1999 West 4th Ave
T: 604 734 7117
Brief Description: Conveniently located on 4th and Maple, Las Margaritas is an affordable Mexican restaurant with an extensive menu inspired by the local food of Northern Mexico, Baja California and Southern California.
One of the biggest complaints that I hear from foodie friends is about the serious lack of good Mexican food on the Vancouver food-scene. From what I’ve been told it is very hard to find good Mexican food North of the border. In the case of Las Margaritas, I had heard more good things about the drinks than I had about the food but the foodie in me had to try it out for myself. I was more encouraged to visit when I found out that they choose not to cook with preservatives or additives and only use trans-fat free oils.
Walking in to Las Margaritas, I left the grey, wet day outside and was instantly joyed by the brightly coloured, fun decor (albeit, bordering on slightly clichéd). Momentarily, I was overcome with daydreams of sunning myself on a Mexican beach, with a margarita in hand, dining on fresh food from a small cantina. Flash back to reality and we were seated by the window – just in time to watch a sporadic snow/hail flurry ruin many a 4th Avenue shopper’s day. Oh, there is that infamous Vancouver weather again!
The menu is large and, as you’d expect, filled with the usual suspects of Mexican food; tasty burritos, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and chimichangas. For most of these dishes, you can choose from either chicken, ground beef or roast beef. Service was quick and fast and we received complimentary tortilla chips and fresh salsa almost immediately. The salsa was delectably fresh and it packed just enough punch to have the lips tingling. The tortilla chips, which are freshly-made and slightly salty, were perfect with the salsa. Cold drinks were served alongside the chips and salsa and I was pleasantly surprised. What were Vancouverites complaining about?! So far, this seemed to be the good Mexican that Vancouverites had been looking for.
Unfortunately, it was the entrees that let Las Margaritas down for us. I ordered the Chicken Flautas which are flour or corn tortillas filled and then rolled with seasoned chicken, deep fried and topped with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. What ruined it for me was that I really don’t like the way a lot of Mexican restaurants prepare their chicken. It is usually shredded (fine by me) but for some reason, it tastes fake to me. I honestly had a hard time eating my meal but I did end up enjoying it more once I had pulled the chicken out of the rolls. It isn’t only Las Margaritas that does this – almost every Mexican place that I’ve been prepares their chicken this way so I’m assuming that it is traditional way of cooking. However, I just don’t enjoy it. Next time I go, I will know to try something else other than the chicken. On the plus side, the guacamole was fresh and I got to have more of that yummy home-made salsa.
B agreed with me about the funky tasting chicken. He ordered the Numero Dos Combinacion and found the same strange taste in his Chicken Enchilada. On the other hand, he really enjoyed the Beef Taco.
The Combinaciones seem to be a good choice for someone who can’t make up their mind from the numerous dishes on the menu. There are 8 Combinaciones to choose from and you get anywhere from 2 to 3 different dishes on the one plate.
Final Thoughts: I am not totally disheartened with Las Margarita’s. As I’ve mentioned previously, I do prefer to go to a place more than once before I make a firm decision so I will return. However, the next time I go, it will be on a warm, sunny day and I will sit outside on the patio and enjoy pineapple margarita’s and order something that doesn’t have chicken in it. Thankfully, there is a wide selection to choose from.