Cuchillo – Serves Up Creative Latin American Plates

Cuchillo, opened a few weeks ago in the heart of downtown east side where Railtown meets Chinatown. They have seen their share of protests so I decided to go and show my support. Cuchillo serves up creative Latin American dishes that are meant to be shared.

Cuchillo long table
Cuchillo long table

Unfortunately, they were just vandalized a few hours before, so they had to board up one of their windows. Don’t let this deter you from going though, this restaurant is worth a try.

They have this beautiful tall table parallel to the bar and in the back they have lounge area with comfy recliners. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing, décor is similar to the Diamond in Gastown, except Cuchillo’s service is far superior, everyone was welcoming and staff was knowledgeable.  The service I received at Diamond was so bad that they were added and moved up to the top of my blacklist, the only restaurant on this list because of poor service, the others I was due to food poisoning. I will save that story for later.

They serve my favourite mojito’s in town. I like my classic drinks to stay classic. I stay away from any berry infused drinks. Cuchillo topped their mojito’s with dark rum. Yummy! My friend said it was too minty but, I I thought it was the perfect hit.

mojito topped with dark rum
mojito topped with dark rum

Antojitos and Taqueria’s – small plates and tacos

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter $7 was made out of blue cornmeal resulting in a grainier texture. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Corn bread are usually very dense, Cuchillo’s was fluffier and moist. The chili butter gave it some nice heat.

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter
Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter

White bean parmasean fundido $8 with corn chips is quite filling. It is essentially a white bean dip, with pumpkin seed, cotija Monterey jack, sardo parmesan and two other Argentinean cheeses. The cheese was sharp, heavy on garlic and the bean was a perfect consistency. You’d need an appetite, this is a heavy dish

White bean parmasean fundido
White bean parmasean fundido

Mixto Traditionale, octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree. $14. After having the last two dishes that had huge flavor, the ceviche was relatively light. The seafood was fresh but, I would have liked more seasoning.

octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.
octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.

Mole Lamb albondigas, sardo parmasean browned garlic popcorn $8. This was my favourite dish, the lamb which was served in a lamb-ball was amazing. Think the lamb mixture was mixed with beef, I don’t get the intense gaminess lamb flavor. It was juicey and topped with popcorn which gave it a nice texture. I have to admit I was sold on the popcorn first before our server even mentioned lamb.

lamb taco
lamb taco

Morita chili bbq pulled pork. This pulled pork taco was pretty run of the mill. The bbq sauce was very nice, sweet, not overly savoury and the pulled pork wasn’t drowning in the sauce. I’ve had so many pulled pork dishes that I getting sick of it. This would be my last pulled pork dish for the season.

Morita chili bbq pulled pork.
Morita chili bbq pulled pork.

My two cents on DTES Gentrification Protests…

My two cents on the protests
My two cents on the protests

As for this bullshit about it being expensive, well it is more expensive than Everything $5? Yes, the quality of the food is far superior, what do you expect to pay for quality ingredients, of course it costs more. Share plates range from $6 – 14, you get two decent sized tacos for $8 and, entrees range from $18 – $24. The prices are a little lower than what you would find in the heart of downtown and the food is crazy good. It’s not an Applebee’s, you won’t get bottomless fries and a heaping plate of pasta bigger than your head, that’s just nasty. So before you whine that it’s too expensive, go out to comparable restaurants around town to get some perspective.

DTES is not exactly a tourist attraction but, some parts of Gastown isn’t either. If I never venture out then I would not get a chance to experience gems like Pidgin and Cuchillo. Try it out yourself before you turn up your nose at these restaurants because of their location.

Cuchillo on Urbanspoon

Cuchillo, Gastown

Cafe Habana – East Village Spanish Joint

During my trip to New York we hit up a few, ok I lied, MANY restaurants. We chose Café Habana a small yet popular Cuban / Spanish joint in East Village. Café Habana is known for their corn and Cuban sandwiches.

Cafe Habana - East Village Spanish Tapas

During lunch time it was packed and we were seated in a cramped corner. Once I tasted their Cuban sandwich they could have sat me on a bus stop for all I cared. It was that good!

Cafe Habana cuban sandwich

The Quesadilla de Pollo was typical and the intensity of the flavours was dull.

Chicken Quesadilla

Next trip back I will be trying the corn.

Café Habana on Urbanspoon

Cocktail That Inspires of Summer – Salsa & Agave

Salsa Agave
Salsa Agave

Food Persuasion level : [rating=4]
Value: [rating=4]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=3
Price: $$
Cuisine: Mexican Grill Restaurant
Location: Yaletown, Vancouver

Comfortably perched at Salsa Agave’s bar, I watch the gloomy quarter sized rain drops pelt down on unusually quiet Saturday afternoon. What could perk us up more than a refreshing, fruity cocktail that makes us reminisce of our lazy summer days on Kitsilano Beach. Strawberry  Rush cocktail, mixed with guava juice, at least 2 oz of vodka, soda and, freshly muddled strawberries.

strawberry rush - Salsa Agave
strawberry rush - Salsa Agave

Soft corn tortillas $2.25 each or 4 for $8. A recommend for it’s great value.

Fave beef tongue, tender, lacked a bit of salt but, delicious.

beef tongue - Salsa Agave
beef tongue - Salsa Agave

Next recommendation, Chorizo, mexican sausage, this was delicious. Unlike it’s competitor restaurant Don Guacamole’s which were dry and chewy, this was delicious.

The chicken and beef tortillas were good but, nothing special.

chorizo and chicken taco - Salsa Agave
chorizo and chicken taco - Salsa Agave

Menudo, beef tripe in a spicy broth with sides of onions, oregano and lime -$9. Our adorable and hot server suggested mixing the sides in the broth and let it sit for a few minutes so all the flavors can meld together.

Mendu taco - Salsa Agave
Mendu taco - Salsa Agave
1223 Pacific Blvd(604) 408-4228

Similar Restaurant Recommendations

Don Guacamole’s – Robson St.

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Salsa & Agave Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Red Hot Mexican – Don Guacamoles

Food Persuasion level : [rating=2]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=3]
Price: $
Cuisine: Mexican Restaurant
Location: Robson St.,  DonwtownVancouver
Don Guacamole’s Restaurant Menu

Don Guacamole

Food Persuasion Level

It must be the pull of their large and always packed patio that drew us to Don Guacamole’s or, their guacamole dip in a martini glass. Whatever the reason, we were ready to explore Robson’s version of a Red Hot Mexican meal.

Starting off with a complimentary side of tortillas that comes with 3 dipping sauces. None, all too spicy.

Tortilla Chips

The best value and my recommendation are the Tortilla appetizers $2.75/ each, it is equally as big as the tortillas sized entrees. We ordered the Birria, slow cooked lamb with as their menu terms it a “unique” mexican sauce.  Really just a bunch of chillies, we started adding the dip from our chips to add extra flavour to a rather much too simple dish.

Birria

For the entree we ordered the Mulitas Campachenas – corn tortillas, ground beef and mexican sausage and guacamole -$10, it comes with two tortillas.  This turned out a little dry, added a spritz of lime, extra gucamole and salsa which turned out great.

Mulitas

Gauging from my foodie co-horts this place is a hit or miss, depending when you go, the line-ups are always long and whether their cook is on the ball when he made your dish. For that reason and the fact that I was my own sit-down chef I am not persuaded.

1333 Robson StVancouver, BC(604) 569-2295

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Don Guacamole's on Urbanspoon