It seems the slow economy has not only created a profusion of casual dining establishments, but a growing trend of micro-specialists. These mini-eateries focus on one thing and one thing only, but do it pretty damn well for the most part. Here are a couple of recent additions to the singles hit parade.
322 West Hastings St.
Signature Drink: Tamarind pop
Signature Dish: Braised Beef Tongue Taco
Dinner & drinks for two: $30
Forget running for the border, or any such nonsense. This “pinche taco shop” (translated as “fucking taco shop”) is tiny, unadorned—unless you count the bottle cap plaster job—and brilliant. Twelve different varieties of authentic Mexican tacos, with proper soft corn-based shells, range from Pemberton Meadows braised beef tongue and pulled pork cheek to tangy albacore tuna and crispy chicken in an outstanding mole sauce. All the meats are free-range and local, and the seafood is Ocean Wise-approved. There are even some vegetarian and vegan options, like the beautiful mushroom and onion version. Most tacos are $2.50 each, but you can get four for $9.50. Throw in a couple of bottles of tamarind fizz, and you are rolling out the door. The service and kitchen is wicked fast, so you can anticipate a lunch that actually allows time for a leisurely stroll back to the office. Open Monday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
1162 Denman St.
Signature Drink: Huh?
Signature Dish: Stuffed potato
Dinner & drinks for two: $15
Mr. Kumpir is a successful Turkish “fast food” chain that spread through Europe several years back, and has now landed here in North America. The concept is beyond simple: a large jacket potato, split, stuffed and fluffed with butter and cheese, is then loaded with your choice of toppings. At $4.75 for one potato with three toppings ($3.99 this month during their opening), you are paying pennies on the pound—and make no mistake; we are talking about pounds of food here. It’s like giving the ultimate bird to the Atkins diet. Surprisingly, this can be a healthy option. Skip the sauces and beef sausage, and instead load up with roasted eggplant, sundried tomatoes, peppers, corn, mushrooms and peas. With more than two dozen toppings to choose from, even vegans can find something to gorge on here. Open daily, 11 a.m. to late.
New Release from Road 13
Grown on the sandy soils of B.C.’s upper Black Sage Bench, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Road 13 wines is all about the soft tannins and concentrated flavours. Thanks to the low yields, strong licks of fresh capsicum, blueberry and spice all blend together harmoniously. The 13% Cabernet Franc in the bottle gives a nice balance and play to the seriousness of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Match with steak frites or hearty stews. $27.99 at VQA and private wine stores.
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C Food is Coming
C Restaurant, the forward-thinking champion of sustainable seafood and all things B.C., will release its first cookbook, C Food, later this month. Pick up a limited edition copy at the restaurant or at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks.