Cabos San Lucas · Mexican · Restaurants · Vegetarian

Los Cabos 2018 – Part 1

Every year, L and I try to go somewhere hot to get away from the cold. I like Cabos because it is convenient, cheap and clean. If the winds are in your favour, it’s less than a four hour flight. I also like the restaurants in Cabos more than in Playa del Carmen or Puerta Vallarta. In Cabos, there seems to be more of a variety and I think the seafood is superior. The only negative is the water is really rough and not ideal for swimming due to the strong undertow.

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L complained that the Airbnb place I rented in Cabos in 2016 was utilitarian. This time around, I rented a luxury condo. With service and cleaning fees, the apartment averaged around $250 (CAN) a night. I was pleased to see security was tight – we had to be buzzed whenever we left the complex. Drivers weren’t allowed in unless they had permission. Since we had an extra bedroom and bathroom, I invited my friend N.

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The apartment is situated three minutes away from the beach and a 12 minute walk to town. The pool was immaculate. We never took a cab because we preferred to walk everywhere. For this post, let’s set the mood with La Bamba by Ritchie Valens.

Tourism was down, perhaps because of the negative news of the six bodies found hanged in Baja California Sur or reports of tainted alcohol at Mexican resorts and bars. Whatever the reason(s), there were noticeable changes since we visited in 2016.

I could get into any restaurant I wanted that day, and this was the week before Christmas!  Massages by the beach decreased from $30 an hour to $20 for an hour and a half. Two years ago, I used pesos without any issue. This year, some vendors insisted on American cash, such as our transportation company. When I said I wanted to use pesos instead, they would recalculate and tack on an extra $3-7 American dollars. I ended up going to the bank to get US cash. In the future, I’d bring US cash for larger purchases and pesos as backup.

The first thing L and I did was get a massage on the beach. We found a newish looking tent with all white curtains and beds. Every massage tent offered 90 minute massage for $20 US. When L paid in pesos, they increased the cost to an equivalent of $46 US.

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Before N arrived, L and I planned to eat at the places that I thought N wouldn’t like. I convinced L to try Taco Gus again. On our last trip, I liked the tacos but he did not. The tortillas are thin and the meats are grilled to a pleasing crispness. As with any open air eatery, you have issues with flies landing on food. Tacos range from 25-45 pesos. There’s a large carousel of toppings and vegetables that I have a feeling are probably reused for the next customer. No proof – just speculation on my part.

At Tacos Gus, we met two Americans. They both complained about how much more Americans work compared to Canadians and particularly, Europeans. They both have jobs at good companies, but only get two weeks of vacation. They said it’s an expectation to work that much in the States. We also discussed how skimpy the shot pours are in Canada compared to the States, as Americans free pour. I told them I think it is due to taxation and likely, regulations. 5.3.8 a) from Alberta Liquor License says the standard amount of spirits and liqueurs is 28.5 ml (1 oz).

L thought the tacos were tasty but he missed having pineapple with his al pastor. The next day, I suggested we check out El Pasia , an open air restaurant that is popular with the locals.

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I saw several people who just got off their shift stop by for a light meal. I liked how El Paisa’s condiment bar was sealed up in the middle of the room, preventing flies from landing on the food.

The combination of the sweetness of the pineapple and spit-roasted pork can’t be beat. At Taco’s Guss, each taco is about $2 US. At El Paisa, it’s a little more than $3 US but the portion of meat was double that of Taco Gus and you can taste the difference in meat quality. Our lunch came up to about $25 US. L said he was happy to pay that for these tacos.

Highlights so far include massages on the beach, tasty tacos, and our apartment. The location was perfect and it was one of the nicer Airbnb’s I’ve stayed at. Lowlight was getting dinged when I tried to pay with the local currency.

 

 

Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Victoria – Tacofino

For New Year’s Eve L and I visited my friend Tan and her husband Yah at their acreage in Sooke. We feasted and sipped the night away but we couldn’t quite stay up past 11:30 p.m. I fell asleep hearing the fireworks go off. So close. Maybe next year.

Sparkling

The next day L and I headed over to Victoria to spend the day. We checked out the Empress Hotel, strolled around Fisherman’s Wharf, and explored the waterfront by the harbour.

We were feeling hungry and discovered Tacofino has a location in Victoria! For this post, let’s play Bandages by Hot Hot Heat, a band from Victoria. It was either that or Hanson and I’m pretty sure no one wants that. Or do you? Let’s think about this… hmmm MMMBop!

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Tacofino does plenty of take-out. Throughout our stay there was a steady flow of customers and calls to pick up food. I ordered a Tuna Taco ($7.25) and L ordered his usual Crispy Ling Cod Taco ($5.50). We shared a large bowl of Tortilla Soup ($10.50). A single taco makes for a good snack. You would need two to make it a meal.

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Maybe I should have played Hanson because this taco made my taste buds say,

Say Mmmbop, ba duba dop!

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du, yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du, yeah

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The tuna was lightly seared, still soft and cool. I really enjoyed the combination of flavours from the soy, seaweed salad, white ginger and wasabi mayo. All together, it was like the most delicious bite of sushi in my mouth.

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The tortilla soup was good and not overly seasoned so you could really enjoy the ancho chicken broth. Inside the bowl were chunks of roast chicken thighs, sour cream, chunks of melted molten cheese, soft slices of avocado and still crunchy tortilla crisps.

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There wasn’t much to do after we ate so we left early to visit my brother Narc, my sister-in-law Enforcer and their two kids. There wasn’t any restaurant open on New Year’s Day except for the good old White Spot. L offered me some of his legendary  burger but I was in control and didn’t bite.

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I know the burger looks like a puffier McDonald’s cheeseburger, but it’s the secret sauce of relish, mayonnaise and ketchup that makes this burger so addicting. I enjoyed a filling and fresh salad of chicken, romaine, pecans, apples and grapes. We washed everything done with beer from Fuggles and Warlock.

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Little did I know that the next morning I would be returning to White Spot. Stay tuned for White Spot Part Deux.

Tacofino Victoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mexican · Restaurants

Unimarket – Taco Wednesdays

The new boy in our office – Richie Rich – asked Office Dad, Asian Persuasion, and myself out for tacos at the Unimarket. This market looks like a hidden gem, but based on the line-up, plenty of people already know about this place. Richie Rich found Unimarket when he got lost coming back from the Farmer’s Market.


Unimarket sells Latin food. In the grocery section, you can get dried chilies, frozen corn tortillas and sweets. In the back of the market is a cafeteria-style area selling a range of baked goods, tacos and a number of savoury pastries. To the right of the cafeteria is a butchery.

Tacos are normally $3.50 but on Wednesdays, a taco is only $2.50. I counted nine different fillings: Carne Asada, Birria, Cowboy Taco, Chicken Tinga, Happy Taco, Carnitas, Al Pastor, Chorizo, and a vegetarian option. I felt like a fish out of water trying to figure out what sauces and toppings to add onto each taco. After I saw Richie Rich’s taco creation, I realized I was too conservative with the condiments.

I tried the Carne Asada (beef tenderloin), Carnitas (fried pork chunks with garlic and spices) and the Al Pastor (diced and trimmed marinated pork). For toppings, I opted for salsa, guacamole and lettuce.

The corn tortillas were warm and tasted homemade. I liked that each filling was spiced and prepared differently from each other. The salsa was heavily seasoned with cilantro.

I took home an Empanada Chilena ($5) for my husband for dinner. The dough was flaky and a tiny bit sweet. Inside was a mixture of ground beef, onions, black olives and a hard-boiled egg.

If you haven’t been yet, check it out and find something new. This is a unique supermarket with some very tasty eats.

Unimarket Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Mexican

Anejo Restaurant – Happy Hour

I’ve heard good things about Anejo Restaurant. My boss Tread Lightly told me Anejo makes the best chili coconut margaritas and guacamole. I know What’s Up Hamsup frequents Anejo for happy hour. So when it was time to meet up with some of my husband’s work friends for drinks, we picked Anejo.

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Every day from 3-5 p.m., Anejo offers $5 margaritas and beers, and half off tacos. I don’t particularly care for Mexican food, but I do love tequila and a strong margarita.

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Trojan ordered the Guacamole ($14). Three avocado halves, diced white onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, sea salt and a squeeze of lime were all mixed up together at our table. L and Trojan enjoyed the guacamole. I thought the chips tasted stale.

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Trojan and I ordered our margaritas half sweet. Trojan was partial to the Mango Margarita, which is made with blanco, triple sec, mango pulp, agave, and lime. I tried the Guava Margarita, which was very tart. My favourite was the Coconut Chili. The coconut syrup was subtle and the heat from the habernero was intense. I could really taste the citrus.

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Trojan ethusiastically and authoritatively informed us that Anejo has the best looking customers and staff. He would know, he’s dated half the city. Trojan makes What’s Up Hamsup seem almost monk-like.

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Robin and Batman arrived late due to their work schedule. Our server came up to our table to warn us that happy hour was coming to an end. Both doubled downed on drinks and tacos.

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I tried the chicken, bison, pork and fish tacos. I thought the fish and chicken tacos were the tastiest. The bison was a little dry. Each taco was packed with filling. At $2.50, this was a great price. Sour cream is extra. I noticed we didn’t get the bottles of condiments, perhaps because ordered the happy hour tacos.

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Our server Chad should be commended. He was professional and offered excellent suggestions for tequila, margaritas, and tacos. I wanted to discretely find out his name so I looked at our bill, which stated our server was Estrella. I asked Chad if he is Estrella. He said no, that’s the automatic name which shows up on the bills and it means “upstairs floor”.

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If you love tequila as much as I do, the entire list is 50% off during happy hour. So if you want to try some premium stuff, there is a time and a place for it. Anejo, between 3:00-5:00 pm.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Anejo Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Happy Hour · Mexican · Patio · Restaurants

Blanco Cantina – Big Taste

I picked another Mexican restaurant for L to try. I read posts on Zomato that Blanco Cantina makes a bad ass burrito and a wicked cocktail. Plus, this cantina is super close to our house, so coming here was a no brainer for Big Taste week.

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Blanco Cantina has this American rock and roll vibe. The restaurant has a big bar section, and throughout the night, the turnover was constant. Add in the fact you can make reservations on Opentable, this is a place you can easily drop in for a drink and appies or stay for a longer dinner.

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For drinks, L ordered Pacifico ($7) while I tried a speciality cocktail, the Watermelon Margarita on the rocks ($16.50), made with 3 ounces of tequila, triple sec, agave nectar, and fresh watermelon. I normally avoid cocktails as I suspect a lot of bars water down their drinks. The cocktail had a nice blend of tartness and an undertone of sweetness from the watermelon.

I had an interesting conversation with L during dinner. He said, “You know that pseudonym you use for Office Daddy, don’t you think its  kinda sexual?” I said no, I didn’t think it was at all. Chi sin (crazy)!  L said that unless you are under five, no one uses the word daddy, and if you do, it has a sexual connotation. Well, this was news to me and I’m no ham sup (pervert). This is a PG rated blog! I asked L why he took so long to tell me. Apparently, he gets around to reading my blog once in a blue moon. For the record, I’m not ham sup so I’m going to rename my buddy Office Dad.

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For Big Taste, diners can pick from Chili Con Queso or Guacamole, any taco on the menu and Tres Leches or Crispy Banana for $25.00. While the special looked good, L and I preferred to order what we wanted: Pescado Tacos ($14), Small Chicken Burrito ($15 +$3 for cheese), Medium Picante Hot Wings (half order) with creamy jalapeño sauce ($9) and a side order of fries ($5).

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The hot wings I ordered weren’t spicy or hot even though I ordered medium hot. The spice is blended in the dry coating, and you can pour hot sauce from the condiment tray. I preferred this method, as the wings remained crispy and the Mexican hot sauce you put on yourself is awesome.

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The basa in the tacos was tasty stuff, particularly the breading on the fish which remained crunchy throughout our meal. I still like Mikey’s fish tacos more for value and flavour.

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The chicken burrito was messy in a good way. Stuffed with soft chicken meat, sour cream, tomatoes, poblano, refritos, rice and red onions, everything tasted fresh. I liked the the burrito was neat and clean tasting, despite the number of sauces in and on it. The guacamole is solid, thick and chunky and definately worth ordering. The rice tasted like there was lime in it, but the rice itself didn’t taste like it was the best quality.

The fries were really good and well-priced at $5.00 for a side dish. Fresh and hot, crispy and perfectly salted. Reminded me of New York fries, with the little bits of potato skin still left on.

Next time when we return, because there will be a next time, I think L and I will share a one pound burrito and try some of the speciality main dishes. I alway hope to get Leng Lui and Playboy out for happy hour. I have my eye on Zacapa 23, my favourite rum and a few other tequilas.

View my food journey on Zomato!

BLANCO Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mexican

Native Tongues Taqueria

My husband has been working extra long hours, so I thought I’d be nice and get him to take me to Native Tongues Taqueria, as I know he loves Mexican food, particularly tacos. I’m thoughtful like that.

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We waited over an hour for our table. The hostess was friendly and accommodating, letting us stand by the door and order drinks. I requested a tequila cocktail ($14.00), something “strong and serious” while L stuck to Pacifico. The bartender asked me if I enjoyed the drink. Yes, I did, thank you for asking. It tasted like something Donald Draper would approve, smokey and potent. Our server was also customer oriented, helping us with the menu and suggesting to order a little bit at a time. I also noticed that despite the long line-up, none of the servers were rushing any of the customers. There were people who were eating when we arrived and were still there after we left.

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L and I shared the Hamburguesa al Carbon ($14.00) and the Chilaquiles ($10.00). The hamburger consisted of two  Wagyu beef patties covered in a warm, velvety layer of orange cheese. This was like a gourmet version of a Big Mac. The sesame bun was homemade, and I liked that proportionally, the beef and toppings were larger than the bun. The homemade chips were thin and fragile, drizzled with hot sauce. L and I noticed that though the burger and chips were yummy, both were so salty.

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The chilaquiles made for a filling appetizer. The chips were already wet with the juices of the salsa. It was like the salsa was built into the chips. We enjoyed this dish, the toppings of crema, quesco fresco and cilantro was delightful. The cheese melted like snow on my tongue.

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We ordered Lengua ($3.95); Carnitas ($3.95), Pollo ($3.95) and Hongos ($3.95). My favourite was the bongos, locally cultivated mushrooms with kale, cream, queso fresco and cilantro. The mushrooms were silky smooth, absolutely luxurious. L’s favourite was the pollo, spicy braised organic chicken. The lengua, beef tongue, was our least favourite as the texture was a bit mushy and again, over salted.Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.42.40 PM.png

Later that night, both of us woke up several times as we were so thirsty. I should note that I’m no salt wimp. I really hope the heavy handedness of the salt was a one off as we really enjoyed the ambience, service and food.

I can see why Native Tongues is such a hit with the locals. It’s a great place for a date or a night out. The service we received on a happening Saturday night was excellent, from the hostess, bartender to the server. Kudos to the staff for a fun date night.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Native Tongues Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Fast Food · Mexican

Fresh-Adilla Fresh Tortilla

Damn and double damn. Fresh-Adilla makes some freaking awesome tortillas and sopes. I go to Mexico pretty often and I have my share of delicious street tacos, everything from marlin to brains, tongue and lip. However, Fresh-Adilla makes something I haven’t tried before – deliciously fried stuffed tortillas and sopes.

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For $15.00, I ordered a beef sope, a chicken tortilla and a tamarind drink. Though it was after 2:00pm on a Sunday, this little Mexican stall was pumping out orders like mad. The little tables around the kiosk was full of families devouring these savoury pockets of deliciousness.

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The sope had this thick, lovely crusty bottom, like a deep-fried quiche. I personally preferred the beef over the chicken. The mixture of melt in your mouth meats, cheese, beans all in a crispy, delicate vessel was a taste sensation.  I would recommend the liberal use of the complimentary side toppings, particularly if you want to add some spice your dish.

Each sope or tortilla is under $5.00. Two is enough to fill you up. Definitely make your way to this gem of a food stall. There will be a line-up but the food is worth the wait.

On a side note, Billingsgate at the Stadium Shopping Centre burned down due to a fire. L and I headed over to support their second location on Market on Macleod. Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 4.55.45 PM.png

I ordered a dozen oysters and picked up a bag of langostino meat. I cooked the langoustino in bacon fat and tossed it with some pasta, cream sauce, and a load of freshly grated parmesan. Yummy. If you want to support Billingsgate, check out their location Thursday to Sunday or check out their GoFundMe account.

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View my food journey on Zomato!

Fresh-adilla Fresh Tortilla Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato