The Best Thing I Ate All Week: Queso Fundido at La Mezcaleria

A stone bowl of piping hot melted goodness.

December 16, 2016

By Neal McLennan / Photo: La Mezcaleria

It seems like eons ago that lamenting about how Vancouver had no good Mexican food was a civic past time. One of the turning points came with the opening of “a pinche” taco shop on Hasting called La Taqueria. It was skinny and always cramped and it announced loud and clear that good Mexican had arrived. One La Taqueria become two, then three and a higher end offshoot, La Mezcaleria appeared on Commercial Drive and then, inevitably in Gastown by which time we, or at least I, took for granted that solid Latin fare was a right.

It may be, but last week, lording over three cauldrons of Queso Fundido, I realized it’s also a privilege. The dish is described as a “signature molten cheese fondue” and while that’s accurate it makes the dish seem kitschy, which it is decidedly not. It’s primordial in both its heat (you can probably burn yourself if you are overeager) and its all-enveloping goodness. It was cold outside but all I could focus on was scraping the browned portions of cheese off the sides of the volcanic stone molcajete bowl the dish is served in and no sooner had I slapped it on a soft taco and jammed it in my mouth that new browned portions were forming. It was like a glutton’s Groundhog Day.

I’ve long harboured the fear that we were deprived of good Mexican for so long that we’d accept anything with the happy smile of a Labrador—something that a recent trip to El Camino, who’s new menu is a solid step backward, did nothing to dissuade. But last week at La Mezcaleria—I had no such thoughts.

Queso Fundido, La Mezcaleria Queso Fundido, La Mezcaleria Queso Fundido, La Mezcaleria

Queso Fundido con Salsa Verde ($21) from La Mezcaleria Gastown—the best thing I ate all week.

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