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Serving traditional Mexican food and coffee.

My partner is fond of Mexican food, he goes out of his way to find and try Mexican cuisine all around the Lower mainland. At this point he has his favourite spots in various cities. This would be our first time here, and it would soon be the only place we know for Mexican cuisine when in Port Moody.

He was pretty optimistic with the online reviews declaring them to be fairly authentic, and I believed it all the more when I laid eyes the place. Looking at our destination, I expected a home cooked Mexican meal, made lovingly by a skilled Mexican mother and home cook. And it delivered.

I was delighted that the restaurant was an actual house. Located the end of the block in a residential area, with an apple tree in the yard and a gate surrounding the property. Walking past, it might be hard to identify given the foliage of another tree blocking the visibility of their “open” sign. Although the sandwich board roped to the tree, along the side, by the miniature lamp post were helpful in directing your way.

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It was a little two story home with a walk up a few steps to access the interior. The foyer or “living room” became the dining room. It was kept cool with an air conditioning unit protruding from a pried open window. The adjacent room held their register, drinks in a fridge, and a pantry shelf with dry ingredients and wet sauces for sale and use.

It was staff only past the hallway. In retrospect, I wished I visited the washroom to see how it was refurbished for private use to commercial.

There was but one bright eyed young lady working the front of house cafe herself. Luckily, this Wednesday after 2pm it wasn’t that busy. But either way the room only held space for four tables, with a few more outside on their deck-patio.

Each table was lacquered in bold celebratory colours and geometric prints. And each was equipped with traditional Mexican hot sauces and a little Mexican coffee cup holding sugar packets and stir sticks.

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The menu was an impressive listing of starters, mains, sides, and tacos. It was impressive as this was clearly a family run mom and pop operation, and this menu was befitting of a restaurant located downtown Vancouver. They had tortilla soup, a featured ceviche, tostadas, burritos, and chillies.

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I gravitated towards their “Los Tacos” that were 2 for $5.50 or $2.75 each. I tried four out of their six varieties, skipping on the baked chicken and veggie choices. They were all served together on a branded board, which was a nice dressy touch. Once again a detail befitting of a mainstream restaurant downtown Vancouver.

They looked good and I wanted them to be good. But sadly, all the meats felt like they lack seasoning. Each was tender enough and had some of their natural flavours shine through. But not enough spices and the tomatillo sauce didn’t add anything to help. I thought about using the table sauces to perk things up, but they were all down to their bottoms, and had their caps caked with the uses before mine. How badly did I want flavour? I ended up passing.

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I chose to start with the protein that would be the lightest bite. The “Pescado” was fish, olive oil, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and fresh parsley. It was nice and light with crisp batter and flakey white fish. It would no longer be authentic, but I wanted some ranch or at least some sour cream over top.

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The “steak” was marinated beef. “Roasted to the perfect tenderness” was what the menu promised, but sadly what we had was more on the drier side.

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“Carnitas” are slow cooked fried pork in a cinnamon. I got a hint of sweet orange from the stew as well.

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The “Chilorio” was similar in texture, but with a lot more taste. This is a slow cooked pulled pork in pasilla and huajillo adobo. This was also the most flavour of my quartet. I was warned that this would be spicy when I ordered it, but I simply found it a nice back for the throat burn.

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My partner choose the “Enchiladas Verdes”. This or something similar is what he always gets from any Mexican restaurant he visits. Like it does then, this helped give him a good comparison point now. Three rolled corn tortillas topped with a cooked green tomatillo sauce, melted cheese, lettuce, onion, and sour cream. He choose the chicken over the vegetable, but decided against paying more for beef or another enchilada. They are served with a side of beans that helped with flavour. Great, considering that the chicken tasted bland, it was left unseasoned and the sauce coating it wasn’t bold enough to help. And worse of all, the sauce made the lettuce soggy. Some rice would have helped here, and also help make things more filling.

 

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.
The food was good and you could taste the quality. It just wasn’t to our tastes. We needed more pop and more flavour, which could have been easily achieved with a few sides like guacamole, cheese, salsa, and rice. All toppings more closely associated with tex-mex than authentic Mexican cuisine. But all of the above now, would have ran us $9.50 more to share between us. Without it we were only looking a $25 for two after taxes. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ORIGINALS CAFE MEXICANO
2231 Clarke Street, Port Moody BC, V3H 1Y6
604-936-9069
originalscafemexicano.com
Originals Cafe Mexicano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato