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Category: Mexican Page 1 of 5

Adelicia’s Mexican Restaurante

We were out in Langley and my partner was craving Mexican for dinner. So after a quick google search we discovered a handful of options along the same street. We ended up driving past them all, settling on “Adelicia’s Mexican Restaurante”, based on its exterior.

The use of the Mexican flag and colours on their awning had us thinking it looked and felt more authentic than its competitors. And neon lights and the strung up palm trees grabbed our attention in the first place. Not to mention, the upbeat music audible from the sidewalk, had us expecting a similar vibe.

Inside, the restaurant was well themed. It took you to the tropics with the ceiling painted in a sky blue, and the orange walls mimicking the shade of sand on the beaches of Mexico. One wall was painted with palm trees and high cliffs looking out in to the ocean. Another, had fishing boats and a marlin splashing out over the waves. Colourful paper garlands lined the walls, piñatas dangled from the ceiling, inflatable pool toys hung in hammocks, and traditional Mexican apparel was repurposed as wall decor. All together, Mexican traditions and heritage spelled out in art and every day objects.

It wasn’t busy this Tuesday, despite the crowd of families gathered at the karate dojo in the same plaza. Especially surprising, given that it was “taco Tuesday” and at “Adelicia’s” it was $2 tacos all day, saving you 50 cents per taco. Naturally we would have to take advantage of this deal, only later to be charged regular price for them. When we brought it to the attention of the clerk, we only got back 50 cents in change (for one), but not the other. And we didn’t want to go back a second time to ask for a refund of 50 more cents.

Our dinner started with some complimentary chips and salsa. They were extra crunchy, hard corn chips paired with a tangy and slightly spiced, chilled tomato juice. My partner likes his salsa runny, whereas I prefer mine chunky, for an even chip to dip ratio.

We ordered the “Enchiladas”. These were corn tortillas filled with our choice of either chicken or beef, then cooked in our choice of either red chilli sauce or a green tomatillo sauce; all served with Mexican rice and beans. We went for chicken and the less spicy tomatillo sauce to go over it. What came before us felt like home cooking. A plate that was comforting with porridge-like rice, soften meats and a saucy chicken.

As for the tacos, you can get them as a combo with chips and salsa, plus a can of pop for $7.50. But you get the chips and salsa complimentary anyways, so we simply grabbed 4 $2 tacos. And for each soft corn tortilla we had our choice of filling. The following is what we decided on.

The “Carnitas”, slow braised chicken had a great sauce to it, but I found the meat over cooked.

The “Al pastor”, was grilled achiote marinated pork with grilled onion and pineapple. It was dry, the meat tasted grainy like it was reheated (plausible, considering how quickly these came out of the kitchen). The saving grace was the pop of sweetness from the caramelized onion and pineapple.

The “Fish” taco was listed as “grilled, sustainable, OceanWise caught rock fish with pico de gallo and avocado”. I didn’t get any grill flavour in this. No Smokey char that would have given this taco the kick it needed. This too felt warmed up, the breading was warmer and softer than the white fish under it. It was also missing the avocado that the menu mentioned, but I didn’t notice that until I finished not enjoying it.

The “Chicharron” was new for me and it sounded promising. Fried pork rind in a jalapeño and green tomatillo sauce. But the rind was soggy, soaked in sauce, further weighed down by the extra oils from the fryer. A few kernels were hard with impossible to chew through edges. Overall, this was a taco that was overwhelming tangy, with an awful wet sponge mouth-feel.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A little out of the way for a specific visit. I would end up spending more on gas, than I would be saving on the taco special. Not to mention I wasn’t satisfied with any of them, but at $2 each (and even being short changed 50 cents), I didn’t find it worth my time to complain. A bit of a miss for me, but my partner wished it was located closer to his work place so he could frequent it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ADELICIA’S
20505 Fraser Hwy, Langley City, BC V3A 4G3
(604) 510-4404
adeliciasmexican.ca

The Taco Factory

We had a bad experience with the taco restaurant that it was before, so was curious to see how this reincarnation fared today. And to be honest if it wasn’t for the new staff, my partner wouldn’t have ventured in for the first time in years, and then come back with me in this post.

Located in New Westminster this place isn’t necessarily a destination, but a nice option for Mexican cuisine in the area. Their slogan is “Where authentic is created” and with the Spanish music and the mother and daughter team working front of house and kitchen, I was optimistic.

This was furthered along by the very enticing menu. Everything was listed with vivid photos and well written descriptions. You choose your foundation from tacos, tortas, tostadas, burritos, gorditas, quesadillas, flautist, and sopes. Then you pick your desired protein from the list off the back. Carne asada, pollo asado, carnitas, chorizo, al pastor, and pescado. Or flank steak, grilled chicken, slow roasted pulled pork, Mexican sausage, pork marinated with onion and pineapple, and battered deep fried basa. They also have slow roasted chicken meat and chunks of lamb listed, but both were not available today. You can either keep your platter protein consistent, or mix and match 2-3 within your order. For example, if you get 3 tacos, you can have each one be different: a beef taco, one in chicken, and the last with pork. Meaning between our two orders we were able to try all the available above, minus the fish.

My partner had the three 4inch tacos, in soft shell corn tortillas. The regular order is garnished with white onion and cilantro, however he requested the without. This is the edited version, and despite mentioning no onion and cilantro due to dietary discomfort, our server forgot to mention it to her mother/chef. So she had to bring the tray back to the kitchen and had both picked out, and then brought back to us. What came back was grilled chicken on a tortilla, slow roasted pulled pork, and pork marinated in onion and pineapple. They didn’t look like much without its greens, luckily it came with two sauces.

You get your own carafes of sauces to use as sparingly or as excessively as you wish. The red was hot, it came without a warning, but I guess the colour is telling. The green was tangy and mild, it gave the tacos some kick. But not enough to hide how bland the chicken was. The pulled pork was better, it had a nice char to it. But my favourite of the three was the pork with pineapple, and its tangy barbecue-like sauce.

Similar, but with two 6 inch corn tortillas fried and piled high, were the tostadas that I had and preferred. Here, I also had my choice of proteins, but a lot more toppings along with it. I had the flank steak cut up into small cubes, and the ground Mexican sausage with some heat. The chorizo was more fulsome with chunks of potato, and the steak hard and over cooked, with less flavour. Topped with sour cream, lettuce, cilantro, and fresh cheese. All together it had the texture of a hard shell taco, and tasted more like tex-mex with the cheese and sour cream. It was everything I liked about “Taco Time”, but elevated and grown up.

I just questioned the side of fries that came with both orders, they felt out of place with or without ketchup. A side of dirty rice or seasoned potato chunks would have been more complimentary and more authentic, like their slogan advertised. Although they did add to the great presentation on the boards.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not my first choice for tacos, but at their fair prices, and with use of quality ingredients, I won’t shy away from a return visit either. A viable quick meal option when in New Westminster. Don’t deny your cravings.

TACO FACTORY
418 E Columbia St, New Westminster, BC V3L 3W9
(604) 553-0334
thetacofactory.ca

Tacofino Commissary on Hastings

Although I live in the area, I have yet to visit this location of “Tacofino”, until today. I like their Vancouver based offerings enough, and how each menu varies from location to location. But my first taste of “Tacofino” was in Tofino, and there is just something about them there that can’t be compared or duplicated. None-the-less, my partner was craving quick tacos and here we were.

Their small location was fully packed this Sunday evening. The roar of the patrons could be heard from the side walk, walking into their all white facade. There are a few individual tables if you are lucky, but majority of the seating is communal across three long ones. We hopped on the bar hoping for quicker service, only to realize how busy the lone bartender was; making margaritas non stop.

We ordered a beer to change things up, and to sip on as we waited. “Pacifico” imported from Mexico topped with a lime. The bartender thanked us for our patience, as we came during their busy bout.

The restaurant is dark, minimal light shines through the maze of orbs, strung up across the ceiling. A tangle of copper wire and ceramic pots, with artificial succulent and leafy plants. It certainly draws your attention upward.

Their menu is fulsome with burrito and taco options, as well as several appetizers and a few desserts for before and after. We would snack on their name sake.

Tuna with soy, sesame, salsa fresca, wakame, ginger, and wasabi mayo. There was a wait for the seaweed salad to thaw and our server asked if I cared or wanted it on the taco. I did, so waited, and thankfully so, as it pulled the flavours together. Tuna and seaweed with pickled ginger, and sweet mayo is a classic combination; this was exactly as I imagined it. And I was thrilled over how generous their slab of barely seared tuna was, you definitely get your value here.

Similarly, the grilled wagyu steak offered plenty of perfectly pink meat slathered with black garlic mayo cream; made fresh and fun with pickled vegetables and jalapeño. All together everything had plenty of chew and crunch, it reminded me of a banh mi with the carrot and daikon. Delicious.

The chicken taco was my partner’s favourite. It certainly had the most going on. Chicken that is nacho-crusted and topped with braised red cabbage, LP mayo, pickled apple, pepper greens, and turmeric popcorn. You can defiantly taste and feel the crunch of the nacho crust, the popcorn was a fun visual, and the cabbage offered up freshness. I just would have liked more apple for its sweetness, and to better balance out the pepperiness of the greens.

The pork starred in this taco, with its tasty caramelization. The fattiness and the sauciness of it was balanced by the cabbage, fried shallot, pineapple, and sriracha toppings. Every ingredient sang in unison, this was a well conceived taco.

Given how great everything was today I grabbed one of their signature “Diablo chocolate cookies” to go. And just feeling it in its paper bag I knew this was gonna be good. Soft and chewy, with three perfectly formed chocolates finishing it off. It gave you the perfect marriage of spicy and sweet with chilli and dark chocolate.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Based on previous, inconsistent experiences I came in apprehensively, but left raving. I liked all the tacos we tried and will be looking forward to having the others on our next visit. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TACOFINO
2327 East Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5L 1V6
604-253-8226
tacofino.com

Salsa By Marcela at Cacao

Today I was invited down to “Cacao”, a Latin American restaurant in Kits. We were here to get a first hand look at their new salsa line through an interactive cooking demonstration. I have never been to the restaurant, so thought this would also serve as a great introduction to it.

Here, we would meet Marcela one of the house chefs, who serves her traditional Mexican cuisine every Thursday night. Her credentials include her own cooking show, radio show, and books in Mexico. In Vancouver she is a mother of 4, launching her own salsa line with her daughters. It was her recipes and they took care of the packaging and marketing. Marcela found a need for her product given the abundance of tex mex in Vancouver. She simply wanted to offer real, traditional, Mexican salsa. And today, I would learn to tell the difference between it and Americanized Mexican cuisine.

Marcela was a sunny person, happy and welcoming in her deep purple and fuchsia chef’s coat, with colourful embroidery. She was patience in explaining to us what we were having, spelling out their proper Mexican names for this blog. She took the time to teach us about a few of her traditional Mexican kitchen utensils, including the carved wooden chocolate milk muddler pictured above. We also learned about chilli, how to buy them and how their name varies based on it being green on the plant, or dried and red.

Our night began with some “Tepache”, a traditional Mexican drink made from fermenting pineapple skin in water and sugar. It is comparable to kombucha in taste. Great for hot weather and best mixed with sparkling, like how we enjoyed it was today.

To snack on we had “totopo”, the Mexican word for chips. These are made by deep frying tortillas. They don’t make there own tortilla here, but do cut up, fry up, and season what they get from local “Chancho Tortilla”. Marcela declared theirs the best and most authentic tortilla that a Vancouverite can get. And true enough, these tortilla chips were amazing. This snack had the whole room going back for chip after chip. Their thick crunch and salty coating, the perfect vessel to scoop up fresh made guacamole salsa. Salsa prepared using one of Marcela’s bottled ones below. Together this was so good that I inquired about purchasing a bag of “totopo” to take home. However, they don’t offer them by the bag, making them a good reason to return.

Next we had some “Gorditas”, doughy circles that were cut down the middle and stuffed with a creamy avocado spread. The table loved these too. I liked the texture that sprung back after you took a bite, but I found it was lacking in flavour, especially compared to the “totopos” above. It reminded me of a mild corn, but made into dough and baked.

When the demo began we were invited around Marcela’s makeshift cooking station. She had her three bottles of salsa on display and all the fresh and dried ingredients she would need to prepare a full meal with them. She began by explaining to us that salsa isn’t just for dipping. And that when you purchase one of her salsas you get a snack and a meal helper all in one. Each is all natural and keeps for two months in the fridge, once opened.

She would show us 4 quick and easy recipes that you could prepare at home, yourself. But first prefaced the demonstration, explaining that in her cooking and for her recipes nothing is exact, it depends on the day, time, and mood.

First was an oven baked fish. BC red snapper prepared with lemon, salt, and her “Papa Carlos’ salsa”. Each of her three salsas are named after the family member who taught her the recipe. This was her grandfather’s recipe that her family used as an emergency mealtime solution. This pickled salsa is great with any seafood. You top your first with it generously, wrapping it all up in tinfoil, then allowing it time to bake in the oven. The result, a juicy fish made spicy with the vegetable mix. I could have used more salsa to enjoy with each bite of fish. But be warned, it is on the spicier side.

Next was a Mexican fried rice prepared with her green “Tio Emilio” salsa. She added oil to a hot pan and to it fried onions and poblano chilli. Next went in garlic, corn kernels and her uncle’s sauce, jalapeño, garlic, water, salt, oil, and fresh cilantro. When simmering you add in half a cup of salsa and half a cup of water, with one cup of rice. Stir, add salt, and reduce heat. I really enjoyed the rice and thought it was a clever way to use salsa that I could myself copying in the future.

All “Salsas by Marcela” can be utilized hot or cold. The green sauce was also great as a salad dressing. It was tasty with mixed greens, sunflower seeds, and tomato.

Next Marcela showed us how to make her favourite enchiladas using the red “Mama Luchita” salsa. You start with oil in your pan and to it add in her mother’s smokey sauce. With a bit of water, allow it to boil, before submerging a tortilla. Once fully coated, plate said tortilla, fill with feta, fold over, and top with more sauce from the pan. Once again these tortillas came from “Chancho Tortilla”. When trying it, you definitely got the two types of chilli smoked and cooked in oil that went into the bottled salsa.

Our meal ended with a dessert that embodied “Cacao“ and the Latin American food prepared traditionally, with original flavours, in an European style that they specialize in. These are “Borrachitos”, Mexican sweets known as “men drunk”. Sweet jelly candies made with corn starch, sprinkled with sugar and filled with alcohol; hence the name. They are normally either red, yellow, or green. But tonight’s rendition was dyed purple by the violet flowers they used. You don’t taste the flower, more the punchy tequila that hides with. I really liked them and wished we had more. One to try, and the second to really enjoy and taste.

If you want to try Marcela’s authentic Mexican cuisine for yourself, and not just bring a bit of her into your kitchen, visit “Cacao” on Thursday evenings to enjoy a five course meal that includes dessert. Marcela herself, made sure to note that you will get to try many different types of Mexican food, that it isn’t just tacos. And every two weeks they change up the entire menu, but mole (a chocolate based sauce) is always included.

“Salsa by Marcela” is currently only available at local health food store, “Fresh is Best”. Grab and jar and get more recipe inspiration from their Instagram @SalsaByMarcela.

Given my teaser of “Cacao”, I would love to come back and try more of their menu. I don’t recall the last time I had traditional Latin American cuisine. Don’t deny your cravings.

Tacofino Burrito Bar, revisit

Tacofino, revisit

I wasn’t planning on reviewing my latest visit to Tacofino’s take out burrito bar. But after a very tasty meal and noticeable improvements from my first so-so visit, to now, I thought I owed it to them to re-evaluate.

My partner wanted tacos and decided we would make a trip to find some. Based on our parking spot, the quickest and easiest to stop at was “Tacofino’s” take out shop.

For the full run down on decor and setting, check out my original visit and how the food has changed in the 2 and a half years between my first and second post.

Tacofino Burrito Bar

 

I did the ordering knowing that their chicken burrito is the one to get, not that the menu gave you all that much to choose from in the first place.

Fried chicken, rice, guacamole, and shredded lettuce. Here there was a lot more chicken than what I recalled, and it was a lot more crispier than memory serves. It paired well with the chewy thin grains of rice, the crisp lettuce, and just right amount of heat from the chilli mayo sauce the drizzled on thick. Memorable enough that I could see my self craving for another taste in the future.

Whereas I remembered the taco being pretty bland and like the burrito, in need of a couple of squeezes from the help yourself bottles of salsa counter side. Everything today held up on its own without the need for any additional dips.

The chicken taco, had the same crispy breaded chicken as the burrito, but with pickled vegetable slices, a creamy white sauce, and a cilantro salsa. Tasty chicken without any heat.

I was most impressed by the chorizo taco. It covered all flavour and texture profiles for me. The grittiness of the salty meat, the crispiness of the fried kale chips, the chalkiness of the sharp Parmesan cheese, and the tang of the pickled onions. Good, but not economical, and at $6 each you pay a lot more for the bells and whistles. I personally found it worth it, as I don’t find majority of the tacos I encounter tasty enough. Whereas my partner argued that the tacos he always has at other places have been around $2-3 each.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Some tasty quick snack worth taking a detour to, and a Vancouver staple. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TACOFINO BURRITO BAR
15 West Cordova Street
604-899-7907
tacofino.com/gastown-take-out-menu

The Vancouver Foodster Soup Festival

You have heard of a beer crawl, but how about a soup crawl? Well you have now, as in this post, I embarked on such a journey. A tour to try a few of the soups participating in the first ever Vancouver Foodster Soup Festival.

“Vancouver Foodster” brings food to the lower mainland by hosting various food tours and “tasting plates”. Curated food journeys that help you try new things and learn about new places. A stress free way to explore the city through your mouth. And he has created this event to offer those restaurants not participating in “Dine Out Vancouver”, a chance to increase traffic to their restaurants too.

The “Vancouver Soup Festival” is running for 3 weeks from January 10th to the 31st. And each week a different selection of soups will be featured by each of the 5 participating restaurants. Thus giving you the initial reason to visit and all subsequent reasons to return.
Some are soups that are off their regular menu and others are made for this event. And each week you are invited to try each soup fest participant and vote for your favourite for that week. With first, second, and third place winners each week being declared the “People’s favourite”.

Today we would be trying soups from only 3 of the 5 participating restaurants, and each of their 3 soups in one go. All to give you an overview of what you can expect from the Soup Fest’s inaugural run!

Our first stop was “Rhinofish” in Chinatown. They have been open for just over a year now and since their launch a lot has changed. They still offer the same menu items that they have gained notoriety for, but better with new suppliers and distributors.

Here, we started with a drink that paired well with their soups. This was their signature “Rhinofish” cocktail, a great beverage to sip, even despite its lack of spirits. Apple soda, tomato juice, and salted plum. The latter not only bobbed amongst the ice and mint, but it was made into a dust that rimmed the glass. The result a terrific salty and sweet, yet savoury drink, like I have never had before.

For the first week “Rhinofish” is offering a delicious “Wonton noodle soup”. A broth brewing for 8 to 12 hours for a clear liquid full of flavour. Served with pork dumplings, shredded seaweed, egg “skins” (scrambled egg omelette cut into strands), dehydrated tomato, and chewy noodles. For those who want more punch and a little heat, they offer housemade chilli oil to fragrance the soup. There was nothing that I did not like about this, the wontons were delightful, and the toppings added a great texture to the mix. So it is a shame this was the first soup we tried, as it was hard to live up to and/or surpass.

Week two, “Rhinofish” features their “vegetable noodle soup”. 12 different vegetables cooking for over 12 hours gives this broth its snap. And like its broth base, there is plenty of vegetables in the actual soup as well. Steamed vegetables, fried vegetables, and vegetables wrapped in tofu skin. Bok choy, king oyster mushroom, asparagus, tomato, and broccolini. I advise eating the tempura battered ones first as they get soggy quick in the warm soup. The tofu skin was the highlight, like eating a tasty low carb wrap that is a topping a bowl of noodles that is also good.

I liked the “Taiwanese beef noodles” the least, and that says a lot about the other two before. This broth is boiled for 18 hours giving it a very deep beef flavour. Here the noodles are thicker, better to sop up the soup with and better to balance out the beef with. Braised beef shank, pan fried short rib, carrot, and home made sauerkraut also make it into the bowl. I liked the tender shank meat, but had to gnaw over the short rib. I liked the char of the rib and its crispier skin, but not how it was made soggy in the soup that it sat in and soaked up. But the rest of it was tasty with the carrot and the thickness of the brew, giving the serving the richness of a stew.

Rhinofish Noodle Bar
550 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-428-3389
rhinofishnoodlebar.com

 

Our next stop was the “Moltaqa”, the Moroccan restaurant in Gastown. I have been before, and continue to adore their decor. I enjoy the bold colours and the wonderful patterns that cover seats and topped tables.

Here, all their soups for the festival are vegan friend and gluten free. And with each we enjoyed traditional Moroccan tea in traditional Moroccan serve ware. It didn’t necessarily pair with the soup. But it offered a break from it with its own refreshing palate cleansing mint and sugar.

For the first week “Moltaqa” is offering a “Chickpea and lentil soup” with tomatoes, garlic, and Moroccan spices. It was a hearty soup, much like the other two to come. There were lots of chunks to chewy through, and grainy chickpeas to fill up on, but you also get a whole wheat round of bread to dip into it with. And as is custom, the whole is severed with sweet dates on the side. They are helpful in rejuvenating the soup by allowing you to take breaks from it. This is also achieved through the side of olives for sharing.

I liked the creamy “Traditional pea soup” with green peas, cumin, garlic, and Moroccan spices. It is finished with a topping of cumin, salt, and olive oil. You stir them in to the velvety soup for an extra pop. This has a consistency you’d want to dunk your sandwich into.

And for the last week of the soup festival their “Traditional white bean soup” will be up for voting. White bean, ginger, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, and Moroccan spices. This was my favourite of the three. It has a tomatoey base like a vegetable soup and would be great on the side with some sharp grilled cheese.

Moltaqa Restaurant
51 W Hastings Street, Vancouver
604-696-4055
moltaqarestaurant.com.

 

From here we ended at our last stop: “Las Tortas”, located in the Cambie Village area. Going in we had the people in the neighbourhood tell us how great the food, and that we were in for a treat. The owner in himself is a treat. He has cooked and operated the shop for 10 years now and doesn’t look like he is slowing down.

The soup he offered for the first week is the “Pozole Verde”, a traditional Mexican soupy stew featuring hominy corn (big white meaty corn that is chewy. It reminded me of barley but nutty). All in a clear broth loaded fully with squash blossoms, radish slices, chicken chunks, and shreds of lettuce. It had a clean look and finish to it. Comforting like the bowl of soup you would ask for when you are sick: a home style chicken soup.

The “Mexican lamb consommé” is as bold as it is colourful. A strong flavour with plenty of spices and the taste of lamb through out. Slow cooked lamb broth, guajillo chilli, rice, and garbonzo beans; topped with pico de gallo. As a whole, this was another hearty soup that eats like a meal, especially with the rice at the bottom of the bowl.

“Los Tortas’” last soup you could vote for is the “Mexican red lentil”. Red lentils simmered in a vegetable based broth with a mix of tomatoes, spices, lime and cilantro. It was very herbaceous, a flavour you’d want topping some nacho chips.

Las Tortas
3353 Cambie Street, Vancouver
604-569-1402
lastortas.ca

 

Well there you have it, some warming options to enjoy this brisk winter season. So head out, find your favourite and vote. For more details check out the official link to the Vancouver Foodster Soup Festival.

Vancouver Soup Festival January 10-31

#soupfestyvr

Fayuca, Brunch

“Fayuca” is a new modern Mexican restaurant that opened earlier this year. And this weekend, they have launched their very own version of brunch. The owners have a long history celebrating food and creating their own in and around Mexico City and Vancouver. They are inspired by the food they grew up eating, and combine it with ingredients readily made available in Vancouver. They are now open from 9-3pm Saturdays and Sundays, offering a Mexican twist on your favourite breakfast items and drinks. Spiked coffee, pancakes, and eggs benny.

This sunny fall morning we were seated on their heated patio. A little oasis in Yaletown with palm shrubs and wicker chairs. However the interior of the restaurant is also worth noting.

Today, and for the next few months, in jubilation of brunch, they will have a live DJ in house spinning tracks behind a straw lined table. The straw here matched the woven straw walls and ceiling panels, the wicker lamp shades, and their overall tropical theme. Orbs of light wrapped in netting, masks carved in wood, and the first half of a marlin fish mounted on the wall.

From where we sat on their open patio, we had a clear view of their bar. A wonderful tiled feature that looked right out of a tropical vacation advert. There, we immediately honed in on the box of Honey Cheerios that was behind it. When we asked, we were delighted to learn that it was a garnish-to-be on one of our “Fayuca” brunch time drink specials.

“Sol dorado” with Reposado tequila, honey, lemon, and marmalade; finished with crushed Cheerio dust lining the rim. It was strong with citrus to start, but ended on the tequila side of things. It fostered the feeling of “waking up to a party”, according to one of my guests. Ultimately, we were all enamoured with the rim and found it a shame that the menu didn’t mention it. And disappointed that there weren’t other brunch drinks that had a different type of cereal coating its rim. For example, “El Tucan” was just asking for a crushed Froot Loops dusting.

Instead, “El Tucan” is a very serious drink, it is has heavy as it looks. Black strap rum, Campari, pineapple, and coffee bean. Definitely for the coffee lovers, pairing its natural bitterness with some strong rum notes.

The “Feature licuado” was a lot more light hearted, sans the alcohol. It was basically a milkshake, featuring a fruit in rotation. Today it was a banana blended into the whole milk and cardamom. The result was basically a banana smoothie, making this a great way to help you start the day!

“Champurrado” is Mexican hot chocolate and better than any hot chocolate I have ever had. Made with corn flour, milk, and piloncillo. It was a rich and silky sip with nutty and earthly notes. It was finished off with a mild spice that makes it both a great dessert drink and a terrific side to our meal to come.

The “Feature pastry” was a “Concha”, a freshly baked bun with a cinnamon biscuit shell, served with butter. It was sweet and flakey with a taste and a crust like that of a Chinese pineapple bun. According to my guest with some background knowledge, this pastry is not commonly served with butter, but more offered as a dessert. However, this is fusion Mexican brunch, and this “concha” found itself recreated as a dinner roll.

Similarly, these were pancakes reimagined as sweet corn hot cakes, served with maple syrup and your choice of bacon or sausage. Super tasty, but a tad too burnt, giving acrid bites. Simple, but so good. I would have enjoyed them as is, without the need of the tart strawberry or sweet syrup.

The “Seafood chorizo scramble” was two scrambled eggs mixed with BC octopus and humbolt squid chorizo. It is served with a side of beans, feta cheese, and flour tortilla. Shame you only got two of the tortilla rounds, as these were a great base; helpful in transforming your scramble, beans, avocado, and sour cream into a taco or burrito for easier eating.

Our table loved the “Birria” aka the “hangover stew” the most. The name and the idea of it was just fun. This was a traditional spicy brisket stew, with crispy tortilla, onions, cilantro, and limes. The chips stayed crispy for a long time, bobbing in the stew. The pieces gave the serving something to chew through, much like the tender strands of beef did. Overall it was a hearty and comforting serving that was good both hot or cold. I can see how it would help those with a handover.

“Huevos rancheros” is a classic Mexican dish. Two fried eggs, corn tortilla, salsa roja, beans, onion, creme fraiche, avocado, and feta cheese. Tomatoey sauce, soggy tortilla, runny yolk, gummy beans, and refreshing cream; need I say more?

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
There is no other brunch like it, you are whisked away from decor to drink. A fun spot for something different. Curious to see how their dinner fairs now. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FAYUCA
1009 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5T4
604-689-8523
fayuca.ca

Happy Hour at La Taqueria, Hastings

Today I was invited down to the “La Taqueria” on Hastings Street. This is the popular taco shop’s original location, they are now sporting five others around Vancouver, to satisfy your taco needs.

The Hastings branch has been recently renovated, just in time for summer; with a new bar and cocktail program, and some happy hours specials to enjoy them with. Happy Hour runs from 3-6pm every day of the week, and we were here today to take full advantage.

The renovations were time and money well spent. It takes their small hole in the wall and transforms it into a simple and moody bar (in a good way). A few bar stools by the counter, a handful of family style sharing tables and dim lights to set the tone: from drinks with the boys to a dinner date with the girls. Quick and easy dining with an edge.

But really they are more a bar than anything else, especially when you see and try the calibre of cocktails coming out from behind the counter. Take it from a gal who goes ga-ga over a good glass. Don’t let their tiny real estate fool you, with a bevy of herbs and bitters they bring classy cocktails to the sides of tacos and burritos with ease. But if that isn’t for you they also offer beer by the can or bottle, and margaritas on tap. In fact majority of their Happy Hour specials give you the winning combo of one of their tacos or nachos, with one of their popular beverages for less. For example, a Baja taco and a pint runs at $9 during Happy Hour, which saves you around $4. And Margaritas and “Palomas” are $7 between 3-6pm, instead of $10 regularly.

But to be honest, the regularly priced cocktails are the ones I am recommending. Between our party of three we instinctively found and ordered our favourite notes between spicy, strong, and sweet.

I was highly interested in this tropical twist to a classic.Wild Turkey, Piquant & coconut syrup, absinth, angostura, and lemon oil. Sadly, the “Spiced coconut old fashioned” didn’t have as much coconut flavour as I wanted. I had to strain to taste it. I also didn’t get any of the liquorice from the absinth, not that I am complaining about that one. But at least the drink was as strong and as full bodied as I expected from an Old Fashioned.

The “Bad Hombre” is Wild Turkey, Los Siete Misterios Mezcal, chartreuse, ginger, habanero, citrus, and a poblano pepper. It had a warming, back of your throat burn to it, a warming spice that would pair great with any of their dishes, giving it some zip and spice.

The “Sunset” certainly lived up to its name in imagery. Tequilla blanco, Campari, strawberry & peppercorn shrub, and citrus. Despite its fruit punch-like colour, this one was very Tequila forward, with hints of pepperiness. Sweet but with strong alcohol after taste.

The “Shifting sands” was an easy to drink cocktail, like flavoured water: light and breezy. Tio pepe, bercherovka, Cointreau, honey, citrus, and mint. It was mint forward and even more so when you muddied the sprig of green into the drink, which I am recommending.

The “Jalisco after midnight” was my favourite for flavour. El jimandor, reposado, pisco, vermouth, cynar, cacao, and grapefruit oil. A great smokey drink that you sip to savour. It was incredibly smooth with a creamy chocolatey finish.

Hands down, the “Sinner Man” was the most impressive drink of the night. Saffron infused rum, Mexican falernum, lime grapefruit, and cinnamon smoke. The highlight was the cinnamon stick set on fire. The visual of the smoke caught your eye and the scent of the burning stick kept your nose. Be sure to use the singed cinnamon stick as a stir stick after, so that its essence mingles into the cocktail for a more warming note. It was nutty with the spice, and overall easy to drink like a tropical juice.

The sensation of smelling it first, then tasting it for a different experience was used in another drink as well. The “Charros kick” (name pending) was one of two drinks we got a sneak peak taste of. They have yet to hit the regular drink menu, but you should be seeing them make their debut in the week to come. Mesczal tequila, orgeat, almond, and lemon juice. Here, you smelled the almond essence, but never taste it. Similarly, you expect it to be a richer and creamier drink because of its white milky-hue. Instead, it is light and refreshing.

The second, soon to be released cocktail is the “Bonito”, which did not taste like the salty flake with the same name, instead it was more minty, like a mojto made with Beefeater gin and Lillet blanc.

As for food, their seafood tacos continue to be my favourites, and the ones I recommend. Especially the two that featured battered and deep fried fish and shrimp. The trip in the fryer gives the otherwise soften taco some much needed crunch. And as textural eater, it is so important for my month-feel that I get that balance. The “Baja” taco featured tempura beer battered seasonal fish with cabbage, cilantro, salsa mexicana, and chipotle mayo in a
6″ hand made flour tortilla. The “Cabo” taco had the same make up, just replace fish for tempura beer battered prawns.

And if you like your fish fresh, they also have the “Atun” taco. Seared albacore tuna with
wasabi mayo, chili ponzu, cabbage, and pico de gallo on a 6″ hand made flour tortilla. This one was refreshing, sort of like poke or salad with the raw fish and fresh vegetable, except with a dry taco shell that you can eat around.

The other tacos are smaller in size and feature more raw, pickled, and stewed vegetables and meats. I found them less exciting flavour-wise, but their bar of sauces and pickles were perfect in rectifying this. Here, you customize with as little or as much of their salsa verde, chipotle, or habanero sauces in squeeze bottles; as you like.

But when it comes to Happy Hour and sharing, my vote is for the nachos! This serving is definitely not for just one person. The tortilla chips used are what sets this platter apart, that and the fact that they are double baked. The crispier and airier chips are noticeably lighter. They don’t have much flavour to them, but luckily they are top with plenty and layer after layer there is a consistent 1:1 ratio of dressing to chip. Three tiers of corn chips, three different cheeses, refried beans, onions, Jalapeño, sweet corn, sour cream, pico de gallo, and a creamy chipotle sauce. But be warned, the refried bean mixture does contain traces of meat, therefore this is not a vegetarian option.

But if you are ding solo and want that crunch and easy munch, you can order guacamole with some plain chips. They use the same chips as the nachos, but with a chilled lumpy pico de gallo mix to load them up with. In truth, I ordered this by accident, wanting a side of guac for the nachos, not that it needed another condiment, in hindsight.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It is a little far for me to travel for tacos, where there are two of their other locations much closer to me. Although neither of them offer the same extent of alcoholic beverages. This locale serves as an actual bar. Lots of effort was put into really transforming the place and the experience. I would stop by just for a drink, when in the neighbourhood. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LA TAQUERIA
322 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1K6
604-568-4406
lataqueria.com
La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Hour at The Pawn Shop

Today I was meeting up a friend for dinner. She admittedly is particular when it comes to eating out, so whenever we do, its at a restaurant that is within her wheelhouse. More often than not it is Mexican, today it would be “Tacos, Tapas, and Tequila” from “The Pawn Shop”.

I first heard of “Pawn Shop” at a mixology competition, where their bartender had participated. Hearing the uniqueness of their name, I made a mental note, wanting to visit them just because of it. Often a funky name leads to a funky restaurant to match, and here they did not disappoint.

We sat on the sectioned off patio up front, given the warmth of the day and the shade the patio provided. Here, the sketches of tacos, dollar bills, gold coins, and skulls that decorated the exterior spackle spoke to what was past this threshold.

The entire restaurant had plenty of colour thanks to the artistically done graffiti-style art that covered a few of the walls in urban stylized faces and monsters, including the tags of the ones (I assumed) that drew it. This style continued on to the shared washroom space where individual stalls were marked by their own luchador in masks in side and out.

The main dining area of the restaurant was a little more muted. Wood, concrete, and metal. Here the words “Eat Tacos” and “We Sell Gold” reminded you of why you were here.

Today we took advantage of Happy Hour, given that our timing correlated. Although, I arrived with only 15 minutes more to take advantage of their deals; so rushed to order. The result: I basically asked for everything off their happy hour specials menu, starting with a drink.

Their “Spiked slush” allowed you to pick your liquor and your juice and they mix together an oz for $4.95. With over seven spirit options to choose from and nine mixes the possibilities are endless. I took our server’s recommendation of partnering the jalapeño tequila with pineapple juice for a salty and sweet tropical punch. Then made it a double for $8.95.

During happy hour all their 4.5inch tacos are $1.25 each. Whereas they are normally $3.95 each. Eating earlier saves you $2.70 per taco. I ordered one of each in order to try them all. At $1.25, even if you don’t like one or two, you aren’t loosing out all that much.

I did this without reading the fine print, therefore surprised my guest (when she arrived a little later) by forcing her to buy a drink in order for us to get the deal. Luckily it doesn’t have to be an alcoholic one. In order to get the $1.25 taco deal you need to order a minimum of three tacos and one beverage. And if you want more tacos at that price it comes with the need to purchase more drinks. For every five tacos at $1.25 that you order, you need to order one drink.

All our tacos were served in the same metal pan, in two parallel lines. The following are their descriptions, in the order of how they appear on the menu.

The “Al Pastor” is achiote braised pork, house slaw, pineapple habanero salsa, onion, cilantro, and sour cream. I was impressed by the amount of meat you are given here. The seasonings is almost sweet, so liked how the sour cream balances this with some tangy cooling.

The “Carnitas” were my favourite and the one I would recommend, given how flavourful it was. Slow cooked pulled pork, house slaw, crispy onions, pickled onion, and chipotle mayo. The meat was tender with no tendon or fat, just juicy chunks of dark meat pulled into shreds. This too was seasoned on the sweeter side, but without sour cream I was left craving more pickled onion for balance.

The “Carne mezclada” has ground beef, bacon, poblano pepper, shredded lettuce, chipotle mayo, green onion, and pico de Gallo. The use of ground beef here reminded us for tex-mex flavoured like Italian spaghetti sauce. Tasty enough, but so watery that eating it was a chore..

The “Chorizo” taco was zesty and full of flavour thanks to its namesake protein. The house made chorizo was served with onion, cilantro, salsa verde, and pickled carrot radish. This was one of the more memorable tacos.

The “Chicken Tinga” was fairly flat by comparison. Shredded spiced chicken, house slaw, green onion, radish, and chipotle mayo. It ate the same from first bite to last. Good as a small taco, but any more the taste gets boring. It could have use something sweet like pineapple or corn for some zip.

The following are all their vegetarian taco options, it was nice to see that they offer three types, for those out there who are vegetarian and would like the opportunity to order and try different flavoured tacos as well. And all you needed to make each vegan is to order each without their cheese or mayo options.

The “Hongo” featured sautéed mixed mushrooms, house slaw, feta, and rojo mayo. There were plenty of mushrooms to make this a hearty taco, but it was the feta that had me going back for the second bite. Together it had a creamy and salty finish to it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t imagine it as tasty of a taco if it weren’t for the non vegan feta cheese topping it.

The “Corn and bean” taco was pretty boring. With black beans, corn, shredded lettuce, red pepper, and chipotle mayo it still left like it was missing something. Clearly this was intended as a vegetarian option, but with out a main ingredient to highlight, it felt like you are eating a side salad between your tortilla shell. In order to keep in vegan friendly, maybe some tofu ground beef?

The “Squash” taco was more interesting, but it wasn’t the texture I was expecting rolled up between a taco shell. Kabocha squash, crispy onions, house slaw, and chimichurri. The mash of orange squash made each bite starchy, it was the dominating taste and texture, leaving me craving something crispy like deep fried shallot, something tangy like pickled onions, and something sweet like a vinaigrette.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It is a great spot for some drinks and snacks to share. Easily accessible with funky decor. I was impressed enough by happy hour to wonder what the rest of their menu is like. Street corn, cheese tots, and fried cauliflower, just to name a few things I would go back to try. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE PAWN SHOP
1117 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 1M1
604-687-7474
thepawnshopyvr.com
The Pawn Shop YVR Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taco Del Mar, 5lbs burrito challenge

We made our own 5 pound burrito at Taco Del Mar!

Every year, for the last 10 years, the “Taco Del Mar” in Port Coquitlam celebrates Cinqo De Mayo in a very special way.

Every May 5th the date is observed, commemorating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire, at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. On this day many Mexican restaurants take this opportunity to showcase their culture through their cuisine. And at “Taco Del Mar”, Port Coquitlam (and only at this location) they host their annual “5-Pounder™ Burrito Eating Challenge”. 2018 will be the 10th year of this amateur eating competition.

They invite any and all challengers down, in an attempt to consume a 5 pound burrito in 30 minutes or less. In doing so, the behemoth is free, and you get your photo added to their wall of fame. A privilege only held for a select few. In the 10 years they have been hosting this challenge, only 6-8 individuals have risen to the occasion. This is our first year hearing about it, so this number may change. To date, the record for the fastest finishing time is 11minutes.

 

Each 5lbs burrito costs $30, it is made from the over lapping of 4 baked warm tortillas. The filling consists of 5 scoops of rice, 4 scoops of beans in either refried or black, 4 scoops of seasoned ground beef, 4 scoops of cheese in either shredded or queso, 4 scoops of salsa available in regular or mango, and 4 scoops of their sauce in either mild, medium, or spicy. All this is equivalent to four-and‐a‐half of their regular “Baja Burritos”.

If you wish to mix proteins or to have steak or chicken instead, you can pay $5 more to customize. Similarly you can choose to pay more for additional ingredients like guacamole, sour cream, cilantro, and lettuce.

Hot tip: ask to have your beans half black and half refried, do the same for the 2 types of cheeses and salsa. This gives your burrito a larger variety of textures and taste, thus increasing your chances of finishing. The photo above is the comparison between a regular burrito and the 5-Pounder.

To watch how we did, and to witness the creation of our very own customized 5lbs burrito, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei

 

You can also purchase the 5-Pounder without doing the challenge, or doing so with the intention to share, it will just cost you the $30 price. Once again this challenge is only available once a year so head down this Saturday, May 5th between 11am and 5pm to try it for yourself!

 

 

TACO DEL MAR(Port Coquitlam)
113-2020 Oxford Connector, Port Coquitlam BC, V3C 0A4
604-464-5388
https://www.facebook.com/pocotacodelmar
Taco Del Mar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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