When The Food Network came to Vancouver for an episode of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, I was excited to see if they could find any actual dives in Vancouver; I've never been able to. And sometimes I'm in the mood for a dive: a place that serves cheap, greasy diner food and is genuinely un-hip (not in an ironically un-hip hipster way). Of course, Diners, Drive-ins & Dives didn't find any thing like that, further cementing my belief that no such place exists in Vancouver. We're just not a dive town, apparently. (Except for Chinese food; there are a lot of Chinese dives around, for those in the mood for greasy Chinese.)
The closest you can get to a dive is probably East Van's Bon's Off Broadway, home to what is likely the cheapest meal in Vancouver: their $2.95 all-day breakfast special (HST included) (pictured). While most of the weekend patrons are probably there to feed their hangovers, Bon's generally hosts a wide ranging clientele, from Commercial Drive denizens to students, families, neighbours, and even the occasional celebrity. (I heard a rumour that Scarlett Johansson was spotted there once.) It's not hipster, it just is; which is why locals love it so. It doesn't take itself seriously as anything other than a quasi-dive, which makes it a nice antidote to the West Side's numerous organic/yuppie brunch spots. Breakfast at Bon's is a straight-up affair--eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes--that's tasty enough and very filling for an under-$3 meal.
If you've never been to Bon's, it's worth a trip. It's about a 10-minute walk from the Broadway-Commercial SkyTrain Station, on Nanaimo St. If you're driving, there's plenty of free parking on the street.
For more local favourites for cheap meals, check out my newest Guide: Best Restaurants in Vancouver: Cheap Eats.
Photos by Dana Lynch