Chronic Tacos Cantina (Permanently Closed)

Remember that dinner at Sushi Town? Well, while there, I complained to Dolph (somewhat jokingly) that I never get to watch movies I want to watch, since SB gets to choose the movies (case in point: The Dark Knight Rises, Cowboys and Aliens). A couple days later, Dolph suggested we watch Moonrise Kingdom, which I hadn’t even heard of before, but I agreed. Lucky because it was a great film–quirky, sweet, genuine, but not at all cliched. Anyways, after the film, the three of us (Dolph, Pickles, and I) found ourselves in Gastown, with no concrete plans for eats. Dolph suggested we simply walk over  to Chronic Tacos Cantina for a quick dinner.

Like at many Tex-Mex restaurants, we started off with the complimentary Tortilla Chips and Salsa. We were pretty hungry by this point, having waited a while, so we wolfed these down. I remember only that the chips were corny, a little sweet, and the salsa was quite watery for my tastes. But really, how good could this be, right?

Now, on to the entrees! Pickles opted for the Two Taco Platter. We initially thought you could choose a different meat for each taco, but apparently the two tacos must contain the same meat. Strange. Anyways, Pickles’s first choice (which I don’t remember) was sold out, so she decided on the Pollo Asado (marinated grilled chicken), instead. Her tacos were served with rice and refried beans. She found the rice to have a strange, almost mashed texture, which she did not enjoy, but the beans were tasty. The chicken in her tacos proved flavourful with a couple of dry pieces, and was complimented by generic vegetables. Pickles also commented that she could have done without the sides, as the tacos themselves were quite large. As a general consensus, Pickles described her meal as simply “OK”, acceptable but nothing extraordinary or mindblowing.

Dolph ordered the Shrimp Ceviche, which was originally supposed to be served with plantain chips. As you can see, they simply replaced the plantain chips with the tortilla chips we received above…however the staff didn’t inform us of this until the end of the meal. The ceviche itself was sweet, tangy, and spicy, and the amount of chips was inadequate. I personally thought the portion size was a little small, but I was more disturbed (?) by their failure to inform us about the lack of plantain chips. It was a busy night and the waitresses appeared quite bogged down with their respective tables, but it would have been nice for them to check in and make sure we were okay with the replacement rather than just stick us with it, then only apologize for it at the end of the meal. I suppose I don’t go to a place like this for stellar service, and they did comp part of the bill as an apology, but still.

Lastly, I had the Tostada Bowl. Like Pickles’s taco platter above, you could choose the type of meat–and I chose Carne Asada, marinated grilled steak. The meat was dry, unappetizing, and included in the bowl in small chunks that made it difficult to discern any flavour. The rice was quite wet, and clumped together in places–not good. There were also the same beans included in Pickles’s meal. I liked the crispy outside of the bowl, and the lettuce at least tasted fresh, but I wasn’t too impressed with my dinner as a whole. It was difficult to get a balanced forkful in each bite, leaving me usually with an overload of lettuce. The portion size, at least, was reasonable for the price–I managed to finish very little of the bowl, although I ended up feeling quite heavy and bloated afterwards. If I had to choose, I probably wouldn’t order this again.

So our experience at Chronic Tacos was largely underwhelming. Maybe I was longing for the more authentic and homey atmosphere at La Taqueria, but I found the service lacking. The waitresses seemed friendly enough when we could talk to them, but the restaurant appeared to be severely understaffed. Combined with subpar food and sticky tables, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t return here, especially with so many great eating options in Gastown.

Chronic Tacos Cantina
102 Water Street
Vancouver, BC

Chronic Tacos Cantina on Urbanspoon


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