Every neighbourhood has a haunt that they wish the rest of the city never found out about. My apologies to the West End but I’m about to blow the roof off your closely guarded secret; the Greenhorn Espresso Bar is destination-worthy for those outside the city core.
I discovered Greenhorn through a friend a couple of years ago and have been going back ever since. It’s also one of the favourite meeting spots for the Brunch Blog Boss and I. The food is house-made and European-inspired. Wash it down with a coffee made with beans roasted at Moja on the North Shore. It’s strong and flavourful.
Too often I find myself lamenting the lack of character in our coffee bars and cafes. It looks like the furniture all came from the same place and the art is only on the wall to make a profit, not because anyone actually cares or is touched by creativity. Greenhorn is the exception. The space is split between two levels; one nestled around the counter area, and another upstairs. It’s an oasis perfect for that relaxed visit. The added bonus, there are albums and a turntable upstairs. No wonder it’s a favourite for a lot of film crew that live in the area.
Greenhorn has a brunch and breakfast menu. The Brunch list includes three items not available during the week; the shakshuka baked eggs, the benny and coconut black rice pudding. We were all set to order the shakshuka but it was a weekday so we ordered off the breakfast menu.
The signature breakfast item for Greenhorn has to be the TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA, a light layering of egg and potato baked and served with cilantro, a salsa verde and baguette. The whole dish works. The Tortilla on its own is a little under-seasoned but when you eat it with the salsa the flavours meld perfectly. The baguette is served warm. Yes, I said warm. Only a chef who cares about the details of their dish would do that at an espresso bar. It’s the perfect side to the tortilla.
The Triple “B” had the quiche. Please note, the quiche changes daily. Today’s filling included artichokes, cherry tomatoes, black olives and grana padano. It’s served with the same salsa verde as the tortilla and is topped with watercress. We both loved that the quiche is cooked muffin-style in a tortilla shell. The dish is light and bright without the fat of pastry to weigh it down. It’s perfect if you’re looking to add variety to your breakfast nosh.
I’m probably at Greenhorn a few times a month. If I have to set up a meeting in the West End then it’s the first place I choose. My treat of choice is either the warm ham and cheese croissant or the warm jam and cheese croissant. I love gooey cheese any time of day and would certainly recommend either. Be warned, the ham is not a cold cut. It’s real ham. If you are not prepared for quality ingredients, then it might take you for a loop. Sarcasm aside, just order it. It’s delicious!
There are too many functional coffee shops in Vancouver; same chairs, same coffee, same need to get you in and out. Greenhorn Espresso Bar is like a secret little getaway in the West End. It’s a cafe that knows what it is, and opens its doors everyday with a passion for great coffee and great food. Take a relaxing trip for a couple of hours to Greenhorn Espresso Bar. It’s worth the trip downtown.
Movie Recommendation: Land and Freedom (1995), a Ken Loach film, is about a young man who goes to Spain in 1936 to help fight the fascists. Ian Hart is fantastic as the lead and the story may feel more relevant than ever.
994 Nicola St
Open from 7 am weekdays, and 8 am weekends