Restaurant: Chronic Tacos
Last visited: October 30, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Mount Pleasant/Main Street)
Address: 382 West Broadway
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Service: 5 (note below)
- Since 2001
- Started in California
- Famous for tacos
- Subway of tacos
- Quick, casual, fast food
- Fresh, made upon order
- Busy at peak hours
- Guacamole/Salsas made daily
- Homemade tortilla/bread (No preservatives)
- Big portions
- Cheap eats/Budget friendly
- Friendly staff
- Beer available
- Catering available
**Recommendations: Most people are obsessed with their beer battered fish taco, but I found it very mediocre. I liked the Shrimp, Carne Asada (Grilled Steak), and Al Pastor (Pork with Pineapple). MUST REQUEST guacamole (free) on all tacos, it’s so much better with it.
This is the first franchise for Chronic Tacos in Vancouver, BC. My visit here was much anticipated by me… and by @bbvegas who recommended it to me. It’s a Californian institution and apparently a local favourite there. I was super stoked to try it out since I heard so many great things about it and Vancouver has a serious lack of good Mexican food. I must say that I was caught off guard by the outside and actually the inside as well. I wasn’t expecting such a clean looking sports bar with flat screens all around. It’s a fast food joint, but the atmosphere is inviting.
What’s the must try at Chronic TACOS? The fatty tacos of course. However tons of people were ordering the burritos, which looked short and stubby but very generously filled (insert dirty joke). The guy suggested one taco as a snack and two tacos as a meal. Along with my friend we decided to order all of them. What better way is there to sample and compare right?
We asked for EVERYTHING on the tacos, which are well stuffed, but they left out the guacamole. Make sure you request it because it’s free and it would have done wonders for some of the tacos, actually all of the tacos, but especially the shrimp, fish, and chicken.
Chronic Tacos is the Subway of tacos. The ingredients are fresh and it’s made upon order and the ‘goodness’ of the tacos are as good as the sandwiches at Subway. I would go to Chronic Tacos out of convenience, but it’s not the best in town… again, just like Subway. It was more Californian Mexican than authentic Mexican to me and they almost taste healthy. All the salsas and guacamole is made fresh daily and the meats are all slow cooked and marinated overnight.
I can’t say I was wow’d by the food here, but I can see why people like it. It’s fast, affordable, filling, good for fast food and provides a “chill” atmosphere and friendly service. As a “foodie” I found it quite mediocre and I prefer La Taqueria, the more traditional Mexican style tacos. If I’m comparing it to a chain in the States I would rather have Taqueria El Rinconsito in Seattle.
Note: The staff is definitely a selling point here. They remind me of the cast of Hangover meets Superbad and it carries that “Bob Marley” vibe. They explained the menu, greeted every customer from table to table and apparently that’s what all the locations are like. They eventually guessed I was a food blogger (the picture taking gives it away sometimes), but I’m rating the service based on my experience before the “discovery”.
On the table:
- Mahi Mahi Tecate Beer Battered or Grilled $3.29
- The beer battered fish is the most recommended and most popular fatty taco.
- I had to eat it first since it’s deep fried, and it was actually my least favourite taco.
- It wasn’t gross, but I couldn’t taste the fish at all. Mahi Mahi is like a more delicate softer Halibut and it doesn’t have a fishy taste.
- It was like fish and chips with a light and crispy batter but it blended in with the flour tortilla and I couldn’t taste it.
- It had Baja sauce on it which is a spicy and tangy chipotle like mayo (but it’s not chipotle). It had cabbage on it, but I would have preferred a dressed cole slaw because it tasted plain and almost healthy.
- I actually like the Halibut Soft Tacos at Cactus Club better and they’re similar, but 3x’s the price. I have yet to try Vancouver’s beloved fish tacos from Go Fish Ocean Emporium. Not comparable, but I really do like the ahi tuna tacos from Joey’s.
- Tecate Beer Battered or Grilled $3.29
- I left it up to the staff to decide if it was better grilled or battered. Turns out it’s better “grilled” which was actually sauteed.
- I ate this right after the fish taco and it had way more flavour! It was significantly better than the fish except for the fact that the shrimps were overcooked and a bit tough.
- They sautee the shrimps in some sort of tomato paste and it’s savoury, sweet and smoky.
- Marinated grilled chicken $3.29
- This was definitely unexpected for a chicken taco. It didn’t taste Mexican at all and it actually tasted like egg salad to me. I could have sworn it was sauteed in eggs, but it wasn’t.
- It had no Mexican flavorings, but apparently it’s marinated in citrus, however I tasted no tang.
- It was definitely crumbly and like ground chicken, but at least it wasn’t dry. I totally could have used the guacamole in this case.
- Marinated Grilled Steak $3.29
- All the tacos do come with a nice giant scoop of meat. I wish the steak was actually slices rather then bitty pieces though.
- The steak was almost like ground beef and it tastes like broken up meatballs rather than carne asada. It was juicy and very flavourful, but it just didn’t taste Mexican. The meat was tender and well marinated and eaten with the melted cheddar cheese it almost tastes Italian.
- Slow cooked pork $3.29
- I loved pulled pork and I love carnitas, so I thought this would be my favourite.
- The pork was incredibly tender and juicy and it had an intense smoky flavour, which is unexpected for carnitas. The taste is so distinct that I thought they had a fire pit in the back. They actually marinate it for 12 hours and slow cook it for another 4 hours. It’s marinated in some wine and sugar and other seasonings so it has a very slight sweetness, but it’s predominantly smoky for sure.
- I was a big fan of the texture which was almost like duck confit and it was cooked in its own fat, however I wasn’t keen on the flavour since it didn’t resemble real Mexican carnitas.
- Spicy marinated pork with pineapple and onions $3.29
- This was the most Mexican tasting taco. It had the most flavour by far and it was very decently spicy. It was savoury, smoky and the pork was nice and tender and well marinated.
- I was missing the pineapple taste and sweetness and I expected to see actual pieces of pineapple. See the ones here at La Taqueria.
- If you started off with this taco you might have been disappointed by the lack of flavour in everything else. I would have been at least.
They have 3 bottles of hot sauce at each table.
The Tapatio hot sauce is a good sign of authenticity since it’s what they use all over Mexico (**as I was told, but please see comments). My favourite was the Gringo Bandito which is a sweeter thicker hot sauce that was delicious even eaten plain.
- It comes free with the tacos, but we asked for a sample since none of our tacos had any. REQUEST IT. They ended up letting us try it with a small bag or corn tortilla chips.
- The chips are warm, crispy and fresh.
- The guacamole is delicious and you HAVE to get it on the tacos. It would have made such a positive difference.
- It’s made daily and it’s a very cooling and refreshing guacamole with a tang of lime, tomatoes and cilantro. It’s a very creamy puree and it has the perfect amount of salt that makes the flavours seem incredibly vibrant. It really was very good guacamole.