Fresh Made Tortillas
Good Tacos, Maybe Churros
At Maizal on Main.
My experience with Mexican cuisine is limited to what I’ve sampled in Vancouver and a bit on my travels. Only in the last few years have Vancouverites been able to explore traditional food from Mexico more.
From those that are more familiar with the cuisine, there are grumbles. I think the two most common complaints I have heard are: the Al Pastor is done wrong in the city and the tortillas used here are comparable to eating cardboard.
Al Pastor is topped with pineapple and roasted on a rotating spit (think the Gyro spit) in Mexico. The problem with the tortilla is most eateries in town outsource the product and do not make their own.
However with a resurgence of Mexican eateries opening in the Lower Mainland, there are some remedies to these issues. At Maizal, they prepare Al Pastor on a spinning spit and hand make their tortillas.
This post is a combination of a solo visit and one with Dennisthefoodie to Maizal. I was able to try 4 tacos, a torta, and their churros.
The fresh made tortillas at this Main street eatery are noticeably different and do improve the taco eating experience. I have had too many tacos just split in half and disintegrate in my hand.
The tortillas are made only when you have ordered your tacos. I watched the lady stuff a prepared masa dough ball into a hand cranked press that flattens and stamps out perfectly circles. The raw round is then placed on a non-greased griddle to cook.
The result is a soft but sturdy, slightly thicker, neutral tasting taco filling holder. The tortilla is more noticeable with each bite. The occasional chew did have a slight mealy feel. I’m not sure if this means the tortilla was undercooked in spots or not. I’ll let the experts weigh in on this. For me it wasn’t an issue, just an observation.
The tortillas at Maizal are bigger than La Taqueria or Tacomio. As a result, you do get a large amount of filling. Other than the Al Pastor, I was happy to eat the tacos plain without adding sauces.
I’m going to be honest; I’m not sure if the traditional rotate & roast technique made any difference in the taste of the Al Pastor. The pork was sweetish and savoury but I’m not sure if it’s better than other versions I’ve eaten. However, this was the only filling I felt I needed to add some salt and sauce to amp up the flavour.
The Pescado (a.k.a deep fried fish) was surprisingly served without cabbage. This made me happy as I feel some places fill up their fish tacos with too many crunchy green strands. I’m not a goat. The pico de gallo and chipotle mayo complimented the fish nicely.
The Carnita had guacamole and pork rinds sprinkled on top. I liked the flavour and texture of this filling the most. It was simply savoury. The pork was very juicy and the fresh made tortilla held up to the moisture nicely.
Lastly the Tinga de Pollo had an unexpected thin layer of black beans underneath the tender chicken. Combined with the cheese and strongly seasoned chicken, this was the heartiest and strongest flavoured taco I had.
Maizal also makes tortas, offering a meat (one picks one of the taco fillings) or veggie version. The pressed and griddled torts (which makes it more a Panini) is something I would skip.
Dennis opted for the Al Pastor filling and I thought the inside was a mushy indistinguishable mass of pork, tomatoes, beans, guacamole and cheese. I prefer a variety of texture and complimentary flavours in my sandwiches, which Maizal’s torta did not achieve.
Lastly, I’m on the fence about the churro because I got two very different experiences on my two visits. My first visit yielded the most wonderful plain churro I have every tasted. It was slightly crispy on the outside but soft, slightly doughy on the inside.
The golden brown stick of fried dough was covered in plenty of sugar and cinnamon. It was magical in the same way Those Little Donuts are awesome at the P.N.E.
On my return visit, we tried the churros with cajeta and it was not as good. The churro itself looked paler and was much harder on the outside. The inside didn’t have that nice pillow-y softness like the last time.
The cajate also threw me off as well. I didn’t know the Mexican version of dulce de leche used goat’s milk. It was really jarring for me to taste random gaminess in my dessert.
I honestly thought I was losing my mind, especially since Dennis couldn’t taste the same “goatiness” I could. This obviously is not the restaurant’s fault. I applaud them for staying true to tradition. However, I will be sticking to the plain churro.
Overall I enjoyed the tacos at Maizal. I feel the in house made tortillas contribute positively to one’s dining experience. Now, if this place could consistently produce churros like my first visit, I would visit this Main street eatery as often as I could and get fat.
2815 Main St
Vancouver, BC V5T 3G1
Telephone: (604) 829-6522