Chronic vs Quesada vs Taco Del Mar
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
I know that this isn’t the opinions section, but I am going to begin with a hot take. Mexican food is the best food—it has everything one could want. It’s spicy, crunchy, flavourful, and offers a lot of variety. While in this region Mexican food may not be as popular as other cuisines like Chinese, the available options are growing. Now you can choose between independent Mexican chains like El Santo (in New Westminster) and The Mexican Gourmet—or fast food fair like Taco Bell and Taco Time! And not to mention the mid-tier restaurants like Tacofino and La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop. With so many choices out there, it’s tough to decide which place is the best. Because my editor won’t allow this to be published as a book, I have narrowed down the debate to three choices in mid-tier: Chronic Tacos, Quesada Burritos and Tacos, and Taco Del Mar. With my taste buds in tow, I will be using the taco as my controlled testing item (with chips to match as a side dish) to determine who is best at this south of the border favourite.
3. Quesada Burritos and Tacos
The truth is that Quesada is not that bad. They sling a good taco, and are unique in offering corn and red onions as toppings. The issue that works against Quesada though is that while other places on this list have distinct themes—like Chronic Taco’s hip underground feel and Taco Del Mar’s Baja California feel—this restaurant doesn’t have a theme. Its theme really just is red. Along with that, when I went in to get a taco this past week, they said they were out of beef… How do you run out of beef? That’s like McDonald’s running out of burger paddies. Also, the chips are not the best; they tasted dry and too salty. Quesada does have an advantage in their easy to get to locations, like the one at New Westminster station, or the one at Surrey Centre Mall. So, if you’re getting off the Skytrain and don’t want to venture far for Mexican, it’s a fine choice. All that being said, there are two better options.
2. Chronic Taco
What sets Chronic Taco above the rest is its décor. With Mexican masks and a red and black interior, it has a nice creative feel to it that most restaurants don’t. The taco was my controlled test for this article, but I’ve tried some of their very unique dishes they offer in previous visits. This is the only place on the list where I would probably order a different thing every time I go. One item I particularly like is the potato taco: a taco with deep-fried potato in it. As for the regular taco, it is good… but too small. You have to order three of them to really get a proper meal, and that can be pricey. Their chips and salsa are pretty good—the salsa has quite a fresh taste. This combined with the fact that Chronic Taco has some great locations in New Westminster’s Columbia Square, Metrotown Mall, and Waterfront Station makes Chronic Taco a cool place… Ta go!
1. Taco Del
Why is Taco Del Mar number one on the list, you may ask? One word: QUESO! Of the three, Taco Del Mar is the only one that serves queso with chips, which is so much better than salsa. Along with that, their portions are huge. The taco looks bigger than Quesada’s and Chronic’s tacos, and they have better varieties of meat like shredded beef. I always feel full after I eat at Taco Del Mar. The one downside of Taco Del Mar is their limited—and far away—selection of locations. Of all of their locations, only a few of them is near a Skytrain station: the one in the Harbour Centre (off Waterfront Station), and the one on Terminal Ave (off Main Street-Science World Station). It’s annoying to have to travel so far for that queso goodness, but Taco Del Mar makes it worth the trip. I could honestly eat Taco Del Mar every week, I love it so much.
Though I have ranked these chains, all of them offer great Mexican food. The only thing I wish for is that one of these chains could move into the Coquitlam area so I don’t have to travel so far. For a city that has the fourth-highest search for Mexican food in the country, Coquitlam sure does not have many options. Outside of Taco Bell and Mercado By Originals, there are not many options for Mexican food in Coquitlam. Let’s hope that one of these chains (please be Taco Del Mar!) opens soon so I—along with the rest of the Coquitlam campus students—don’t have to go out of town for some Mexican goodness.