Mango Thai, Sunset Burgers and Chronic Tacos: Cheap and Cheerful Eats Around Vancouver
Image by Catherine Roscoe Barr
There is no shortage of wonderful and affordable eats in Vancouver. Mango Thai, Sunset Burgers and Chronic Tacos are some of the latest and greatest
The clock is ticking and it's nearly dinnertime, but your fridge is empty and your cupboards are bare. Your stomach is grumbling but you can’t muster the strength to plan a meal, buy the groceries and whip something together.
Sound familiar? It’s in those moments of sheer desperation that it’s handy to have a list of go-to places that fulfill all criteria on your personal food checklist: quick, affordable and delicious. Here are some of my personal favourites.
Clockwise from top left: papaya salad, Som Tum apple salad, green curry with prawns and chicken with cashews. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
I have an insatiable appetite for Thai food and love discovering new spots to indulge my green curry, cashew chicken and spring roll addiction. Mango Thai has been open since April, but I hadn’t been there until recently, and I’m so glad I finally decided to go.
My dining buddy and I sat down for a weekend lunch, so we decided to start off with a few of their weekend specials. I ordered the “Thai Me Up” roll ($2.50) with Dungeness crab, prawn, cream cheese and Mango Thai “can’t stop dipping” sauce, and the papaya salad ($8) with fresh green papaya, carrots, green beans, peanuts, tomatoes, garlic, lime juice and Thai chilies. My friend ordered the Som Tum apple salad ($8) with shredded apple, carrots, peanuts, limejuice and Thai chilies.
We both tried a lunch special (there are nine from which to choose), which comes with rice, a spring roll and salad—great value for $6.99. I ordered chicken with cashews, which was really tasty and had plenty of fresh, crunchy vegetables, while my friend got the green curry with prawns. It was one of the best green curries I’ve ever tried, and I ended up taking her leftover green curry sauce home.
The refreshing salads were perfect for that particular sunny day, but as the clouds roll in on Vancouver, I already have selections picked out for my next visit: the creamy hot and sour soup (with coconut and lemongrass) and the Mango Thai curry (with BBQ duck and red curry sauce). And, if I'm going to be honest, probably the green curry, too.
Location: 1206 Davie Street
Left: SoCal 80s-inspired artwork by Vancouver artist Caliden. Right: The delicious cheeseburger combo comes with killer fries. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
Side ponytails held up with neon scrunchies. Blue eye shadow and crimped hair. Ghetto blasters playing Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon. Saved by the Bell, The Cosby Show and Miami Vice. The 80s are my favourite decade of all time. Everything about that era makes me feel upbeat, jazzed, and totally awesome. Those are the feelings that Sunset Burgers, a new “California-style burger joint” in Yaletown, hopes to evoke.
“It’s really about capturing the essence of the 80s from California,” says co-owner Derek Anderson, “sort of California-80s-meets-Yaletown. The 80s were fun: the vibrancy, the colours, the music, the style.”
Even though you can get your burgers, fries, onion rings and mac ‘n’ cheese to go, the dining area is so much fun that you’ll probably want to stay (the patio is great on a sunny day too). Anderson worked with local artist Caliden to create the images of 80s characters enjoying poutine, squirting ketchup and sitting down to a tasty burger.
Sunset’s burgers are tasty indeed, with juicy kobe-beef-blend patties (they also have chicken and veggie) and standard toppings of lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, pickles and a tasty secret recipe sunset sauce (with lots of enticing extras).
Their fries are ridiculously good as well: hand-cut, sprinkled with sea salt and the perfect mix of crunch and grease. A word to the wise: you may want to split an order of fries with a friend because their portions are very generous. Burgers range from the $5.39 veggie to the $7.59 double patty, and you can make it a combo for an extra $3.29.
Location: 550 Nelson Street
Clockwise from top left: Jarritos, $2.59 each (Mexican sodas that come in 11 different flavours. We tried the Jamaica (hibiscus) and Mango); Pollo Asada fatty taco; Carnitas fatty taco; and Fish taco. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)
I fell in love with Chronic Tacos at their original Vancouver location on West Broadway, so I was thrilled to see that a new location was opening at 980 Granville Street (hot on the heels of a new West 4th location—and there are five more BC locations in the works, including one in Gastown).
Chronic Tacos started up in Newport Beach in southern California based on “authentic third-generation recipes” from the Bonilla family. The Chronic Tacos founders, Daniel Biello and Randall Wyner, decided to franchise after opening a second location, and they now have around 40 locations in North America.
As the head of Chronic Tacos Canada, Adam Osborne has brought their laidback, “northern Baja”-style Mexican food to Vancouver.
“It’s going really well,” says Osborne, “people have been really receptive. We were voted second best tacos in the Golden Plate Awards last year and we’d only been open for four months.”
My favourite items on the menu are the fatty tacos ($3.49 each). They're these little corn or flour tortillas stuffed with your choice of fixings that you select from an assembly line, and they come with your choice of Carne Asada (beef), Pollo Asada (chicken), Carnitas (pulled pork), Al Pastor (marinated pork), fish or shrimp fillings. Everything is so fresh and feels like something you could have made at home (but better).
You can also start your day with Chronic Tacos. “Our breakfast is off the hook,” says Osborne in his laid back SoCal way. “We have a choice of bacon, chorizo, veggie or machaca (shredded beef) burritos, bowls or tacos. And we have a special where you get a breakfast taco and a coffee for just $3.99.”
Location: 980 Granville Street