When you talk about Mexican food pioneering in Vancouver, La Taqueria is always a part of the conversation. While they aren't the tiny Cambie Street nook slinging out $2.50 tacos anymore, they are the casual taco place I can recommend to just about anyone looking for Mexican. I recently went to their new location at The Amazing Brentwood and once again came away impressed by their creativity and mission to create a fun dining atmosphere at a reasonable price.
Team Tastic came here for a weekday lunch and I had a great taste of the following:
- Fish Baja Taco ($7.50)
- Carnitas Taco ($7)
- Cachete Taco ($7)
- Birriamen ($15)
I'll talk about the tacos together because they are served as a set. The reality is you can't go wrong with these tacos. These are traditionally plated tacos meaning you get 2 corn tortillas holding all the ingredients of joy. The extra 50 cents on the fish baja went the extra mile because this came with 2 really hearty pieces of battered fish with a silky smooth chipotle mayo.
That doesn't mean the carnitas and cachete disappointed though. The carnitas could have had some crunchier cracklings but the pickled red onion was a great topping. The cachete was incredibly tender and proved that sometimes you don't need a lot on a taco to make it taste amazing.
Now about that birriamen. I feel like this was a dish made especially for me. I love noodles. I love making instant noodles at home almost as much as I love ramen in restaurants. Hailing from a recent surge in popularity in Mexico City, the La Taqueria version of birriamen was a bowl of birria tatemada brisket broth with handmade rice and corn noodles, a diablo soft-boiled egg, pickled onions, white onion, shallot oil, and a crunchy birria taco.
Boy oh boy was this a savoury dish. Birria already lends itself to an intense savoury experience but mixing it with ramen is magical. Note that this is a pretty greasy bowl of ramen but if you're coming to a Mexican restaurant, you kind of have to be prepared for some grease. The birria taco had a good crispiness, but the noodles were a little too flimsy. Maybe it's a rice thing but these noodles felt a little too brittle for me. Now if Jinya down the street could supply noodles, I might be interested in a round 2.
Overall, I applaud La Taqueria for innovating and importing a new dish from Mexico that will hopefully stick around on the menu and influence other Mexican places to innovate.
The vibe at La Taqueria is awesome. As soon as you walk through the door, the warm green bar greets you and a giant handpainted mural depicts a typical taco corner in Mexico City. Terrific feeling.
There is seating for about 100 guests in the U-shaped bar, a heated patio, and regular dining tables. The main drawback of the space is there is only a single unisex washroom. There was no line on a Monday lunch hour but I could imagine at night when the cerveza gets flowing, the line could drag out.
Lunch service at La Taqueria was fantastic. Our server had a ton of pep to their step and came back to check up on us. There was no refill of water but they gave us a large jug to pour it out ourselves. Food was really fast to come out too. I think our food was out in about 10 minutes so that's a good look for staffing levels during a lunch hour I think is naturally busy with all the residential towers nearby and people working from home. There was no reservation needed for our table of 2 and it didn't look like anyone really needed one.
One-liner: Mexico City hits really high notes with homey Mexican tacos and birriamen at La Taqueria
Highlight: Fish Baja Taco
Price per person: $20-$30
Would I go back? Yes.