Save on Meats – Vancouver, BC


Save on Meats
43 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 569-3568

Early adopters, supporters  and enthusiasts of many things in our grande old world are an interesting lot.  Its safe to say they love being in on the ground level, before things really take off and get established in the mainstream.  Often at the cost of being scorned or mocked for their fervent adoration for whatever it may be that strikes their fancy as others cannot yet understand why, and for which they are often stringently dedicated to defending.  Places to eat certainly fall among those categories where fanatics make themselves known, but then when their beloved spot gets popular, they are filled with mixed feelings.  Part glad that their views are vindicated, but also saddened that their special place will now be flooded with those catching the word-of-mouth and covered in public sources of media.

The previous incarnation of Save on Meats and today’s refurbished edition are an interesting pair to compare.  Suffice it to say, the new edition is a lot more “user friendly” to say those folks who are hesitant to venture to this part of downtown east, especially once you get in through the front door.  The decor has a definitively retro slant, complete with adornments such as the old school candy dispenser and juke box situated near the main entrance’s waiting area.  Even the signage has the decades-old look and feel to them, that might remind the older generation of days gone by, but are clearly with the styling of an era that is beyond my early days on this planet earth.

After a brief delay as we waited for a table to be opened up and cleared for us, we were led way to the very back of the long hall-like interior to a larger table.  With others also desiring a table, we ended up having to share it with some strangers.  For those who like to eat in more privacy, keep that in mind and perhaps you can ask to wait for a smaller booth to become available.

Readers, perhaps you can understand but whenever I am in these kind of establishments that are trying to transport you back in time, I’m often persuaded to travel back with them and indulge in the classics.  Simple diners, or drive-thru’s for example, harken me to open up my meal with an vanilla ice cream/coke float.  Sadly, what I got here was a big let down.  To begin, the glass in which it came in, was hot.  Like fresh out of the dishwasher hot.  The resulting liquid coke inside was lukewarm, even with the frozen scoops of ice cream inside.  You can see how quickly the ice cream had lost its frozen temperature.  Much like drinking piss-warm beer on a summer day, a room temperature float is just unacceptable.  The menu sheet left on our table denoting that there was “ice cold Coca-Cola served here” just added to my misery.

For six bucks, the house burger is a simple patty with lettuce, a lengthwise halved pickle and two thick wedges of red tomato, sandwiched in between a lightly toasted, chewy-textured bun.  I liked the size of the bun overall, not a big, awkward to hold type, and the condiments didn’t end up being a wet, sloppy mess.  Soggy buns, my biggest pet peeve when it comes to the basic hamburger.  The beef patty was cooked through and had a slightly crumbly consistency to it, but seasoning of the meat itself was weak.  Frankly, the fries were the best part of this plate I thought, a light golden color, with the perfect balance of crispy exterior and soft fluffy white inside.  I do wish they salted the fries out of the frier though, as it was left to you to decide what it needed.

I can see how the new Save on Meats is trying to retain their former “charms” and even perhaps their old clientele, but given the transformations occurring in this part of Vancouver, I’m thinking that will undergo a seismic shift.  The folks I saw eating here, seemed to be coming “out of their way” just to partake in this buzzed-about experience.  “Slumming it” if you will.  Other than the low prices, I’m not sure how sustainable this is, before they fly the coup to the newest and trendiest place to be seen at, even if it is in these parts.  I suppose for the old guard, that will just be what they want to have happen, so they can go back to claiming Save on Meats as their own, before the spotlight was shining directly on it.

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6 thoughts on “Save on Meats – Vancouver, BC

  1. I do miss the old Save-on-Meats lunch counter. For $4 you got a large burger (that was actual beef rather than some pre-fab mostly filler Costco burger) and fries, and sat a “W” shaped counter next to cops and odd characters — some more fragrant than others. Because the counter shape made people face each other I had many conversations with random strangers at the old Save-On.

    Its such a shame how Vancouver seems to abhor authentic character in favour of photogenic contrivances.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the old and new variations of this place. I agree, seating setup in a diner like this makes a huge difference. Its now less communal with the refurbish.

  2. Well written post shokutsu.

    I can’t say I was a regular at the ‘old’ Save-On (I have purchased meat and perhaps had a burger a handful of times). I find it difficult to like these types of places from a purely subjective stand-point. Faux-diners and their thinly-veneered ilk just rub me the wrong way…especially considering you can still this type of food at REAL diners that still dot the city. It’s a theme-park ride for those who are into that sort of thing.

    • Thanks gastro, while I myself was not a regular either with the previous incarnation of Save-on-Meats, I knew enough about it to try and raise a point about what can happen when things undergo a drastic change, and completely change the landscape. Your description of those who raise your ire, matches well with the kind of folks (just going by appearances) that I saw on this particular day. As I alluded to, I am curious to see their staying power of this rodeo, once a new one arrives in town…

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