After drafting the best pizza and burgers in the city, we decided to stick to the “handheld foods” sector with tacos. (Hey, everyone could use some comfort eats at the moment, right?)
Before we get into the tacos though, let's check out the results of the burger draft.
As you can see, associate editor Nathan Caddell pulled off an easy win according to our readers, garnering over 57 percent of the vote, and moving to 2-0 on the year. The power of White Spot cannot be overestimated.
Meanwhile, assistant editor Alyssa Hirose has now secured a last place finish in both drafts. Will either of the trends break with tacos? You be the judge in our poll at the end of the page.
As usual, we put our editors’ names into a random draft simulator (snake style, obviously) and off we went. It is, finally, taco time.
1. Neal McLennan, food editor: Chancho Tortilleria
Honestly, this feels like getting the first overall pick in the year Connor McJesus was available. Because they have such a tight, focussed menu, there's never any of the variability you get in every other spot on this list. And don't even try to argue that their tortillas—made right before your eyes—aren't the best in town by a Guadalajara mile. Plus they've been upping their Mezcal and natty wine game of late. A goddamn treasure.
2. Nathan Caddell, associate editor: La Taqueria
My first pick was going to be between Chancho and Taqueria, so I’m glad Neal made the decision for me. I do think Taqueria has a very good case for best tacos in town. The carnitas and tuna varieties in particular, absolutely sing.
My only gripe? That I wasn’t allowed to combine Mezcaleria in with this pick. It’s the same lovely ownership group and uses many of the same ingredients/dishes. So yeah, I was robbed here. Gee, I wonder what’s going to be taken next?
3. Anicka Quin, editorial director: La Mezcaleria
Honestly, they're the tacos I measure everyone against. I'm pretty sure I dream about the hongos (roasted mushroom). And while it isn't a taco, their quesos fundidos is just...well I want to eat vats of it anytime I'm looking for comfort. And yeah, suck it Nate. Mezcal and Taqueria each deserve their own worthy spots on this list!
4. Alyssa Hirose, assistant editor: Maizal RMF
I tried every taco on the menu at Maizal (except for the veggie ones, sorry PETA) and all were great, especially the carnitas and the pastor—I'm a sucker for pineapple salsa.
1. Alyssa: Tacomio
Bonus points to this place for having the best takeout method—those cardboard triangles and double tortilla truly make all the difference in these trying times. Another really great carnitas pick here (so many places manage to get dry meat and a wet tortilla—this isn't one of them).
2. Anicka: Banditas Tacqueria
It's not classic, but the veg-forward fare is full of flavour, particularly the butternut squash tacos. And I never thought I'd love a salad as much as I love their side salads. The whole vibe of the restaurant is also super PNW without being too cool about it. Plus, bourbon and horchata cocktails. Love this spot.
3. Nathan: Top Rope Birria
I know Neal was going to take it, and I wasn’t going to let it slip. I had a bunch of tacos in preparation for this, and Birria was the place that most blew me away. Get the extra skirt and just sit back and enjoy the wonderful mess. Yes, the massive line (and there will be one) is very much worth it. Check out the Instagram page to track where the team is showing up next.
Sal y Limon
4. Neal: Sal y Limon
The type of pick that may not be as flashy as some, but it's reliable, reasonably priced and always delivers. The carne salsa verde is the bomb and they work well with lamb as well. The class of (eastern) Mount Pleasant, by a San Miguel de Allende mile.
1. Neal: Popina Canteen
I actually said Tacofino for this pick (I couldn't believe it was still available) but then I backtracked and went the road that is, as yet, less travelled. The Popina crew (Robert Belcham, Angus An, Joel Watanabe and Hamid Salimian) have taken over an odd spot in Granville Island's Net Loft and here they're playing jazz with a mash-up of non-traditional influences. The tuk tuk green mole is killer as is the foghorn chicken chicharron and potato. And the queso game is strong too. The best tacos on Granville Island by a Ciudad Juarez mile.
2. Nathan: Tacofino
Tacofino in the third round? Come on. Inevitably, whenever something turns into a chain of sorts, there’s going to be backlash. But Tacofino’s newer locations like Ocho off Main are still very much awesome, even if they don’t have quite the same magic as the Tofino truck. And hey, you know I’m going to act like I got that too, even if it’s a tad outside city limits.
Adelitas on Instagram
3. Anicka: Adelitas
Way outside of my hood and much closer to Nate's, but I drove here on the recommendation of a friend. They're fully takeout these days, and fully excellent too. I picked up three tacos pastor for a sweet $10 (and added in a guacamole and chips, too), and the pastor was fresh and perfect—the pineapple on it had been stewed a bit too. I'll be back.
4. Alyssa: TAKO
It's not authentic! I'm not sorry! Give me Asian fusion any day. Tako's Korean takes on tacos are awesome, it's truly a flavour rollercoaster. Spicy Korean fried chicken all the way—and it's a nice break from all the carnitas.
1. Alyssa: Lucky Taco
Another point for fried chicken. And another point for being close to my house (even though I'm getting read for it—excuse me if I don't want to drive 20 minutes for takeout, some of us are watching our carbon footprint). The baja taco is great too.
2. Anicka: Los Amigos
A sweet spot in my hood with friendly, warm service, classic styles (love the pollo best) and a great little street-side patio too.
El Camino's on Instagram
3. Nathan: El Camino’s
In the before times, this was a great place to hang out with a group of friends, while enjoying excellent cocktails and tacos. Hopefully we get back to that sometime soon—though it should be noted that El Camino’s great patio is open, and it’s one of the premium people-watching spots in town.
Carnitas El Rolys
4. Neal: Carnitas El Rolys
This spot, near the entrance to Granville Island, works more in bulk and often (ok, once) I have trouble ordering online. But they, like Chancho, specialize in one thing: Michoacan-style carnitas, and lots of it. And I know this is a taco draft, but you can also get the slow cooked pork in a Bolillo, sort of Mexican baguette, and it's amazing. In terms of Michoacan grub, this is the best by a Morelia mile.
Neal: Chancho Tortilleria, Sal y Limon, Popina Cantina, Carnitas El Rolys
Nathan: La Tacqueria, Top Rope Birria, Tacofino, El Camino's
Anicka: La Mezcaleria, Banditas, Adelitas, Los Amigos
Alyssa: Maizal, Tacomio, TAKO, Lucky Taco
Who made the best calls? And what did we miss? Vote below or share your thoughts on our Instagram page. Voting results will be shared when we come back in a couple weeks for our next draft (we won’t give away the subject just yet).