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Tacos! Tacos! & More Tacos!

In light of Le Taqueria opening their second location recently, I realize there are a lot of places offering Tacos in the Downtown area. So in the past 10 days I went on a taco run to see how the tacos stacked up.

Location 1: Salsa & Agave (no pics) All tacos came with white onions and Cilantro.
I had the Carne Asada (grilled beef), Lengua (beef tongue), Pollo (chicken) & Carnitas (Soft Pork)
-I liked the leugua & carnitas

Location 2: Le Taqueria on Hastings (Visit #1)
I had the De Lengua (beef tongue), Pollo Con Mole (chicken), Pescado (grilled white fish) & Carnitas (Soft Pork)
- I made a mistake and loaded each taco up with free pickled vegies, well as you can guess everything tasted like pickles. However, out of this batch I only liked the beef tongue which was about the same as Salsa & Agave.

I figured I picked the wrong fillings so I went back for a 2nd visit and had:
Asada (grilled beef), De Cachette (beef cheeks), Al Pastor (Pork) & the Special which was Lamb
I laid off the condiments and I enjoyed all 4. The Asada is better here than Salsa & Agave, you can taste that the beef was grilled.

Location 3: Cartel Taco - All tacos came with white onions and Cilantro.
Got both the pork & rib eye and I was not a big fan of the Korean Tacos. Like the pork more than the beef which I thought was overcooked. I thought I would love it but not sure if it was the execution or the flavour combination that i did not enjoy.

I have Ursu and Tacofino on my radar but I need a break from Tacos. Is there any where else that serves Tacos in the Downtown area? I have been to Chronic Tacos on broadway as well.

I think I maybe a traditional taco kinda of personal and not into the "Taco Bell/Time" type taco or Fusion Taco.

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  1. For taco places off the top of my head: Don Guacamole's and Calli -- both in the West End, so not exactly downtown, but hopefully close enough. Also, Los Tacos in Gastown (I've never been and am not sure if they've opened yet). Enjoy!

    Don Guacamole Restaurant
    1333 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E, CA

    1. You could also try Lolitas on Davie. I was there a while ago and it was quite tasty.

      1. Sadly for picky me, I haven't found any places that do tacos that really make me happy yet (still have to try more of the food carts though). There is a place opening this fall at 164 West Hastings that might be worth the candle -- Los Tacos Cafe a couple blocks east of original La Taq. Maybe too fast foody though? Their fb page has one picture of flautas but also pix of croissants and sliced apples (!).

        1. I would avoid Ursu. It's like foodcourt Korean meets Taco Time.

          1. Thanks All! I guess I should add that I've been doing this on my lunch break so Don Guacamole is too far away. Los Tacos Cafes is definately on my radar.

            The other comment I should add was I was a little disappointed in how the Tongue and Cheek were prepared. I like my Tongue and Cheek grilled, with just salt & pepper, so it retains that "snappy" texture and IMHO it might make a good taco filling. Nothing against the braised method and it was tasty, just personal preference.

            Grayelf what are the criteria you are using to judge Tacos?

            I've never been to Mexico, so I'm just going by the following rules of thumb:
            -Everything must be fresh in particular the cilantro, white onion & taco shell
            -Taco shell must not just be a vessel for the filling, it has to have a nice texture and its flavour adds to the overall flavour
            -Fillings must taste like what they are suppose, ie For Grilled Beef, it must taste like the beef has been grilled
            -Flavours combination are pleasant and tasty

            Don Guacamole Restaurant
            1333 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E, CA

            4 Replies
            1. re: moyenchow

              The lengua at La Taqueria I find "too braised" and actually quite bland. I'd prefer a more seasoned grilled version ..... yes it wouldn't be as tender but I'd risk that for a more tangible, "snappy" texture, as you said :-)

              1. re: LotusRapper

                I guess in my food world I envisioned a grilled beef tongue/cheek from Zakkushi with onion filling in a nice soft corn taco shell; with cilantro and little chunks of orange.

                Although this is definately in fusion territory and not sure how it would work out as I thought I would like the Korean tacos but did not.

              2. re: moyenchow

                What you said, moyen, plus the tortillas can't be leathery due to over reheating. But my biggest whinge is the tendency to "stew" all the meats here. I prefer a much drier meat, especially in al pastor, which should be cut straight off the hunk of rotating animal, like for a donair. Plus I've yet to find a really outstanding selection of salsas, or even one really great one. I'm hard to please for sure.

                1. re: grayelf

                  Al Pastor here usually comes from a roasting oven instead of a shwarma spit (a gift to Mexico from migrant Lebanese). The carnitas here is more like pulled pork rather than the fried pork lard-y confit goodness you'll see points south. (La Taqueria seems to be the only one I have tried here that use the requisite amount of fat).

              3. Well I thought I needed a break from Tacos but I guess I didn't cause I re-visited Salsa & agave and hit up Feastro the Rolling Bistro, in the past 4 days.

                On my Second visit to Salsa & Agave, I tried the Mexican Chorizo & Al Pastor, along with the lengua & Carnitas which I enjoyed from my previous visit. Did not like the Chorizo, which looked like ground beef but was ground up chorizo. I like the Al Pastor and the chunks of pineapple.

                One small problem was that the shells were a bit dried out. For this second time I got the tacos to go so I'm sure that may have helped dry out the shell as I ate at the restaurant on my first visit and there was no problem with the shells.

                My visit to Feastro was a bit more interesting as they have more west coast fillings. At first I was like, "Holy Crap $7 for 1 taco !!!!! WTH!" I had some sticker shock. I ended up ordering the Prawn & Grilled Prosciutto Taco which came with fried onions, tomato/anise chutney, Henry Green organic greens, & sour cream.

                The size of the one taco is about the size of 3 tacos from La Taqueria or Salsa & Agave, so the price isn't as bad as I first thought. High quality ingredients and very tasty but very hard to eat. It was messy as I was losing filing from the end of the Taco.

                Despite the mess, I would return to Feastro to try more of their tacos and the rest of their menu. I originally wanted to try their daily special of scallop tacos but they sold out.

                Does anyone know when Los Tacos is expected to open?

                1 Reply
                1. I finally made it out to Los Tacos Cafe a few days ago and it was probably my worst and oddest experience of my downtown taco adventure to date.

                  The inside of the cafe is very spartan and so is their menu, with limited taco fillings. You got a choice between beef, chicken, potatoe, bean and cheese. I got the 3 beef taco combo which came with a can of pop for $6.75.

                  I watched the man toast the soft taco shell, which dry out the shell making it leathery. They did not double up the shell.

                  The beef was braised and was flavourful but it was super greasy to the point where it was really gross. All the tacos were wrapped up in one wrapper and by the time I got back to my office, the grease had soaked through the wrapper and the bag. The grease you see on the napkin in the 3rd pic is from one taco.

                  They offer onions, cilantro and 2 types of salsa on the counter but I didn't put any on as I was running late. I just found the experience odd as the man who took my order and made my order was in a suit jacket and collared shirt. There were a few people just sitting around but my order took longer than I thought it should. Service wasn't all that friendly as the people in the cafe seemed more interested in talking to one another.

                  They are cash only. Considering Le Taqueria is less than half a block away, I expected a better product. I definately would walk up the block and go to Le Taqueria instead of going to Los Tacos.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: moyenchow

                    How disappointing about Los Tacos. Thanks for TOFTT.

                    I've finally found a taco I will cross town (or the street!) for so I thought I'd tag it on here since it's also downtown. The Baja-style fish taco at Tacofino on Burrard is pretty tasty, despite being in a non-tradish flour tortilla. I've had it twice now so it wasn't just a fluke :-).

                    1. re: grayelf

                      tacqueria-18.00 for 4 tacos and a drink, and I could have had 4 more

                      1. re: bigeaterjustin

                        Isn't it $9.50 for four tacos ? How much was your drink ?

                      2. re: grayelf

                        I was wondering where Tacofino went as they were not at their summer location of Howe & Robson. Good to know about their fish taco, might be next on my list of Downtown Tacos.

                        1. re: moyenchow

                          Speaking to Tacofino management they're only running one truck for the winter season-slower business and the ever present staffing challenges being the reasons.

                          And Yes $18 for 4 Tacos & drink @ La Taqueria doesn't add up-that's the price for 6 & a drink.

                          1. re: moyenchow

                            As Sam mentioned there are indeed two Tacofino trucks and only the blue one has been out lately (Burrard just below the skytrain station on the west side). But even it failed me one day recently, so best to check Twitter or call before you schlep over. I believe the hours at 11 to 3 weekdays there.

                            1. re: grayelf

                              This Just In-La Taqueria on Cambie now sells my two favourite Cervesas- Dos Equis & Pacifico!!

                              Also-only today & tomorrow left to use those coupons you clipped from the Georigia Straight.

                          2. re: grayelf

                            Agree about the fish taco. Pretty tasty. No lengua unfortunately, but when I mentioned it they said that they may do a special and I should keep an eye on their Facebook page. Here's hoping.

                        2. Dona Cata is definitely mom and pop, but their tacos and other dishes are worth checking out. La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard is excellent as long as you're willing to brave the nightly line-ups.


                          1. Taqueria Playa Tropical on 6th St in New West is definitely worth a pop in if you are in the area. Haven't had enough there to do a full review, but the shrimp tacos were absolutely wonderful.