Yaletown is home to many popular and good quality restaurants. If you live in Vancouver you’ve probably patronized more than one eatery in the redeveloped industrial area. Today we are going to Fayuca for lunch. It is located on Hamilton Street near Nelson. Open for less than a year Fayuca is garnering good reviews and a solid reputation for top notch food. North Pacific Mexican is how they brand their style, with the Baja region of Mexico providing inspiration for Fayuca’s menu.
Past the planters with small palm trees and through the front door we go. The room is warm and inviting. Wood and wicker predominate, ceramic tiles bring back memories of hot days in Mexican resorts, and a large swordfish leaps from one wall. The music isn’t the clichéd tourist music you might hear in faux Mexican restaurants. The tunes are new to my ear: pleasant, cheerful and not blaringly loud. The bar seating invitingly beckons one to settle in and stay a while however we instead sit at a comfortable table by the window.
The lunch drinks list has several intriguing choices and soon three of them are sitting on our table. El Diablito is Jenn’s early favourite. Made of ginger beer (non alcoholic) and pomegranate, topped with lime, the pink drink is a refreshing delight. The pomegranate is noticed first with the ginger an enjoyable second note. I claim the Tepache Colada as I am eager to try the beverage made from the peel and rind of pineapples. In pre-Columbian times Tepache was made from corn. The modern pineapple version is just fine with me. Not sickly sweet like pineapple juice, just well balanced flavour and very enjoyable. The third drink is the Jamaica Canela, a cinnamon infused Hibiscus drink. Dark red, almost black at first glance. Sipping it brings back a faint recollection of time spent on a veranda not far from a sub tropical beach.
We’ve barely had time to sample our drinks when a Kale and Avocado Salad is presented. The base layer is a split pea hummus with the always delicious avocado and fresh kale topping it. Jenn really, really liked it and I have to agree (despite my normal aversion to leafy greens) that it was quite good. Pumpkin seeds added some crunch and variety.
South of Mexico, past Central America and into South America, we can find a cooking pot from Chile called a Cazuela. The food prepared in this pot, a thick stock of vegetables and meat, is also called Cazuela. Fayuca has a Cazuela of Winter Vegetables on the lunch menu and we dove into this hearty comfort food eagerly. Butternut squash, fennel, sweet potato, red beets, crème fraiche and topped with feta. The tomato/pepper/olive sauce brought everything together wonderfully. A bit of crunch is provided by sliced almonds. This Cazuela is a good choice for a cold winter day, a rainy day, or any old day. I was also impressed with the grilled bread that accompanied the dish. It had a touch of charcoal flavour that was so good!
Machaca is often a dried shredded beef but Fayuca’s Machaca con Huevo is made with smoked fish. The scrambled egg with smoked fish, charred avocado and black bean sauce combination on a hearty ancient grain bread made my mouth water for more! This is a dish I could eat often and with gusto. Or maybe I should say “me gusta!”
In many places around the world chicken and rice is a common meal. Common is not how I would describe the Arroz con Pollo that Fayuca serves. The chicken was marvelous, so tender. Beneath the chicken was red rice and sofrito, a tomato based sauce (also used in Italian and Spanish cooking) that infused the rice with layers of flavour. Dribbled over it all was aioli, a garlic sauce somewhat similar to mayonnaise. This was a hearty, satisfying dish.
We sampled four dishes from the lunch menu and all were winners, in my opinion. Out of curiosity I looked up the translation of the word fayuca and contraband and black market were the results. I’m not sure how the name was chosen for this restaurant but if the only way to get these dishes was on the black market then I would still want to be a patron. The lunch menu is reasonably priced and the food and drinks are delicious. There are some vegetarian options should that be a concern for anyone in your party.
1009 Hamilton Street