If You Go
• Where: Shanahan’s Pub & Grill, 209 W. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver.
• Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
• Contact: 360-735-1440 or www.shanahanspubvancouver.com
My friend, Nichole, told me that we needed to go to Shanahan’s Pub & Grill. She previously told me about the Donut Nook, so I have come to rely on her as my guide to classic Vancouver gems. I arrived at Shanahan’s on a Tuesday afternoon and the first thing I noticed was that there was a lot of visual stimulation.
There were several TVs showing different programs. Around the top of the bar there was a painting of The Dude and The Jesus from the film “The Big Lebowski,” a statue of a penguin with a Jameson scarf wrapped around its neck, several Santeria candles, beer signs and other assorted decor. As I stared at the bar, I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the things I could see when I was sober and try to find them again after I had had a few beers.
I wasn’t sure what to do next. I overheard someone say to a friend — “You just sit down.” So I found a booth in the back and tried to move the molded red plastic of the seat into a form that would keep me from sliding. I found a groove to hoist myself into and waited for Nichole. She appeared and soon after that we were greeted by our server, Barb. We ordered sandwiches (The Dublin and a BLT) and we knew we needed Shany Fries (that was the main purpose of our visit). But do we want a half order or a full order? Barb skillfully eyed us and said that if we were getting sandwiches, a half order would be plenty.
The food here is all scratch made. As I bit into my Dublin sandwich, I thought to myself “This sandwich would make Guy Fieri cry tears of joy.” The braised corned beef fell apart in the bun and was topped with melted provolone cheese, saut?ed peppers and onions, and a spicy creamy horseradish sauce. The chips on the side were house made — quarter-size disks of deep fried potato. The Shany Fries were a drunk person’s dream — french fries and Tater Tots covered in melted cheddar, bacon bits, and chopped scallions with a side of ranch. Thank goodness for Barb, because the half order was plenty. I can’t imagine the size of a full order of Shany Fries or what motorized contraption they must use to propel it to the table.
As I walked out, I ran into my friends, Brandee and Ryan. We decided we needed to rent a bus and organize a bar crawl. This is the kind of conversation you will find yourself having if you spend time at Shanahan’s. It is the kind of place that makes day drinking seem like a good idea and time become irrelevant.
Food Network programs, hipsters, and other people chatting about bars online may call Shanahan’s a “dive bar.” It doesn’t look like it has been recently renovated.
But I don’t like the term dive bar. I think there is something snooty about it. I prefer the way Shanahan’s describes itself — a neighborhood pub. A neighborhood pub or bar is the kind of place that you can walk to from home or work, run into friends (or make new ones), drink alcoholic beverages and stagger home. Calling this place a dive is like calling someone’s beloved Grandma an old bag. It just misses the point.
Rachel Pinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @foodcouverusa1; on Facebook and Instagram @foodcouverusa.