Published on VancouverIsAwesome.com
Previously on Hunting Down: I’m insane about food. Food is my first love. I dream of food and make intricate plans on what to eat almost every day. I have lost the pounds over the years, but I still have to feed the shiny, jolly kid in me who just wants pies for breakfast and gourmet bacon cheeseburgers for dinner.
Another factoid you should know about me is that I have always been obsessed with Latin American cuisines. When given the chance, I will always take Latin food over everything else, and I also bring up my love for all things Latin at every opportunity I get, including Latin men. So, a while ago, I made friends with a Californian guy and, of course, as our conversation became very Vancouver-centric, the topic of the scarcity of Latin eateries in the city came up. Being from California and obsessed with South American foods as much as I am, he mentioned how even though he loved Vancouver, he had been very disappointed by the lack of good Latin food in town.
Although I agreed with him at the time, I recently decided to prove him wrong and hunt down the coolest place to have some Latin tapas with fun cocktails to blow off some steam with your buddies.
No name on the door. No clear sign. All you’ll see is a purple neon skull, which, by the way, speaks volumes about how wickedly cool this place is. The interior is just as impressive: an eclectic, pub-like space with a laid-back, swanky decor and atmosphere. Possibly the friendliest staff I have ever comes across; our waitress, Barbara, was extremely cute, helpful, and knowledgeable. We had the White Bean Parmesan Fundido with corn chips, the Pan Roasted Bison Flank Steak (Tijuana Style Baby Caesar, Chorizo Buttermilk Kennebec Mash), and the special which was the life-altering tacos with chorizo sausage, goat cheese, walnuts, and arugula. They make seriously mean cocktails; I loved the Mexican Firing Squad. And I still can’t get over how good the flank steak was. The food, ambiance, and service are just sublime at Cuchillo overall, and I very much plan to go back soon.
If you have never gone to Mount Pleasant to have some grub before, you are seriously missing out on some seriously hip and happening eateries, and El Camino’s is one of them. When you enter the establishment, the words on the wall instantly catch your eyes, “Nada como una revolución para curar la sed y el hambre,” which roughly means “Nothing like a revolution to cure thirst and hunger.” And believe me, they absolutely know how to cure your thirst and hunger at El Camino’s. The food is heaven, you honestly can’t go wrong with any item; their Arepas (white corn patties stuffed with a variety of ingredients) and Bocadillos (Mexican style subs) are scrumptious, especially the Frijoles and Fried Pollo. The Lomo Saltado is also one of the best items on the menu, which is a Peruvian stir-fry of steak with Spanish rice and potato wedges. Besides the fantastic food, the place is so laid-back and modern but feels so authentic that you almost feel like you’re in a stylish pub somewhere in Latin America. El Camino’s is easily one of the best of Vancouver.
Even if the atmosphere and presentation of the food are not as impressive as the other two places I went to; the food absolutely floored me at Baru Latino. I instantly thought of it as a place where you can go and have delicious authentic South American tapas with potent and refreshing cocktails before going out on a Saturday night in the summer. It is in Kitsilano, so it is safe to assume that the place would be packed in the summer. Try the Champanito, it is similar to Mojito but made with Champagne – it is the perfect alternative to white wine sangria. They have a very impressive menu with lots of seafood tapas. I highly recommend the Ecuadorian Red Ceviche, the Empanadas–the best I have had in Vancouver–, and the Arepa Con Chorizo (organic hominy corn patties with Spanish chorizo and guacamole).
I loved all three places and would go back to all of them because the food is exceptional at all three, but when I think about the ‘cool factor,’ Cuchillo gets my vote because of the overall experience. It is a unique place with a potential to become one of the most frequented Latin restaurants in the city. I can easily see myself becoming a regular there, just for the eye-candy if not for the food. Nah, it will probably be for the food.