I couldn’t leave Tofino without trying “Tacofino”. Having “Tacofino” in Tofino just seems right, they did originate from here after all.
The truck felt like a tourist attraction itself, instead of just a stationary truck to feed tourists with. It was permanently parked at one of the busiest squares in Tofino. It lived amongst surf shops, apparel stores, and other food stalls. Like most places in Tofino, the area too provided free parking. You stopped between one of the many stall lines and travel on gravel and stone towards the back of the complex. It was raining and no one paid any mind. The line was growing and customers were patient in waiting for their turn. The truck opens at 11am everyday, and at 12:30pm we were here at peak time. Everyone gravitated towards the orange and metal food truck. Most were dressed in shorts and sandals for the sun that the weather reports promised, the sun that the clouds refused to deliver. The sounds of condiment bottles squirting and the hot grill sizzling, coupled with the smell of hot oil cooking was enough reason to stay in line. Once again the cold was no deterrent on fresh local tacos.
The seating area was similarly coloured like the truck. Long share style tables paired with orange chairs gave patrons the option to stay and eat outside. However with the trickling of rain and the gathering precipitation on top of the well waxed tables, most opted to eat in their cars, like us.
When in the line you can only begin to decide on what you want, when you get close enough to the chalkboard menu to do so. Your choices are between burritos, tacos, gringas, and fresh fruit beverages. The burritos gave you the most options for filling: chicken, pork, beef, fish, breakfast, Vegetarian, vegan, and crispy chicken. For tacos you were limited to fish, tuna, beef, and black bean. Gringas were stuffed tortillas; flavours available included chicken, pork, black bean, just cheese, and even pork and kimchi. Under the menu was a FAQ board explaining what each of the above was. Useful for those not in the know of their Latin food terms.
You order with the man working out of the passenger side window. It was a tight fit and an awkward strain for him, but he made it work. Next to him hung their Vancouver magazine award in recognition. He passed all orders to the three chefs working out the back end of the truck. After the line to order and pay, we now waited in a second line to claim our food.
The man working at the front pleasant and patient, especially given that he must get the same questions to answer day in and day out; as their clientele shifts with the rotation of tourists season to season. His demeanour is a point I need to note, given how in contrast the kitchen staff communicated. I understand those in the kitchen are frantic, they are forced to turn out food in top speeds, while being trapped in a hot sweat box. However the career they have chosen is in the service sector, where the customer comes first and patrons expect a certain level of courtesy. While trying to claim our meal I made an attempt to talk with the gentleman calling out completed orders. He made no attempt to bend down so that he could hear me, and I could not stand any higher on my tippy toes, yet very impatiently he announced he couldn’t hear me so simply walked away. I was left dumbstruck. Not a big deal, but you could tell he honestly didn’t care about me, knowing there would be more customers if I choose to never return because of this encounter. Sadly I reflected on a similar experience I had with their Vancouver food truck. Where the staff preferred engaging on their phones than with their potential repeat customers. Service aside, at least the food was good.
Given where we were, I went for the tuna taco. Surrounded by water, eat what is from the water. Seared sesame and soy albacore tuna, with wasabi mayo, shredded cabbage, salsa fresca, and seaweed salad. Served on a fire roasted 6 inch flour tortilla. The taco was a mess from the start. They did a disservice to it by serving it with the toasted gringas below. As a result the heat from the gringas caused condensation on the tuna and it’s other juice filled ingredients. At the end they were both forced to sit in a pile of pickled juices. The tuna was tasty, it was seared to perfection and still a little raw in the middle. It’s accompanying ingredients gave it an zesty Asian feel. You got different textures and complimentary flavours.
“Gringas” are 6 inch flour tortilla stuffed with cheese, meat, or beans; fresh salsa, and sour cream. Then grilled to “gooey perfection”. They were recommend for kids, but as delicious for all ages. We ordered the pork and were only disappointed that we didn’t order three. Once again, given that it was sitting in a pool of the liquid mentioned above, we thought it best to eat this one first. By doing so, each bite was still crispy and light, with hot melted cheese oozing from the centre. I likened it to a very grown up version of cheese and crackers. So much cheese that it looks like the tortilla is made of just melted cheese.
My partner still speaks of their “Chicken burrito”. A tortilla filled with rice, beans, cheese, and slaw. It was a heavy hearty snack both in weight and substance. It was packed full, like a meal wrapped up to go. Rich in flavour thanks to sauce, but you could still make out the subtle char off the grilled meat. Not recommended for those with a small stomach.
Their “Chocolate diablo cookie” was served right away. Handed to me in a brown bag stamped with their truck’s logo: hands clasped in prayer between a hard taco. This was a savory dessert that made for a good palette cleanser. The cookie was baked moist and chewy cookie. The globs of melted chocolate gave certain bites am extra pop of sweetness. The coarse salt was used to heightened the cookie’s over all flavour. However it was too salty if you bite into a large crystal. The most unique feature was being able to taste the hot sauce as an lingering spicy after note. It warms your throat, belly, and soul.
Today it was too cold for drinks other wise their “freshies” would have been tempting. Lime and mint, watermelon and basil, and pink lemonade. Perfect for the sun and after a day of surf. For soda, you pay for the bottled beverages and pull your choice from an indented troth. It’s by honour system with a common use bottle opener at the ready.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
From the masses of people and the merchandise they sold, you could tell they were doing well for themselves. It is probably why they were able to easily expand into Vancouver. The Vancouverites who travel to Tofino for surf, discover and fall in love with “Tacofino” during their stay. So when the first “Tacofino” food truck popped up in Vancouver, we were excited to try them for the first time all over again. This was the best thing we had this weekend, though sadly they do not offer the same menu items in any of their location in Vancouver. Don’t deny your cravings.