Lucha Libre Truck - Vanfoodster's Best Taco Challenge

It's been a busy month (got married and all) but for the sake of the taco-consuming public, we have found the time to make it all the way around the Vanfoodster's Best Taco Challenge and give our passionate if inexpert opinions! Of course, it was made easier by one since Hugos didn't seem to follow through with submitting an entry and also never called us back (hint: if you have a telephone number at least return messages). So I drove in the torrential rains of Thursday afternoon to Brewery Row in Port Moody and Lucha Libre's home for the day in front of The Bakery Brewing (which looks like a pretty cool place to try for another time).

My intention was to get a couple of the Chilorio Especial challenge entry tacos as well as a few other menu items (at least half of which I took home to Mharie). A slight language barrier almost marred my plans but perseverance ruled the day.
I started with Mascara Sagrada which is a 6-inch corn tortilla and a bed of cheese. I chose baked-fried brisket as my protein to which my taco meister added pico and crema for a big and great first impression. The side salsas were all spectacular, one of which was a dark dried chili affair and was decently spicy. It left me with that spicy food warm glow.
Next up was a 4-pack of tacos. I left the choice of proteins to my host and he mixed it up (carnitas, chicken tinga, and beef were all in there somewhere). I had him add a side of impressive guac to the whole thing and again, was delighted with the results. They are not cheap with the meats and the simple scattering on onion and cilantro makes these things simple but satisfying.
You can get a bowl or something akin to a burrito here but I chose the Sandwichero Asesino with Vera Cruz style basa which turned out to be an inspired choice. Don't miss the fish here. First, there was a lot of it and second, it was deliciously garlicky and just firm enough to stand up to a sandwich. A very decent soft but not too soft bun formed the base with some cheese, pico, lettuce, and crema all as contributors to a great sandwich. And again, the fish!
I realized the language barrier when I didn't get my Chilorio Especial! The challenge entry taco is not a regular item and the man at the grill (and taking orders) was not familiar with it. Between Google Translate, Vanfoodster's website, and a phone call to his manager, I and my new friend, figured it out! I also realized that the big long story that I had told him earlier was completely for my own sake! The Especial is slow-roasted pulled pork with more of the impressive dark salsa and some cheese. Pretty impressive and not far from the really good stuff they are turning out on their regular menu. They felt the need to comp me because of the confusion (not necessary but very kind). If you see Lucha Libre, you could do worse than stop and snap up some very good Mexican food! You can also find them using the gram and their website!
Food            4 out of 5
Comfort       NA
Service        4 1/2 out of 5
Value           4 1/2 out of 5

Lucha Libre Mexican Street Food Truck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tacos! Vanfoodster's Best Taco Challenge Highlights!

First of all, let it be agreed that every taco is special! Almost the perfect food with limitless varieties based on whatever you have and a few tortillas. Of course, some are more special than others depending on the effort and quality of product involved and some tacos have had extraordinary effort invested in them. Such is the case with El Pulpo from Little Mexico Cantina in Steveston.

LMC is already one of our favorites for Mexican eats in Metro Vancouver. You can read about a previous experience that we had here. 
The El Pulpo starts with octopus which is no small challenge. It can become quite tough and chewy if not correctly cooked. A long slow braise is what has been used here to amazing results. The generous amount of octopus was tender and mildly flavoured with smoked paprika. As a perfect foil was the salty and rich, slightly fermented and smokey chorizo. It is a marriage made in heaven. Add chipotle mayo, corn salsa, pickled onion and cilantro and you have an almost perfect taco. You owe it to yourself to make your way to Steveston to try this taco at Little Mexico Cantina. It is number one on our list for the Taco Challenge (to be fair, we have not yet tried what Lucha Libre has to offer).              We were also fair impressed by the entry from Baja's Foods on Industrial Avenue in Vancouver.
The BF challenge entry is the Surf and Turf Taco Duo (one taco is good but two are better). 'Surf' starts with a pretty good chunk of crispy deep-fried red snapper. The accompaniments include slaw, mango pico de gallo, red onion and cucumber pickle, red chile Morita orange coulis and avocado crema. First of all wow and secondly, the result is greater than the sum of its parts!
The 'turf' starts with a dry rub braised pork belly with roasted tomatillo verde puree. And what can't be made better with chicharron, cilantro, pickles and coulis as per the 'surf.' A truly dynamic duo and another taco treat that you need to make time for before the end of the Taco Challenge this weekend.
Stay tuned for our last tasting when we track down Lucha Libre Food Truck.

Brgr Brgr - Abbotsford

Once in a while, we drift east for lunch instead of west. We had read about Brgr Brgr a couple of times and I find myself driving past it in the course of my life from time to time and so we decided to try some creative burgers as BB has been said to turn out.

Located on the corner of Montrose and Essendene in the semi revitalized downtown, this has been the location of a number of popular restaurants over the years. So we ordered for takeout but they were patient enough to let me take pictures at one of their tables. 
We started with a Hot Chicken Brgr. We ordered the base level of heat with Coffee Hot Saus. Not too hot which is fine but crispy with panko breading, slaw, and pickles. The coffee hot saus gives a depth of savoury flavour (or umami to you new foodies who didn't know there was a word for it before) that was quite impressive. The chicken was just a touch on the dry side but we didn't have a crisis. It was a very good chicken sandwich that I would order again. 
Next up was the Smkd Brgr with smoked gouda and smoked cheddar. Curiously, this burger does not show up on the main menu but only when you go to "order online". You don't want to miss it though. It was pretty impressive. BB's burger patties are a mix of beef and pork which may stress out purists but we liked it. I'm sure the pork probably adds a bit of fattiness and flavour!
We also decided to order their monthly featured burger, the Lot Brger. It starts with a duck meat patty which was cool enough. Also surprising were, the grilled pineapple ring, pickled beets, bacon, American cheese, a fried egg and whiskey peach BBQ saus. Some of the details got lost in the mix but we tend to deconstruct everything we eat! Another nice burger!
On the side, we had some very impressive onion rings and Root Vegetable Frys! The beets had very nice texture( a bit of chew) and sweetness as did the carrots and parsnips, This is such a step up from the usual French fries.
Brgr Brgr has a nice little patio with a few tables and twinkling lights. The dining area inside is chic also for when things open up again. Of course, prices are a little higher here than fast-food burger places (obviously) but on par with the places where you can get a higher variety of sandwich. The service was very friendly (including tolerating my photo-taking predilection).
Food             5 out of 5
Comfort       4 out of 5
Service         4 1/2 out of 5
Value            4 out of 5

Brgr Brgr Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

la Cerveceria Astilleros - Vanfoodster's Best Taco Challenge

If we're not already referring to the few blocks of Esplanade East adjacent to The Shipyards in North Vancouver as Brewery Row, we soon will be. By my count, there are currently 3 craft brewing establishments including la Cerveceria Allisteros, and one on the way. Of course, there is an equal number of specialty auto shops in the same area but that is for another blogger to discuss.

We arrived as they were opening this beautiful Saturday afternoon and despite our plan to take out, we found ourselves sitting at one of their very few patio tables. We ordered one of everything on their menu (well except chips and guacamole)!  Of course, we realize the point of this place is crafted Mexican-style (I assume) brews and that the food is meant to be the accompaniment. Neither Mharie nor I drink (it's not a religious thing but more of a health thing) so we know we are not providing the complete picture as to why people come here. We noticed that they were serving their beer in flights of tasters. So imagine refreshing and cool beverages while we talk about the food!
We started with a Tuna Tostada. More than an afterthought to go with the cold ones, this was a nicely put-together treat with seared tuna that was very rare and tender in the middle. Just enough refreshing lettuce and tomato and a couple of sauces ( a crema and...?) completed the picture.
How about a flight of tacos? We ordered one of each of their tacos, chipotle jackfruit, pulled chicken, Al Pastor, and their Taco Challenge entry, Beef Barbacoa. They are all $5 each which may seem a bit pricey but they are all generously filled. We have no specific favorites as they were all pretty decent!
Their taco challenge entry is off of their regular menu. I think that says that their regular menu is impressive as it is. The beef was tasty as was the tortilla and all the extras.
Their Churros came with a wonderful caramels sauce. One was enough for dessert for the two of us.and hit all the right notes.
LCA will be a great place to hang out when things return to normal. The decor is sharp yet comfortable and apparently, the tiles are all imported from Mexico. It will be a great place for a beverage and some snacks and hanging out with friends. One server was handling everyone when we were there and she was doing a good job!
Food              4 out of 5
Comfort         4 out of 5
Service          3 1/2 out of 5
Value             4 out of 5

La Cerveceria Astilleros Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Guacamole Mexican Grill - Vanfoodster's Best Taco Challenge

A taco challenge is something that we can always endorse!  Last weekend, we visited Guacamole Mexican Grill to try their entry in Vancouver Foodster's Best Taco Challenge. You may remember that there was a Mexican restaurant at this location in the past. We remembered this when a call from GMG displayed on my phone as Taqueria Jalisco!

Grovesnor Road is just off of King George near 108th with only a few businesses on it. You would have a hard time missing the bright green of GMG. So we phoned in our order and they were packing it up as we arrived. Such friendly people and they were happy that we were checking out their Taco Challenge creation.

Their challenge entry is the Rajas Taco and we ordered a 3 pack. With smoked poblano chile, corn, a cream-based sauce, and mozzarella cheese, these were some simple yet smokey and rustic tacos which is whats taco should be. Very good!
We tried to order the Sopes but we were told that they are no longer available even though they are on the online menu so we ordered the Birria Soup instead. Lately, we have been on a birria taco or quesabirria tear so in the absence of those things, the soup sounded good. Birria itself is the beef stew (originally goat stew) that is slow-cooked for hours. Here at GMG as a soup, it is rich and fatty and the beef is very tender.
Tamales are made quite differently in different regions of Mexico and Central America. These were called Tamales Salvadorenos which I guess tells us where they originate! We have never had tamales wrapped in banana leaves before (although we knew that it is a thing)! They were amazingly tender and tended to fall apart even as I tried to gently move them onto a plate. In the dough was potato and green beans as well as chicken. The chicken tended towards the chewy side but the rest was tasty and wonderful.
We are big fans of mole, the dark, rich Mexican sauce that varies from region to region and chef to chef. It often has dozens of ingredients including nuts, seeds, spices, chiles, and Mexican chocolate. We ordered the Chicken Mole meal and were told that they make their own mole (I have a bottle of store-bought stuff which is nowhere need the same). The sauce itself was amazing as were the sides but for some reason, the chicken itself was tough enough to make me believe that during its lifetime it had been a Mexican wrestler! I can't imagine that this is the usual thing and for sure if we were dining in, we would have sent it back but such wasn't worth a half-hour drive. My advice is to try the mole on something else like the enchiladas. Or, assume as I do that this the tough chicken was a one-off and check the meat before you take it home.
These people were friendly and everything but the chicken was very good so we are sure it is a safe bet. Despite the fact that there is a lot of Mexican food around, it is not very often that it is this good and authentic.
Food                    3 1/2 out of 5 (-at least a point for the chicken)
Comfort                NA
Service                4 1/2 out of 5
Value                   4 out of  5

Guacamole Mexican Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pigot's Burger Club Pop Up

There are quite a few sources of information about the food happenings in Vancouver. The Daily Hive is one of my favourites and they update...well, daily. It was on their website that I first learned about the Pigot Burger Club Smash Burger Pop Up from Chef Mike Pigot in Calgary. We got in on it this past weekend in Vancouver.

Ordering is on-line and you chose your time for pick up at Craft on the corner of Beach and Denman in the West End. We liked that because a) it feels like we have not been downtown in forever and b) there is a most beautiful place across the street for us to use as our picnic site.
We ordered a Double Cheese Burger and added bacon. It is definitely a full-sized burger and not for the faint of heart (they also offer a triple but really?). The best thing about a smash burger is that the 'smashing' guarantees a brilliant sear on the meat, a dark and tasty crust. Despite the thinness and well seared outside, we noticed that the patty was still pinkish on the interior. Perfect! This burger also comes with masses of melty 'Merican cheese' (almost completely obscuring anything else in the picture) and a slightly sweet secret sauce, slow-cooked brown sugar onions, and a perfect potato bun. And there you have a sandwich that should not be missed! Ridiculous and somewhat challenging to eat on a park bench!
We also had an AC Burger, the creation of Chef Alex Chen, and only available at the Vancouver location of this pop-up. This double burger comes with white cheddar, bacon aioli, house pickles,  onion, and tomatoes. It was not as messy as the double above but no less tasty. We would have been OK with a little more of the aioli but the smashed patties were spectacular again.
And while PBC kills it on burgers, they do a couple of kind of impressive sides and beverages so you can enjoy a square meal on the beach. We loved the Dirty Tots which featured the secret sauce and 'Merican' cheese that we had already grown to love. I am honestly not sure if the dip that came with the tots was the secret sauce or a variety of tartar sauce. Either way, we couldn't leave these alone until they had completely disappeared!
We also ordered a side Kale Ceasar Salad, not because we thought we were going to make this a healthy meal but because we like kale caesar salads! It was full of bacon, Grana Padano and dressing (on the side) and full-on delicious. 
The dining room (the beach) was beautiful and that and the excellent eats made this a memorable Sunday (it could have been a little less windy)! I don't know how long this pop-up is going to be here but I would say, don't miss it (as opposed to the Mooby's pop-up, which you can definitely miss).
Food                5 out of 5
Comfort           4 out of 5 (English Bay Beach! ...but windy)
Service            4 out of 5 (right on time)
Value               4 out of 5 

Hi Genki

It's hard to believe that it has taken us so long to get to Hi Genki, which reasonably could be considered a Vancouver institution. Located in the Nikkei Seniors Residence, on Southoaks just off of Kingsway, it is for good reason that they switched to take-out only long before it was mandated during this period of the pandemic.

So we placed our order online, rang the buzzer at the side door at the appointed time (felt a little like a covert operation) and a friendly employee of the cafe brought us our food. Since fried food is best consumed soon after preparation, we had staked out a bench in the nearby lovely garden at the Nikkei Cultural Centre and made a picnic of it.
We started with Su Udon. Simple udon with fish cake and crumbs from tempura batter (a little like the crackers you crush up into your soup) in a dashi broth flavoured with yuzu, this is a tasty and light soup with nicely chewy noodles. Very nice!
The Aji Fry Teishoku is panko-breaded horse mackerel. It seems to be a traditional Japanese favourite so we decided to order it. The fish itself was perfectly cooked, crispy, moist and light. Horse mackerel is a little 'fishier' than some white fish but very tasty. It is served with tonkatsu sauce which didn't make it into the picture. A little bit of rice and a little bit of salad and you have a perfect light lunch!
I was disappointed as I had intended to order Korroke Curry but ordered Korroke Teishoku instead. Same set up as the Aji Fry but with very good potato croquettes. Nothing really to cry about as we enjoyed them as much.
We love Spicy Kaarage Chicken and at HG it is very nicely prepared! In addition to crispy hot and sweet fried chicken, there is tasty rice that soaks up the sauce. A little bit of salad rounds this out beautifully.
We still wanted to try their Japanese curry and so we placed a second order, this time for the Vegetable Curry. This dish and all our leftovers made the trip home with us and so we had Hi Genki for lunch and dinner. The curry was not spicy but earthy and rich as it should be. It was worth the second ordering process to enjoy it.
We don't do dessert very often but the Red Bean Donut was tempting. More of a bun than a donut this was just perfect being not too sweet and made a low key conclusion to our picnic. So we finally made it to Hi Genki after many years and now we can properly call ourselves Metro Vancouver foodies. If you haven't been yet either, they should be on your list.
Food              4 1/2 out of 5
Service          4 out of 5 (friendly and on time)
Comfort         NA (unless you count the park and have nice weather?)
Value             4 1/2 out of 5

Hi Genki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Mantra - La Pizza Week

La Pizza Week? Wasn't it just La Poutine week? The fact that it should be called either Pizza Week or La Semaine de Pizza aside, this is a bit of a Saputo promotional 'festival' but we don't mind since we discovered Pizza Mantra and were pleasantly surprised! 

Tucked away in a little strip mall on 202nd Street just north of 88th in Walnut Grove, their La Pizza Week featured pizza was interesting enough to make us willing to give them a try. We placed an order on the phone but they do have an online ordering system. Their menu features the usual pizza, pasta, salads, and a few Indian dishes and they are a takeout joint, pandemic or not!
Pizza 202 is their featured pizza with chicken, bacon, and pineapple on white sauce with lots of Mozzarella. First of all, this was a very good pizza that I would order again. Mharie (with the sweet tooth) likes pineapple on pizza and we are quite certain that it was fresh and not canned! Is that possible? It was firm and not a sweet as the canned stuff. I'm kind of partial to white sauce and they weren't cheap with the Saputo Mozzarella! 
We decided to try their Achari Cauliflower Pizza (also called Achari Ghobi on their menu which caused some unnecessary confusion when ordering) which turned out to be amazing! This was another white sauce pizza with, in addition to cauliflower obviously, there was red onion, jalapeno, fenugreek, ginger, cilantro, and assorted spices. This was earthy and tasty and I loved the fenugreek flavour (mistook it for fennel ). My new favourite non-Italian type pizza!
Finally, we ordered Punjabi Wings. All the wings here are baked and these were fat and flavourful! They weren't killer spicy but had just a touch of warmth with a few onions and green peppers. Nice!
This is probably it for us and La Pizza Week but we wanted to at least acknowledge it. And we are happy that we found Mantra Pizza!
Food                 4 out of 5
Service             4 out of 5 (ready on time and friendly!)
Comfort           NA 
Value                4 out of 5

Pizza Mantra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Desi Rasoi

Desi Rasoi is another Indian vegetarian street eats take-out place that I had discovered simply by fooling around on Google Maps (which I am wont to do)! A young couple with some restaurant experience has gotten this place up and running only since this past November so it's not surprising that I hadn't seen it before. They are tucked in a tiny corner of a building, the purpose of which I cannot explain, at Scott Road and 95th.

They have been doing take-out only (and catering, I expect when it is allowed) since the start which was maybe a good plan. The customer area in this restaurant is so small that you need to step outside to change your order, so do everyone a favour and order online or by phone. They have an order system that allows you to set a pickup time well in advance (tomorrow at 5 say) which is very convenient. So we placed our order and drove all the way home to give it a try.
The fun thing about street eats is that you can order a bunch of small dishes. We started with Spring Rolls. These were filled mostly with noodles which made them a new and tasty experience! A bit of a carb-fest  (which doesn't bother us at all) but crunchy and tasty and they came with a sweet-spicy dip.
We have grown to love chaat and this one is Bhel Puri. Crunchy bits of crackers, puffed rice, noodles, and a tangy tamarind sauce. It's hard to leave it alone once you start dipping in.
This is the second time (second restaurant) that we have ordered Pao Bhaji. It's basically a thick vegetable curry served with a soft bun. We like the novelty of it and it is flavourful and rich but I don't think it will ever be our street food go-to dish. 
I'm not sure what I was expecting from Chole Kulche. It turned out to be a sort of white bread bun filled with potato and chickpea and some mild Indian spices. Not the most exciting thing in the world. We made use of the onions, chile and lemon to liven it up a bit.
Once again, I am thrilled with the surprisingly messy Noodle Burger experience! This burger is based on a sauteed potato patty and then smothered with noodles and a slice of paneer. It also comes with some usual burger ingredients like lettuce mayo etc. A slippery variation on the usual veggie burger, we liked this a lot.
I wouldn't really expect them to make their own tortillas but their tacos came with Old El Paso shells which weren't my favourite thing. They were a little lean on filling but were tasty enough, crunchy and a little refreshing. This happened to be Mharie's favourite so that shows what I know!
So full-on vegetarian which is good; creative and not very expensive. We applaud what they are doing here especially in mid pandemic! There is a lot on this menu that we didn't try including some creative beverages. We'll be back and we think you should give them a try also! 
Food                    3 out of 5
Comfort               NA
Service                4 out of 5
Value                   3 1/2 out of 5

Desi Rasoi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

About Us

Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...