Tequila and tacos. What’s not to like? We joined a sold out crowd at Tacofino Commissary to taste the flavours of West Coast-by-way-of-Mexico.
For some, the mere mention of tequila brings back memories of LMFAO and Lil Jon’s song “Shots,” followed by poor decisions and regret. Not us, though. If you’re reading this, you probably also managed to survive the nightmare that is Jose Cuervo. Maybe you’ve even sampled some of the very fine tequilas on the market. Or even learned that the proper way to drink tequila is not to knock it back but rather, to sip it slowly, and let the liquid gold work its magic in your mouth.
Like any fine wine — or for that matter, any alcohol — tequila is best enjoyed in good company, and ideally, in an engaging environment. Tacofino Commissary offers both. On March 29th, we were invited for an intimate four-course dinner created by regional executive chef, Christine Deyoung, in collaboration with Jonathan Smolensky of Sovereign Wine and Spirits. Walking in, we immediately felt at ease in the bright and spacious room with communal tables and local artwork thoughtfully arranged. A stylish, mostly Gen-X crowd blended easily with a few millennials with an apparent shared love for black leather jackets and Blundstones.
Conversation loosened as the first drink, a grapefruit and pink peppercorn infused Tequila cocktail (Pinquante Cocktail), effortlessly slithered down, sip after sip. A wild Argentinian prawn ceviche arrived moments after a palpable shift in vibe – everyone got hungry in unison. Jonathan Smolensky, our Tequila don, must have sensed the energy in the room as he spent little time introducing himself and the reason behind the evening at hand: to eat and drink.
As the evening went on we learned that the three kinds of tequila we sampled, Blanco, Reposado and Anejo, if crafted properly, do not need to be expensive to taste amazing. It all depends on your personal palate.
Soon, the second dish arrived, a smoked tuna tostada, charred plantains and avocado crema. It was hands down the best part of the night (tequila and company aside). The way the fresh collard slaw, pickles and tamarind salt played off the Wansas Reposado tequila was an unforgettable salute to West Coast-by-way-of-Mexico culinary craftiness.
Rounding out the savoury offerings was a pork cheek and belly barbacoa with sweet and savory mung beans, green mole, zapote negro, tomatillo and pickled onions. It was a bit heavy, it took two glasses of Aha Yeto Anejo Tequila to wash down.
The Cotija Churro taco with pear sorbet for dessert was the perfect finishing move. A rare and expensive Koch El Mezcal (no worm) with a lickerish smokey heat had just about all in attendance smiling, and a touch wobbly.
If this evening was an indication of what the team at Tacofino Commissary is capable of, we thoroughly recommend the journey to the East Village. You won’t have to deal with crazy lines, douchy Yaletown peacocky-ness or hipsters drowning in their own irony. That is, until everyone else discovers this gem of a taco joint.