May 5th, 2013. Happy Cinco de Mayo~~~

Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
Holidays are a wonderful reason to enjoy food, and Mexican holidays are even better because we can get piggy with tacos!!  I actually discovered this super authentic Mexican hole-in-the-wall in New West and was chomping at the bit to try it out.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Taqueria Playa Tropical is on 6th Street with a few other local gems. When I walked in there was a Mexican band playing, the small restaurant was packed full and decorations had been put up here and there to give it a festive feel.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The super friendly server sat me at a fairly spacious table with a menu and I proceeded to inspect the menu for my options.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Obviously I had to order some Guava Juice. I love sweet tropical fruit!!  Guava and Watermelon. My favourite 2 fruit flavours 😉
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The tortilla chips came in this adorable stone mortar which was cool.  Salsa verde and rojo were both pretty legit, too!  I just love condiments ;D
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I ended up ordering a trio of tacos: Camaron, Carne Asada and Carnitas. The Carne Asada and Carnitas are my usual barometers for any given taqueria. I figure any self-respecting taqueria has to be able to deliver on these 2 staples.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
First, the Carne Asada. The brightness of the fresh cilantro, tomato and onion were a refreshing foil to the straightforward beef. I appreciated that the beef wasn’t over done, it had enough moisture so that it didn’t get stringy and tough. Good start!
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
Next, the Carnitas! The carnitas was slightly drier than I expected but it had the right amount of heat with the perfect amount of sweet undertone.  And of course the guac was just on point! Just like the toppings on the carne you could tell my just looking at the guacamole that it was fresh. Vibrant color and flavour with the sharp tang of onion and cilantro cooling the heat of the pork. I still enjoyed it 🙂
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
I went out on a limb with the Camaron. I usually don’t order shrimp because it’s so easy to over-cook it, get shrimp that’s not fresh, or too small. I have to say, my choice paid off big time! I think I actually almost liked this taco the most! The shrimp was cooked just right having the right amount of spring, crunch and tenderness. Sweet grilled onion with some garlic, celery and cilantro topped with melted cheese.  This? You should eat this. It’s not aggressive, but it’s this wonderful harmony in your mouth! And of course you can always add a little salsa on it to amp it up 😉  This one was so good!
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
I give Taqueria Playa Tropical my seal of approval and would come again. It definitely has moved to the top of my list for Mexican food in Vancouver!

April 27th, 2013. Spring Break in Vancouver!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

So what to do in Vancouver? Eat as much food as possible! Continuing on our food-cation in Vancouver: a bite in Yaletown at El Azteca Modern Tequila Lounge 😀

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

Sure, Yaletown can be hit and miss in terms of actual good food and compared to how beautifully gussied up the interior is the service and authenticity of the cuisine can be a disappointment…but you can’t help trying.  Yaletown is like that really popular, pretty girl at the party that you just keep hoping is going to be your future wife, but then she opens her mouth and starts talking…and you realize that she thinks scalloped potatoes are made of scallops and that macaroons are the same as macarons…..

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

Anyways!! I digress.  With a preamble of cocktails, Robert and I started the evening with the Chicharron de Rib Eye; deep fried bites of rib-eye and guacamole served in a martini glass and a side of tortillas.  So, I really wanted to love this, and on paper it all sounded so good!  Not that it wasn’t good…the crunch on the rib-eye was great…but I think I’d have to say that rib-eye should just be left alone…not diced up small and that fried. Really ended up masking the flavor. But hey! It was still pretty yummy…just didn’t need to be made of rib-eye!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

Robert went ahead with the Tacos Camarones of fresh Pacific shrimp, bacon, onion, peppers, and smokey habanero. The shrimp was plump, the flavors all worked together, and of course the true test of a taco is how much finger-lickin’ you do! I’d say this was a decent effort 🙂

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

I did my usual hemming and hawing over the menu and even picked our server’s brain.  In the end I ended up with the Cochinita Pibil. Pork slow-roasted in banana leaf (supposedly) and then served in a traditional peltre bowl served with a side of beans, pickles, and soft tortillas.

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

Did I enjoy it? YES! The pork came shredded, moist and smothered in a flavorful sauce that was sweet, tangy and had a little kick to it. 2 things I loved about this dinner: 1. It’s interactive. I get to build my own taco and play with ratio of ingredients.  LOVE THAT! 2. I was eating with a close friend whom I didn’t have to feel self-conscious about eating with my hands and having food juices dripping down my wrist. Hahaha!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

 

I would NEVER order something like fajitas on a first-date situation, so the fact that I can order anything with Robert is a sign of true food-friendship ;D

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fun and playful touch to the end of our meal at El Azteca was the Jacob’s Ladder block toy that our check came in! Holy blast from the past!

el azteca modern tequila lounge

el azteca modern tequila lounge

 

 

 

Don’t judge my love for Churros. Or donuts. Or anything deep-fried.  With a tagline like “served with white chocolate dipping sauce” there is NO WAY I could resist an order to take out with me. Midnight snack here I come~!!!  Crispy, sugary, cinnamon-y, hot doughy goodness.  Yes, heaven, I’m sure, is full of churros 🙂

 

In conclusion, El Azteca is warm and inviting and service with cute Latino accents is always a plus, but the food doesn’t stand out, the flavors don’t pop, and for what you pay the portions are pretty meager. Is great for maybe a drink and small bites pre-party, but wouldn’t want to sink my entire night here.

Chronic Tacos – New West

November 5, 2013

January 15th, 2013. Birthday Tacos!! 

 

chronic tacos new west

chronic tacos new west

 

 

 

Eunice and Howard asked what I wanted to eat for my birthday..I said: TACOS!  Hahaha!  I had lifegroup later that night so we went to Chronic Tacos in New Westminster for lunch.

 

chronic tacos new west

chronic tacos new west

 

 

 

 

I decided I wanted to go full out and got both the Carne Asada & Carnitas Tacos as well as Chips & Salsa!  The crunch of the chips were so satisfying with the tacos!  Yummy birthday lunch!!

October 6th, 2012. Monica’s Bridal Shower~

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower




  As Monica’s bridesmaids Meliza, Rina and I had a fun time meeting up at McDonalds for coffee and planning the bridal shower, among other things.  We decided we’d have it at Rina’s home and John Ryu even offered to cater for the event!  Yay!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower






We spent the night before putting up most of the decorations, but we did still have a lot to do on the day of.  It’s all in the details and we definitely wanted it to be a perfect day for Monica!  Thank goodness it was a gorgeously sunny day!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower








Assortment of glass flower vases borrowed from our church so we could add some bright yellow flowers for some color accent 🙂  Mix and match is in, right? 😉


monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower








Meliza even baked cupcakes for the occassion.  Now that’s a dedicated and loving maid of honor right there 😉  Delicious and so pretty to look at!



monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower







Since the shower was held mid-afternoon we wanted to do kind of a standing afternoon snack situation.






monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower


One simple truth in life: It’s always good to have at least a couple of chef friends 😉  John is kind of our go-to guy for when we need extremely delicious food that looks amazing, is made with care, and fits the budget!  Comedian and chef all in one, John in the kitchen is funny as well as completely capable of putting together great food 😀

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower




We figured Mexican themed food would be a good way to go for fresh flavors and impact.  Fresh Guacamole anyone?  Perfectly chunky, creamy, with a nice level of heat. Mmmmmmm…. Guacamole!!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower









The Pico de Gallo was super refreshing as well.  The saltiness of the chips with the bright acidity of the salsa: so yummy!!




monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower


The definite highlight of the afternoon, though, was definitely the Ahi Tuna Tostadas.  Black and white sesame seed encrusted ahi tuna lightly seared atop a light wasabi cream cabbage slaw and slice of creamy acocado on a deep fried crisp.  The spring onion on top added a little extra spice and pop of color.  Pretty, super delicious and had me going back for more!

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower




Monica loves a good spinach dip!  For our warm dish we had this Homemade Spinach Dip served with soft baguette slices.  Was a crowd pleaser for sure 🙂  Thanks, John, for all the tasty food 😀

monica's bridal shower

monica’s bridal shower








Good food, fun games, sunshine and a great girlfriend celebrating with friends for getting married!  What a wonderful afternoon 😀

Lunching at Earls ;)

September 4, 2013

September 8th, 2012.  Lunching at Earls 😉

earls (langley)

earls (langley)

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying the sun as I lunch on the patio at Earls in Langley.  What to order?  Why, some Fish Tacos, of course!

earls (langley)

earls (langley)

 

 

 

Grilled lime and coriander marinated wahoo with a mango & avocado salsa and a spicy crema over grilled flour tortillas served with a spicy roasted tomato soup.  Mmmmmm~~ blasts of flavor, ripe avocado and mango, great fish and delicious soup.  Satisfying and perfect on a sunny day!

 

Chronic Tacos (New West)

February 19, 2013

May 1st, 2012. Chronic Tacos

chronic tacos (new west)

chronic tacos (new west)

 

 

 

A Chronic Tacos in New West?? So close to me??  I’m there!!  All day I planned to zip by here for some eats after work before zipping out to Langley for Lifegroup at Carmi & Evangel’s.  Despite a very crazy-random hiccup (my boss’s car ran out of gas on the Port Mann bridge on the way to his son’s baseball practice and I had to deliver fuel to him) my unbending dedication to tacos had me heading back in the opposition direction as fast as possible to beat the clock while not driving illegally!  Yes, that’s how much I love tacos.

chronic tacos (new west)

chronic tacos (new west)

 

 

 

A joint made popular in California and spread to Vancouver this one in New West was the newest location to open and I had to give it a try.  Looking at the menu I was a little surprised with how steep the prices are and had to do some mental contemplation on how to make the most of this meal.

chronic tacos (new west)

chronic tacos (new west)

 

I ended up getting a taco AND a torta!  For the taco I went with the Al Pastor (spicy marinated pork with pineapple and onion).  The slight sweetness from the pineapple was not very prominent and I would have liked some more heat, but the salsa verde and the cilantro and onions I added on brought more flavor and added some juice.  I thought the taco was a little dry.

chronic tacos (new west)

chronic tacos (new west)

 

 

 

 

Mmmm..there’s nothing quite as lovely as the vibtrant colors of a good taco 😉

chronic tacos (new west)

chronic tacos (new west)

 

 

 

 

Last time I had a torta was in NYC….and since I have been in NEED of a good torta!  I got the Carnitas Torta.  Look at the size of that!!  I made sure to get lots of limes so I could load up as I go 😉  And I was prepared to take what I couldn’t finish of this sandwich home with me.  Bonus snack!!

chronic tacos (new west)

chronic tacos (new west)

 

 

Mmmmmmmmm~~~ fried bread goodness, creeeeaaaaammmmmy avocado/guacamole, substantial amount of slow cooked pork, refried beans and a whack of salsa rojo and salsa verde.  It was not quite as moist as I would have liked, but it was still darn delicious 🙂  For a taco place in New West I’d give this torta another go round for sure!

Taqueria Mi Charrito

October 8, 2012

January 2nd, 2012. Hello, 2012 with Jenn & Hen!

taqueria mi charrito

taqueria mi charrito

 

Henry lost his passport at the end of the semester…
so he wasn’t able to come home to be with family over his winter holiday break. So sad! His first year away from home and he was all alone 😥   Luckily he had some very generous friends who let him stay with them and had fun during the vacation.

 

taqueria mi charrito

taqueria mi charrito

  

 

But being nuna, I had to make a trip down to see my lil bro and bring some holiday family love 🙂

  I had spotted a little hole-in-the-wall taqueria on University Way and really wanted to try some tacos before heading home to Vancouver.

 

taqueria mi charrito

taqueria mi charrito

 

I ordered the Chorizo and the Cabeza (beef cheek) Tacos.  They were piled with plenty of onions and cilantro and I topped it off with salsa verde as well as some pico de gallo.

  I’ve had better, but these hit the spot for a tight fix.  I would have liked a bit more flavor to come out of the asada. 

 

 

   If I lived in the area, I’d totally come here, though….I mean, $1.75 for a taco?  Yes please!

Don Guacamoles

August 20, 2010

July 1st, 2010. Canada Day, 2010: Don Guacamoles  

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

    Am I allowed to say it?  Don Guacamoles was the highlight of my day…(don’t tell XLB!!)!!  I had wanted to try this place for sooooo long!  The place was packed!  But we waited hoping it would be worth it..and let me tell ya..it was!!  Sure the place is small, but it feels intimate.  You can watch the cooks carve the meat, the bartenders shake the drinks, and you gotta love the fact that the staff are all wonderfully hispanic!  Sexy 😉 

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

 

 

   They have a tiny patio out front and inside the restaurant is divided into two right down the middle.  On our side we had the carving station while on the opposite side there was a bar. 

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

 I actually don’t mind the fact that when the place is at full capacity we are nearly sitting elbow to elbow with the other patrons.  Makes it feel more intimate and authentic!  Oh, and they were cranking out latin techno dance music all evening 😉  That, coupled with the food makes you want to just get up and salsa!  Hahaha!

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

 

 

  While the menu is not overly expansive it did take a bit of time for me to work out the logistics and order appropriately.  I wanted to be able to try a variety of things without going too overboard that I wouldn’t be able to hav my dessert of churros or be too full to finish my meals!  While I was being indecisive Rachel ordered this very yummy looking margarita!  Look at that deep red shade!  Even just by looking at it you can tell that it’s made of real strawberries!

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

 

 

  As we were seated we were also brought these complimentary chips and dips.  The chips are not your standard type; they’re light & crunchy!  It came with some lime wedges, a super spicy chipotle hot sauce, some salsa verde, and your regular tomato salsa.  Loved that the sauces were so fresh and unique!  And when Don Guacamoles serves spicy..it’s actually spicy!  don’t you also love the serving vessles?  Who knew you could get all modern chic at a taqueria 😉

 

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

   As an appetizer I had the Pozole: Red based Broth with Hominy, Pork, Lettuce, Onions, Oregano and Chili. This was total comfort food!  I love soup, and this soup?  Reeeeally hit the spot!  I loved the flavor combination of the broth, the smokiness of the pork, the fresh aroma and taste of oregano, the onions, and of course the hominess of hominy and beans. It’s serious comfort food and I really enjoyed it since the weather was starting to get a little chilly at this point.  Yum!!

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

 

 

  Nabil had this massive Burrito!  I think this was the grilled steak one.  Topped with 3 types of sauces and stuffed with an amalgamation of tasty steak and other burrito fixin’s 🙂  He didn’t want to let on too much, but it was quite a challenge for him to finish it off!  He was so stuffed afterwards!

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

  I absolutely adore tacos!  Always has been one of my favorite foods in the world..and ever since Mexico I’ve had this perpetual greed and craving for good tacos!  It’s too bad that not everyone else feels the same way.  So I had 2 kinds: The Chorizo & The Arrachera (Flank Steak Marinated with Authentic Sauces).  I have to say….I was pleasantly surprised and yeah, I was totally licking the juices off my fingers!

don guacamoles

don guacamoles

 

  Last but not least were my Churros!!  How can I ever turn down Churros….???  These babies were definitely not the dried out puny type.  They were big, fluffy, and OMG look at all that sugar!  And sitting on white chocolate and caramel drizzle?  I think I died and went to heaven…!

 

  To sum it all up: Dinner was a total success!!  I finally got my Mexican fix after years of deprivation and I went with 2 great friends!  I love the place and it’s definitely one I must go back to! ♥