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Chancho Tortilleria

One of the most popular spots for tacos has a new location on Commercial Drive. Their trademark pink exterior has migrated East with out a hitch.

For those unfamiliar Chancho is famous for their tortillas, sourcing ancient, non-GMO corn directly from small Mexican farms to make their tortillas fresh daily. Not only can you find said tortillas out of their dine in restaurant, but many other restaurants seek them out for their own tacos on menu.

On this evening we were invited to their grand opening celebration, cleverly coinciding on “Taco Tuesdays”!

The interior is just as bold as its exterior with bright splashes of colour and abstract art on the walls. The bar is checkered forest green and white and the tables are dressed in picnic gingham red and white.

Guests were invited to mingle at the bar as small bites were presented for grazing. A selection of sliced tomatillo and orange slices dusted with Tajin.

For those not in the know, “Tajin” is a seasoning made from 100% natural chili peppers, lime, and sea salt. It perked up the appetite as we got into heavier appetizers below.

The Guacamole and chips were expected, a selection of crunchy chips to dip into chunky avocado purée.

And not on the menu, but a tasty surprise were albacore tuna bites on the same tortilla chips above with more avocado, cucumber, raddish, red onion, and citrus. The tuna provided a nice contrast to the crunchy chip base. Overall this was a familiar and welcomed taste combination.

The bar was also shaking up a couple of their signature cocktails. The Mezcal margarita is a mix of mezcal, lime, and agave. I found it overwhelmingly lime forward and tart. A little much as a sipper, but better suited to balancing out the more heavier flavours of the tacos and their toppings below.

I prefer the more floral Mezcal Jamaica with mezcal, hibiscus, and lime. It was more like a berry juice, but I found it had an out of place gasoline taste to end on.

For a more comforting classic, look to their Paloma with with tequila, grapefruit, and lime.

Or better yet their non-alcoholic Horchata, the traditional milk-based Mexican drink flavoured with cinnamon and sugar. Their verison was on the watery and thin side, but not lacking in spiced sweetness.

Whereas other places serve their tacos on a buy as you go bases, one at a time. Chancho offers theirs as a build your own tray, ideal for family style sharing. And they pride themselves on using the highest quality pork and fresh local ingredients to craft these set trays.

They essentially have 2 vegetarian taco options and 2 meat options. Both of which you can order separately, but I highly recommend getting both in one tray for a more fulsome serving, with more options to pick and choose through as you build your own.

For the vegetarian tacos they have potato or veggies, which is mostly squash. Together on one tray they were hearty with a great variety of textures between the chewy potatoes, melty squash, and crispy greens. This is with the addition of sweet corn kernels and crispy pickled onion to add some freshness into the mix.

Each platter also comes with raw diced onion, fresh cilantro, and house made hot sauce as a side to continue to customize your own taco at your own table. Plus plenty of fresh house made Chancho Tortillas as your base.

The table also shares a tray of condiments that includes pickled onion and cabbage, whole pinto beans, fresh lime and lemon wedges, and two different types of salsas. A mild green tomatillo and an extra, sweat inducing, spicy, reddish brown chilli pepper sauce. So there is no shortage of customization opportunities. And if you don’t like what you have before you, you only have yourself to blame.

For the meat lovers the carnitas tacos include all of the above sides, but you have a choice between pork shoulder or pork belly, where you pay for either by the half pound. However, as was the case before, I recommend ordering both as a mix, for the best of both worlds. Stringy pulled meat and crispy crackling.

Seeing as we had both veggie and meat options before us, we crossed trays and brought both together, adding crumbly and crunchy raw toppings, plus all sauces. Once again, you can’t go wrong when you are building it to your tastes. A fun experience and a fun way to eat with others.

But for those who don’t want to put any work into your meal, look to the Birria tacos with consommé. Previously only available at brunch, but so popular that they have added it to their regular menu.

A regular order has 2 birria tacos served on a crispy tortilla with shredded beef, cilantro, onion, and lime. Served with a side of birria consommé to dip your tacos into for an extra indulgence. Best eaten warm, right when it hits your table so that the tacos are at their crunchiest, and the jus you dip it into adds a gravy-like moisture.

And what is tacos without churros for dessert? Crispy fried dough straws with ridged edges to best capture the cinnamon and sugar dusted around it. On the plain side as is, the dolce de leche caramel-like dip is what makes it a complete dessert and delicious.

For those interested in visiting, note their happy hour specials run from 3-6pm. A pitcher of Corona beer is $35, and the Palomas I recommended above are only $6, where outside of happy hour they are $12 a glass. And be sure to get $2.50 off their tasty guacamole and chips. I suggest coming earlier starting with happy hour small bites and drinks then transitioning into their platter taco dinners after 6pm.

Chancho Tortilleria
2096 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4B2
(604) 336-9219

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