But then, the Internet being what it is, I caught wind of this otherwise nondescript eatery. I was told that they could quite possibly have the best tacos in town and given the almost hipster-like vibe of the place, I started to believe it. And so, on a random evening in the middle of the week, we ventured into the restaurant whose sign is so difficult to decipher from the street.
The interior is clearly in line with the casual, but trendy look that we’ve come to expect from many of Vancouver’s newest hotspots. What’s different here is, aside from a few smaller tables off to the side, eating here is largely a communal affair. There are three or four longer tables that seat about a dozen people each. This allows you to spark up conversation with the other diners if you’d like, but your party is clearly identified by a wooden block like the one shown at the top of this post.
Of course, they specialize in tacos and there are eight varieties on the menu. They’re not cheap, though, selling for $6 each (with the exception of the $5 crispy potato taco). By comparison, soft tacos at the now-closed Dona Cata on Victoria were only about $2.50 each, which is about the same price you’d find at La Taqueria or Sal y Limon. Beyond that, you’ll find a handful of appetizers and a few desserts. The churros sound interesting, as they’re served with banana sriracha ice cream, but we skipped out on dessert for this visit.
One thing that you’ll quickly learn about Tacofino is that your food does not arrive all at once and it does not arrive in any particular order. Service is reasonably friendly, but it is slow. One person might get all of their tacos before the other person gets anything. It’s all quite haphazard.
Pork Jowl Taco – You knew I was going to order this one, right? There is just something deliciously wonderful about pork cheek, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the best tacos on the menu. It’s crispy, fatty goodness that’s balanced with the sweetness of the pineapple.
Albacore Tuna Taco – When it comes to fish tacos, I prefer the deep fried variety, but I also love some ahi-style tuna. In this case, you get one solid chunk of tuna that’s seared on the outside and rare on the inside. I almost would have preferred if it were cut up into smaller pieces, as the tuna ended up being a little too chewy to tear apart easily with each bite.
Fish Taco – Speaking of fried fish, the standard fish taco consists of a deep fried piece of ling cod, along with chipotle mayo and salsa fresca. The slaw added a nice dash of freshness to counter the crispy cod.
Skirt Steak Taco – Those two tacos are supposed to be identical, but you can quite plainly see that they’re not quite the same. There does seem to be a small issue with consistency at Tacofino. These were fine, but nothing breathtaking.
Are these good tacos? For the most part, yes, the tacos themselves are pretty tasty and they go beyond some of the more conventional fare you may find at more traditional Mexican restaurants. There’s no salsa bar and you can even order a yam tempura taco if you want. That being said, I don’t feel that they justify a price that is double what you’d find somewhere else.
Service can be slow, the tacos can be inconsistent, and the waits can be pretty long on busier nights. I might return once in a blue moon, but Tacofino is not my go-to place for fresh authentic tacos.