The Taco Shack

July 25th, 2006 · 7 Comments

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The Taco Shack
Address: 1835 Cornwall Avenue (map)

The Taco Shack is a new endeveaor put together by Gerald Tritt, co-owner of Vera’s Burger Shack, and colleagues. The mission they have chosen is to recreate the California taco truck-style of taco, here in Vancouver. Although I certainly welcome any serious attempt at Mexican food in Vancouver, a town with sad dearth of said cuisine, I must admit my feelings were mixed. Would the man who once called Eat Vancouver columnist Dan Fishman a “half witted hack” really become my savior, bringing legitimate taco to a storefront not six blocks from where I reside? Having grown up with a taco truck on every corner, my yearnings for a real (read: edible) taco in Vancouver have only been sated by Chilo’s Taqueria, which is unfortunately quite a hike from where I live.

menuIt was with such ambivalence that I traveled to the Taco Shack a few days ago, and to cut straight to the point, much of my trepidation was immediately assuaged. As of now, the space is still being worked on, but I doubt the owners will stray much from the California taco shack minimalist decor that they are currently toying with. Given the fare, it is of course, quite appropriate. On this first visit I ordered tacos, which come in an order of three for $6.89. There are three options and I tried one of each: steak, chicken and fish. They were expertly prepared by Noah, a Taco Shack partner. There are a variety of options to accompany your tacos including cilantro, onions, pico de gallo, lime wedges, a red salsa and a green salsa. The fish taco is topped with cabbage and a creme based sauce that has a great spicy smokey kick to it, probably due to chipotle. The green salsa is excellent, tomatillo based, which lends a nice acidity to the salsa. The red sauce is based on smoked tomatoes and peppers, and while it is better than most salsas in town, I prefer a little more char on the ingredients when preparing the salsa, which lends more smokiness and ultimately flavor to the dish. The tacos themselves where excellent: moist meat, fresh toppings that accented the flavor of the meat, rather than cover it up, and excellent freshly made tortillas, redolent of that rich corn aroma. I loved them and I immediately rank them among the top two in Vancouver. My only complaint would be that, much like Vera’s next door, they ain’t cheap. Chilo charges $1.25 for his tacos, and Taco Shack is twice that. I get that it’s a different area (the affluent Kits Beach area) and rent is surely much steeper than what Chilo is paying. Given this price difference, deciding between heading to the Taco Shack or hiking down to Chilo’s is going to be a tough call. Still, given that it’s tough to tell when Chilo’s is open, and the level of respect Gerald and crew have for their endeavor, I imagine I will be a regular at the Taco Shack.

feastI recently visited The Taco Shack again to try their burritos, because let’s face it, there are certain times when three tacos just won’t completely ease those hunger pangs. I’m pleased to report that the burrito is pretty good. I tried a steak burrito and although they use the same excellent meat that is in the tacos, I would prefer larger pieces of meat, as opposed to the smaller pieces that are appropriate for the taco. The Spanish rice is excellent – flavorful and perfectly cooked – but the black beans left something to be desired. I find that burritos work best when stewed black beans are used, as opposed to the more spread-like consistency of bean that The Taco Shack uses. Still, the excellent add-ons remain and the employee that day even honored my request of an extra container of salsa.

Keep in mind that The Taco Shack is still quite young and the above criticism and compliments are subject to change. For example, it seems that staffing and quality control, already a big problem with the Vera’s chain, could become and issue at Taco Shack. On my first visit service was perfect, but on my second visit the store was manned by guys in Vera’s tee shirts. One employee’s hands were caked with grime (it seems as if he had just been cleaning a grill), and it wasn’t quite appetizing watching him wrap up another customer’s tacos barehanded. I’d expect that kind of service from a taco truck, or even Chilo’s but not when I’m paying nearly seven dollars for three tacos.

other picture: burrito

Tags: Mexican · Quick Bites

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 adam corrola // May 26, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Where did you grow up with a taco truck on every corner? Considering I grew up in the San Fernando Valley and we didn’t have a truck on every corner unless you lived in east LA, or silverlake, or somewhere else like Texas I’d have to call BS.
    The Taco Shack for those of you who rarely eat tacos are the real McCoy, and if you don’t know that try calling one of our states mexican people unauthentic. Also compared to chilos yeah right the reason they charge 1.25 a taco is because the thing is about as big as a ritz cracker, without the taste.

  • 2 Jason // May 27, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Well of course “every corner” was hyperbole, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say every major corner. In fact, last time I was home there was one not two blocks from my house, which was sweet, although it was run by Salvadorians so the main draw was the pupusas.

    I’m from Arlington Virginia, and if you’re interested in the ethnic breakdown, you check the wikipedia page for my high school: here
    but the basic line is 43.7% Hispanic, 28.5% Black, 17.2% White, & 10.4% Asian/Pacific Islander. So yeah there were lots of taco trucks.

    Since writing this my stance on The Taco Shack has changed: there’s really no good reason to go here anymore. Go to Dona Cata ($1.25 per) where the tacos are just as big with more sauces to choose from at less than half the price of taco shack ($2.79 per, YIKES).

  • 3 Bob // Apr 29, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I agree that they over charge for their tacos. Any normal male can eat six of the Shack’s tacos in a blink of an eye but who wants to pay $14 for a snack. Whatever they pay in rent is subsidized by their lack of cleanliness.

  • 4 Anonymous // Jun 16, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Try Taco Luis in lansdowne mall in richmond. I don’t know why, but there is something about that place that makes everything taste better.

  • 5 Tre // Aug 6, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Didn’t taco shack expand to West Broadway? No? Yes?

  • 6 taco lover // Mar 1, 2009 at 3:57 am

    You should try Taco Luis in Lansdowne centre food court.

  • 7 Lisa // Oct 24, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Taco Luis in Landsdowne Mall puts sugar not only in it’s salsa but in it’s chicken. Ugg. And their hot sauce heat is equivalent to McDonalds salsa. This could be a great place but is a waste.

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