveniently located, and the staff is friendly and quick. Just really great pizza — we went back twice. You can sit inside here, or order to go.

City Sandwich

We loved this sandwich shop! The sandwiches were packed full of fresh ingredients — I couldn’t even finish all of mine and had to save half for later. City Sandwich is in the middle of downtown and has indoor and outdoor seating.

Blind Onion

There was a Blind Onion right by our AirBNB, and grabbing a quick pizza made for a quick and easy dinner. This place reminded me of The Mellow Mushroom if it were local. Indoor seating, or you can order online and pick it up to go.


We didn’t spend that much time in Portland except for hiking in Forest Park. We did the normal Portland-y things like Voodoo Doughnuts and Powell’s Books, but I wanted to point out a couple of burger places we really enjoyed.

PDX Sliders

We enjoyed PDX Sliders a lot — their burgers can be ordered either as $6 sliders or as $12 full size burgers. They have inventive flavors, so I think it’s worth it to go the slider route and try a couple. These were excellent.

Little Big Burger

This is a quick, grab-and-go burger place (although you can eat inside). They have really tasty truffle fries, and once I got a burger, I understood the name — they’re not large, but they have just enough to be a good meal. Russell got a double, but I was fine with a single.


If you’re going to Rainier: The Trailhead Bar and Grill in Ashford

We didn’t know what we’d find in the small towns around Rainier, but this place was solid. The food was good, the servers were kind, and it was the perfect meal after a day of hiking. 

If you’re going to the Coast: Grizzly Tuna in Seaside

We got huge portions of fish and chips. This is a drive through, so you can’t eat inside. I think they have picnic tables, though.

If you’re going to Mount Hood: Skyway Bar and Grill in Zigzag

Getting a burger and fries from Skyway after hiking Mount Hood is one of my favorite experiences of our entire trip. Russell says his baked macaroni and cheese with chicken might be the best mac and cheese he’s ever had. So good, especially after a long hike. Skyway only has outside seating at the moment, but their outside is really cool and creative. Go inside to use the bathroom so you can check out the inside, which is great as well.

If you’re going to Camas: K&M Drive In

I’m still thinking about this the blue cheese burger and garlic fries I got from K&M. We hiked in Camas and took a chance on this drive in and were so glad we did. We both loved our burgers, the garlic fries were delicious and served in huge portions, and their milkshakes were unbelievable. (We got S’mores.)

Buying Stuff

Wild Fern Boutique

Wild Fern has a good selection of PNW and Vancouver-themed merchandise like cozy sweatshirts.

Powell’s Books (Portland)

Powell’s is a huge independent bookstore — it takes up an entire city block! Pick up a free map at the registers or one of the information desks because it has a legend of which sections are in which color room. (They have a Rose Room, Red Room, Purple Room, Pearl Room, etc.) Not all the bathrooms at Powell’s are open, and you’ll need a code to use them, so ask at the information desk when you’re there.

Blind Tiger Barber

Russell got a great haircut here, and he got some great recommendations for both Vancouver and for Portland from the barbers here.

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