In Vancouver, BC You Can Level Up with EXP Restaurant

exp-bar-vancouverEXP Restaurant + Bar
309 W Pender St
Vancouver, BC

Hours: 5PM–12AM
Phone: (604) 558-1337

Who can not love a restaurant catering to video game nerds? EXP Restaurant & Bar has been in operation since late 2012 and perhaps the only reason why I have not noticed this place is because it’s a game of darts at randomly determining an area to dine at whenever I visit Vancouver, BC.

At this place, all of the entertainment is digital. While waiting for a table, you can play the latest games on an X-Box One. With Shaw Wifi at the premise you can also fish out your mobile for a few Candy Crush quick plays (or another online game of your liking).

My addiction (yes, I admit it) to the Pokémon GO game is not as huge as others, but it’s still my go-to game to kill time — assuming there is a stop and spawn spot within range. This operation recognizes the sudden popularity of this game, and they had plenty of art hanging by the front to admire. I inquired if any of the new Pocket Monster creations hanging on the walls were available for purchase as a print. Sadly, they aren’t since there’s no contact information on them and one of the staff told me so. At least I was permitted to take photos for prosperity. I love the pop art fusion style that permeates through the place, and the scents from the kitchen were very good too!

Even the cocktail menu offered a Poké inspired drink. The Beedrill was smooth and sweet. I wondered how this drink might taste with black liquorice, but that contrast most likely would not work. The black straw sufficed to give the illusion of a drink inspired by this black and yellow pocket monster. The vodka made for the perfect buzz while I waited for my main meal, a Triforce Burger with a spinach and leek salad.

The side stole the show, and Zelda might not be thrilled at my statement. Link (in reference to the classic cartoon show) would eat anything in front of him, and I was certainly hungry after a stroll around Gastown. The combination of beef with chicken leaned towards the latter being more prominent. The power of the crispy chrysalis from the bacon certainly manifested with tangy notes from the roasted garlic flavoured mayo.


The beef, emblazoned with the Triforce logo, could have benefited from more of a charcoal flavour. I spoiled myself over the summer with hardwood briquettes to cook most of my meats. I missed that homestyle flavour over what’s made over a flame-licked grill.

Overall, the meal was delectable. But was it fitting for royalty, as the symbol from the Legend of Zelda games is meant to represent? Certainly! Although I think the high court may well prefer turkey over swine. Mind you, I’m still waiting for some operation to produce a turducken burger. Now that would represent a true Triforce dish when the three meats are stuffed into one another than putting bacon, beef and pork together, sandwiched into a bun.

This operation has a rewards card so returning customers can earn special bonuses (i.e. discounts). I could have applied for one, but I’m not in Vancouver that often. While this establishment hosts many game nights, ranging from classic console tournaments to battle royales with games like Mass Effect, the commute from an island city to the mainland is killer. For locals, this place is worth coming back to time and time again. For visitors, it’s certainly worth a look. The service is friendly and the smiles are great. Here, I’m sure the staff will get to know your name since there’s plenty of multiplayer and single dish dining options to feast on and theme nights to get one’s full video game nerdery on. It’s Unreal!


If electronic games are not your thing, a small selection of board / pen and paper options exists, along with proper table space to eat and play on. I figure the space can hold about 30 or so customers (including being at the bar). But for very busy nights, reservations are definitely required. But for those who just want to stop by for a drink the bar is well stocked. If an individual wants to venture to a game station for a few rounds of Street Fighter, they can do so. On the PCs, the keyboards and mice are splashproof so no equipment gets damaged.

Although I’m not very skilled at playing these latest games, to see others hard at work had me intrigued. While I can handle certain food eat-offs easily, playing to win on the video-game front is and always will be a tougher challenge.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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