Chancho Tortilleria is on track to (softly) open doors at 2096 Commercial Drive this weekend.
When I dropped in for a walk-through a few days ago, the new Commercial Drive location was buzzing with ‘finishing touch’ activities: paint was being touched up, lightbulbs were being screwed in, and tools were being packed up and moved out. Other than a pile of equipment and spent paint cans in one corner, the room looked good-to-go, right down to the Happy Hour Menu and branded napkin holders on each table.
Familiar ‘Chancho-pink’ picnic tables with red-and-white-checkered laminated tops have made the migration from their former Davie Street location, and now stretch down the centre of the new east-side room. The rest of the seating is divided between a row of sturdy yet comfortable-looking booths along the south wall, opposite a handful of high-top tables and some bench seating on the north wall, plus a dozen swivel-seat chairs hugging the green-and-white-checkered bar. A vibrant abstract mural by artist Graham Landin wraps around the room (broken only by a lack of paintable surface area in the open-format kitchen).
The team once again partnered up with Scott Cohen to develop the look and feel for the project. Overall, the restaurant’s design follows the casual and colourful, Mexican-inspired aesthetic of Chancho’s previous spot in Yaletown (also a Scott Cohen collab), but with a slightly bolder and, dare I say, more ‘elevated’ atmosphere. Don’t worry, though: Chancho remains ‘Chancho’ – and with 20-30 more seats, there is simply more of it to enjoy! If anything, it feels as though the restaurant concept has finally achieved full realization, and is ready to own the extent of its cool.
Chancho Commercial Drive’s menu remains straightforward (a good thing), which means diners can expect Chips and Guacamole, Chilaquiles and Tortas, as well as Chancho’s famous tacos – including their killer Campechano(pork shoulder and belly combo filling) – using what are easily the best tortillas available in Vancouver, made in house. There will also be Margaritas, Palomas, Micheladas, cold beer, and booze-free, mostly Mexican bottled drinks. Brunch will also be a thing, but not right out of the gate – the team wants to find their footing in their new home before they expand offerings.
Partners Ernesto Gomez, Stephen Luscher and Darragh McFeely had been hunting for a new location for Chancho under enormous pressure, with the knowledge that the portion of the 500 block of Davie Street previously occupied by the restaurant was slated for demolition. Chatting seated around one of their signature picnic tables, the team seemed understandably relieved about the luck of timing that landed them with their new Commercial Drive space (formerly home to Cafe Deux Soleil, an integral part of the neighbourhood for close to 30 years). Not simply because they had secured a new address (a worthy reason in itself), but also because they are now in the neighbourhood they felt they were always ‘meant to’ be in.
Internally, the team uses the word ‘Democratic’ a lot. To them, the word (in the restaurant context) means a place where there is ‘something for everyone’. Somewhere easy, welcoming, price-conscious, and community-driven. All of these things, they feel, are values that align with the neighbourhood. It’s important to them that they honour the legacy of their new address and what it means to the people on The Drive. At this time in Vancouver’s history, I honestly can’t think of a better successor. Although the two businesses are not even vaguely similar on the surface, I detect a shared spirit belonging to the kind of place that encourages connection and builds a genuine sense of community.
Chancho on Commercial Drive is opening softly this weekend, with an official opening planned for next week. For their opening weekend only, one dollar from every order will go to Kinbrace, a local Registered Charity providing housing, education and support to refugees. Hours will be Monday through Thursday, 12-8pm; Friday, 12-9pm; Saturday, 11:30am-9pm; and Sunday, 11:30am-8pm. In the meantime, ogle more pictures of the new location below: