On this night we were invited to a full showing of Alimentaria, the new authentic Mexican restaurant, who has taken up home at the now shuttered Edible Canada. And as did like predecessor, they have fully claimed the layout utilizing the same blueprint and embracing the same ideal of showing authentic food and products across an open kitchen, homespun boutique, and demo lecture space.
Before our meal, we received our Chef and his team in a meet and greet, learning of their desire to connect Vancouver with remote cities within Mexico. Sourcing the restaurant’s primary ingredients from 32 Mexican first nations communities, in order to help sustain their economies. A noble act that might go unnoticed, for those who don’t take the time to click through their website.
As with their approachable food, you can also get a taste of their culture from the ceramics and textiles that they feature, and subsequently sell. Since this visit, their shop has now launched, but we are still waiting on the promise of workshops featuring rotating chefs. Guest chefs from Mexico offering live action demos on how to use their specialty tools and cook with their organic ingredients.
But back to our meal at hand. The photos represent the full plated versions of the dishes we sampled, and what you would most likely get during your next visit. For the table, we received three salsas to share and use across dinner. The green tomatillo is a mild salsa, the salsa roja is a little hotter on the scale, and the habanero comes in a squeeze bottle with a disclaimer. The latter promises to burn, but it only gave me a tingle that lingered on the lips.
But what better way to cool things down, than with a drink. Naturally, the classic Margaritas is on the menu. Choose between Mezcal or tequila and mix it with Cointreau, lime, and agave. The result, a refreshing thirst quencher with a strong lime presence.
Looking for something more sweet, the Paloma is the one you want to gravitate towards. Tequila, grapefruit, lime, and Squirt. The latter we would learn is a grapefruit soda from Mexico.
The Smoked Salmon Tostada was one of my favourites of the night. This was a crispy corn tortilla topped with locally smoked chum salmon, cucumber-cream, pickle red onions, and capers. This classic flavour combination was done fresh and left me wanting more.
The similar, but very different Chorizo Verde Tostada is a crispy corn tostada, topped with a grilled house-made sausage from the local brand, Oyama sausage. To it they added refried beans, charred cabbage, and feta. The sausage and beans made this offering a lot more hearty. Whereas the cilantro and jalapeños helped to balance that weight out with their freshness.
Their Guacamole is a little different. A fresh pacific northwest take on a Mexican classic, made to order and served with hard tortilla chips for dipping and scooping. It was topped with feta, pumpkin seeds, and pea shoots giving it a different texture to chew through. The guacamole was another small plate that you could eat like a meal. Though I personally wanted some tomato for more freshness and tang, but that would just be salsa then, I guess.
The Albacore tuna ceviche featured sashimi grade albacore, lime, tomato, cilantro, onion and cucumber. The texture was a little off with the tuna reading as mushy, and moulding all the other ingredients to its texture. So this is best taken with the hard tortilla chips to help in firming things up.
The vegan version of their ceviche showcased roasted golden beets instead of tuna, and to it added the same assembly of cucumber, onions, tomato, cilantro, lime, and avocado.
The Duck Flautas is two rolled & fried tortillas filled with braised duck, roasted squash, pickled red onion, and recado negro. The squash in addition to the duck made for a filling bite. And the fresh herbs and pickles were necessary to brightened things up. However, I was still missing a certain punch, and I was left wanting more salt and a sauce on the side.
Presented in a handmade clay pot shipped from Mexico, the Grilled halloumi and cactus is a special dish. Served in a charred tomatillo salsa verde with pickled red onion and corn tortillas to build your own tacos with. Cactus petals one of the most common ingredients all throughout Mexico, so important that it has even made it on to their flag. So the Chefs at Alimentaria are both excited and proud to showcase it here. You don’t often get to see this ingredient on many menus, so this dish is definitely one worth trying during your next visit. An unusual texture that is both squishy and firm. El dente, yet somehow remind me of citrus fruit with its juiciness. Although noticeable in texture, you couldn’t tell it was cactus if you didn’t know.
The Birria Tacos are three flour tortillas filled with slow cooked beef braised seasoned with dried chilies, onions, cilantro, and limes. Full of flavour, you can easily customize this with any of the house salsas. Thought it still left me wanting more freshness in each bite, some tomato or pickled onions on the side to nibble on perhaps. And be warned, you don’t want to put this one down, lest the shell gets soggy and it looses its ability to hold together, along with its memorable crisp.
The Sopes with Bone Marrow is a popular classic at the restaurant. Sope refers to the base under each bone marrow. It is the accumulation of the effort put into the import corn: milling, grounding, kneading. As a whole, this dish is a Tijuana classic. Two corn sopes, refried heirloom beans, roasted bone marrow, and gremolata. This showstopper has you scooping out and smearing on luscious fat that adds gristle and moisture to the otherwise dry and hard sope base. The grated orange granita is the ideal finisher to balance out the density of the bean and corn. As a whole, I fully appreciate the workmanship and the craft that went into this. Best described as simply beautiful.
For dessert we enjoyed their house made Churros. Deep fried dough coated in cinnamon sugar, that does get chalky as it begins to cool. But right out of the kitchen it is airy and light with plenty of crunch, despite it being on the oiler side. This is definitely one you want to share as it does get decadent, fast. A little too sweet for my tastes, but the dip is necessary to add depth of flavour.
In conclusion, the meal was incredibly authentic, and great way to spread their culture and showcase their Mexican-Canadian pride. Love of country and self through dishes representative of the way these communities live within their eco system. So for the ability to experience something something truly special and unique head down to Granville Island for this gem.
1596 Johnston St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3R9