Commercial Drive’s ‘La Mezcaleria’ Is Opening A New Location In Gastown This May

Mezcaleria

Several weeks ago in Gastown I bumped into Bill McCaig, owner of the much lauded, VPN-certified Nicli Antica Pizzeria and its undersung East Cordova St. neighbour, Nicli’s Next Door. We got to talking and he quickly confided that he’d just sold Nicli’s. He couldn’t tell me who the buyer was as the deal was only a handshake at that point, but he said I knew the people and that it was a good fit. He appeared as thrilled at becoming a landlord to a solid company as he was happy at the prospect of concentrating solely on the pizzeria.

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Fast forward to this past weekend and the new tenant has reached out to us with the good news. La Mezcaleria – one of the better restaurants on Commercial Drive – is coming to Gastown. They signed the deal for the Nicli’s Next Door space at 68 East Cordova today, and are going to start work on transforming it into the second location of La Mezcaleria straight away.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the place. Marcelo Ramirez (top right) had just returned from a buying trip in Mexico yesterday when I met up with him and co-owner Ignacio Arrieta (top left) at the space yesterday afternoon. He happily gushed about the handmade tiles from Guadalajara he’d secured and talked excitedly about the light fixtures he was aiming for (apparently designed by famed Mexican aesthete Luis Barragan). The animated conversation reminded me of when we first talked about them opening on Commercial Drive a few years ago. “It’s going to be different that the first place,” Marcelo told me. “We don’t want to be a chain. It’s like we will have two children, each with their own personality.”

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That also means the menu will be different from the original location. Though many of the standards will remain (eg. guacamoles, ceviches, etc.), it sounds like they want to get more carnivorous. There’s even talk of them getting a fire-breathing Wood Stone oven similar to the one at Savio Volpe. The kitchen crew from Commercial Drive will be consulting heavily on menu development. They’re also bringing up a chef from Mexico. As far as renovations are concerned, they will be considerable; the expectation being that the 50+ seater will share the same aesthetic as the original. Opening day is expected at some point in May.

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This is one of those rare occasions in the restaurant world where everybody wins. Bill wins because he gets the awkward monkey of Nicli’s off his back and lands a reliable tenant that will likely increase business at the pizzeria (if that’s even possible); Nicli’s kitchen crew wins because they’ve been hired en masse by Wildebeest (Josh Gale is the new chef de cuisine); La Mezcaleria wins because that’s what they do as soon as they wake up every morning, plus they now have a super friendly restaurateur as a landlord (!); and the dining public wins because all of the above multiplied by queso fundido (see below) and squared by mezcal. If you’re unfamiliar with the restaurant, click through the gallery below — and yes, it’s every bit as delicious as it looks.

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  • La Mezcaleria | 1622 Commercial Dr. | The Drive | 604-559-8226 | www.lamezcaleria.ca
  • Saucing an enchilada plate in the open kitchen
  • Queso fundido can be a little intimidating (especially for kids) because it never stops bubbling.
  • The margaritas are perfect: strong and intense.
  • Queso fundido, poised and ready to strike at the belly
  • We arrived at 5:45pm and it was already packed with walk-ins (no reservations).
  • Pasilla chile spiced tomato broth, tortilla strips, sour cream, avocado, mozzarella
  • The ceviche flights fly out of the kitchen like bats. They must do so much prep pre-shift!
  • Micheladas are crazy good - rimmed with tajin spice yet super refreshing
  • The crowded pass (the QF with green is the vegetarian version with salsa verde instead of chorizo)
  • Crowded pass filled with ceviche and tortilla chips
  • It's probably not the best thing in the world to put in your body, but it really wants to be in there (and there are few food items more persuasive than molten cheese).

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There are 4 comments

  1. @Ryan — just what Gastown needs, another ninny throwing the word “hipster” out like it actually means something.

  2. It’s a shame that independently owned establishments that provide quality food and interesting spaces are branded “hipster” by guys like “Ryan”

    Don’t worry Ryan- there is a Cactus Club up the road near the Convention Centre to satisfy your needs.

  3. Amazing food! The flavours were just delicious and the service and atmosphere were fantastic! Great music too with a DJ spinning cool tunes all evening. We went to the Commercial Dr. location, but am sure the Gastown location is also great! A place you must experience for yourself – whether you’re a tourist or a resident. Go soon!

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