TacoFino Cantina (Food Truck/Cart)

Restaurant: TacoFino Cantina (Food Truck/Cart)
Cuisine: Californian/Mexican/Tacos/West Coast/Fusion
Last visited: September 29, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Address: Howe Street and Robson Street
Price Range: $10 or less

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4.5
Service: 3
Ambiance: n/a
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • 2 food trucks
  • Californian-Mexican (Baja) style tacos
  • West coast influence
  • Busy/line ups at lunch
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Made from scratch
  • Healthy options
  • Seafood/meat/veggie
  • Budget friendly/cheap eats
  • Biodegradable dishes
  • Catering available
  • Mon-Fri 11am-3pm
  • Weekend times vary

**Recommendations: Fish Tacos, Pork Gringa, Tuna Ta-Taco, Chocolate Diablo Cookie

It only opened early summer this year and it already has its second truck located on Burrard and Dunsmiur! It may be new to the Vancouver food scene, but it’s not actually new. TacoFino Cantina started two years ago in Tofino and now it has made its way into the heart of downtown, and I welcome it with a thumbs up!

I first noticed it when I was having lunch at Gallery Cafe at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The crowd of people and long line had me convinced that I was missing out. Yes, I am easily convinced of needing to try something, more so than I am easily convinced of it being good. Regardless I had to try it.
First off, these are not authentic Mexican tacos. Comparing them to authentic Mexican ones like the ones from La TaqueriaDoña Cata or Don Guacamole’s would be like comparing apples to oranges. It’s not even close.

TacoFino tacos are Baja-style tacos or Californian-Mexican style tacos, so you have to appreciate them as that. Texas has Tex-Mex and California has Baja and what do we have in Vancouver? Well not much, until now! Baja-style tacos are extremely popular in Southern California, especially in San Diego, but this is the only place that’s really offering them at the moment. I guess Chronic Tacos does as well, but I’d much rather have these!

What I like is that TacoFino not only incorporates the Californian flavours into their tacos, but they also put a little Vancouver flavour into them by incorporating some Japanese and Asian twists. Yes, I consider Asian ingredients very much a part of Vancouver flavour.

Anyways for a food truck, these tacos are impressive and it exceeded my expectations. Sure things could get better if they were operating at a restaurant level, but they’re not, and they’re doing just fine. Everything was obviously fresh, homemade, simple and yet a bit gourmet for a food truck, but perhaps not for a restaurant. The prices are reasonable and since it’s located right by the Vancouver Art Gallery, there’s plenty of seating… as long as you don’t mind concrete steps… just watch for hemorrhoids in the winter (you’ll get that joke more if you’re Asian). Other than that, get here early (the Diablo cookies can run out) and enjoy!

On the table:

**Fish Tacos4.5/6

  • Tempura battered ling cod with chipotle mayo, shredded cabbage and salsa fresca on a fire toasted flour tortilla $4.50
  • A San Diego staple! One taco is a snack, 2 is lunch, 3 is for bigger appetites at lunch.
  • I really enjoyed these and it was generously filled with fish.
  • It was crispy fish, crunchy cabbage, juicy tomatoes in a warm tortilla shell.
  • It was big pieces of lightly battered and fried fish that was moist, flaky and well seasoned with salt. There weren’t any other apparent seasonings I could taste.
  • The batter was almost puffy, but not floury or doughy.
  • It was very crispy and light, and I loved that the fish chunks were substantial enough to actually taste under all the other ingredients.
  • I found the chipotle mayo quite mild and thinned out from perhaps yogurt, but it did have a bit of a kick, tang and spice.
  • It was quite saucy and it got a bit watery especially with the fresh tomato salsa fresca, but overall it was well enjoyed.
  • I missed the guacamole and I didn’t notice I could order it for an extra $2, but I think it should be included. I’d take half the salsa for some guacamole.
  • There was nothing particularly special about this, but it was simple, made with fresh ingredients and well done at a fair price.
  • I liked them better than the Cactus Club ones which used to be very good, until other fish tacos started popping up and made them okay.

**Tuna Ta-Taco4/6

  • Lightly seared sesame-soy albacore tuna with wasabi-ginger mayo, shredded cabbage, mango salsa and seaweed salad on a fire toasted flour tortilla $6.50
  • One taco is a snack, 2 is lunch, 3 is for bigger appetites at lunch.
  • For a Japanese inspired taco, I actually liked it better than the Fish Taco at Hapa Umi – see Albacore Tuna. On the other hand I still prefer the Ahi Tuna Tacos from Joey’s, but they’re completely different styles.
  • This could have been so much more, but for $6.50 at a food truck it delivered more than okay, especially for a non-Asian place.
  • This was quite watery, but at least the tortilla never got soggy, but it was a drippy taco.
  • It was a refreshing, light and tangy taco and it was very West Coast, and even more summery than the fish taco.
  • I could see the ahi tuna and bite into the soft texture, but I couldn’t really taste it and it did get lost.
  • The ahi tuna would have been great crusted in sesame seeds so I could detect when I was eating it.
  • It just needed to be seared at a hotter temperature and marinated for longer in the sesame-soy so that its flavour would stand out under everything else.
  • I loved the mango salsa giving it a sweet aspect and some added red peppers would have been great in the salsa. There could have been some, but I couldn’t taste them.
  • The fresh seaweed was very unexpected because I thought it was going to be dried shredded seaweed.
  • I like fresh seaweed, but it does have a crunchy, slimy and fishy flavour reminiscent of the salty briney sea, so just be prepared if you’ve never had it. It was also marinated in a bit of sesame oil and seeds for aromatic and nutty flavour.
  • I also wanted much more wasabi-ginger mayo. I almost wanted to bring this over to the Japadog food cart just to use their self-serve wasabi mayo! I was desperately craving that in this.
  • It was well stuffed, but I wanted a little more mango, wasabi and stronger presence of ahi tuna, and I would have loved this!
  • It might have helped if the crunchy cabbage was marinated in a sesame-soy ponzu sauce, miso mayo, or even coconut milk as well.

**Pork Gringa5/6

  • Spicy braised pork in a grilled 6” flour tortilla with melted cheese, sour cream and mango salsa $4.50
  • One is a snack, 2 is lunch, 3 is for bigger appetites at lunch.
  • This one was my favourite and partially because I just love pulled pork.
  • This was almost like a Pacific Northwest inspired pulled pork quesadilla.
  • It was simple, but fresh and well seasoned and executed again.
  • I found the fish taco more worth it since this was pretty small and wimpy looking, but the flavour sure delivered and I loved it!

  • I loved the warm crispy tortilla shell and the inside was filled with spicy pulled pork, a good amount of melted cheese, sweet mangoes, juicy tomatoes and tangy sour cream. Cheese, sour cream and pork? Sign me up!
  • This was incredibly juicy and saucy and the pork wasn’t too lean and had a good amount of fat to keep it moist and juicy.
  • The pork was really well flavoured and I just wanted more of it.
  • Every single meat strand had absorbed the chili based marinade, so it wasn’t your typical Mexican or Southern style pulled pork. It was almost Asian.
  • I’m pretty sure the pork was marinated or braised in Sriracha sauce and I loved that tangy and spicy heat it gives.
  • It was the spiciest item of the 3, but not hot, just mild-medium spicy. I like spicy and I found this just right and I could taste all the other flavours still.
  • It would be great marinated in Gochujang sauce if they’re going to go for the Asian fusion root too though.
  • I loved the added sour cream, which really came through and balanced out the spiciness.
  • The mango wasn’t that obvious, and it was a nice switch up from pineapple, but I could use a bit more.
  • Pork goes well with lots of fruit, especially apples, peaches, and pineapples (al pastor). I’ve even had it with strawberries – see Strawberry-cinnamon glazed baby back pork ribs.

**Chocolate Diablo Cookie6/6

  • Fudgy chocolate cookie with fresh ginger and chili, milk chocolate chunks and salty sprinkles $2.50
  • This cookie has a strong following and I can see why!
  • I didn’t need the positive comments to convince me to order it since the description sounded delicious enough already.
  • I love salty and sweet and I love chocolate and ginger and chocolate and chili, so I saw everything right in this cookie.
  • It’s a super soft and tender jumbo cookie and I almost broke it just picking it up.
  • It was so soft and delicate, yet substantial.

  • It was also nice and chewy and very moist like a fudge brownie meets a chocolate crackle cookie. It’s not cakey.
  • The cookies aren’t oily and greasy and I thought they would be. There’s no grease stains on the paper bag it’s in.
  • I could taste the chocolate and then a bit of ginger, and the chili doesn’t kick in until the very end and then it gradually builds with lingering heat.
  • The ginger and chili are quite mild, but I could taste both of them, although at times I forgot the ginger was in there.
  • I could have used more salt and it was sprinkled with sugar crystals and a little bit of coarse sea salt.
  • The salt brought out the flavours of the spices and even the chocolate, but I o chili nly got it in selective bites.
  • The cookie actually wasn’t that sweet and the ginger made the chocolate taste even more bittersweet.
  • The sweet parts were when I got to the milk chocolate chunks which I found were very sweet, but nice and soft.
  • Another great chocolate chill dessert is the Chili Chocolate with Lime Coconut Icing Cupcake from Be ‘wiched or the Chocolate Chili Torte from Charm Modern Thai.

[geotag]

TacoFino Cantina on Urbanspoon

17 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *