Flavour explosions at La Taqueria Taco Shop
322 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
Tucked between Hamilton and Homer Streets on West Hastings in Vancouver is a little taco shop, La Taqueria that serves the best tacos in the downtown core. Always crowded at lunch time on weekdays, it’s hard to find a seat in the intimate little establishment, but their authentic Mexican tacos made with fresh, premium ingredients is hard to beat. The tacos, served on soft corn tortillas are small but tasty so I usually order two to four tacos each time. And every time I visit, I always order De Lengua, the braised beef tongue taco. Vancouver is incredibly sophisticated when it comes to international food, so I don’t know how many local diners still turn their noses up at beef tongue but I certainly don’t. The beef tongue at La Taqueria is tender throughout, marbled with a little bit of fat, and a lot of flavour. All the meat tacos at La Taqueria are also served with fresh cilantro, chopped onion and a slice of lime. I’m not sure what kind of special limes they use here but one little squirt adds an explosion of tangy and refreshing lightness to the tacos, bringing out the warm notes of braised meat and natural sweetness in the corn taco tortilla shell.
Another must-have at La Taqueria is their Pollo Con Mole, chicken with chocolate mole sauce. The chicken in this taco really picks up the sauce, a rich, nutty sauce with very light hints of sweetness.
I am very partial to beef tacos, and La Taqueria has a good selection. I tried their beef fajita which was pretty mild in spice. The spiciness in these tacos can be described as a clean, fresh spice as opposed to Indian and Malaysian spices which might at times make your mouth feel like it’s on fire from your throat to the tip of your tongue. The beef fajita was delectable but the grilling made this taco a little bit drier than the others. The diced onions did add some sweetness and moistness though.
The fish taco, Pescado was a little bit spicier than the beef tacos, the pico de gallo (a salsa of fresh, juicy tomatoes, onions and peppers) really balanced out the spices and added some texture to the light, flaky white fish in this taco.
I love the thickness and the soft, grainy texture of the corn taco shells at La Taqueria. Each taco comes with a double layer of soft taco tortilla, but even just one provides a strong enough shell for the delicious fillings. The little tortillas are firm to the bite, and sturdy enough to keep my fingertips clean when I’m holding them, but they are also unsuspecting sponges for the juicy, dripping flavours from the taco fillings.
Much higher on the spicy scale is the Frijoles Charros Con Queso, refried cowboy beans with Mexican cheese. The soft beans completely absorb the spicy flavour and each little morsel is like a loaded spice bomb. I have to admit I downed half a glass of water while eating this. The cheese does nothing to curb the spiciness, but as much as my tongue was tingling, I couldn’t stop eating this tasty little taco. The last taco that I tried was the daily special, the spicy chorizo sausage with its extra kick of spice and layers upon layers of sweet, fatty pork flavour with each bite. I’m always amazed that such little tacos can contain such large explosions of flavour. At nearly $10 for four tacos, the price point may appear a little steep but you’ll soon forget after your first life-changing bite.