British Columbia

Beyond tacos: Kitsilano restaurant showcases variety of Mexican cuisine

The diversity of Mexican cuisine is not reflected in Vancouver's dining scene, but this Kitsilano restaurant is doing what it can to show Vancouverites there's more to the country's food than just tacos.

Mexican-born celebrity chef Marcela Ramirez prepares dishes from a rotating menu every Thursday

Cacao restaurant hosts a weekly dinner series featuring authentic Mexican dishes like charro beans with pork, pictured here, made by chef Marcela Ramirez. (Cacao/Instagram)

Those who have travelled around Mexico know that the food in that country has a diversity that is not well-reflected in the local dining scene in Vancouver.

"A lot of what we have here is not authentic Mexican; it's more Tex-Mex," On The Coast food columnist Gail Johnson told host Gloria Macarenko.

"We love our tacos but you certainly don't see heaps of grated cheddar cheese and globs of sour cream on them in Mexico."

Now, one Kitsilano restaurant is doing what it can to show Vancouverites the true breadth of Mexican cuisine.

Marcela's Dinner

Cacao restaurant hosts Marcela's Dinner every Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. For this dinner series, celebrity chef and part-owner Marcela Ramirez cooks up a variety of dishes from the south of Mexico.

Customers are treated to one of four set menus, each featuring four courses, for $50.

"At the heart of these dinners is [Ramirez'] desire to show people here the depth of Mexican cuisine," said Johnson.

Dishes include chile relleno with pork alongside pink or red rice; gorditas, a thick pastry made of corn meal stuffed with black beans and cream; esquites, a kind of a corn salad that Ramirez makes with white corn poblano chili peppers and queso fresco, or Mexican cheese; and jalapeno chili with shrimp.

Secret mole sauce

The secret sauce, according to Johnson, is the mole that's apparently been passed down through Ramirez' family for generations.

"When she came to Vancouver she froze some concentrate and snuck it in her suitcase," said Ramirez. "It's authentic as it gets. You're not going to find that anywhere else in Vancouver. It's a real true taste of Mexico."

Cacao, which is located at West 1st Avenue and Cypress Street, is a joint venture between Ramirez and Venezuelan-born chef Jefferson Alvarez.

Before moving to Vancouver from Mexico in 2016, Ramirez published two cookbooks and had her own cooking show on television for 15 years.

Listen to the full interview here:

On The Coast's food columnist Gail Johnson tells host Gloria Macarenko about a local Latin American restaurant that's showcasing the breadth and depths of the food of Mexico in a new dinner series. 7:14

With files from On The Coast

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