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Good news, folks. I will probably not smell of burrito the next time you see me, for my quest has arrived at a milestone goal of sorts.

Did I find the best wet burrito in Vancouver? Signs point to yes!

Topanga Cafe, probably named after the artist-y area in California and not the busty teen co-star of Boy Meets World, is located just a little ways from my old house.  sigh.

It features about 10 4-person tables, and a line up that took my friend and I 35 minutes to wait through tonight.

The menu is long enough and yet still simple, covering all the basic Mexican foods you might want: enchiladas, chili rellano, tacos, burritos, etc.  The smell was fantastic as we waited, though I will say this was the most uniformly Caucasian wait staff I’ve encountered so far. Goes to show, you shouldn’t judge a restaurant by its employees.

The default serving for the burrito here is with an avocado sauce, green and creamy. (I can’t tell you how it tastes because I don’t eat avocado, but I’m told it was delicious.)  If you order your burrito “wet,” it comes with a red sauce instead, and costs $4 more.  Why $4 more? Is the avocado sauce subsidized by Big Avocado? It’s a mystery to me (though it would explain why every damn sushi roll in this city comes with avocado in it).

But no matter.  I paid extra for “wet” and extra again for my “premium” filling, pork tenderloin, ultimately driving the cost up to about $18.  My companion’s was beef with an chili rellano to match it, and everything was amazing.  My pork, though not stewed, was still spicy and fragrant. His was yummy through and through, though a little small, he said.

The rice was simple; spiced without any mixed-in vegetable matter like peas.  Hooray! The beans, perfect—more pinto than black in this case, which is as it should be—and cheese melted over everything in sufficient but not ludicrous quantity.

I should disclose that the accompanying beers, Negro Modelo and Dos Equis, really, really made the burrito go down perfectly, and the chips were so thin and crunchy they could have been made of formica.  Accompanying the chips was just enough salsa if you weren’t greedy (I was), and it was none too spicy, which suited my mood and beer consumption.

Two more points of note: despite the fact that it’s pretty low key and casual, the dim lighting and the coziness of the place would make it a good date restaurant.  And, if you do have room for dessert, I highly recommend you order the chocolate cake.  It’s really rich, totally moist, and tastes pretty darn close to freshly home made.  Yes, it’s not Mexican. Neither are you, so just order it and enjoy it.

The only two downsides: the wait, but how can you criticize people for wanting a piece of this action, and the prices, but then again, where else you gonna go for good and cheap Mexican food? Ultimately, It’s not exactly what I wanted, but it satisfices wonderfully, so I give these burritos a 9/10. 

Now what? With an actual good burrito found, I’ll probably have a few other Mexican restaurants to test out and share, but without the same strange sense of urgency that’s been driving me this past week.  Thanks for following along.  In the future, maybe… who does the best Thai food? Naw, that’s crazy.

Topanga Cafe
2904 4th Avenue West
(604) 733-3713



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