Cut to……

Holy moly, Vancouver, have I found a goodie for you.

But first, let me say that finding decent Spanish food in this city has been tough times. Aside from the old institution that shall remain nameless because they’re so sweet there but I got food poisoning from some shitty rotten scallops and on a date to boot (we didn’t last), there just aren’t a lot of great Spanish joints up in here.  I adore the small plates at The Sardine Can, but true to its name, it can get rather snug in there on a Friday, and I can blow a dainty little gasket when I’m hungry enough and have to wait for a table. Also lacking in this city is some really good Mexican, which bouts for some pretty vicious cravings when you’ve spent a few years eating some of the best off street carts in LA, drunk and not drunk (which means buzzed). But I’ve finally found a place that can fill both gaps, and it’s bloody well glorious.

Cuchillo (which means knife in spanish.. As in “I’d rather sit on a cuchillo than go vegan”) is another Gastown spot, which seems to be the place I venture to most often lately when I’m in the mood to eat, which means I should move to Gastown, but its first kudos go to opening a little further east than what’s comfortable in this city. More and more businesses are mustering up the balls to venture east into the “dodgy” area, most likely because the rent’s cheaper, but it’s still walkable to civilization (and even better, the Urban Winery, which has tasty local wine flights aplenty and just got their license to serve full glasses– olé !), and it ain’t that scary. This is Canada. The most you’ll see is a very friendly crackhead or a couple of cold prostitutes and all of them recycle and can name at least one character off Murdoch Mysteries.

Lookit, the important thing is that the trek is worth it. Venture through the nameless and skull-embellished door into a cavernous warehouse-like space that still manages to be warm and inviting, with help from super nice servers and smiley bartenders enticing you with dangerously tasty cocktails. It’s a little loud and most seating is communal, so maybe don’t take fussy relatives here, although maybe you don’t want to hear what they have to say anyway. The food is bliss, little saucy tacos for sharing (duck and crackling with blackberry habanero jam! fried rockfish! lamb adorned with parmesan brown butter popcorn!), lots of snacky things to dip your fresh out of the oven corn chips in, bigger plates to hog to yourself like bison steak with walnut manchego tostadas on the side… It’s not your food cart special or a boring old heap of enchiladas. It’s creative, it’s inspiring, it’s fresh and seasonal, and everything I’ve ever had there has been worth a trip back to say hi to the hookers on its own. A couple of favourites: the sublime tuna ceviche which is done “constructed-style”, meaning the tuna is served in generously thick seared pieces, layered like a terrine with tortilla chips, cilantro, and a warm bacon and peruvian potato base to give it some heft. It’s unlike any ceviche I’ve ever had. Their tomato and mozzarella salad is also anything but standard, using yellow heirloom tomatoes stacked atop hunks of fresh mozzarella and layered with some roasted poblanos for a little heat.  They pay a lot of attention to the details, and it shows.

towering tuna ceviche
Towering tuna ceviche
tomato mozzarella salad
Tomato mozzarella salad
parmesan and white bean fundido with warm chips for dipping
Parmesan and white bean fundido with warm chips for dipping– that is a cheese and bean DIP, people.
simple but still layered with flavour tortilla soup
Simple but still layered with flavour tortilla soup
crispy and salty rockfish tacos
Crispy and salty addictive rockfish tacos
chicken taquitos fried crispy and cheesy delicious
Chicken taquitos fried crispy and cheesy delicious and dripping with bean puree and guacamole
and holy mother of Canada.. a yucca fry poutine with a demi glace gravy and cheese curds. WHAT THE HELL
and holy mother of Canada.. a yucca fry poutine with a demi glace gravy and cheese curds. WHAT THE HELL

 

I get that most of you don’t live in Vancouver. But for those of you that do, please give this place your business! Please eat tacos! Please devour the snot out of that yucca poutine which tastes just like a regular poutine but better! It’s like crack which is so fitting!

In concusion: Cuchillo?  Meet your new regular.

 

XOJBS

 

 

 

 

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Mikel King says:

    I’ve only been to Vancourer once, and really didn’t have the chance to venture out for any real grub… but having traveled enough to know that some cuisine is just plain difficult to locate when you are out of the comfort zone… I liken your quest for good Spanish or Mexican to the trouble I have when in Macau & Malaysia… yeah good luck…

    Of course now that I am back in NYC finding some good Malay grub is equally challenging… the irony of my life…

    Please share more food…

    Cheers,
    m!

  2. Jessie says:

    This all sounds amazing! Yet another great place to add to my list for when I finally get to Vancouver! Thanks Jewel.

  3. The Thinker1958 says:

    sounds delicious.
    I used to eat yuca (in Peru) really fried, deep in condense milk….mmmm

  4. David says:

    Being a local resident of the lovely *coughtongueincheekcough* city of San Jose, California, there is no loss of great Mexican food here. But you’ll be hard pressed to find culinary artistry AND great taste in the same place. But as I’ve learned over the years, that the farther north up the Pacific, the less likely it is to find great Mexican food. So the next time I’m in Vancouver, I’ll know where to go for exceptional Mexican food.

    Yet, no mention of the tequila flights. For shame! 🙂

  5. Peregrine John says:

    Live there? No. Haven’t even been in ages. But I am definitely due for some travel… A bit drooly just now about the bison steak. And the duck. Sweet mother of James Beard that sounds amazing.

  6. Ben T says:

    Why they don’t give you your own blog space in the Food section of the Vancouver Sun I have no idea.

  7. Kerim says:

    Love Mexican and Spanish Tapas. Glad to hear they are stepping up the latin flavors in Vancouver.

  8. Carsten says:

    I’m living 5000 miles away in Denmark, and your vivid descriptions really make me want to visit Vancouver, just for the food and wine 😉 Thank you 🙂

  9. Andy says:

    Thanks Jewel,

    I am new to Vancouver and am always looking to check out new places. Mouth is watering at the thought of the poutine already.

  10. Kelly Daines says:

    Thanks Jewel! I was planning to take a friend there but will definitely go now thanks to your always excellent recommendations!!

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