TACOFINO OPENS IN YALETOWN
(Updated, July 29, 2016)
Latest from the folks at Tacofino (see below) is a cute and compact Yaletown addition, at 1025 Mainland St., Vancouver.
At a media preview the other night there was no shortage of great tastes, with many faves from the main Gastown menu on offer.
It should be a popular haunt over the next couple of months, especially given the ability to spill out onto the sunny loading dock patio.
It was impressive to watch the team at work, catering to an overflow, standing room only crowd. At one point I counted at least a dozen people in the ingeniously designed kitchen.
My hunch is that, given Tacofino’s immense (and well justified) popularity, this spot may prove a bit too tight in the long run. Then again, maybe they’re just testing the waters …
Time will tell.
Gastown’s dining renaissance is continuing at a pretty good pace. And it’s being driven very much by the likes of newly opened Tacofino Tacobar, in Blood Alley Square.
In recent years, Blood Alley has seen more than few changes, which were kicked off by Sean Heather, when he opened Salt; and further propelled by Heather’s Judas Goat, which is now replaced by Gringo.
While there’s plenty going on in Gastown at large, right now it’s Tacofino that’s getting all the glory, and with good reason.
Tacofino Tacobar is actually two spots in one. While the more compact Burrito Bar take-out counter is at 15 Cordova St, the main room and tacobar, with its lounge and bar (think serious Mezcal and tequilas) is right off Blood Alley.
There’ll be another shift of energy in Blood Alley with the arrival of warmer weather, when Tacofino Tacobar’s entrance will double as a patio.
The concept is cool, the tastes great; and the prices right. In short, Tacofino delivers quality, creativity and affordability. It all adds up to a diner’s dream.
The room is truly vibrant and there are some fun twists—such as the taco and burrito washroom signs. (You’ll just have to ‘go’ to see what I mean…) No wonder it’s already a popular hangout for many of the younger crowd who’ve recently moved into the area.
Co-founders Jason Sussman and Kaeli Robinsong forged their idea after they bought an old catering truck and headed for the wilds of Tofino, where they combined their passion for surfing with a definitive nod to the fish tacos they’d discovered in Baja.
Now, with additional partners, they’ve brought it all to right downtown Vancouver—but still with plenty of attention to hormone-free ingredients, ethically raised and locally made. I like the way they’ve transformed the space inside but retained the heritage exterior façade. The pass-through from the kitchen sports endless hustle and there’s plenty of booths and big tables for larger groups. The place is topped off with airy lanterns and plant mobiles and light-boxes featuring scene of old Tofino.
I’m also impressed by their community spirit: Tacofino is very active with organisatons such as Harbour Light and Union Gospel Mission as well as non-profits such as Aprons for Gloves and Growing Chefs! and many more.
Tacofino—which had its genesis as a much loved food truck in Tofino—is already a happening space located in what used to be the very run down Pig & Whistle. I love the ‘reverse osmosis’ that happens when food trucks morph into bricks and mortar, as opposed to the other way around. Somehow it’s reassuring to know that good taste usually, if not always, wins out in the end.
There’s no attempt to claim that this is authentic Mexican food. In fact Tacofino’s owners are careful to say always that it’s “Mexican-inspired.” That, for me, is even better as it affords a whole lot more license. And all just seems to add to the fun and light-hearted energy the place exudes.
Top tastes (among many) from my visit ranged from a well conceived spicy Kabocha squash and cauliflower tostada with pickled cauliflower and queso fresca ($6) to lamb Birria perked up with preserved lemon zest, chili, pickled nopales and herb salad ($7) and a substantial glazed beef rib with chilaquiles, lemon grass, habanero, kale and peanuts ($17).
There’s also very affordable beer (Red Truck, Howe Sound, Four Winds etc.) and wine to go along, such as Selbach Riesling ($8 glass), Jaume Serra Cava ($8) and Legado Munoz Garnacha ($6 glass).
Dessert? How about a wickedly citrus lime curd vaso, or agave glazed churros with spicy cinnamon—in a brown paper bag?
In case you haven’t guessed already: we can’t wait to go back.
Oh yes, and there are fish tacos, of course!
Blood Alley Square, Vancouver,
Open Sunday-Wednesday, 5-1o p.m.
Thursday-Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight