Eight Years On, Looking Back at La Taqueria’s First Service on Hastings Street

Inside La Taqueria on its first night back in September of 2009

Scout noted last week that the West Hastings St. location of La Taqueria was shutting down for renovations tomorrow (November 24th) after over eight long years of charging strong and growing the company to include four other locations, including one across the Salish Sea in Victoria. The new and improved restaurant will reopen in January.

I just dug into the Scout archive and saw that I was at La Taqueria the night they prepared their very first tacos. It was on an early evening in September, 2009. Going over these photos – which were taken with a terrible camera – my hearts was squeezed hard when I saw chef Tina Fineza’s smiling, beautiful face. Fineza, who passed away in early 2016, was the consulting chef who helped create the opening menu. She was such a warm and wonderful human being!

Tina Fineza and Jesse Grasso making tacos in the tiny galley kitchen.

I also recognized a young, mutton-chopped chef Jesse Grasso (who has since moved on to cook at critically acclaimed restaurants in Toronto like Rhum Corner and The Black Hoof). I’d completely forgotten that he was behind the line at La Taqueria at the very start.

Also in attendance that night was restaurateur James Iranzad, who open his award-winning Wildebeest restaurant one block east from this address some three years later, or two years after he, Grasso and Joel Watanabe (Bao Bei, Kissa Tanto) launched their short-lived Korean taco stand, Cartel.

Anyway, browse these shots below and reflect with love and respect for good people and the delicious things they put their minds to. Again, the little hole-in-the-wall original will reopen at 322 West Hastings in January. For more information, follow along at on Instagram via @LaTaqueria.

  • La Taqueria exterior
  • Co-owner Marcelo Ramirez (ex-Le Faux Bourgeois) passes the goods
  • Marcelo, Rafael, and Tina
  • Consultant chef Tina Fineza and restaurateur James Iranzad (Hell's Kitchen, Abigail's Party, The Flying Tiger)
  • Enrique
  • Tacos! Carnitas up front, with pesce to the left and asada to the right
  • Tina discusses her tacos with some guests
  • 3896943547_18e17a0099_o
  • Esqueleto
  • co-owner Rafael Cuellar
  • The menu
  • Mmm...
  • Iranzad chows on his haunches...
  • Best friends froever...
  • Business cards (for real)
  • Stairs to the patio (maybe next summer)
  • The back deck is awesome (maybe next summer)
  • From the back...
  • La Taqueria exterior


There is 1 comment

  1. Thank you for these wonderful memories! Tina was so excited to research Mexican Cuisine with Marcelo and create these tacos and Jesse was such a great help in opening the 1st Taqueria.
    Congratulations Marcelo on your success!

Six Years Ago This Week, Inside the Very Short-Lived ‘Fat Dragon’

This Chinese-meets-American BBQ eatery lasted a mere eight months at 566 Powell Street - a tragedy given how delicious it was!

Looking Back at the Launch of Gastown’s PiDGiN, Five Years Ago This Week

One of Vancouver's most ambitious and beautiful restaurants was unveiled to the dining public on February 2nd, 2013. We were there.

The Always Busy La Mezcaleria on Commercial Drive Almost Never Happened

Five years ago this week the owners of La Mezcaleria were in crisis mode after having to wait nine months for an electrical upgrade.

Five Years Ago Today Inside What Would Quickly Become One of the West End’s Best Restaurants

Congratulations to the ownership and staff of Espana on Denman Street. Here's hoping for another five years!