Sherman's Food Adventures: Alimentaria


To say that the Mexican-food scene in Vancouver is lacking would be an understatement.  Now I'm not implying there isn't Mexican cuisine to be found, it just isn't well represented and sometimes, it is not very good.  However, I've had some decents ones in the Lower Mainland and am always excited to see new ones open up.  That was the case with Alimentaria located in the former Edible Canada space on Granville Island.  Originally, Nancy and I went during their soft-opening when their menu was limited.  Before I could even write the post for that, both of us were invited to their media night.

We were started off with 2 tostadas including the Smoked Salmon Tostada on a crispy corn tortilla topped with locally smoked chum salmon, cucumber-cream, pickle red onions and capers.  Loved the combination of Westcoast ingredients in a Mexican dish.  The salmon was buttery with a balanced smoke complimented by the classic accompaniments.  Flavours were familiar, yet presented differently on a beautifully crisp tortilla.

The second one was the Chorizo Verde Tostada with crispy corn tostada, topped with a grilled house-made sausage nearby Oyama with refried beans, charred cabbage & feta.  Completely different than the first one, this tostada ate more hearty with meaty and tender sausage.  Add in the refried beans and this was a meal in itself.  There was some smoky sweetness from the cabbage and cooling creaminess from the cheese.

From these, we moved onto the made-to-order Guacamole.  Once again, there was a Westcoast twist where it was topped with  feta, pumpkin seeds & pea shoots.  So the creamy guac ate well with the side of fresh crunchy corn tortilla chip.  With a squeeze of the lime wedge, the whole thing was pretty bright.  Once again, the creaminess of the feta added more luxuriousness to the already creamy guac.  I found the pumpkin seeds to be an interesting texture that contrasted the avocado.

One of the favourite items was the Albacore Tuna Ceviche with sashimi grade albacore, lime, tomato, cilantro, onion and cucumber.  Not overly complex but well-executed, the fish was delicate and sweet.  There was enough acidity to "cook" the fish while not being too overwhelming.  The whole thing was fresh, bright and appetizing.  I also thought the restraint with the cilantro ensured that the whole thing wasn't dominated by one flavour.

Now my actual favourite dish of the night was the Duck Flautas filled with braised duck and roasted squash topped with pickled red onion, cabbage and recado negro.  Beyond the firmly crunchy fried tortillas, the shredded duck was super moist and full-flavoured from the spices.  I've had duck flautas before and these were by far the best.  To bring down the heaviness, there was a refreshing slaw and pickled onions.  It also added crunch and tanginess.

One of the most striking dishes was the Halloumi and Grilled Cactus.  With its attractive sear, the cheese was aromatic, nutty and squishy.  Underneath, the grilled cactus was beautifully prepared where it was not slimy at all.  In fact, it still had a bite which was appealing. All of this sat in a charred tomatillo salsa verde with pickled red onion.  Bright with a touch of smokiness, the salsa verde provided good balance to the hearty halloumi.

Another solid offering was the Birria Tacos with slow cooked beef braised in dried chilies with onions, cilantro & limes.  Loved the tortillas as they were thin and lightly crispy.  They were nutty and aromatic.  Inside, the braised beef was tender with plenty of punch.  As promised in the description, there was some spice, sweetness and overall depth.  We could customize it to our personal tastes not only with the side of accompaniments, but also the hot sauces provided as well.

The most grandiose dish was served last in the Sopes with Bone Marrow.  The roasted bone marrow was topped with gremolata and sat atop a corn sopes and refried heirloom beans.  Yes, this was not a light dish by any means but really, it wasn't meant to be.  There was an overload of buttery and fatty bone marrow that overflowed off the sopes.  A sprinkle of fleur de sel and oh man, it was sinful to eat.  Yet as the same time, it was delicious.  At least the brightness of the gremolata helped cut the fat a touch.

We ended things off with the House-Made Churros in classic cinnamon sugar and a side of dulce de leche.  Loved how these were relatively thin and lightly crispy.  Inside, it was delicate while the sweetness was amped by the caramel-flavoured dulce de leche.  This was a fine end to a delicious meal.  It is nice to see a new Mexican spot that serves a variety of dishes where some are influenced by local ingredients.  I'll definitely be back.

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- A good variety of Mexican dishes that might not be what you normally see locally
- Well-executed
- Those duck flautas!

The Bad:
- When Nancy and I visited on our own the first time, there was quite the wait. Be sure to make a rez
- Parking can be tricky on weekends  


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