A few weeks ago, I was in the Fairview area of Vancouver running some errands with a friend and decided it would be a good opportunity to walk down to Cambie for some lunch. The weather had been rather tumultuous, but the sun made an appearance that afternoon, so it was a nice walk. It isn’t often that I stop in that area, so I was lucky enough to be able to visit two restaurants which had been on my list for a while.
La Taqueria has been a front runner in Vancouver’s fast food scene for quite some time, but I had yet to check it out. I keep saying that Vancouver has such a lack of Latin restaurants, and that may be why La Taqueria is so popular (they recently won a Golden Plate Award for best tacos and placed in several other categories). Seats were mostly filled at La Taqueria when I placed my order of 4 tacos: asada (flank beef), de lingua (beef tongue), carnitas (pork confit), and that day’s lamb special.
The tacos were served on brightly colored plastic plates, which looked like they came from patio dining set, but gave the mostly brown looking tacos a good color contrast. Each taco was dripping with meaty goodness, but the asada didn’t taste very different from de lingua because they were both beef. Since everything seemed to have been stewed for a long time, it was more like a thick, meaty stew that was spooned into each soft tortilla, but very well-flavoured. I would’ve liked more onions or tomatoes to lend a fresh and crisp texture to the tender meat.
I was also convinced to buy a horchata, which I had not liked in the past, but wanted to get an authentic Mexican experience. When I’ve had horchata in the past, it was the heavy cinnamon spice flavour which I didn’t find appealing and this it time was no different. Horchata does have a delicate creamy texture that I like and I can probably acquire the taste for the spices after a few more times of trying it.
The four tacos from La Taqueria were a great snack, but hardly an adequate lunch. So, we crossed the street to Marulilu Cafe to continue the gastronomic adventure. Marulilu Cafe serves a mixture of Japanese and North American style dishes in an intimate cafe setting. Although I was tempted to order one of the traditional Japanese style breakfasts, it was way past breakfast hour so I opted for the rice “burgers” instead.
The rice burgers were made with two grilled rice patties and each filled with either sukiyaki or butayaki. My burgers weren’t juicy like the tacos, but were still very moist and flavourful. The rice “buns” had a delicate crisp on the tops from the grilling, but were still very delicate and crumbled if I pressed down on them too hard. A simple miso soup came with the burgers, and I was pleasantly surprised when I took my first sip. Although their miso soup had the same basic ingredients as every other place, it was richer and more flavourful than most restaurants.
Sharing the plate with the burgers was a simple salad of lettuce and tomatoes tossed in a thin dressing. I usually think of side salads as a garnish because most places don’t put much effort into them. But, the dressing on the side salad at Marililu made thoughts of summertime barbeques come to mind and I finished every last shred of lettuce on the plate.
Both restaurants, while very different from one another, had great fast food options at reasonable prices. La Taqueria had a very simple menu with lots of different variations on the one dish that they specialize in. On the other hand, Marililu had a very large menu, and I’m not even sure if they had a full kitchen to cook in, but they still made a delicious meal for me. These two restaurants were definitely the highlight of my afternoon. I am looking forward to summer when there are more days when the sun shines down on me as I eat from place to place.