Remembering a Legendary West Side Cal-Mex Restaurant That Burned to the Ground

The ever-evolving Restaurant Graveyard series looks back at the countless, long-shuttered establishments that helped to propel Vancouver’s food and drink forward. Full A-Z with maps and photos here. May they never be forgotten!

This popular California-Mexican restaurant at 2904 West 4th Ave. was much loved over the course of its 40-year run for its casual atmosphere, generous portions, and indifference to trends. Launched by a family of American ex-pats that missed the food of their native Los Angeles, Topanga Cafe was a rare, irreplaceable institution with its gallery of crayon-drawn menus covering the walls and its signature bright green guacamole-sour cream topping so many of its dishes. House favourites included darkly-sauced enchiladas (pictured above) and massive slices of super dense chocolate cake. Sadly, the restaurant burned to the ground in an accidental fire – likely caused by a discarded cigarette – in the summer of 2018.


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