Cheap eats and nostalgia at the Ovaltine Cafe

10-24-31 A friend and I have an ongoing quest for cheap greasy spoon-style eats that often leads us to eating in questionable places. Neither of us can resist the lure of the all-day-breakfast for a price as low as $3.50, especially when I have my bacon craving.

On the weekend our latest adventure was checking out the Ovaltine Cafe, located at 251 East Hastings. It was the irresistable draw of the giant neon sign with the distinctive “O” inviting us in that brought us there. I wouldn’t recommend going there for the food, but more to observe an interesting part of local history. The cafe opened its doors in 1942, and walking in made me feel like I was going back in time, complete with dated music selection played over the sound system. (I can’t remember the last time I heard “The Candyman” by Sammy Davis Jr.)

Apparently it is a unique place because the original interior of the cafe has survived intact. For seating there are numerous booths made of worn varnished wood with red seats, and each has a mirror with scalloped edges just in case you need to check yourself after a meal. There is a also a coffee counter that runs the full length of the restaurant along one side. The whole thing is a photographic gold mine and I can’t wait to head back with my camera. (Photo by Christopher Evans.)

4 Comments so far

  1. Maktaaq (unregistered) on January 10th, 2006 @ 6:14 pm

    Thanks for writing about this place. I’ve always wanted to stop there because I liked the sign.

    Wasn’t it used for an episode of X-Files?

  2. Rachael Ashe (unregistered) on January 10th, 2006 @ 10:07 pm

    I’m not sure about the X-files, but they’ve definately filmed DaVinci’s Inquest there and a few other things. There are signed photographs of various celebrities on the walls.

  3. Sember (unregistered) on February 2nd, 2006 @ 6:54 am

    If you can “stomach” the crowd, there is another cafe on the north side of the 300 block of East Hastings called “Flowers”. I think it’s the cheapest food in Vancouver for what you get. It’s run by a chinese family, western cuisine. Very popular with regulars. Really quite incredible how they make any money.

  4. Quinn Merio (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

    They also filmed a scene in I Robot with Will Smith there. I would not hang around that area of town at night without a can of mace and bulletproof vest tho. I saw a guy get shot right down the street, and watch out for needles.

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