A bridge away from Portland, Oregon, the less-famous city is spending the month of October celebrating its growing restaurant scene.
Poor Vancouver. No, not that show-off in Canada, with its glittering skyline and all of those Hollywood people working on low-budget film and television projects. We're talking about Vancouver, Washington. Never heard of it? That's okay, a lot of other people haven't, either. It's the city of nearly 200,000 people, just across the Columbia River from another town that is way more famous: Portland, Oregon.
It shouldn't be that hard for a place like Vancouver to get attention. The city is just a bridge away from a place that nearly everybody seems to want to be right now. It has no income tax. Housing prices are very good, by unreasonable West Coast standards. And, of course, no big deal or anything, but this is where the Pacific Northwest as we know it today was founded; to this day, visitors can walk out of the city's small downtown, and into the massive plot of land (now a national historic site) that is Fort Vancouver, named for British explorer George Vancouver, the guy who pretty much jumpstarted the region's modern history.
Not that anyone around here appreciates this—Portlanders in particular like to wear their lack of interest in Vancouver (sometimes referred to, not always lovingly, as the 'Couve) as a sort of badge of honor. And that's if they even acknowledge Vancouver's existence at all. But with the heat on the Portland real estate market only increasing—all those efforts to keep Californians from moving to Oregon have not been terribly effective, it turns out—Vancouver is beginning to feel less and less like the land that time and fashionable types forgot, and more like a great alternative for all kinds of people moving to the region from other more crowded, more expensive places.
As Vancouver evolves, so does its dining (and drinking) culture—it's not like Vancouverites have been starving, up until now, but it's fair to say that in recent times, the food and drink here is starting to feel more like what you'd expect from the scene next door to the scene that has captured the world's imagination. For a second year, the city is hosting the October-long Dine The Couve event, which features 22 participating restaurants offering a $23 dinner menu, as well as 5 breweries offering $3 drink specials. Lots of these places are homegrown, others are spin-offs or branch-outs from that city next door—if you're looking for inspiration, Ben's Bottle Shop, Smokehouse Provisions and the pub at Mt. Tabor Brewing make for fine jumping off points.