By Tana Kosiyabong
A few days ago my coworker Tania proposed I embark on a Cheap Appetite mission to Chronic Tacos, a new taco joint that recently opened around the corner from our workplace. Although she hadn’t tried it yet, she thought it looked promising and I should give it a try (as her lab rat). That same night, my friend Grant also mentioned about this joint. So now that I’d heard about it twice I was very curious. “What’s up with this place? I’ve gotta check it out,” I told myself.
So on my lunch hour the next day I strolled down to West Broadway at Yukon and into Chronic Tacos. When I got to the taco shop – which looked more like a sport bar – a long line of patrons had already formed in front of the counter. It was hard to believe that they’d only been open a week. As I was waiting in line, more and more people kept coming in.
Fifteen minutes later, it was my turn to order. Since this place was named after tacos, I figured it would be wise to roll with that. I ordered two fatty tacos; one on a soft corn tortilla with deep fried Tecate beer battered shrimp, and one crispy taco with Carne Asada (marinated grilled steak) — each priced at $3.29. Other choices of meat (for the same price) are Pollo Asado (marinated grilled chicken), Carnitas (slow cooked pork), Al Pastor (spicy marinated pork with pineapple and onion), deep-fried or grilled fish, and grilled shrimp. Chronic Tacos also sells veggie Fatty Tacos for $2.89.
I had to wait a few minutes while the crispy taco and beer battered shrimp were deep-frying. Once they were cooked I moved along to the next station in their taco assembly line, where I could choose anything to top my tacos; veggies, guacamole, salsa, you named it.
As far as I saw, the staff here were friendly and knowledgable about their menu, although they did look like motorcycle gangsters. You’d think plenty tattoos were part of their job prerequisites. It was fun to see these tough guys cooking in the kitchen for a change.
Once the tacos were assembled, I sat down and tried my best to keep the photo shoot as short as possible. In my mind I kept thinking about the deep fried shrimp which would be less and less crispy with every second I delayed eating them. “That’s it. Enough shots already!” I told myself as I put the stupid camera down.
Not wanting to waste another second, I grabbed the soft tacos with crispy shrimp and popped it straight in my mouth. Fortunately, the deep-fried shrimp batter was still somewhat crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The contrasting textures of the crispy shrimp and the corn tortilla were a heavenly combination in my lucky mouth. The hot sauce was hot, but not tongue-burning. The fresh salsa and hot sauce lifted up the flavor profiles a few more notches. On the table, there were 3 extra bottles of hot sauce in case what they added in the assembly line wasn’t enough.
I was on cloud nine while I alternately switched back and forth among the 3 hot sauces and sometimes combined them all together. My favorite of the three is the Bandito Gringos which made of vinegar, habernero peppers, jalapeno peppers, red japanese chili peppers and a few other ingredients.
Then I moved on to the crispy taco which miraculously stayed crispy after all that time. The Carne Asada (marinated grilled steak) was deep-fried with the taco shell — which predictably was much better than grocery store taco shells. The only complaint was that the shell did closed up while being deep-fried. Even when the assembled staff tried to pry it apart without breaking it, there was still limited space for the toppings. So if you’re looking to fill up your belly, I recommend you go with the soft corn tortilla tacos which allow more room to pile up the toppings.
The grilled steak was cooked well-done as a result of being deep-fried with the shell. However, it was still beefy and the tender texture contrasted well with the crispy shell. With the 3 bottles of hot sauce at my fingertips, I was, for a few minutes at least, the happiest man alive.
Judging from the size of the corn tortilla, Fatty Tacos is not authentically Mexican. It is more similar to Tex-Mex, or, in Chronic Tacos’ case, Cal-Mex (the original restaurant of this fast food chain is located in Newport Beach, California). Two fatty tacos are more in quantity than 4 La Taqueria authentic Mexican tacos. Although Chronic Tacos’ Fatty Tacos are slightly more expensive, you also get much bigger portions.
I must say that it’s really unfair to compare authentic Mexican tacos with the Tex-Mex styles. There is a time and place for everything. All I know is that after my first visit, I can foresee myself chronically addicted to Fatty Tacos in the near future.
NOTE: Other than Fatty Tacos, Chronic Tacos also offers variety of Mexican dishes including Burritos, Tostada Bowls, Tortas (sandwich like dish made with fresh talera bread, refried beans, veggies, guacamole, salsa and your choice of meat), Nachos, Quesadillas, etc. Chronic Tacos also serves breakfast, a kids menu, and most importantly, it also has a liquor license.
CHRONIC TACOS MENU
Chronic Tacos soft corn tortilla Fatty Tacos with Tecate beer battered shrimp: ©©©© 1/2
Chronic Tacos crispy Fatty Tacos with carne asada: ©©©©
Chronic Tacos is located at 382 W. Broadway Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (T) 604.709.8226
Remaining Budget: $114.30
Budget Spent: -$6.58 (not included HST)
Budget Available: $107.72
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