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On the heels of declaring Tacofino’s Tuna Ta Taco as one of my top 40 things to eat in Vancouver, it was only fitting to visit their store out on Hastings. With a relatively early hockey game on Friday, we were able to hit it up before closing (which also meant we didn't have to wait in line!). With a fairly large contingent of eight people, not having to wait was great, as the seating is mostly communal. Since sharing on a full-length table would be difficult, Gordo, Emilicious, and Milhouse ended up splitting a few items with me while we ignored the rest of the table...
We started with the house-made Tater Tots with chorizo verde, Cheddar curds, queso fundido, and kimchi crema. For $10, we found this to be smallish in size despite the interesting array of toppings and condiments. Disregarding the price, we found these tater tots to be fantastic. They were slightly crispy pillows of mashed potato goodness laced by ingredients that offered up a wide range of complimentary flavors. The green chiles added spice and tartness while the crema was cooling. The chorizo contributed a bit of meatiness and the cheese curds were well, cheesy. Next up were the Brussels Sprouts ($7) with bacon, cotija cheese, and masa breadcrumbs. These were much spicier than we had expected, however, I personally liked the kick that lingered after the first bite. Although the sprouts were tender, they retained a pleasant crunch. Bringing the whole thing together was the smooth and creamy cheese as well as the saltiness of the bacon.
Onto what we were really here for — the tacos... Predictably, we ordered a bunch of their popular Fish Tacos. Now some might think that $6 is a bit steep for a fish taco, but rest assured, these were of a decent size and most importantly, are money. Te large piece of ling cod was fried beautifully where it was just cooked and flaky. The batter was thin, crispy, and light while the rest of the ingredients — shredded cabbage, chipotle mayo, and salsa fresca — married well together with a certain brightness and spice. Now, drum roll please, for one of my top 40 things to eat in Vancouver — the Albacore Tuna Taco. We actually got three of these and only one turned out right. The other two featured fully cooked tuna, which lessened the enjoyment of the taco. However, the one that did work out was fantastic as usual. The still-rare piece of tuna was accented by soy, sesame, wakame, ginger, salsa fresca, and wasabi mayo. The Asian flavors were powerful enough to add flavor, yet at the same time, not overwhelm the delicate piece of tuna. Unlike the one served from their food cart, this was served with only a light dusting of cabbage. It could've benefited from more for textural and visual purposes.
Moving away from fish, we had the Skirt Steak Taco, which featured pickled veggies, cilantro, and black garlic mayo. The steak itself was cooked a nice medium-rare. Predictably, it wasn't exactly tender, but it wasn't tough either. There was a good amount of char and seasoning. I liked the crunch from the veggies as well as the acidity, particularly from the pickled onion. The spice of the pepper added a good kick while the mayo provided some moisture as well as sweetness. Staying with meat, the Pork Jowl Taco was dressed with cabbage, pineapple, fried shallots, and Sriracha. The pork cheek was seared crispy on the outside while the meat was fatty and full-flavored (a touch salty, though). The sweetness of the pineapple cut through some of the heaviness whereas the modest amount of Sriracha added just enough heat. I loved the fried shallots for their texture and aroma.
With two more meat tacos on the menu, there was no choice but order those as well. The Gringa consisted of pork al pastor, Cheddar curds, and kimchi in a fried tortilla finished with chipotle mayo. The crunch from the fried tortilla was a nice contrast to the cheesy, shredded pork mix. The kimchi added even more crunch, yet was too mild for my tastes. It could've been spicier. Our last meat taco was the Chicken Karaage with avocado and black chile oil. The chicken was moist with only a light crispiness on the outside. The flavors were balanced with only the slightest hint of spice. This could've benefited from some acidity, maybe from some lemon. And just to change things up, I decided to get the Crispy Potato as our lone vegetarian taco. Hidden underneath the cabbage, queso fresco, Cheddar, and salsa fresca was essentially a potato mash. Hence, the fried tortilla was essentially for texture. This was decent for a non-meat taco. At the end, we were pretty happy with our eats, despite the spending a good amount of money. We thought the food was good, but I'm sure some will find it expensive.
- Well-prepared food
- Interesting eats
- A good hipster scene (if that is your thing)
- Can be seen as a bit pricey
- Can get busy where seats are at a premium
This post originally appeared on the blog Sherman’s Food Adventures.
Tacofino Commissary Vancouver | 2 for $10 Tacos
Tacofino started out as a food truck that I was rarely able to eat. I hated the fact I no longer worked downtown and missed out on life’s great moments. Tacofino Commissary Vancouver is located on East Hastings kiddie corner to infamous pulled pork pancakes at Red Wagon, best minced pork and egg foo yung at Le Do and traditional Hanoi flavors at Mr. Red Cafe Vietnamese restaurants. Lunch menu features 2 for $10 tacos, $6 RAD caesar and $10 Beer growlitas. Tacofino is also located in Gastown Blood Alley, Tofino, and Victoria.
The sun finally came out on Sunday and we picked the window seat. The sunlight was a bit harsh but I’m not complaining. I love the tacos here at Tacofino Comissionary. Each tacos are perfectly prepared and seasoned with bright and delicious ingredients. It’s no wonder there are constant line ups.
SUMMER SQUASH AND POTATO: leek, lacinato kale, cheddar, chili crema, and salsa fresca
PORK JOWL: cabbage, fried shallot, pineapple, sriracha. Pork jowl tacos is my favorite and is the one I will order again and again. And again.
ALBACORE TUNA: soy, sesame, wakame, ginger, wasabi mayo. This is perfect for the asian palette. I love the white pickled ginger, wakame seaweed and fatty albacore tuna.
FISH: crispy ling cod, cabbage, chipotle mayo, salsa fresca
Each taco is $6 and it’s a great dinner option when you want variety. During dinner time we highly recommend the grilled octopus salad with crispy yucca, market greens, avocado jalapeno crema, lime pepper aioli, and spicy chili oi. The Tater Tots are great alternative to poutine and even more awesome after a few drinks. Full of chorizo verde, cheddar curds, fundido, crema, and salsa fresca.
Tacofino Burrito Bar Gastown | Mexican Tacos Tostada Ceviche
Tacofino has expanded from a food truck to multiple locations East Hastings Tacofino Commissary, Victoria, and now Gastown. Tacofino Gastown location has both the Taco Bar (entrance via Blood Alley Square) and the Burrito Bar (entrance via 15 West Cordova). Depending if you feel like fast food take out or a sit down dinner.
I love the bar space and the natural lighting. There are high booth seats in the long banquette, low tables and outdoor patio seating. Tacos, Octopus Tostadas, Ceviche and Churros are my favorites.
- FISH TACO pacific cod, salsa fresca, chipotle mayo
- LAMB BIRRIA herb salad, arbol chili, pickled nopales, preserved lemon zest
- STEAK TACO grilled skirt steak, pickled chayote and pineapple
The space is amazing. There are so many photo opportunities. The floor tiles, bar seats and just overall lighting is totally Instagram worthy!
Cuisine: Tacos, Mexican
Mon 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Tue 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Wed 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Thu 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Fri 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sat 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sun 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Blood Alley Sqaure / 15 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1C8
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Hello, my name is Nancy! I am a finance professional by trade and a mommy to a toddler girl!
This foodie based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I love to cook fast and easy meals for my family, using seasonal ingredients. Here you will find modern Chinese cooking, Asian inspired dishes and healthy vegan substitutes.
This Mommy also runs a Baby, Lifestyle and Skincare Blog Hello Nance .
Her work has been featured on SELF Magazine, ClassPass, National Post, Yellow Pages, etc.
In what has felt like very little time at all, Fort Street has grown into one of Victoria’s hotspots. Just a few months ago, I reported on the parklet project prototyped by the Fabulous Fort initiative, a truly progressive and exciting idea for our downtown streets. The excellent Crust Bakery has been open for about a year now and, replete with an always quick-selling supply of “cronuts,” has quickly become a modern Victoria classic. Meanwhile, one of the best used book stores in the country—Russell Books—steams along, while Chorizo and Fishhook offer exceptional lunch options, and Choux Choux houses possibly the city’s finest butcher. It’s all excellent stuff and now another British Columbia culinary icon has just opened up shop on 787 Fort St.: Tacofino.
You’ve probably come across, or at least heard about, Tacofino in its food-truck form. For two summers and two winters, it was housed on Douglas and Pandora. The whole Tacofino history extends far beyond Victoria, however the first truck opened up in Tofino five years ago, and the operation quickly spread to Vancouver, Kelowna and downtown Victoria. Tacofino’s new storefront location on Fort and Blanshard is the operation’s second storefront, with Tacofino Commissary opening on East Hastings Street in Vancouver to critical acclaim in 2013.
Given that menus between specific Tacofino truck locations and the Commissary vary, Tacofino part-owner Josh Carleson and the Fort Street crew have assembled a kind of “best of” selection of Tacofino offerings. If the menu’s selections of tacos, burritos and tortilla soup appear traditional, Carleson is quick to point out that authentic Mexican cuisine is not necessarily what Tacofino is all about: “We really welcome the influence of where we are, British Columbia. So there’s a lot of Asian cuisine that we incorporate into our food. Our tuna taco, for instance, has wasabi mayo, pickled ginger and wakame. Same with our beef—picked daikon, pickled carrot, sirrachi mayo—little things like that pop up a lot in our food.”
I popped in for a taco and chat on a rainy afternoon and, despite the dreary weather, the place was packed and brightly lit. While the space is on the small side, it’s riddled with elegant aesthetic details. The bright colour scheme, plants, skylights and tiled counters give a fresh, almost greenhouse-ish vibe.
I sampled the tuna taco ($6.50). This is a much larger taco than one would normally expect, making for a really great light lunch. My taco was, in short, top drawer. A beautifully grilled tortilla housed a generous slice of beautifully rare and just-a-bit-on-the-fatty-side tuna—the texture was perfect. The wakame salad added freshness and crunch without excess brininess, while the pickled ginger and wasabi mayo added a good degree of nuanced heat. I’m a bit of a spice fiend, so a little more in the wasabi department would have been welcome in my books, but that’s subjective. I recently sampled the fish burrito ($11), and it was everything a burrito should be: big, saucy, meaty and surprisingly complex. The taco list is pretty extensive, and some fascinating specials look to be in the works (brazed duck tacos have been known to happen, while an oil-poached octopus taco is currently in development), so I’m definitely looking forward to sampling the rest of the lineup.
While Tacofino is not yet licensed, Carleson and his crew are working on it, so look for local beers, margaritas and tequila Caesars in the future.
This was my first visit to Tacofino, but I’d heard the hype—as a burrito lover, my friends were shocked that I hadn’t made it to the yyj truck. With so much hype, it’s rare that a place actually stacks up to the fanfare. True, I’ve yet to profoundly delve into the menu here but, so far, I truly believe the hype.
Visit the Tacofino website for their menu.
Must Try: Tacofino on East Hastings
There&rsquos a new taco stand to reckon with in town. Well, not so much a stand (and not totally new &ndash it opened in August), but definitely worth checking out when in search of your next authentic Mexican feast. We&rsquore talking about fantastic foodie find Tacofino Commissary.
Many of our readers are likely familiar with the colourful red and blue Tacofino food trucks that have made their foodie stamp around town, so the relatively recent arrival of owners Ryan Spong, Jason Sussman and Kaeli Robinson&rsquos standalone hot spot should definitely spice up the conversation.
The Tacofino Commissary has married its rustic Tofino/West Coast roots with just the right degree of urban &lsquovibe&rsquo that a city like Vancouver needs…and just in time for winter dining. Patrons can now happily trek over to their beautifully designed, modern-yet-cozy space at 2327 East Hastings to indulge in their inventive menu offerings (doubled in sized).
Take a trip off the traditional Mexican culinary track and bite into their authentic Baja-style fish tacos, or try the &lsquotongue-in-cheek&rsquo beer braised Taco Belle served with house-made guacamole. Another option, order up the delicious pork cheek tacos washed down with an ice-cold margarita or watermelon beer to taste the difference for yourself. They&rsquove got a polished list of other cocktail offerings, wine and other beer available, and don&rsquot worry about doing damage to the wallet: nothing on the menu costs much more than $10!
Stylistically, we love the simple, open-concept feel of the space, right down to the bare-bones finishing and stunning custom Bocci &ldquoliving&rdquo lighting fixtures installed throughout. Ample communal seating begs for YPs to grab a group of friends and head over for a fiesta-inspired feast.
Don&rsquot take our word for it head to their East Hastings location for an inside peek and check out their full menu here.
Tacofino Commissary: Notable Meat Tacos - Recipes
The food and drinks were delicious, as always.
However, the interaction with the server left us feeling awkward and unwelcome.
She made rude remarks, treated us as unwanted customers, and later could be seen gossiping about my differently-abled son.
My young autistic son busied himself by ripping up a paper napkin as we waited for our food.
The server came by and asked that we do not let him do so, as it is wasteful. We apologized and said we wouldn't let him continue.
She eyed us suspiciously and then proceeded to confiscate all the napkins from our table and the surrounding area.
She was very pointed about doing so. So the four of us were left to eat the tacos (with our hands, obviously) and no napkins.
We all thought that a $200 bill entitled us to some napkins, even if one was "wasted" by a differently-abled child.
She was so overly concerned about our napkin consumption, she seemed unable to properly process our orders and several of our orders were incorrect.
And we later saw her talking and laughing with a friend while they pointing towards my son.
Perhaps Tacofino is not child-friendly, or maybe they just aren't inclusive of all types of people.
Either way, we won't be back to this location.
3 - 7 of 178 reviews
Those are some very good tamales. We tried the fish taco, cauliflower taco, brusslesprout taco and a steak taco. All were quite good, but the cauliflower and fish tacos were probably the better of the four, but the pumpkin tamales were the best.
Let’s Taco ‘Bout Tacofino!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Tacofino is also providing the volunteers to deliver the program in this classroom! Included on that team is Gino Di Domenico, Managing Partner, who has been working at Tacofino for happy years”:
Hi Gino, when did you first hear about us?
I first heard about Growing Chefs! in my first year with Tacofino. I started out as the General Manager at the Tacofino Commissary on Hastings where our Truck Operations Manager at the time – Stuart Whyte, was participating in the program.
What about Growing Chefs! resonates with the Tacofino team?
Teaching healthy, sustainable food practices to children is a lesson that can be learned for life. Whether it be used to sustain and nourish yourself or your family, as a hobby, or made into a career, the idea of a future filled with food inspired humans is very exciting.
You’re going to be volunteering in the classroom this year. AMAZING! What are you most excited about? Are you nervous at all?I am actually really excited to be in a classroom again. A little-known fact about me is that before my restaurant career, I was teaching elementary school just outside Montreal where I grew up. So only a little nervous….
What’s your favourite item on the Tacofino menu?
It’s an oldie but a goodie. I’m a huge fan of the bean and cheese burrito at The Commissary on Hastings.
Can you share anything about Tacofino that may surprise our readers?
Our love for cooking and trying new things comes through on our menus. One thing that most people are surprised to learn is that all of our locations have fairly different menus.
Great Mexican Food in Vancouver
In Mexico, Sussman noticed how often surfers would congregate around the street vendors who served baja fish tacos. He figured the concept would work in Tofino because of its surf culture — and he was right. Tacofino found loyal customers early on. It was also lucky. Soon after its debut in 2009, the food-truck craze took off as the economic recession forced restaurateurs to find inventive and less costly ways of doing business, while diners sought to pay less for meals and mobile technology allowed food trucks to move about to where they were most likely to be found by consumers. Food trucks became a novelty and a hot topic. So, too did tacos. They were becoming a favourite food on Canada’s west coast, challenging sushi and pizza as a go-to choice for those seeking a quick bite.
Tacofino emerged as the right brand at the right time. Sussman and Robinsong’s spontaneous purchase became a beloved piece of the community, so much so that it attracted two investors who couldn’t get enough of the flavours. The Tacofino founders partnered with Ryan Spong and Matt MacIsaac to expand. Food trucks opened in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, and a restaurant, Commissary, started in 2012 in East Vancouver.
Three varieties of tasty dips are served with homemade corn chips at the new Taco Bar in gritty Blood Alley. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)
Now, a brick-and-mortar version arrives in the city’s downtown, with a take-out spot, Burrito Bar, on West Cordova Street, and the attached Taco Bar serving sit-down meals in a well-conceived setting that evokes the sophisticated side of the southwest. The space was completely renovated since the owners took possession 11 months ago. Plans include a rooftop patio, which will require a licence that will take at least six months to obtain.
What makes Tacofino special is its commitment to the identity it carved out in Canada’s most famous surf town. It remains laid back but also community-minded, with numerous efforts planned to support the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood where Taco Bar resides. The owners also get along well with Shoel Davidson, the co-owner of Gringo, a fun 391-square-foot taco joint across the street in Blood Alley. Davidson complimented the Tacofino initiative for its ambition and suggested a renaming of Blood Alley — a monicker that dates to the strip’s early days as a location for butchers and more recently associated with the drug culture in the area. His suggestion: Taco Alley.
If Gringo is the place you go for cheap drinks and sustenance at 2 am, Taco Bar is where you arrive for share plates amid dim lights early in the evening, before the night goes astray at one of Gastown’s clubs or party spots. The Taco Bar’s menu is also a slight departure from Tacofino’s Commissary. Dishes that Sussman is excited to serve include Oaxacan corn fritters ($6) and a delicious beef rib, glazed with a habanero sauce and served with chilaquiles ($20). Like a few of Tacofino’s dishes, the beef rib shows Sussman’s experience with and affection for Asian cuisine. He has cooked on that continent and brings a touch of its flavours to Tacofino.
Corn fritters inspired by Mexico’s Oaxaca region is one of the tasty menu items available at Taco Bar. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)
The ingredients for the dishes are also carefully sourced. The batter for the tacos ($6-$7) is prepared in Toronto from a recipe only Tacofino owns and which took many attempts to perfect. The fish tacos are made from Alaskan cod. The beef and lamb come from farms in the Greater Vancouver Area that service many of the region’s fine restaurants.
While Sussman says he never imagined the brand growing beyond Tofino, the success of Tacofino indicates that Taco Bar is only the latest creation, not its last. MacIsaac and Spong told me earlier this year that they hope to expand to Toronto and possibly other locations in Canada. All of that from a food truck with a modest goal to feed surfers. Tacofino certainly appears to have caught a big wave and is ripping through it.
Tacofino Commissary: Notable Meat Tacos - Recipes
It’s hard not to get drawn into the Mexican food love-in happening all over the internet this week – the power of suggestion is strong with me and all things edible, and so my mind started to wander down south and I pulled a stack of corn tortillas out of the freezer and went to the store to squeeze some avocados.
What I love about black bean tacos: I almost always have a can of black beans, which cost about a dollar, and which need minimal dressing up (chili powder, cumin, red onion, cilantro, lime, no particular measure) before being mashed, as-is, with a potato masher or fork. Feta or queso fresco or whatever kind of cheese you have or love acts as a deliciously melty, salty glue to hold the crunchy pockets together, which cook in less time than a grilled cheese sandwich. They’re far more stable than the yellow boxed kit version, reminiscent of both pizza pockets and hand pies, and if you were so inclined, you could load one up with an impressive amount of salsa/avocado/sour cream/all of the above.
If your corn tortillas tend to crack, give them a quick (the briefest) dip in water and throw into a skillet to warm/steam – they’ll be nice and pliable so that you can fill and fold them, then cook in a drizzle of oil until crunchy and golden. Or skip the water and toss them directly into the warm pan, spread half with black beans and crumbled cheese, then fold over the other side with your spatula and cook until crisp.
This is also a perfect sort of thing to make when you have a house full of kids or kitchen full of people, or any situation in which you need something snacky that’s filling enough to count as a meal.
Tacofino Gives Back
Trio of Tacofino Vancouver Locations Give Back To Local Communities Through Fundraising Initiatives. Hastings-Sunrise, Gastown and Yaletown Restaurants Ring in Spring by Hosting Events to Benefit Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Saint James Music Academy, Roundhouse Community Centre.
Image Credit: SMC Communications
VANCOUVER, BC (April 11, 2017) — This spring, Tacofino is giving back to the community at large by holding a series of fundraising initiatives at its three Vancouver brick-and-mortar locations that will directly benefit the local neighbourhoods they call home.
The campaign begins in earnest on Wednesday, April 26 at the group’s newest location Tacofino Yaletown (1025 Mainland Street) when General Manager Laura Clemis and staff play host to a Patio Launch Party that will feature all-day food and drink specials. A portion of the day’s profits will be donated to the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre’s ‘Park Your Caboose’ fundraiser to install new seats in the local facility’s performance centre just down the street at 181 Roundhouse Mews.
The feel-good vibes flow over to Tacofino Hastings (2327 East Hastings Street) on Tuesday, May 2 from 5 to 10 p.m. when General Manager Matt Fidler and staff drop the needle on the first of a series of ongoing New Music Tuesday events at the Hastings-Sunrise hotspot. Presented in conjunction with BeatRoute Magazine, the Tuesday evening series will showcase new music and emerging artists accompanied by two-for-$11 tacos and $5 Tecate tall cans. Every Tuesday, the location will donate a dollar from each Tecate sold to after-school music programs held at Saint James Music Academy on 303 East Cordova Street.
The charity spotlight shifts to Tacofino Gastown (15 West Cordova Street) that same week as General Manager Brandon Maier and staff donate a dollar from every feature cocktail sold from May 1 to 5 to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, which has provided a safe space for women and children in the local community since it was founded in 1978. That same week, the Gastown location will also hold a clothing drive and welcome drop-offs of new and gently worn clothing, blankets and shoes for the centre.
Tacofino is no stranger to giving back to the community — in fact, it’s been a steadfast mantra of cofounders Jason Sussman and Kaeli Robinsong since the couple opened their original Tofino food truck in 2009. To that end, Tacofino regularly organizes events at its various locations that raise much-needed funds for local non-profit, volunteer and outreach programs including the Salvation Army Harbour Light, the Downtown Eastside Kitchen Tables Community Access Map and Potluck Café Society, among others.
“Whether it’s Gastown, Hastings-Sunrise or Yaletown – or even Victoria and Tofino — we’re constantly inspired by the good work that local grassroots charities do on a daily basis,” says Robinsong. “So, we wanted to organize some fun events that will also benefit the neighbourhoods in which our Tacofino family lives and works, and those who have supported us along the way.”