Enjoy a Taco Staycation in Vancouver

Baja pescado taco and fried chicken taco; Sourced from Lucky Taco

Certain foods invoke sunshine and carefree days sipping margaritas. Although Vancouverites are staying local right now, there are plenty of tacos to be had for a Mexican culinary escape in the city. Plus, tacos are convenient for a grab-and-go meal or for a take-out feast at home.

In the last few years, Mexican restaurant options in Vancouver have expanded significantly, ranging from casual taquerias to more upscale dining establishments.

Tacofino

Fish taco; Photo Credit: Alex Hon

With multiple locations and food trucks, Tacofino (15 West Cordova Street) has certainly grown since its beginnings in a surf shop parking lot in Tofino. But they have stayed true to their roots, making incredibly delicious tacos that pay tribute to the local, the ethical, and the sustainable. You can never go wrong with the fish taco, with its delicately crisp battered Pacific cod, cabbage, chipotle mayo, and salsa fresca. Also excellent is the sweet-savoury-tangy-hot combo of their pulled pork taco with cabbage, roasted garlic mayo, pineapple salsa, and jalapeño, as well as the eggplant taco with sweet and spicy slaw, lima crema, cilantro, peanuts, and sriracha (a great play with textures). Strawberry mojito kombucha is a fun pairing, or choose one of the bottled beers (e.g. Negra Modelo).

La Mezcaleria

Sourced from La Mezcaleria

Situated on Commercial Drive, La Mezcaleria (1622 Commercial Drive) is proudly local, while also celebrating the best of authentic Mexican cuisine. Flavours and techniques are refined while still accessible, as evidenced in the al pastor asada taco with melted cheese, grilled steak, onion, cilantro, chile toreado, lime, and avocado mousse. Delicious vegetarian options include the hongos, with fresh mushrooms, epazote, onion, cilantro, melted cheese, and medium spicy salsa; as well as the papa adobada with melted cheese, fried potato, salsa guajillo, feta cheese, sour cream, and salsa (both can also be made vegan). Seafood tacos range from one with octopus in pasilla pepper garlic oil, with onion, avocado mousse, and crema; to one with grilled pastor tuna with arbol salsa, pineapple pico de gallo, cabbage, and cilantro. With one of the biggest agave based spirits collections in Canada, La Mezcaleria is definitely a destination for Mexican eating and drinking. Taco meal kits can also be ordered and picked up, such as one with your choice of filling (chicken tinga, carnitas, veggie tinga, rajas, mushrooms), which comes with rice, beans, tortillas, salsas, cilantro, onion, lime, feta cheese, and sour cream.

Lucky Taco

Grilled baby corn taco; Photo sourced from Lucky Taco

Located just steps from Kits Beach, Lucky Taco (1685 Yew Street) exudes relaxed eating, with a host of tacos that maximize flavour using local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients. Go for the grilled baby corn taco, with huitlacoche aioli, tajin, queso fresco, pickled zucchini, yucca chips, and cilantro, for its bright, zingy flavours. The Baja pescado is also a popular option, with golden tempura-battered Pacific cod, chipotle mayo, shredded green cabbage, pico de gallo, and cilantro. The restaurant uses fresh corn tortillas. Drop by on Margarita Mondays for $8 classic margaritas. The restaurant features an excellent selection of tequilas, mezcal, as well as Mexican and local beers.

Coast Restaurant

Sourced from
Coast

If you’re on the hunt for a good fish taco in the downtown shopping and financial core, stop by Coast (1054 Alberni Street) during its daily Happy Hour (2:30pm to 6:00pm). In addition to other seafood items, they feature a Cajun fish taco, with pickled cabbage, cilantro, charred serrano chilis, and lime. Order sangria, and you’re set.

Ophelia

Vegan tacos; Photo sourced from Ophelia

Visit Ophelia (165 West 2nd Avenue) just once, and you’ll find yourself falling hard for its elevated approach to authentic Mexican cooking. Chef Francisco Higareda draws his inspiration from his mother (the restaurant is named after her), as well as his impressive culinary training (e.g. Ambrosía Centro Culinario in Mexico City; Michelin-star restaurants in France and Spain). Particularly unique is the taco de arracherra y bone marrow, which consists of grilled skirt steak, cheddar cheese, cilantro, serrano aioli, and roasted bone marrow on a flour tortilla. The trio de tacos (taco de carnitas, taco de cochinita pibil, and taco al pastor) is a great tour of different ways of intensifying the flavour of pork. Vegans, meanwhile, can enjoy tacos with guajillo marinated portobello mushroom, cilantro, onion, and spicy almond sauce. Order a flight of mezcal or tequila to pair with your tacos. At home taco kits are available for purchase.

El Camino’s

Sourced from El Camino’s

The vibe is relaxed and warm at El Camino’s (3250 Main Street), a cheerful spot on Main Street. Takeout dinner kits are available for pre-order and pick-up, including taco options (for 2 or 4 people): carnitas, cauli-chorizo, and pollo. Each kit comes with the protein; a stack of flour or corn tortillas; pickled jalapeño, chipotle crema, onion, cilantro, and limes; chips and salsa; and a choice between rice and beans or fries. The dine-in menu includes other taco selections, such as the camarones a la diabla (wild red shrimp in a red chili sauce, with toasted coconut, cabbage, poblamo slaw, and smashed avocado), the Baja pescado (breaded cod with iceberg lettuce, pickled jalapeño, pico de gallo, avocado, and chipotle crema), and the rajas con crema (roasted poblano peppers with caramelized onion, cotija, corn, and crema). Cocktails include a mojito, a mezcal mule, and el diablo (Altos Reposado, cassis, pressed lime, and spicy ginger beer).

Las Margaritas

Sourced from Las Margaritas

Since 1994, Las Margaritas (1999 West 4th Avenue) has been serving its California-style Mexican fare to Kitsilano and the rest of the city. In this competitive and often changeable restaurant market, 26 years is a truly impressive feat! Snack on their classic chips and salsa while waiting for your tacos. One menu items allows you to order corn or flour tortillas (soft or hard shell), with your choice of ground beef, chicken, or beef. Tacos are topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and taco sauce, and served with refried beans and Mexican sauce. Other selections include Baja fish tacos, tacos de carnitas, cauliflower tacos, and garlic and shrimp tacos. Opt for a smoky margarita or a paloma (blanco tequila with Jarritos grapefruit soda in a salt-rimmed glass). At Las Margaritas, the eating is fun and satisfying – more than reason enough for diners to keep on visiting the restaurant over all these years.

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