Ever since it opened last year, I keep hearing and reading about La Taqueria and how they make the best/ most authentic Mexican tacos in Vancouver. Why didn't I rush there right away? I don't make it to Gastown/Victory square all that often for eats and I'm also a little bit in love with Dona Cata restaurant on Victoria and their tacos so I didn't feel any sort of urgency to hit La Taqueria, but I've definitely been curious. When Jobin offered to take me for a belated birthday dinner, I opted for a two part dinner in Gastown to try places that I've been wanting to try: splitting 4 tacos at Taqueria and a pizza at Nicli Antica Pizzeria.
This place has a great look to it. The interior isn't particularly large, but it has a cozy feel with a few tables and bar seating. It feels bright and airy with fun, kitschy Mexican decor. The staff were really friendly and helpful.
La Taqueria's menu states that they use "natural, free-range meats, organic produce & wild sustainable fish, locally sourced when available and they offer 8 different types of meat tacos (2.50 each or 4 for 9.50) and 4 vegetarian varieties (2.00 each or 4 for 7.00).
I was impressed by their condiment station under a piece of bejeweled Virgin Mary art, with purple pickled onions, pickled jalepenos, pepper rings and cauliflower. They have a variety of 6 salsas in squirt ketchup bottles with faded labels so you couldn't really tell what flavours you were going to guess. The salsas I tried were really nice: a smoky chipotle, a spicy/peanutty variety, a mild one with more tomato, but my favourite was a avocado salsa which was creamy with a kick of spice and bright lime flavour.
To drink, we split a glass of their Horchata, a cold drink made of rice, almonds, cinnamon, lime zest, and sugar. This Horchata rocks! It was refreshing, not too sweet, with a subtle twinge of cinnamon. We described it as a Mexican eggnog or liquid rice pudding.
We ordered 4 tacos to share 2 Braised Pemberton Meadow Beef Tongue (so we could each have our own), 1 Braised Chilliwack Beef cheek, and one Pescado (grilled seasonal fish with pico de gallo). The staff dress the taco with the salsas and toppings that they feel best compliment the meat.
Braised Pemberton Meadow Beef Tongue (front centre and right). I wouldn't normally order tongue...the idea of it kinda freaks me out, but I'm not afraid to try new foods, and I had read a few reviews that claimed it was the best taco at La Taqueria. Fortunately, it doesn't look like a tongue! Instead, its served in chunks that look like it could be from any part of the cow:)
If you go to La Taqueria- please do yourself a favour and order this taco. The meat is so juicy, soft and tender and it shreds as you bite into it. The flavour of the meat is savoury with a flavour that tastes like its been slow cooked and it's topped with their avo salsa and the light flavours in this salsa really compliment the rich taste of the tongue (honestly, it only needs a bit of topping because the meat has such a nice flavour on its own.) It's not too greasy or oily and just melts in your mouth. Like the Mike Myers as Linda Richmond skit on SNL, "It's like butta."
The Braised Chilliwack Beef Cheek Taco (left) tasted like a smoky beef brisket and the meat is shredded and topping with onion and cilantro. This taco was quite greasy which meant a nice rich meaty flavour, but it didn't taste like it was marinated so it was definitely kicked up a notch when with the addition of their salsas.
The Pescado Taco (back centre) was a grilled white fish which was slightly charred which gave it an awesome crispy texture but the flavours were a bit dull for me. It was nice and fresh and tasted pretty good with the pico de gallo, fresh cabbage, lime and avocado salsa BUT after eating the first two rich beefy tacos, it tasted a wee bit bland.
Overall, this is a great place for cheap eats, big flavour, friendly service and an all around cool vibe. Be brave....order the TONGUE!!!! I wish I worked in this neighbourhood because it would be the perfect go-to easy and affordable lunch.