When our calendars changed from aughts to teens, authentic tacos, prepared from scratch with top-tier ingredients and painstaking attention to detail began to subtly reshape our perceptions of Mexican cuisine.
Today, the culinary revolution continues at the hands of a few visionary restaurateurs committed to completely redefining the entire Latin American food experience.
Ignacio Arrieta, who is also the co-founder of La Taqueria, helps lead the charge with La Mezcaleria. As its name suggests, the restaurant provides a showcase for premium mezcal, a spirit with a complexity and rich backstory to rival the finest single-malt Scotch whiskies, along with a creative menu of contemporary Mexican dishes that diners would be much more likely to find in an elegant venue in Mexico City than at a roadside taco stall. Visit for defining dishes like Parrillada de Mariscos (grilled prawns, octopus and Ahi tuna loin with fresh herbs and garlic compound butter) and Chicharrones Norte ño (cubed beef steak on avocado mash with roasted Serrano salsa and Maldon salt). Two locations: 1622 Commercial Drive and 68 East Cordova, laMezcaleria.ca
Co-chefs Ernesto Gomez and Jair Téllez (who are also co-owners along with Darragh McFeely) helm the kitchen of one of Vancouver’s hottest rooms, Fayuca. Diners in this lively Yaletown space are treated to a constantly evolving menu of Pacific Northwest Mexico-inspired dishes realized with local ingredients. Conversation-worthy plates include creations like Chanterelles and Shiitake Tosta with mustard greens and dried trevally roe, Oxtail Fideo Pasta with pine nut picada and aioli, or Sablefish with Green Northern Pipian (pumpkin seed), grilled spring onions, potato confit, and labneh (strained yogurt). 1009 Hamilton Street, fayuca.ca
Vancouver restaurant godfather Stu Irving operates Cuchillo, a stylish, bustling room that casts the culinary net a bit wider into Latin American territory. Irving’s share-plate-focussed menu, killer cocktail list (which still boasts what is arguably the best Margarita in town) and central, communal table conspire to make Cuchillo a great night out with friends. Check out bold and colourful dishes like Albacore Tuna Ceviche with pipian rojo and warm Peruvian double-smoked bacon causa, or Bison Short Rib Mole with habanero carrot smash, crema, and black bean tortilla empalme. 261 Powell Street, www.cuchillo.ca