Save-On Meats,with its 3-story-high neon sign dating back to the ’50s, has been an institution in Vancouver. I had first heard about it years ago in its original incarnation. When I heard about the sudden announcement that it was closing back in 2009, I regretted that I didn’t get the opportunity to try it. I’d been meaning to try it but just never got around to it since there are so many good dining spots in Vancouver and I always had limited time on each visit. A couple of months ago, when I heard that Save-On Meats had re-opened under new ownership and with a major facelift, I decided I was going to make it a point to try it out on my next trip to Vancouver. So on my recent trip to Vancouver earlier this month, I made sure I slotted time in my eating schedule to make a visit to Save-On Meats. I was really hoping that there would not be crazy line-ups because of the hype since Guy Fieri from Food Network had visited just two months ago and Save-On Meats was one of the places featured for a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives episode, which has yet to air.
The menu at Save-On Meats consisted of classic diner fare. I was actually surprised how inexpensive the majority menu was, with most of the items being under $10. I had heard The Save-On Meats Burger ($6) is the “must-try” item so that was what I ordered. The burger came with bacon and cheese included and a choice of fries, mashed potatoes, slaw, or tossed salad. I chose the tossed salad as I wanted something lighter to go with my burger. The tossed salad certainly exceeded my expectations as I was expecting some chopped lettuce and carrot shreds with a side of store-bought dressing. Instead, I got mixed greens that were lightly dressed in a simple, tasty vinaigrette. I had high hopes for the burger based on initial appearance as in my mind, I was expecting a greasy-spoon/diner-type of burger. I was surprised that the burger was topped with butter lettuce and a perfectly sliced piece of tomato. The cheese was perfectly melted on the patty and the bacon slices crisp. Taste-wise though the burger was just ok. It was certainly not a gourmet burger nor would I really expect it to be at a price tag of $6 including a side. I was just hoping that the patty would have a stronger beef flavour and be a little more juicy. Luckily for me, I didn’t encounter much gristle in the patty and so overall, I thought the burger and salad were good, considering the price.
My dining companion, who also ordered the burger but with fries instead, wasn’t so lucky. Unfortunately, she found a lot of gristle in her patty and did not end up finishing the rest of her burger. Our server was really observant and handled the situation well. She offered my dining companion something else from the menu but my dining companion declined so our server ended up taking half the price off the bill for my dining companion’s burger. Considering the burger was only $6, we were impressed that she would do that. Even if the food wasn’t a positive experience for my dining companion on this visit, at least the service turned out to be a positive one.
I really like the decor and look of the rejuvenated Save-On Meats. It’s still got the old school diner feel but with a contemporary twist. When I arrived around 11:30 on weekday morning, I managed to snag one of the last available booths. By noon, the whole place was packed. It’s nice to see the revitalization in the neighbourhood first with the Woodward’s complex nearby and now with the revived Save-On Meats. I’m really glad I got the opportunity to finally visit this Vancouver landmark.
43 W Hastings St