Rainbow-coloured blankets splayed on the walls signal that Ponchos Mexican Restaurant is a great place for a feast to become a fiesta. Arrive on the weekends, and a guitar-wielding entertainer plays festive music to boost the celebratory atmosphere. Since 1988, Kaeta Vasquez and her crew in the kitchen have crafted traditional Mexican dishes, such as paella for one or two, a steak-and-enchilada plate, flautas crisp from the fryer, and fajita platters sizzling with peppers and onions. To keep the party alive, diners can order Ponchos Coffee spiked with Kahlúa and Grand Marnier, which Kaeta herself escorts to each table and lights on fire.
Calle Tacos & Tequila's menu describes itself as casually evolved Mexican food. The eatery's cooks don't try to reinvent the wheel, but rather add tasty twists to popular dishes. They spice up ceviche with mango, onion, cucumber, and serrano peppers, whose intense flavors surround Atlantic cod. They revolutionize familiar burritos simply by serving them wet, topping them with a layer of red-pepper sauce and sending them to tables by pushing them down a slip 'n' slide. The same philosophy behind the food extends to the drinks. For example, the signature Callerita combines pure agave tequila with agave nectar and lime juice for a simple, three-ingredient interpretation of the classic drink.
Taco Time Victoria's dedicated taco artisans enhance their menu of fast Mexican eats with shells, chips, taste-bud-kicking sauces, and beef prepared fresh in-store each day. They dish up bite-size, deep-fried Mexi-Fries alongside spicy meals, and for dessert, they shower empanadas and Crustos with cinnamon, sugar, and warm fuzzies to make them extra sweet. Their original hot sauce enflames such entrees as quesadillas and burritos stuffed with canadian cheddar, and guests can take swigs of Pepsi products to cool their sizzling tongues more effectively than licking a snowman.
White-water raft down the Thompson River and you’ll likely encounter a famous rock formation dubbed The Frog—the inspiration behind Todd and Shari Pratt’s eatery, The Frogstone Grill. Just as the boulder's unique shape has stood the test of time, the Pratt's wanted to create a reliable and unique restaurant, distinguished by memorable dishes. And with a menu of Mexican, Italian, and Southwest-inspired contemporary fare, they've managed to do just that.
An open kitchen showcases the chefs' flair for culinary invention, giving patrons front-row seats to watch as they pull homemade breads and margarita pizzas fresh from the brick oven, and brush slow-smoked ribs with cranberry barbecue sauce. To the delight of their late-rising customers, the kitchen team makes breakfast until 3 p.m. on weekends, serving up generous helpings of blueberry-mango french toast and sizzling steak skillets. The kitchen staff also happily serves up gluten-free options throughout the day. Guests who aren't seated near the action still get a show of their own, thanks to guacamole made tableside from fresh avocados, cilantro, and jalapenos. And while patrons dine, they can also enjoy the eatery's aquatic-themed decor, including frog statues, fish tanks, and even the arcade classic Frogger.
Swaths of red and black cover the multilevel ceiling and walls of Joey’s Urban, and matte canvas photos of Joey's food hang on the walls. Contemporary music plays on the speakers, and LCD screens display sporting contests above the heads of patrons consuming fried fish and tacos. Fish 'n' chip meals sear a quarter-pound piece of cod ($12) or halibut ($16) in a crisp, fried coating. The included natural-cut fries with sea salt can be upgraded to classic poutine for an extra $2 and smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Patrons can also select from five flavors of à la carte tacos including ahi tuna or mexi-chicken ($4.50).
Chronic Tacos, whose tacos and burritos were voted some of the best in Vancouver in 2011 by readers of Georgia Straight, culls its recipes from the salsa-splattered pages of a family recipe book filled with three generations of Mexican delicacies. Chefs marinate and grill juicy morsels of steak, chicken, and pork several times a day, then tenderly tuck them into preservative-free corn and flour tortillas. To add zest, dollops of housemade salsa and sour cream perch atop tacos and, in the event of an emergency, rain from sprinkler systems.