Some restaurants just strike a chord. That’s very much the case with Bodega on Main, which has recently arrived almost right beside Campagnolo. I’ll admit that I went to check it out with a mix of trepidation and curiosity. After all, the original La Bodega was the first restaurant I went to in Vancouver. And that was a few years ago.
In those days I was “fresh off the boat” from Montréal. I was desperately homesick for my adopted home town back east. And very much missing my Quebec friends. Vancouver seemed cold and unwelcoming.
La Bodega was (not even) a block away from my hotel. (That building is now also about to be transformed into a condo tower…) I was staying in the hotel waiting for my things to arrive from Montreal, so I could move into an apartment, all but impossible to find in zero vacancy Vancouver.
One of the many things that I couldn’t understand about Vancouver was why the sidewalks rolled up at a ridiculously early hour. And the bars closed—unless you knew where to go. Luckily, I bumped into a bunch of friendly types at the hotel lounge (including everyone from high riggers in town for a few days to car salesmen from West Broadway). And they did know: La Bodega.
Here’s what I say in this week’s Vancouver Courier …
There’s something reassuring about restaurants that endure the passage of time — and, at least in Vancouver’s case, the rigours of development. Such is the case at Bodega on Main, the reincarnation of La Bodega, which earlier this year shuttered the Hornby Street premises it had occupied for close to 45 years.
La Bodega was a Spanish outpost on the West Coast, a haven for homesick Spaniards who would meet for tapas, conversation and, of course, to witness epic football encounters between Barça and Réal. Later came the Chateau Madrid, Vancouver’s sole Spanish formal room, though it yielded in time to tapas and informality.
The “new” Bodega (dutifully shorn of its definite article in current vogue) has a strong connection to the old in Paul Rivas, son of Francisco Rivas, who co-founded La Bodega with his friend José Rivas, in 1971.