Carnitas & Tortilla Heaven at Chancho

Hello blog world! It’s been a while. I’ve been much more active on Instagram the past few years (almost 7000 posts!), so I encourage you to check out that platform if you’ve been hesitant to join. You’ll get to see all my day-to-day stuff that never makes it onto the blog, plus all the in-depth stuff I usually post here but have been too busy to do. Either way, thank you so much for reading.

I’ve been to Chancho once before at their original location on Seymour, around the corner from their current larger space on Davie. It was takeout carnitas and plus a bundle of their excellent kernel-to-tortilla tortillas. I immediately thought they were the best tortillas in town — thin, great flavour, with that bit of tug and resiliency. I visited their new space recently and it’s even better. Thankfully, the focus is still on carnitas but their tortilla game has gotten even more interesting! Read on…

A great new happy hour thing! Monday to Friday, 3 to 6pm. A 12oz glass of Twin Sails Dat Juice for only $4 plus food options like chilaquiles or a torta sounds like a plan for next time.

I love that they’ve only taken gentle steps at expanding their menu from strictly carnitas (and veg option). They do tortas and chilaquiles now, as well as sopa de letras (“alphabet soup”!).

The happy hour menu. Nice “Team Mexico” support with having Faculty beers on tap (shoutout to Mauricio). Strathcona Pilsner is a fine choice to have too — a solid pilsner. Twin Sails and Luppolo are my personal picks. La Taqueria also carries Twin Sails Dat Juice, so I wonder what it is about tacos and Dat Juice? Carnitas *are* made with oranges 😉

I’m always qué suave.

The full menu. Tight selection. I love it!

Fairly well-considered drink menu. Good stuff. All draft beer pours are 20oz!

This is where they upped their tortilla game. They rotate through different kinds of corn produced by small producers in Mexico. Chancho does all their own nixtamalization in-house, going above and beyond anyone else in town (that I know of). La Taqueria chain makes their own tortillas daily using organic masa from Mexico (Atlacomulco, edo de Mexico), so they come a close second in doing it all from scratch. But Chancho doing it from kernels, and by also providing yellow, black, red, or white corn…they take the cake!

The only other taqueria doing their own nixtamalization in Western Canada that I know of would be Native Tongues in Calgary (2015 visit here).

On this visit to Chancho, they were offering yellow corn tortillas. I think you’ll have to keep an eye on their Instagram to see when they’re doing other colours.

Carnitas in three options: shoulder, belly, or mix. I went with mix.

Unlimited napkins (critical) and the salt shaker (also critical).

The bar.

Happy hour 12oz’ers are $4 but this non-happy hour *20oz* pint of Twin Sails Dat Juice ($8) is not too shabby either! A true imperial pint will be plenty to wash down those carnitas.

1/4lb of Campechano (mix of shoulder and belly) for $12. Comes with pickled purple cabbage, wedge of lime, salsa verde, salsa roja, black beans, and the carnitas with four ~5″ tortillas.

The moistness, freshness, tenderness, and FLAVOUR of the pork hit me first. It’s the natural taste of pork, confit in its own fat.

I love the way the tender meat pulls apart. Cooked just right.

I find that Mexican taco fillings are always seasoned on the mild side, so if you need extra punch like me, you need to add salt to your own taste. Two to three light shakes across the taco did the job for me.

Today’s tortillas were yellow corn tortillas, made in-house using corn from Santa Ana Zegache, a town in southwestern Mexico. Heard of bean-to-bar chocolate? This is kernel-to-tortilla food! (Stalk-to-tortilla?)

I love the light char on these soft, pillowy, tender yet tuggable tortillas. I described them on Instagram as (*cough*) being like soft, pillowy foreskin. I still stand by that. But also the flavour itself is a cut above your standard factory tortilla, tasting fuller, sweeter, and more like actual corn. I look forward to trying the black and red corn tortillas when they’re available!

They of course manage to get the puffing action when they griddle these, which forms the layers you see above (similar to how pita bread puffs up when baked, forming the pocket).

The salsas and beans. Firmly acidic salsas that help cut through the pork fat. Both tasted very fresh and alive, and were on the mild end of the heat scale.

Meanwhile this other red salsa was definitely in HOT territory. In my amateur-level knowledge, this might be a roasted salsa roja. Smoother and had more fiery punch than the other, fresher-tasting salsa roja.

A couple of the tortillas did break on me if they got too wet from the pork juices. But for the tenderness and flavour I get in the tortillas, it’s a good tradeoff. There’s real strength here in the simplicity of the flavours, when great tasting meat combines with a great tasting tortillas.

Closeup of the black beans (online menu says pinto beans but they look more like black beans to me??). I liked these eaten either alone or put into the tacos. Well-cooked, almost creamy with no chalkiness. Flavourful without being salty.

The pickled cabbage. Good/standard. I also enjoyed eating this by itself or put into the taco.

The menu at Chancho is dead simple, and the joys are too. Recommended.

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