Last week, Mark and I jetted off to Vancouver to escape the Calgary winterpocalypse for a few glorious days. We hadn’t been to Vancouver since April 2012, and not wanting to be at home on my birthday, we took advantage of a seat sale through WestJet for a mid-week retreat.
Naturally, this trip was centered around the food – I planned all activities around which restaurants we were going to hit on a given day. We had a list of repeat favourites and some new joints to check out this time around, some that we missed trying on our last trip. I was determined to make it to at least one of the missed ones, La Taqueria Taco Shop.
Despite the gloomy forecast (aka rain) for the first few days of our visit, we took the SkyTrain from the airport to downtown Vancouver, quickly checked in our luggage at our hotel, and set off to fill our bellies with tacos. We headed to La Taqueria’s West Hastings location, as it was closer to walk to in the rain.
When we arrived at around 1:30pm, the place was jam-packed with lunch goers. The taco shop itself isn’t that big and the line-up was almost out the door, but it moved really quickly and soon enough, a few counter-top/bar-style seats at the back opened up. I snagged us a couple while Mark was tasked with putting in our orders.
We got a free glass of Horchata (a traditional beverage made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts, usually flavoured with some cinnamon) with our order. I’m not sure if the Horchata is always complimentary or if they had a special promo going on that day. I’ve never had horchata before so I can’t comment on whether or not it’s a) traditional, b) good compared to what a traditional horchata is supposed to taste like, but I liked that it wasn’t overly creamy and the cinnamon wasn’t too strong. It was actually quite refreshing and I’m normally not a fan of milk-type drinks that aren’t chocolate or banana flavoured.
The wait was very minimal as our order came out quite quickly. You have the option of dressing the tacos with a few salsas they have available, so we went with a few medium-heat salsas. On the left is the Carnitas (pork confit with pickled red onions) and on the right the Al Pastor (pork marinated in achiote chili and pineapple). Each taco comes on two soft corn tortillas, just the way I like it, and they’re topped with chopped onions and cilantro. Mark’s favourite was the Carnitas, as he loved to combination of the pork with the pickled onions, while I preferred the Al Pastor with the more seasoned pork and fresh pineapple on top.
Next up is the Pescado (zarandeado fish with chipotle mayo, radish, and pepitas). The fish was moist, flaky, and subtly seasoned, while the chipotle mayo gave it a nice creamy texture next to the crunchy radish and pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
The last variety is Tinga de Pollo (chicken with chorizo in a chipotle tomato sauce, topped with Mexican cheese and sour cream). While I really like the flavour of the chicken, the Mexican cheese was too strong for me so after one bite, I let Mark finish it. I have issues with cheese, but at least I got out of my comfort zone to try it, right?
All in all, we each had 4 tacos (actually, I would say I had 3.5 tacos and Mark had 4.5), which I found to be just the right amount of food. I probably could’ve found room for two more, but I didn’t want to get too crazy for our first meal in Vancouver. I’m by no means a Mexican taco expert, so I can’t comment on how these compare to what you would traditionally find in Mexico, but what I can is that we both thoroughly enjoyed them and brought us back to the first time we tried this style of taco in Calgary. My only regret is not having the time to go back and try a few more of their varieties, but I will certainly be adding La Taqueria to my regular roster of Vancouver eateries for the foreseeable future.
La Taqueria Taco Shop
322 West Hastings St
Vancouver, BC V6B1K6
Phone: (604) 568-4406