Part small-town Canada circa 1975, part Venice Beach, Denman Street is where you go between enjoying the half-naked bodies at English Bay and exploring the trails in Stanley Park.
Arrange a coffee date with a guy from Grindr at Delany’s Coffee House (1) (1105 Denman St) or just cruise the smiling faces. For someplace more intimate and out of the way, treat yourself to a real Italian coffee at Milano Espresso Bar and Gelato (2) (849 Denman St).
Cruise the seawall in style on an Electra Cruiser from Denman Bike Shop (3) (710 Denman St) or show off your package at the pool at Second Beach in something from Topdrawers (4) (1030 Denman St), Vancouver’s go-to place for men’s underwear, swimwear and activewear. “Having served the community for over 21 years, we know what we’re doing, bringing in popular lines from Canada, the US and Australia,” proprietor David King says.
Work on your Pride body at Denman Fitness (5) (1731 Comox St) or the West End Community Centre (6) (870 Denman St). While you’re at the community centre, grab a DVD at the Joe Fortes Branch of the Vancouver Public Library or check out the latest epic teen-angst paranormal romance. Don’t forget the annual Score party every February that raises funds for The Cutting Edges hockey team; it will leave you wondering what all those hot guys are doing the rest of the year.
If you’re trying to find your way to that special person’s heart through her stomach, pick up some free-range meat from Tango’s Gourmet Meats (7) (865 Denman St). Start a conversation with that hot dog owner with a treat from Big Dog Little Dog Bakery (8) (985 Denman St). For a healthy snack of your own to cruise Lee’s Trail with, try some dried fruits and nuts at Ayoub’s (9) (986 Denman St).
One of the city’s best-kept secrets is the eggs Benedict at Acacia Fillo Bar (10) (1103 Denman St). If you’re looking to share a meal, Zakkushi (11) (823 Denman St) has skewers in every flavour — the quail eggs melt in your mouth. The frescos at Olympia Restaurant (12) (998 Denman St) are a nice touch of kitsch on a street that’s leaning increasingly toward corporate restaurants.
The bar at Central Bistro (13) (1072 Denman St) is steeped in noir and the beef bourguignon makes for a hearty meal. Or don a fedora and horn-rimmed glasses and relive Vancouver’s golden age with a fancy cocktail at the lounge in the Sylvia Hotel (14) (1154 Gilford St).
For something a little sweeter, try a slice of devil’s food cake at True Confections (15) (866 Denman St) or some butter-cream icing at Cupcakes (16) (1168 Denman St); both these local businesses feature the gayest logos in the city.
Juxtapose Yaletown’s glass skyscrapers with some of the best post-modern architecture in the city and take a romantic walk down the tree-lined streets west of Denman.
What Denman lacks in rainbow flags, it more than makes up for in gay-friendly spaces. With all its vacant lots, this is one street that’s screaming for a new gay bar. (Ask and ye shall sort of receive! As Xtra goes to press, a new men’s after-hours sex club, 8X6 (17) , has just opened at 1775 Haro St. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 8pm–6am.)