Tucked away in between Vancouver’s historic Gastown and the hip and upcoming Railtown district, Cuchillo serves up comforting Mexican food in a funky yet cozy dining atmosphere.
When Cuchillo took over the space it is in now, owner Stuart Irving had redesigned the entire space, incorporating Mexican cultural elements into different parts of the interior design. The blown glass chandeliers hanging over the long communal table were made in Mexico, and the colourful Luchador (a style of Mexican wrestling) posters lining the wall at the entry were inspired by soccer stadiums in Mexico, where posters are plastered one over another atop existing posters.
The white bricks lining one side of the wall have been there since the 1890’s, and Stuart and his interior designer decided to expose them to give the room a neutral look.
Stuart wanted to take nuevo latino cuisine and home-style Mexican cuisine to blend the two into a new creative offering. The tapas all have a comfort food spin to them, with the prices being accessible to all; the intention is to be the spot where people can come together, enjoy great food and keep the conversation going in a social atmosphere.
Though there is a heavy influence from Mexican cuisine, Cuchillo is not a Mexican restaurant. Their menu is a blend of different cuisines - South American, Central American, Peruvian, Colombian, with European and Spanish influences as well. The culinary team takes classics and put a different British Columbian spin to them by using local ingredients, or take traditional ingredients and create something new and interesting. As someone born and raise in Vancouver, Stuart will approach classics or traditional ingredients with an out-of-the-box approach, he will expand on these elements to come up with fresh and new dishes.
We were treated to some signature tapas, including the scrumptious white bean dip. Definitely a cheery, comforting shared plate to enjoy with a few friends. The crunchy nacho chips and the thick, creamy white bean dip topped with nuts make the perfect pair. Rich with flavour and piping hot, you may find yourself ordering seconds or thirds!
The lamb tacos also make for great small bites. We had initially mistaken the popcorn atop the lamb to be crumbled feta or goat cheese, and discovered that it was crunchy popcorn(!) We love the creativity with the dish, where one would usually expect a more is more flavour profile, the chef has used a different element to provide texture to the dish. Each taco is a pop of flavour and one for each person will definitely not be enough!
The tasty cocktails are another reason you will find yourself spending hours on end at Cuchillo, with delicious sippers such as the Pina Borracha pictured below.
Cuchillo is the spot for an intimate catchup between friends. Order a few share plates to start, and a few more as the night progresses. The cocktail menu offers more than a few options for you to try throughout the evening. If you are seated at the communal table, you are likely to make a few new friends along the way.
261 Powell Street, Vancouver
Photos by Florence Leung