Happy Hour Quickie: Say Eight at Tacofino Ocho

I didn’t intend to review Tacofino Ocho but I wanted to try their grilled whole rockfish served with tortillas for ages, so you might find this quick post interesting. We ended up also having their big slab of pork belly which was excellent!

Explanation of “say eight” — comedian Brian Regan visits the emergency room and nurse asks him to rate his pain (skip to 5:00 mark):

Supporting documentation:

Mount Pleasant is changing! I’ve loved walking through this semi-industrial area but it feels like everything’s eventually going to be bulldozed and turned into condos.

Tacofino Ocho is across the street from Purebread and Peaceful Restaurant on East 5th Ave and Ontario St. Also in the immediate area are Electric Bicycle Brewing, R&B Ale & Pizza House, The Juice Truck, Terra Breads Cafe, Fife Bakery, Argo Cafe, and Faculty Brewing, with 33 Acres further south and Brassneck to the east on Main St.

It’s a sign.

A fair amount of natural light, some of which shines right in your eyes if you have the luck to be sitting in the right spot!

A good selection of local BC craft beer.  Twin Sails is amusingly spelt “Twinsails” on the menu and “Twin Sales” on the receipt (bottom of this post).

Non-alcoholic section. Wicca jumped for a Guava Jarritos.

Happy hour runs from 3–6pm, like all Tacofino locations except Oasis which is 3–closing (7pm).

Every Tacofino location kinda sorta has a different menu, but this location’s draw is their grill, from which they cook a range of large proteins served on a platter with tortillas, meant to be shared. I’ve had my eyes on the whole rockfish cuz I love fish served whole (e.g. Kissa Tanto for $40+) and it’s Ocean Wise®.

16 oz glasses with no funny business like extra-thick bottoms.

Twin Sails Shimmer Dry-Hopped Sour (5.1%) on the Twin Sails rotating tap. Solid dry-hopped sour, if you’re into Four Winds Nectarous, Parallel 49 Bodhisattva, or Bellwoods Jelly King. The server said it wasn’t part of the happy hour $5 beer lineup, but the bill said differently. Score!

The Strathcona radler on rotating tap, Beach Lemon Mandarin Radler (4%). I feel happy to be able to recommend a beer for n00b pekopekolife 🙂 It’s a juice/beer hybrid and tastes like one! She ended up drinking two of these 😀

My second beer: Brassneck rotating tap. I didn’t catch what the server said and just ordered it blind but I think it’s Mr. Personality Amber Ale (5%), a beer for when you want “a beer” and don’t want to overthink it or check in shit or tick tick tick.

Wicca’s Guava Jarritos ($3).

Mild housemade salsa roja for the table. A little bit thick, a little bit chunky, a lot good! Spice level for everything we had was “white person spicy” though 😛

Queso Fundido ($10, happy hour) with nopales (cactus), pickled onions, and ~4″ corn tortillas.

If Tacofino built their empire on Baja fish tacos, they cemented it with sit-down dishes like this. Served bubbling hot, you gotta attack it right away before it solidifies.

Empanada ($2.50 each during happy hour) with a beef barbacoa filling, crema, and black bean frijole. The menu lists “cheese” and “habanero dip” but not sure where those are. I think the habanero dip must be the salsa underneath the empanada, plated thusly for happy hour service when you can order empanadas individually.

Great stuff. So generous with the filling. Empanada appears to have been fried rather than baked. That’s always a plus in my book!

Char-Roasted Pacific Shrimp ($10, happy hour) with charred pineapple and lime juice. Menu also lists black chili oil and cilantro but I didn’t see any black chili oil, and looks like they substituted some microgreen for the cilantro, which is perfectly fine! The cook on the shrimp was perfect and the flavour was fresh and tasty. Delicious as it is, I think they’re making a healthy profit on this one.

Tuna & Shrimp Ceviche ($10, happy hour) with cucumber, jicama, cilantro (microgreens), lime, red onion, and serrano chilies. Corn tortilla chips on the side.

Wicca tasted the green liquid and said it was cucumber water. Fresh-tasting and mild. Good dish but I don’t recall tasting much overt acidity.

Grilled Skirt Steak Taco ($4.25) with charred onions and roasted tomatillo salsa. Simple, with great-tasting ingredients.

Crispy Cod Taco ($3.75) with avocado crema, pickled onions, cilantro, and radish. It’s what Tacofino is known for.

Now for the special stuff cooked on Ocho’s charcoal grill:

Whole Rockfish ($28) with roasted vegetable salsa, tajin, crispy shallots, burnt lime, and cilantro. Served with small 4″ flour tortillas.

I love seeing charred limes.

The rockfish is grilled on their Wood Stone charcoal grill then finished in the oven. It’s served whole so you can enjoy every part like people who aren’t divorced from their food do!

The flour tortillas are quite good. Pliable, warm, not doughy or “floury”. A great neutral-ish vehicle for the light, subtle fish.

The fish was cooked all the way through yet was still flaky and moist.

Even though they sprinkle Tajin (Mexican chili lime salt) on the fish, I felt the flesh itself needed a bit more punch so like an insufferable foodie I added some of my pocket smoked Maldon salt. The accompanying roasted vegetable salsa has a good mild flavour but for extra fun I think they should serve the actual shaker of Tajin for people to add more as desired.

Overall a fresh and delicious dish that comes off as a bit underseasoned.

Wicca doesn’t let those fish eyes go to waste.

Pork Belly ($23) with salsa negra, pickled onions, crispy potatoes, and smoked mushrooms. Same 4″ flour tortillas served on the side. You can’t see the smoked mushrooms but they were enoki mushrooms.

Wow. Killer dish. Nothing satisfies like a slab of tender, fatty pork belly. The salsa negra uses jalapenos and guajillo but it’s a slightly sweet, smokey, savoury, thick, slightly acidic sauce that reminded me in part of hoisin sauce and reminded foodbysamson of tamarind. It tastes like a complex bbq sauce that could have those ingredients. Easily shareable between three people. Will definitely feed five or more if you ordered as much other food as we did.

The damage for five people.

Let’s just admit that happy hour in BC didn’t bring the crazy drink specials that are common in the US (especially Portland), but it did make people come in during the traditional senior’s early bird deadzone and end up staying and drinking more than they would have normally 😉

Our first visit to Tacofino Ocho was generally very positive. Service can be an issue. Our first server gave no shits nor fucks, but luckily this person finished their shift and our second server actually acted like they wanted us to be there. That definitely helped improve my mood.

Yes, the food could be spicier and edgier but this is Tacofino. Ocho does just enough that’s new and different to make me want to return. I may attack the rockfish myself without the distraction of other people and reassess it.


Amy is the best!

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