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Tequila Kitchen


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I think it had a bad start a few months ago. They opened, had trouble figuring out what they wanted to be, and then shut down for extensive renovations and a conceptual rethink. They've also hired professional PR (my inbox has been seeing plenty of press releases), so I think we'll likely see some reviews trickling in soon.

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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I've heard good things, and they're just across the street from work, and it looks like they plan to be open late enough for post-shift drinkies...

I tried to go last Monday, but it turns out they close Mondays. I'll give them another shot later this week.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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I've heard good things, and they're just across the street from work, and it looks like they plan to be open late enough for post-shift drinkies...

I tried to go last Monday, but it turns out they close Mondays. I'll give them another shot later this week.

From City Food today:

Tequila Kitchen will open for lunch this Wednesday (March 19th) with a “Soft Opening” limited a la carte menu. Soft opening remains until March 31st with a limited a la carte menu at lunch and dinner as well as an evening tasting (or sampling) menu at $25 per person. Lunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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Ok, tried out the tasting menu tonight. This is a welcome addition to the Vancouver scene. The feel is very casual and comfortable. Even more than I expected considering the Yaletown location. The staff was all extremely friendly and helpful about explaining the soft opening menu, drink selection, etc.

The soft opening menu is very good value and gives a broad exposure to the various flavours they will be producing.

You start off with tortilla chips (perhaps baked, or if fried they were not greasy at all) and a Mexican ricotta dip that was seasoned with chiles. A very nice opening.

This was followed by a ceviche plate that had two types of ceviches. One was octopus and mango based and the other was halibut with pico de gallo. The highlight was the small dish of chile sauce that was between the two ceviches. It had a lovely complexity and heat that really complemented the ceviches.

Next was a trio of quesadillitas accompanied by a pico de gallo and salsa verde. One was mushroom filled; one was filled with poblano peppers in a cheese, corn, and onion base; and the third was filled with crab and topped with guacamole. These had a nice variety of flavours with the mushroom filled one perhaps having the most distinctive flavour.

The next course was a mexican style black bean soup presented with thin fried tortilla slices and a decoration of sour cream (just decorative, not overwhelming). The soup had a subtle oregano flavour that really worked well.

Next was the meat course, which was composed of three different meats. The first was duck breast in a hibiscus and serrano glaze. The sauce was superb. The sweetness and serrano blended perfectly. The duck was good, but just slightly too cooked for my taste (not terribly overdone, I just like my duck more towards the rarer side). It moistened up nicely when combined with the sauce. The second was the lamb shank that had been shredded and blended in a tequila based salsa. The meat was extremely tender and the sauce rounded out the flavour. The third, and perhaps the highlight, was the chile glazed pork ribs. The chile sauce has 5 different chiles, and most notably had a smoky hint of ancho. The sauce was complex and layered, and went extremely well with the tender ribs. The meats were served with a size of string beans and carrots. The carrots had a hint of citrus. There were also some corn tortillas served very hot. I would love for them to make there own, but for premade tortillas they were steamed and as good as those can be. Overall a successful main course.

Dessert was a mexican praline with a tasting of vanilla ice cream on top. There were two pralines. One of them was covered in caramel sauce and the other in a mexican chocolate sauce (with the distinct cinnamon flavour). The pralines were moist and an enjoyable conclusion to the meal.

All of the above was priced at a mere $25. Quite the steal to get familiar with a bunch of the flavours they will be offering. Apparently the soft opening tasting menu will be ending in about a week and a half's time. So get it while the getting is good!

They offer a variety of tequila based cocktails, margaritas, and beer. I sampled the margaritas and they were certainly passable. Come to think of it, I can't think of any other margaritas I've had in Vancouver so I don't have local comparisons. They were what I would expect from a decent margarita though overall.

Overall I am looking forward to seeing what else they start to offer as the menu rounds out. The $25 tasting is a steal, and the flavours make me look forward to what else is coming.

Cheers!

Edited by Vancouver (log)
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Hey, this sounds good. I passed by the other day before they opened for the evening service and was slightly worried that this was an attempt to fancify rustic mexican cuisine but it sounds like they pulled it off.

Thanks for the review, I look forward to trying them.

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The style of the food reminded me a bit of Fonda San Miguel. The ambience was quite different though from Fonda San Miguel, with Tequila Kitchen being much more casual and the room feeling a bit cavernous (even though it is a small room).

Hopefully introducing the various flavours in Vancouver will have a similar effect in creating a demand for authentic Mexican ingredients as Fonda San Miguel did in Texas in the 70's. (Particularly those lovely chiles that they use in various ways in the dishes.) I hope they also bring in some additional flavours like various moles, Veracruz style seafood preparations, and some cajeta based desserts.

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I second the thanks for the great report, Vancouver. I keep hoping that our Mexican offerings will expand to include more than "restaurant" Mexican and I see positive signs in the success of the redoubtable Dona Cata and the more fusiony if I may use that word offerings of Cobre and now TK. Speaking of Cobre, if you have been there, can you offer any comparisons?

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I haven't been to Cobre to offer comparisons. I should clarify though, I don't find Tequila Kitchen to be fusion really. It really draws quite heavily on interior mexican cuisine. From looking over Cobre's menu, they seem to be Pan-Latin a bit more.

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I haven't been to Cobre to offer comparisons.  I should clarify though, I don't find Tequila Kitchen to be fusion really.  It really draws quite heavily on interior mexican cuisine.  From looking over Cobre's menu, they seem to be Pan-Latin a bit more.

Thanks for the clarification. Cobre is definitely pan-Latin, and I'm probably mis-using the term fusion but I would say it does not hew too closely to "traditional" foods of any of the countries rep'd. Which is not to say it isn't great food with recognizable nods to many Latin American cuisines I have sampled in situ. I like their interpretations very much, and it sounds as though the same could be true of Tequila Kitchen albeit more focused on one area of Mexico. I'm always nervous about using quotation marks to describe food but that's a whole 'nuther discussion along the lines of the "authentic" argument (and here come the quotation marks again :laugh: )

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Thanks for the clarification on your thoughts. I get what you were trying to say. The food is really basically just modern Mexican cuisine - similar to what you would get in some modern restaurants in Mexico. The same way we have modern Canadian cuisine, or California cuisine, etc.

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Thanks for the clarification on your thoughts. I get what you were trying to say.  The food is really basically just modern Mexican cuisine - similar to what you would get in some modern restaurants in Mexico.  The same way we have modern Canadian cuisine, or California cuisine, etc.

Perfect, I'm in the picture now, and onto the list goes Tequila Kitchen... such a long list...

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Tried TK tonight. Menu was similar to Vancouver's, above, and the tasting menu is still the only option; full service starts next month. It's very good value for $25. They had a few glitches with the timing but in their defense this was their busiest night since (soft) opening and the quality of the food and service more than made up for it. I can see these guys getting more polished over the next couple of weeks and look forward to trying them again when the full menu comes out. In the meantime, the $25 tasting is a deal.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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I had lunch there yesterday and tried a few different things with a colleague.

The corn and cilantro soup was disappointing as it was cold and lacking flavor, but the tortilla soup was much better.

The Octopus ceviche was very good, as was the ahi tuna with chipotle mayo on a tortilla.

We were a little disappointed to not have received a wine or tequila list, so sadly we both ended up drinking lemonades.

The room itself feels like it is waiting for something else to arrive - it is very sparse and almost empty feeling, and the tables need something to liven then up.

Considering it was only their second lunch, the service was very good.

Overall though - I can't wait to go back and try the dinner menu.

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I agree about the feel of the room. You describe it better as feeling like it is waiting for something else to arrive. That is what I was trying to communicate with the "the room feeling a bit cavernous (even though it is a small room)" remark. But you said it much better. :wink:

Eatrustic, based upon the tequila list they gave at dinner, and looking behind the bar, I don't think they have everything they list on their list available for service yet. I wonder if there might have been some issues importing some of those to Canada?

Cheers!

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Eatrustic, based upon the tequila list they gave at dinner, and looking behind the bar, I don't think they have everything they list on their list available for service yet.

That's right; they're still building up the selection. According to the bartender, the plan is to have more than double what's on display now but they're having the usual problems getting the stuff in.

The room was full last night and certainly didn't feel cavernous.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi All,

Well, I had a chance to drop in for dinner last night so I figured I'd share with you guys how the night went down.

Showed up at the restaurant for a late dinner (around 8pm). First impressions: the decor is a little sparse, the open kitchen concept is cool, room was very quiet (no surprise on a tuesday & I'm sure that will change soon)...overall a refreshing departure from the usual Yaletown scene.

My boyfriend and I decided to order the April tasting menu ($37) so we could try a sampling of items from the menu. Neither of us have much experience with mexican food, so we were quite excited. As our table was small, they combined our two orders and served most of the dishes "family style."

So this is what arrived at our table (Item descriptions are from their website).

Aguachile de Camarón

Butterfly shrimp marinated in lime, onion, orange, oregano and chile.

Guacamole.

Homemade with fresh avocados. Made to order, spicy as you can handle.

- served with tortilla crisps. The shrimp turned out to be a little too hot for my boyfriend to handle, so those sensitive to spicy foods beware. We both really enjoyed the guac, which was daaaaammn good - very refreshing and creamy.

Hongos al Ajillo

Sautéed mushrooms with, guajillo chile, garlic and olive oil.

- these came a few minutes after the first two dishes arrived. Served with soft tortillas for wrapping, the deep smoky flavours easily made this one of my favorite dishes of the night

Sopa de Tortilla

Rich tomato and dry chile soup with thin tortilla crisps, avocado, cheese and cream

- my boyfriend said it tasted like campbells, I'm just not a fan of tomato soup...so I don't think it'd be fair to judge on this one.

For our main, we were served a trio of fish, pork, and chicken with sides of rice and esquites (corn salad)

Tikin Xic

Halibut filet rubbed in Yucatan achiote paste wrapped in banana leaf and oven baked

Pollo en Pipian Verde

Chicken breasts in a green pumpkin seed sauce

Manchamanteles

Literally translates to “tablecloth stainer.” Oven cooked pork with a chile and fruit sauce

- The manchamanteles were our favorite of the three, the pork was tender and the sauce had a nice tang to it. Chicken was moist and I found the pumpkin seed sauce kinda interesting. Neither of us were a fan of the fish, we found it rather dry and the sauce very bland. (*note: heard from the restaurant today that this is being taken off the menu to make room for tastier items).

And for dessert...

Peras en Salsa de Piloncillo y Tequila

Layered pears and whipped cream with a Mexican Brown Sugar and Tequila Sauce

- yummy! you could really taste the tequila in the sauce & the cream was fresh and not too sweet.

The service was friendly and attentive, and we were sent out the door with a chorus of goodbye's from all the staff. All in all, it was nothing spectacular, but the food was tasty and at least worth a second trip.

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Hi All,

Well, I had a chance to drop in for dinner last night so I figured I'd share with you guys how the night went down.

Showed up at the restaurant for a late dinner (around 8pm). First impressions: the decor is a little sparse, the open kitchen concept is cool, room was very quiet (no surprise on a tuesday & I'm sure that will change soon)...overall a refreshing departure from the usual Yaletown scene.

My boyfriend and I decided to order the April tasting menu ($37) so we could try a sampling of items from the menu. Neither of us have much experience with mexican food, so we were quite excited. As our table was small, they combined our two orders and served most of the dishes "family style."

So this is what arrived at our table (Item descriptions are from their website).

Aguachile de Camarón

Butterfly shrimp marinated in lime, onion, orange, oregano and chile.

Guacamole.

Homemade with fresh avocados. Made to order, spicy as you can handle.

- served with tortilla crisps. The shrimp turned out to be a little too hot for my boyfriend to handle, so those sensitive to spicy foods beware. We both really enjoyed the guac, which was daaaaammn good - very refreshing and creamy.

Hongos al Ajillo

Sautéed mushrooms with, guajillo chile, garlic and olive oil.

- these came a few minutes after the first two dishes arrived. Served with soft tortillas for wrapping, the deep smoky flavours easily made this one of my favorite dishes of the night

Sopa de Tortilla

Rich tomato and dry chile soup with thin tortilla crisps, avocado, cheese and cream

- my boyfriend said it tasted like campbells, I'm just not a fan of tomato soup...so I don't think it'd be fair to judge on this one.

For our main, we were served a trio of fish, pork, and chicken with sides of rice and esquites (corn salad)

Tikin Xic

Halibut filet rubbed in Yucatan achiote paste wrapped in banana leaf and oven baked

Pollo en Pipian Verde

Chicken breasts in a green pumpkin seed sauce

Manchamanteles

Literally translates to “tablecloth stainer.” Oven cooked pork with a chile and fruit sauce

- The manchamanteles were our favorite of the three, the pork was tender and the sauce had a nice tang to it. Chicken was moist and I found the pumpkin seed sauce kinda interesting. Neither of us were a fan of the fish, we found it rather dry and the sauce very bland. (*note: heard from the restaurant today that this is being taken off the menu to make room for tastier items).

And for dessert...

Peras en Salsa de Piloncillo y Tequila

Layered pears and whipped cream with a Mexican Brown Sugar and Tequila Sauce

- yummy! you could really taste the tequila in the sauce & the cream was fresh and not too sweet.

The service was friendly and attentive, and we were sent out the door with a chorus of goodbye's from all the staff. All in all, it was nothing spectacular, but the food was tasty and at least worth a second trip.

Do you know if they are now operating with a full kitchen? They were using electric burners when my wife and I went a few weeks ago due to some licensing and mechanical problems with their extractor fans.

My experience was similar to yours. I wasn't a fan of the main trio (the pork, chicken and fish) - though the pipian verde chicken was OK. I'm glad they are taking that fish of the tasting menu...it just didn't work...too dry and lacked flavour.

fmed

de gustibus non est disputandum

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The food their is pretty close to what I had in Guadalajara - where the chef is from. There is alot of depth and subtlety in the food. However - I agree, the halibut did not work - perhaps a buttery sable fish would work better?

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