Rain or shine, summer or winter, surfing happens here all year round in Tofino.
The woman’s home we were renting for the weekend owns the “Live to Surf” shop in the area. Upon our arrivals we went straight there to meet her. So after checking in, we explored the area to find a suitable dinner solution. We followed the bodies and found out sieves at “Wildside Grill”.
Tucked in the corner like a hut in the woods, it was their seating area that caught my eye first. Seating is available in front of and to the side of the ordering hut. Red wooden picnic tables out in the open, and plastic chairs paired with repurposed cuts of wood for tables under cover. A makeshift shelter crafted from sanded down drift wood, planks, and Christmas lights. I was most amazed by the wooden fish skeleton gracing its roof, it certainly demanded your attention with its spiny bones.
The place was busy, no much else in the area still open so people were willing to line up, pay first, and then wait ten minutes for their order. The area had a youthful energy to it, school aged children playing hide and seek, young families taking their time on vacation, and teenagers loitering with a relaxed attitude. We stood out with our impatient demeanour and or faces glued to our phone screens. We were from the city and it showed.
As you wait in line you are able to look through their menus. A list of tacos, burger, bowls, and sides. Below the counter were three additional white boards advertising their specials. Considering they had “grill” in their name we made sure to order items that were prepare using that feature. Sadly my partner does not eat seafood, so despite being surrounded by water and the abundance of fresh seafood from it, he shied away from the fresh salmon or cod offered grilled and battered.
Instead he had the “Chicken burger” with grilled chicken breast, bacon, cheese, smoked relish, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. However it was one of the better chicken patties we both have ever had. Juicy white breast meat, moist with flavour. The bacon was smokey, almost sweet; it paired well with the tang of the homemade relish. The crisp lettuce and luscious tomato offered each bite a light freshness to it. The fries were the crisp on the outside and full of chewy potato goodness on the inside. It was good, but truly nothing special when compared to tacos below.
“Squid taco” made with pacific humbolt squid seared in their house made guajillo Chimichurri marinade. Served with cabbage, avotillo, fresh salsa, and a lime. I couldn’t commit to 3 for $12 so got one for $5. The squid was the best kind of chewy, a distinctive texture that was both enjoyable to eat and easy to bite through. You could taste how fresh the anthropoid was, and how long it sat on the grill to earn its smokey char quality. It also had a hint of curry to it, a warming musky spice that used the juicy tomatoes to balance out its particular heaviness. If you don’t like cilantro you can’t avoid it here, it is mixed in to the fresh salsa. Though it isn’t very obvious, in fact, here is one of the few times I found its herbaceous quality helpful in adding zest; as appose to being overwhelmingly distracting, as I usually find it. The single taco was packed full, I expected as much for $5. I lost most of the filling on my first bite, and needed a fork to finish it off. The first swallow was the best, and one taste of one taco was the perfect serving. I personally would have found three of this particular flavour to be too much. Whereas the pork ones below, I could go back for more of, luckily you get three to an order.
Because once again, but my partner doesn’t enjoy seafood, despite it being incredible here, so I just had the squid to taste and we shared three “Taco Carnitas”. Each is made with braised pork, salsa roja, cheese, avotillo, and fresh salsa; and served on 100% corn tortillas, topped with cilantro and green onion. These were one of the most exciting and flavourful tacos we have ever had. A squeeze of the lime added some needed zest to things. Tender pulled pork thoroughly coated in a juicy sauce, slightly spicy and well seasoned. I advise eating this fast, for as soon as the tortilla absorbs too much BBQ sauce it falls apart, and your taco becomes a meat salad to be finished with a fork.
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.
This was comfort eating. Fill your belly with simple food made with the freshest and best ingredients. Things were a little pricy for everyday dining, but the cost was definitely related to the quality. A great representation of the area and the community. After all, it was on the food network’s “You Gotta Eat Here”. Don’t deny your cravings.
1180 Pacific Rim Hwy, Tofino BC