A month ago I noticed that the old 'Nuba' building had been painted a bright yellow, and there was a green outline of what looked like a Madonna-type figure on the building. It was eye-catching and I was wondering what this place was going the end up as. Well, this place became La Tacqueria, a shiny, brand-new taco spot on West Hastings, between Homer and Cambie.
When I visited the restaurant, the building was painted a more subdued white, and the Madonna figure was entirely in full colour. The painting is really, really beautiful--definitely the most attractive restaurant front I've seen. The Madonna mural is a work of art: she is glowing and surrounded by the warmest golden halo, and she has the most beatific, peaceful expression on her face. I must say, the painting is worth the visit, never mind the food!
The interior of the restaurant is attractive, but TINY. There are a few seats on the main counter, and rows of turquoise coloured counters and wooden bar stools along both left and right walls. The front of the restaurant facing the window is mainly cooking space, and there is a large glass partition so you can see the chefs at work. Along the top of one wall is the red-framed Taco menu written on chalkboard, detailing its diverse selection of tacos such as beef tongue, pork cheek, tofu, chicken mole, and fish, among many others. They also proudly proclaim on the menu that their products are free-range, organic, and sustainable, which is really, really awesome, and very well makes up for the price of the tacos ( meat - $2.50, veggie - $2.00, and a set of four meat tacos for $9.95, set of four veggie tacos for $7.00).
When I arrived, there were a handful of people sitting at the main counter, and I was pleased to notice that there were a few Spanish speaking people among them. I decided to eat in and ordered the set of four. In the end I chose the Pollo Con Mole (chicken mole), Pescado (fish), Asada (griled beef) and Carnitas (pork confit).
clockwise from top: Pescado, Asada, Carnitas, and Pollo Con Mole
On a side bar there is an assortment of salsa in squeeze bottles: hot, medium and green; there is also stone mortar-like bowls of vinegary pickled onion (sliced thin and pink) and sliced chilis, along with a jug of water and plastic cups.
The tacos came promptly on a red plastic plate, served with a couple of wedges of lime. They doubled up on the corn torilla, which made for more sturdy handling. Still, it was an extremely messy eat, because I like to put salsa and lime on mine. I'm no taco expert, but these babies tasted good. The flavours were sharp, fresh, and bright. The pickled onion was bracingly sour.
My favorites were definitely the fish and the beef. The fish taco was beautiful--thick slices of fish that were well-cooked, tasty and delicate, and so good with salsa. The beef taco was surprisingly tender as well. The cucumber which topped the beef taco gave the taco a really good clean and refreshing flavour. The chicken mole was quite good, but don't think I was in the mood for a heavy sauce that day. This was my least favorite. The pork taco was very porky, but still good. The salsas were really amazing (especially the red ones)--very well flavoured, lots of lime and deep in flavour.
La Taqueria is very impressive, from the outside to the inside. Truly, a great addition to the downtown/gastown area.
May it live long!