Cuban-Inspired ‘Tocador’ Ready on Main Street

Tocador launches tonight (Monday, February 19). The Cuban-themed restaurant is located in the old Charlie’s/Habit address in the heart of Mount Pleasant. It will be open from 5pm until 1am seven nights a week.

Here’s a refresher on the project, from a post I wrote about it last Autumn:

Long-time Vancouver restaurant industry veterans Dale Styner and Guy Stowell are set to strike out on their own early in the new year. They recently took possession of the old Charlie’s Little Italian (ex-Habit) location at 2610 Main Street. They put paper on the windows yesterday announcing Tocador, their new Cuban-inspired cocktail bar and restaurant. The address is right next door to The Cascade Room, where Dale was a manager for five years before moving to tend bar at The Mackenzie Room and, later, Kissa Tanto in Chinatown. Guy is no stranger to the neighbourhood either, as he’s been running the bar program at Anh & Chi since its launch a couple of years ago (before that he was at Bao Bei).

Regarding the space…

Save for some repositioned and reconstructed chocolate coloured buttoned-down vinyl booths, just about everything will be different. For example, they’re moving the bar from the front of the room to run the depth of the space — some 20 feet, at which they’ll position 14 or 15 stools. To tie in with the name, the back bar will be made of pieces of old dressing room tables — tocadors in Spanish.

By no means were they finished with the place when I looked inside with Dale and Guy this past Friday. They’d upped the bar’s stool count to 16, with 54 seats inside and an addition 8 on the patio, but it was still very much a work in progress. The room has evidently undergone quite a stunning transformation. The feature wall at the front door now sees a huge, colourful mural by local artist Zoe Alexandra Glass, and the new bar is like none I’ve ever seen before. Its ‘tocador’ set-up is pretty special. I love the tile work and the curved back booths/banquettes. It looks and feels like one of a kind.

And speaking of special, the cocktail list looks appropriately awesome. I spied a Hotel Nacional, Mint Julep, Hemingway Daiquiri, Mai Tai and a Mojito (among other vernacular lovelies), and I’m excited to give each and every one a try. As for the food, they were still locking down pricing on a few items but here’s the thing that stirred me: their “Cubano” sandwich reads like it should. It sees smoked ham, lechon asado, dill pickle, house mustard and swiss cheese layered in a proper, housemade Cuban roll that gets pressed to order on a plancha. Don’t dig on meat? They do a version that subs in braised jackfruit for the pork. There are other items that jumped out at me too (slow cooked pork ribs with guava sauce, for example), but this sandwich has my name on it and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it!

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