First off is Todbott's Triangles (2827 NE Alberta). A hidden gem in the very literal sense of the term, as it is back from the street down a path, at the back of a house close to a popular nouveau-Mexican restaurant La Bonita. It was on a Sunday morning when I went there (it is currently closed on Mondays) and I was feeling queasy and tired (no, not from a binge drink the night before; I don't drink really), and I wanted some sort of calming drink in a calming environment from a calming person. I was staying with a friend just a few blocks from TT's, so I thought it was the perfect moment to explore it.
I was already charmed by the place (and affirmed in my decision to go there) as I walked up the path, greeted by a nice, mild-mannered young man on his laptop amongst a comfy outdoors seating arrangement. While I was intrigued by the remarkably inexpensive and beautifully presented nigiri ($1-$2) a piece, considering the previously mentioned queasiness, I stuck with the green tea for its warmth more than anything, as his homemade kombucha (or 'boocha as it said on the sidewalk sign) was tempting.
The indoor space was small, but lovingly appointed and comfortable. As he made my green tea, we chatted about how he got started (as a vendor at local farmers markets), my position with the Vancouver Farmers Markets, and his connection to Vancity (apparently there is a convention in March in Hope of all places that he attends every year, by bike all the way from Portland!). The great thing I found about Todbott's Triangles was it easily allowed for a connection to be made between owner and customer, vendor and patron, which is one of the many wonderful things about farmers markets is that you get to know the person who is providing you with their product; a valuable connection that is rare in the Western world and its big cities.
The green tea was steeped from loose leaves and was brewed right in front of me, giving me time to decide I also wanted to buy a 50 cent crispy pastry that was made in a waffle pattern but in the shape of a flower, with hints of coconut and deep-fried goodness.
I would definitely recommend Todbott's Triangles, especially if you find yourself in the Alberta Arts District. A peaceful oasis focussed on Asian healthful food and drink, done in a laid-back and artistic Northwest way that is hard to resist and relax into with ease.