Something about the shifting scene of the restaurant business intrigues me. And, believe me, it is always shifting. Restaurants come and go, and usually their owners go with them—although sometimes owner and surroundings stay put, and the change comes from within.
Case in point: Angus An, who turned Gastropod into Maenam, on a dime, so to speak—and look at the success it’s become. At the time, I suggested of An, “Few chefs have the foresight—make that the courage—to switch paddles mid stream. And come out smelling like a rose.”
I guess that’s what was in the back of my mind when I checked out The Mexican, as the last time I had been there it sported a very different feel, as Café Barçelona.
Even though Café Barçelona felt dutifully authentic (and apparently was home to some of the best Sunday soccer brunches in the city), there were issues. One—possibly—was the nightclub of the same name, almost right across the street.
Overall, says The Mexican’s co-owner Roger Creixams,“Granville was more a spot for a younger clientele—thus a Mexican restaurant was a better fit for that location.”
When Creixams decided to switch from tapas to tostadas and tacos, he says it was because “I had to think better with my head, not that much with my heart; and take a chance for a wider segment of clients—Mexicans and Canadians who love Mexican food.
Judging by the steady stream of customers now, the people have voted. And he was right.
When you have a chance, check it out. This is definitely some of the best Mexican we’ve seen yet in Vancouver.
The full name is The Mexican Antojitos y Cantina. Antojitos means ‘cravings’—which is what you’ll have once you’ve been…
Here’s our brief review that ran in the Courier…
For Those About to Guac …
By Tim Pawsey etc
Sitting in The Mexican, I’m trying to make sense of a couple of things. One is the grainy black and white movie that’s showing an obviously hilarious comedy sequence involving a not so deft old time barber and unsuspecting customers. The other is the fact that the last time I was here (a couple of years ago) there were tapas on the menu and the reruns were of Barça vs. Réal Madrid.
On this night the Mexican (full name Antojitos y Cantina, 1049 Granville St., 604-569-0955) is bustling. And owner Roger Creixams says it’s been that way pretty well ever since (last spring) he decided it was time to drop the traditional Spanish (Café Barcelona) for the Mexican incarnation.
Delving into a plate of nachos with home made guacamole, I begin to get the feeling that it’s also going to work for me. The plates are generous; even the appetizers are big enough to share; and the ingredients as uncluttered and honest as the no-nonsense decor—that probably won’t win any awards. But that’s not why we’re here.
Our faves range from the Lengua (beef tongue) tacos, to the voluminous barrigon, a kind of deconstructed mixed grill of pork, beef and chorizo platter, with cheese and jalapeño that is actually way more appetizing than it sounds.
But you can also fare well by ordering the house antojitos platter, an assortment of chicharron de queso, pico de gallo, crispy house chips, salad, sopes, quesadilla and more, for $18. It’s a substantial plate—but don’t be surprised if it has you going back to the menu for more.
One welcome leftover from the Spanish regime is the Castillo Monseran Spanish Red that goes for a reasonable $6 a glass—and makes up half the wine list. (It’s also worth buying from BCLS at $9.99)—even if the white option could be better…
Creixams says he’s always enjoyed true “traditional market style” Mexican food, as opposed as to what’s so often passed off in its place. A chance encounter with Mexican chef Ana Vander (who worked at nearby Salsa & Agave) led him to make the change, with the chef as partner, along with friend Claudia Roma. Pooling their respective front of house and culinary talents, they’ve fashioned a vibrant, friendly and truly affordable room that’s gaining a well deserved reputation for some of the best Mexican food in the city.
We’ll be back!
1049 Granville St.,