Chancho just opened in their new location on Commercial Drive, after moving from Yaletown. They’ve taken over the old Cafe Deux Soleil space, and given it quite a make-over. The pink exterior is instantly recognizable, and front windows open onto the Drive, giving the space an indoor/outdoor feel that suits a restaurant serving food from closer to the equator.
A Bigger, Brighter Chancho
The same mural artist who painted the Yaletown location, Graham Landin, decorated the interior of the Commercial Drive space with bright colours and animals that almost look like cave paintings. The interior has been refreshed, and Chancho is excited to have more seats, as well as a patio. They have plans to host different cocktail nights, as well as other events, to utilize the bigger space. It’s going to be a lovely summer at Chancho, to sit and catch a breeze off of Commercial Drive with a Margarita or Michelada.
I first heard about Chancho from a friend who raved about their tortillas. Now, let me be that friend and rave to you. The tortillas are exceptional. They are made fresh every day using only the best non-GMO corn imported directly from small, independent Mexican farms. Given what day you visit, you’ll find that there might be colour variation in the tortillas, based on which corn was used at the time of the making. Therefore, each batch has its own unique flavour and texture. The corn is sourced from thirty-two different Indigenous communities in Oaxaca. These corn varieties cannot be found anywhere else in the world. As Chancho says, the corn makes the tortilla.
The corn used by Chancho goes through the ancient process of nixtamalization which was developed by the Aztecs and the Mayans. It is then soaked, ground, and mixed into a masa without the addition of any flour. In Mexico, a tortilleria is at the heart of each community, and now Chancho is the tortilleria at the heart of Commercial Drive’s community. The nixtamalized tortillas are for sale by the dozen or by the pound. Here’s a hot tip. Pick some up at your next visit and use them for breakfast tacos the next morning. Other restaurants in town, such as Ophelia, have started carrying Chancho’s tortillas as well. Chancho also sells their fresh masa, but qualities are limited so be sure to call ahead to order.
Let’s Taco ‘Bout Chancho’s Fillings
Now we’ve come to the carnitas, the pork. Chancho offers a choice of Maciza (pork shoulder), Panza (pork belly), or a mouth-watering mix of both called the Campechano. At Chancho, you don’t order by the taco, you order by weight. They recommend a quarter pound per person but, hey, I’m not going to tell you how many tacos to eat, and you can always take the leftovers home with you. All orders come with pickled red cabbage, whole pinto beans, house-made salsas, freshly made tortillas, and limes. Chancho only uses the highest quality pork and fresh, local ingredients. There are also tasty vegetarian taco options. There is a choice of potato, veggie with squash and spinach, or a mix of both. The same fillings are available in tortas too.
Chancho also sells the social media sensation, birria tacos. You can get two crispy birria tacos which come with cilantro, onion, and lime. Most importantly, you get a side of birria consommé to dip your tacos into.
If you’d like to do a taco night with the family at home, Chancho sells take-home taco kits with all you need for a taco feast including your choice of margaritas or micheladas.
Other Offerings at Chancho
There are Happy Hour specials at Chancho every day from 3 to 6 pm. You can get their guacamole and chips for $8, and they also have drink specials. On my last visit, the Michelada seemed to be by far the most popular drink. For those that don’t know, it’s kind of like a beer Caesar, as its a spicy beer cocktail. Chancho also has a selection of local and Mexican beer. As a Mezcal fan, I opted for the Mezcal Margarita. It was smoky and refreshing.
If you’d like to swap your weekend Caesar for a Michelada, Chancho also serves weekend brunch, featuring Chilaquiles topped with eggs. And, for a sweet treat to end your meal, whether that be brunch, lunch, dinner, or happy hour snacks, you can try fresh Churros with dulce de leche dipping sauce, or Lime Carlotas which is like a Mexican Key Lime Pie.