You might not have noticed Rhizome as you drove by on the way to Main Street or points west. Located across from Kingsgate Mall on East Broadway, it’s the one with the yellow and black cityscape painted above the windows. As you walk through the Vancouver restaurant’s narrow entryway you’ll pass a bulletin board, overflowing with community events and notices. The cafe opens up to a high ceiling with baby-enthralling palm-leaf wooden ceiling fans and local artists’ work for sale on the walls.
A Vancouver Restaurant with Ambiance
Rhizome’s dark terracotta red walls and brick, with a high, stamped tin ceiling are somehow exotic and homey at the same time. There’s lots of seating on the eclectic mismatched wooden chairs, but they haven’t tried to cram in too many tables. There is ample room for strollers, diaper bags and wiggly kids. I like to slouch on the giant leather sofa if it’s available. The washrooms are very small, but one features a baby change table.
Rhizome has a whole bookshelf of reading material for all ages, a few board games, as well a box of baby toys at the back near the till. If you’re dying for an internet fix, save on data and use their free wireless network. Just ask for the password at the counter.
The food is reliably tasty and the prices are very reasonable. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can get a great meal: Rhizome’s famous Lentils are Everything stew. You order it at the till, but then pay as much as you wish into a cigar box on the counter. It’s a big bowl packed with green lentils, potatoes and other veggies, seasoned beautifully. And best of all, it’s filling. They have a great selection of herbal teas, fair trade coffees and a few microbrews on offer as well. There are several vegan dishes as well as more traditional meat items available. The separate children’s menu is full of kid-friendly favourites: perogies, rice and beans, macaroni and cheese, fruit and yogurt, all under $6. Try their popular brunch on the weekends. I recommend their chilaquiles, which are a fabulous Mexican take on the traditional bacon and eggs.
The best thing about Rhizome is the atmosphere of casual hospitality. You’ll never feel rushed, even if you’ve been there for three hours with one cup of coffee. The music is never intrusive and during the week, this Vancouver restaurant is a calm place to meet a friend and chat.
Rhizome has Roots
The name of the cafe is very apt: perhaps you’ll remember from Biology class in high school that a rhizome is the root of plants like bamboo, which don’t produce seeds, but spread via an underground system. The cafe is a lot like that – when you come by in the day time you see a place to eat, drink and hang out, but look around a little and you’ll see a Vancouver restaurant that’s fostering a strong network of people trying to make a better world. Rhizome Cafe was created as not just a place to get coffee or lentil stew, but a gathering place for the social justice movement. They frequently host free or sliding-scale admission events and fundraisers with a social justice focus. Check their website for the calendar of upcoming events.