Chihuahua’s Mexican Food & Pizza
881 Carnarvon Street
New Westminster, BC
After my recent satisfying experience at La Taqueria, I wanted to continue my quest of discovering the very best of tacos in the greater Vancouver area. On a complete whim, I was in New Westminster and passed by a place that I remembered as being Mexican (as far as the signage goes) and slowly crept by in my car until I found it once again. Without any information other than my faded memory of the store front, my decision to stop and walk inside was based on the silhouettes of several people eating inside that came into my eye. Had it been empty, I might have been less inclined to stop. Do you ever do that? Base entering a restaurant upon how busy the place is? Love to hear from you in the comments box if so/if not, and why/why not…
The moment I stepped inside, I had a good vibe. All of the folks inside were Latino, and the female served burst out with a “hola!” upon seeing me. I knew I was just going for take away so headed straight to the front counter, that was fronted by a large heating case apparently for pizzas – of which there were none on display as the folks ahead of me took away a box that probably contained the last few pieces. As I took in the small menu sheet that was taped up on the glass which listed all of the available offerings, a fellow came in asking when the next pizza would be ready – six minutes called out the male employee – and headed back out for a smoke only to return some time later. The whole pizza thing made me lose some hope that I’d be getting a true Mexican experience. But I guess there is nothing you can do when you try to be more than one kind of eatery, serving what appears to be the native Canadian crowd who wants cheap, fast food, and those who have the cultural ties to that part of the world and probably come here for a taste of home.
Placing my order of the set tacos de carnitas that included four of them for $10, I waited on standby while some dining customers received their plates. It seemed everyone was getting the tacos. The other ones I saw were the al pastor (again, four for ten bucks), and the tacos fritos, a fried chicken/pork pick that had five of them for again the ten-spot payment. They also had flautas on the menu, which I know as being those “flute-like” rolled flour tortillas that contain some filling and are deep fried. Surprise, surprise, they kept with the $10 value proposition with these as well, and give you six of them.
The rest of the menu had things such as tamales con champurrado, regular tamales, churros, and other things written in Spanish that I’m not really familiar with. The usual assortment of Mexican drinks, snacks and desserts were also around if you want to complete your experience.
So how were my tacos? Big portions – yes. Good value for ten bucks – sure. Doubled-up, corn tortillas – great. Taste – sadly no where close to the powerful taste bud enticing flavors I had at La Taqueria. The chunks of pork were really iffy. Some were fully meaty, but then I’d get chunks that were mostly fat, and then some odd thinner strips that were more like raw rubbery skin. The meat itself lacked true flavor, bland and boring. Even the cilantro, tomato, onion bits and the lazily cut mushy strips of avocado were not doing anything to bolster the profile. Furthermore,the green and red chili side dips did nothing to heighten my eating experience despite putting heaving spoonfuls on top. I almost resorted to sprinkling some salt on this, just to give it more taste.
Overall, what I had hoped for was not provided at all. Even without the happy memories of the brilliant experiences that I had the previous week downtown with tacos, Chihuahua’s offering would have received a low scoring mark from me. I think the comparison opportunities sinks it even lower. I’m real curious if I’m totally out-to-lunch here, as the Spanish speakers inside all seemed to be enjoying themselves with their meals. I thought I was strengthening my own understanding and palate when it comes to this well known food item, but now I’m losing some confidence. Somebody else please go and try it and let me know what your verdict is. The defendant awaits. 🙂