El Mariachi on Hastings, Just East of Boundary in Burnaby

Updated: 22nd Nov 2014; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Suanne and I told ourselves that we need to just give Mexican cuisine another try. Truth be told, our impression of Mexican food is of beans and mushed up food. I just don’t like beans personally.


So, a couple of weeks ago I happened to speak to Alejandra in the office about Mexican food and the fact that I dislike beans. She was quite livid that my whole impression of Mexican cuisine is just all wrong.

I did not think much about it after that but when I got back to my desk later on, I found an email in the inbox from Alejandra with a list of her favourite Mexican restaurants … along with the recommended dish to order! Perfect. This is just what I like — a Mexican recommending their favourite Mexican restaurant. You can’t get a more authentic experience than that.

BTW, see her third recommendation above. Does anyone know which restaurant she is referring to?


So, Suanne and I went to El Mariachi for our Friday dinner. You know what we like about this place … the fact that it is so unknown and yet to the Mexican community, they are well known (or at least that’s what Alejandra told me). There were very little reviews found of this place.

Moreover, if you walk along the street, you will very likely not even know they existed. It is located upstairs with just a banner that announces their existence.


If you walk along Hastings in Burnaby (between Boundary and Ingleton Ave), the one thing that might catch your attention is the sandwich board just outside their entrance.


What greeted us was a surprise. It was more than what we expected. The whole place was colourful and bright. They were playing very catchy Mexican songs. So it was just perfect having just stepped out of a blustery and wet day — warm decor, warm colors and warm welcome.

Alejandra told me that they have live music but it’s only on the weekend. Actually, the place was quiet for the Friday night. It was just us and another party who dined there.


The waiter was a cheerful guy. For drinks we asked for something Mexican. He recommended a Mexican pop for Suanne saying that the Jarritos is Mexico’s national soft drink which uses the nation’s favourite fruit flavours. Jarritos is to Mexico what Coca-cola is to the US. The drink is not very fizzy and not too sweet.

For me, I had the Negra Modelo. This dark beer came in an unique fat bottle.


Seeing that we were asking a lot of questions about Mexican food, our waiter explained that in almost all Mexican restaurants, they provide free appetizer of chips. They came with a green salsa and a red salsa which was more orangey than red.

The salsas was not spicy with the red one a tad more spicier. Suanne prefers the green salsa better because it has a sourness in it. The corn chips were great. Suanne can’t stop picking one up after another … something she regretted doing when the real food came.

The salsas is the watery kind and not the chunky ones we are used to.


For our first course we wanted to order Sopa Azteca as what Alejandra recommended. They said they don’t have the Sopa Azteca but recommended something like it … Sopa Tortilla. This is super awesome. Not only is it presented in such a delightful manner, it tasted great.

It is tomato’ish and lightly spicy. Just the kind of thing we need for a cold day. In this soup are thinly fried tortilla, cheese cubes, avocado and garnished with cream. The crispy fried tortilla gives the soup a  whole different texture and the cheese provides that tinge of saltiness to the flavour.

And this was just … $6.

It was a great start.


Alejandra recommended that we get a Carne a la Tampiquena ($16). Here they just called it Tampiquena … am not sure what that means. This is primarily beef steak strips.


There were two pieces of beef steaks, not too thick. It was quite good and juicy as we expected but we felt it was not a really good cut. We like the caramelized onions on the top and …


… hidden underneath the beef is this mix of sauteed poblano peppers, onions, and corns with cream cheese. I like this particularly.



There are more. Clockwise from top left … we both hate the black bean. We took a bite and left it untouched after that. It’s just us — never liked beans and the color too does not look appetizing to us.

The rice was really nice and fragrant. Suanne thinks this is called Spanish Rice which is something she had made before in her Richmond Community Kitchen.

Bottom right is the Cheese Quesadilla. I still cannot differentiate the difference between quesadilla and a tortilla. This one is nothing fancy.

The last side dish is the Mexican Salsa. It was simply one of the best we had and I like the way the cilantro gives the salsa that twist in taste. It was cool and fresh.


We wanted to get the Tacos de Birria as recommended by Alejandra but they don’t serve this here. They said that there are not many places that serves this because it is complex to make. Instead he recommended something complex that they have … and that is the Pollo con Mole ($11). In English it is Chicken with Mole Sauce.

Suanne also made the Chicken Mole before in her RCK. Here is the recipe but the mole she used are canned ones.


The star of this dish is not the chicken. It is the mole sauce. It is thick with very complex flavours. The waiter told us this takes 35 different types of ingredients to make. Not wanted to waste the delicious mole sauce, we used that as a dip.

We felt the spiciness of the mole is different. While most spiciness attacks the tongue and the lips, the mole does not do that but instead we felt the heat at the throat. Did we both imagine that? LOL! We are asking you because when we told the waiter, he looked at us kind of puzzled.

Maybe we are imagining it.


Suanne was already full. So was I.

Suanne said she did not want dessert but it is so easy to change her mind when I read the dessert choices to her. She reluctantly agreed to get it only if I eat 90% of it. She said she just wanted a bite to taste.


So I picked the $5 Mexican Flan. It is dense and has a consistent texture … really super rich and super nice.

Our “10% Only” Suanne turned out to be “More Than 70%” Suanne.

See? She cannot resist desserts.


Awesome meal. It is a great find if you ask me (not that I had eaten in many Mexican restaurants!). We like the food, our waiter, the decor and the music. The only thing that we can’t understand is why it was so quiet that Friday night. Maybe it was cold and blustery that day.

Here … check out their menu.


El Mariachi on Urbanspoon

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. JMH

    I believe the mexican restaurant on Davies is
    also for authentic/best tacos go to
    La Taqueria Taco Shop Ltd
    322 Hastings Street West, Vancouver, BC V6B 1K6
    (604) 568-4406‎

  2. Bobba

    i don’t get it, your friend recommended the restaurant and the dishes, but the restaurant doesn’t have the dish???? must really be so good that they go often enough to know it…. :p

    1. Ben

      I spoke to Alejandra and she told me that she got the dishes mixed up between Don Guacamoles and El Mariachi.

  3. RobynT

    looks good! i think the plating is more attractive there than at most mexican restaurants that i’ve been too. the items look different than what i usually see too. (or maybe i am just unadventurous? i feel like it is always taco or enchiladas or something with rice and beans)

    quesadilla is a tortilla with cheese (and sometimes other ingredients) inside.

  4. Bill Barilko

    Tampiqueña means it originated in the city of Tampico on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, a prosperous thriving and quite humid city.

    It’s ironic that the rest of North America knows Tampico for this signature Beef dish when Seafood is so popular in the city itself, it’s inhabitants are often referred to as ‘Jaibos’ or Crabs in English, such is fame I suppose!

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico and my Mexican friends here highly recommend Doña Cata’s up on Victoria Drive haven’t managed to make it there yet.


    1. LotusRapper

      I’ve heard from 3 friends who swear Dona Cata is well worth it !

  5. Elaine

    LMAO give her a break. All females love desserts! How can you not?

    I am surprised I still haven’t seen a post of Cheesecake Etc. or Yavis Club for their cheesecakes!

    1. Ben

      Hah. Maybe Suanne had heard of them but Cheesecake Etc or Yavis Club is new to me. I am not a dessert person. Am surprised to have just found that Yavis Club is in Richmond … am sure Suanne’s gonna go check it out!

  6. Perry Peck

    One of the best Mexican restaurants on Earth!!!

  7. Beth

    I’ve eaten there twice now, is very good food, compares to the best I’ve had in Mexico.

    Yum! And I LOVED the beans, amazing flavour.

  8. grayelf

    CALLI Restaurante Mexicano menu , 1102 Davie St., Vancouver, BC – 604-633-9950

  9. Michael

    THE RESTAURANT ON DAVIE ST. MUST HAVE BEEN “CALLI RESTAURANTE MEXICANO”. That is the best option for Mexican food in whole Vancouver and vicinities!! You have to try it definitely! Mole Sauce there is OMG! and service and prices are great! For lunch time it is packed with nurses and docs from the hospital nearby. You just hear nice words from everybody when they are paying. They have a website http://www.callirestaurant.com/ Let me know if you go…

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