For months, I’ve been searching for a great Mexican restaurant in the BC’s Lower Mainland with delicious, reasonably affordable food. Though it may sound simple, it has been a strenuous and unexpectedly difficult search. From researching and asking online in local communities to going across the city to some places with strong reputations, like Tacofino and El Camino’s, I was mostly quite underwhelmed, except with La Mezcaleria.
With a broad, consistently delicious menu and eccentric, exciting atmosphere, La Mezcaleria serves delicious, quality food at a reasonable price.
The retro-like atmosphere is quirky and chic, with intricate turquoise tiling and vintage wall decorations that give the place a bustling and lively energy. This compact restaurant seems to always be packed, and it’s necessary to book reservations a few days in advance to get a spot during regular meal times.
The restaurant is on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver, which is known for its exciting culture, food, and shops, and the eatery is conveniently located close to the edge of Burnaby and Vancouver, easy to reach with car and public transport. And after dinner, you can get some delicious ice cream with some fun flavours one block away at Dolce Amore.
The location opens at 10 a.m. on weekends and noon during the week, and has a brunch menu until 2 p.m., serving eggs in a more Mexican way by pairing them with tortillas, beans, and chorizo. The dinner menu, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., has lots of decadent, grander meals, and the all-day menu has all the staples, like burritos and tacos, and many unique foods as well, like Huaraches.
An appetizer will be $10 to $23 and a main will run from $18 to $35, serving flavourful Mexican food with good quality and proportions. Some of the larger mains could be even enough for two people, depending on how hungry you are! There are also many gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options.
The Amigos Flight, an appetizer of multiple dips or foods with tortilla chips, is simple in its delivery but wonderfully done. The guacamole brought me back to all-you-can-eat buffets in Mexico, and the pico de gallo was bright and fresh. The fluffy pillows of fish in the ceviche were tender and light, tasting fresh out of the sea.
The Fajitas Platter was wonderfully laid out on a hot stone. The flavourful and decadent steak dissolved in the mouth, with strings of green peppers and chunks of earthy potato. The proportions were substantial, considering the $25 price tag. Two people with a small craving could share the platter with enough food.
I ordered the Burrito Del Centro, with pork confit, cheese, cabbage, rice and beans. The burrito itself was enormous and somewhat dense, but the flavours were spectacular. The pork was smokey and strong, the carmelized onions were sweet and soft, and the cheese was warming. The burrito itself was almost a tad one-directional and heavy, but the pico de gallo perfectly balanced it, adding a layer of bright, fresh flavour that was necessary to tie the bow.
La Mezcaleria also offers individual tacos. With plenty of selection, you pick a few and get to try little pockets of flavour. My two favourites were the Atun Adobo (tuna), and Pollo Asado (chicken). The fresh marinated tuna had a lovely texture, and was balanced by the colourful salsa, crunchy cabbage, and deliciously bright pineapple pico de gallo. The Pollo Asado, with strongly flavoured chicken and the amazing pineapple pico de gallo, was also delicious and filling but not dense or overwhelming. All the tacos I’ve tried have great tortillas and a delicious, flavourful protein, none of them being underwhelming or boring.
With the name of La Mezcaleria, a play on words of the Mezcal alcoholic drink, they have a pretty wide menu of unique drinks and spirits. Though I personally did not have any alcoholic drinks, their website claims that they have one of “the biggest agave-based spirits collections in Canada. The non-alcoholic Ginger Lemon that I tried was sharp and pungent, though very delicious. Every sip started with a hint of fresh lemon being followed by an intense wave of ginger, burning the back of the throat in a pleasurable way, the mouth craving for another taste.
Overall, La Mezcaleria is a special spot in this city, and should definitely be on your list of restaurants to try. From the eccentric atmosphere to delicious food, this place offers everything that you’d need for a splendid night out.
Featured Image: La Mezcaleria Website