Earlier this month, I was invited to swing by Commercial Drive to try a couple dishes at the immensely popular restaurant La Mezcaleria. Situated on Commercial Dr. just off of East 1st, this bustling bar and cantina offers some of the best and most authentic Mexican food in the city. Arriving just after 6pm, the place was already packed so I was grateful for the small but cozy table by the window.
To start off the evening, I was served the Espadin Mezcal Flight shortly after being seated. For those not familiar with what mezcal is, it’s a distilled alcoholic beverage made from maguey, a plant native to Mexico. The clear drink is very smooth and can be described as being ‘smoky’ due to the intense roasting process. The flight I was given to try was made up of Fidencio Unico, Scorpion Silver and Rey Zapoteco mezcal along with sangrita and lime juice. A small plate of orange slices dusted with chilli salt completed the potent combination. Although I do not drink that often, this flight is definitely something I would recommend as an orientation to what mezcal is and how it compliments Mexican food. Meant to be sipped slowly throughout the meal, the drink definitely brings a warmth to the body and contributes nicely to the overall authentic dining experience.
The label ‘appetizer’ may be a poor choice for my first food offering as the portion was formidable. I left my meal in the hands of the kitchen and they highly recommended I try the Queso Fundido which is basically a Mexican fondu. As the base, the fundido is made up of Mezcaleria’s molten cheese served bubbling hot in a volcanic rock molcajete or mortar. You have a choice of adding salsa verde or Mexican chorizo so I went with the meaty chorizo. It is difficult to articulate in words how delicious this dish was but I will try. The cheese is rich and indulgent and goes perfectly with the slightly salty chorizo. Served alongside a basket of warm tortilla, child and adult alike will enjoy gouging forkfuls of the hot, gooey cheese and meat and wrapping the combination in the corn wrap. Although I was dining alone, I easily managed to finish the entire bowl with the supplied wraps and sauces, it was genuinely that good. If there is one dish I would deem to be a ‘must-have’ on the La Mezcaleria menu, it would definitely be this.
After devouring the massive stone bowl of fondu, I was pretty full so decided to finish the dinner off with something light. Looking through the menu, I decided to pick the Tostadas De Pato with Fraser Valley duck confit, guava, fruit mole sauce (manchamanteles), chayote squash and radish. Although portioned modestly, these two little tostadas packed a serious wallop of flavour with the super tender scoop of pulled duck meat and fresh sauces. Although they were a bit messy to eat as the base is quite fragile, I recommend throwing any semblance of modesty to the wind and simply devouring these with brazen gusto. I am almost inclined to recommend these as a tasty, authentic appetizer and the fondu as a main just due to the substantial difference in portioning. That said, if you are in a group of 2 or more, the fundido will go very quickly so I recommend ordering two for parties of 3 or more. Regardless of the categorization, both dishes were fantastic and I would gladly order both again on a return visit. A big thank you to La Mezcaleria for hosting me for dinner and the wonderful orientation to mezcal and how ideally it compliments authentic Mexican cuisine.