I’m one of the media judge’s for the Vancouver Foodster’s Taco Challenge. If you’re not familiar with his site, Richard Wolak challenges chefs and restaurants around Vancouver and beyond to create amazing dishes using innovative ingredients. The results are unique flavours and outstanding creations. The dishes are available for a limited time, and the public is encouraged to try them and vote for their favourites.
So off to Richmond I went to taste the creation of Little Mexico Cantina. This restaurant has been a part of the Steveston community for over 2o years. It is now under the new ownership of Carol Janeczko, who has partnered up with chef Roberto Lopez Lara. Together they’ve created a dish that’s really special.
Introducing the Tacos Cantineros – this dish consists of three different tacos with distinct flavours and stories. They tell the tale of a Mexico during Spanish influence, following by an independent Mexico and ending with the Mexican-influenced flavours of Baja California. Really, this is a history lesson on your plate.
We start our journey with the Taco Don Pedro – this is our taco with the strong hispanic influences of chorizo, and braised short ribs glazed with a Spanish red wine reduction. Other flavours include chicharron, prawns, edam cheese and its finished with the sweetness of julienned pear.
The next one up is the Lobster Cazadores Taco – This is Mexico Libre in all its glory! Sautéed lobster, shallots, garlic, thai chile, lime juice, Little Mexico seasoning and Tequila Cazadores Reposado served over a bed of refried black beans topped with papaya, pickled red onions and cilantro. The lobster flavour is mixed beautifully here, and this taco has a bit of a bite! Just like Mexico itself.
No detail is spared here; even the wooden plank the tacos are served in has a purpose: the warmth of the tortillas activates the wood oils to give the dish a hint of earthiness.
Finally, the Ensenada Stye Fish Taco – This Baja-inspired Snapper taco is dusted with Little Mexico seasoning, topped with house dressing, guacamole sauce, white and purple cabbage slaw and a simple pineapple pico de gallo that cleanses your palate.
All three tacos are served on two 4″ gluten-free corn tortillas and priced as a trio for $15.95. They’re only available during dinner service.