Hey Vancouverites! AK here!
Over the past few months there has been much talk of the new kid on the block (especially in the plant-based community)… Lucha Verde which moved into the former Lolita’s space on Davie Street in the West End! This” lighting strike” (look out for the massive bolt on the wall) of a spot serves outstanding vegetarian (and vegan, gluten-free) Mexican street food and cocktails! As soon as you walk into the space, you get the feeling that the owner has done this before. Well, you aren’t wrong.
Chloe and I were invited down by owner, John Cooper who took us on a wild (and spicy) ride through Lucha’s menu and tons of giggles in between. John is the former co-owner and general manager of Cuchillo one of Vancouver’s top taco joints in the gastown area. His love for food and the restaurant industry is clear from start to finish of the gastronomical experience. Starting with herbal infused drinks all the way to mouth watering, creamy desserts. John says “It’s the gateway to healthy food”, and we couldn’t agree more as he designed every dish to compliment the next with only the fresh and highest grade ingredients. Each and everything about this experience embodied passion for the plant based culinary world with a grunge twist.
Before we get started on this epic Restaurant Story (sorry to spoil the ending, but we loved it), we thought it might be fun to play a little game of ‘get to know the owner’ with John. So here it goes:
John loves martial arts and jiujitsu
One of his favourite places in the world to visit and live is Japan
His favourite food in the world is donuts (he even has a donut tattoo)
Him and his daughter are big fans of the new plant-based gelateria Umaluma, although they are loyal customers of Vancouver’s OG Earnest Ice Cream
He is a real jokester (you just wait)
He did his undergrad in Philosophy (one of those guys… just kidding;)
He is currently in the process of writing a book
Bonus round: One of his bartenders at Lucha Verde is an intuitive bartender, aka he will always know what drink you want to order without you saying it. Ok, we’re kind of joking again, except that actually happened. We both decided what we wanted and then without him coming to take our order (or us yelling it at him), he arrived at our table just a few minutes later with these delicious cocktails.
Alright, are your seat belts fastened? Lets start with drinks…
We ordered: CALM LIKE A BOMB & LIMO WRECK as well as OUTSHINED & LOUNGE ACT
Each cocktail features fresh herbs like lavender, rosemary, mint, ginger and most definitely give a holistic kick! Also, for all you sugar-free kids, most of the drinks are pretty much sugar free. For instance, their Proper Marg is a blend of 3 ingredients: Cazadores Blanco, Cointreau & freshly squeezed lime. There certainly is a lot of attention to detail with the drinks and the menu is simple, classic and to the point. Chloe’s favourite? Limo Wreck (hey Mezcal!) My favourite? Calm Like a Bomb (lavender and kombucha- yes please!)
Once John checked-in on our dietary ‘prescriptions’ (Chloe is vegan and I am vegetarian) John took himself to the kitchen, calling back that we would be enjoying the full Lucha menu. So here it goes!
The only items from the snacks and starters menu that we didn’t have was the guac, the queso fundido and the chickpea fritters. I’ve never been one to dive into the fundido (I leave that to my brother, Sam), but John mentioned that when it came to menu creation he wanted to have the classics and to make sure that there was a clear twist of creativity, innovation and mindfulness.
SMOKED EGGPLANT CEVICHE (vegan):
Pickled tomatoes are pickled in house and INCREDIBLE, served with gluten free chips.
MERIDA MUDD (vegan):
This mexican classic was Chloe’s fav, served with a crispy plaintain chips!
SHISITO PEPPERS (vegan):
Apparently every 5th pepper is crazy spicy… and got a real booty kick after munchin’ on these green devils (can you tell these were my fav?)
Grilled corn with a cayenne spice aoli.. the vegetarian dream really.
…Oh, and there’s me keeping the Countertop #instagramstories up to date 😉
I suppose it’s time to hit-up the tacos, right?
Tacos. Tacos. Tacos. Let’s start with the pictures.
Again, John brought us a selection of each taco on the menu, so we’ve got you covered. There is an assortment of vegetarian (cheese/dairy) and vegan tacos and the good news is that everything at Lucha Verde is gluten-free (gluten-free flour tacos yes!)
FRIED CHEESE (vegetarian)
ACHIOTE CAULIFLOWER (vegan) *this was Chloe’s favourite
CHILLI RELLENO (vegan)
SQUASH BLOSSOM (vegan)
PASILLIA BBQ JACKFRUIT (vegan) *this was AK’s favourite
*There was a special CHARGRILLED BBQ TEMPEH TACO (vegan) *our second favourite
These tacos were not only delicious but also embrace beautiful foods like cactus, mushroom, pumpkin, watermelon and more! Lucha Verde really kills it with these guys (we were blown away). We have to say, the major assortment and creativity of vegan tacos was impressive and there is so much care (TLC) with each and every ingredient.
Now, drum roll please… Dessert!
So as you’ve seen thus far, John had us try the entire menu (almost). Here we have some sweet beauties that my sweet tooth would like to introduce to you.
This little guy was oh so tasty and was a happy little way to finish off this out-of-the-park meal. The key lime pie cup was basically delicious key lime cheesecake filling topped with key lime pie whipped coconut cream. If you follow Zach and Meghan (The Juice Truck) on instagram, you will know already that they are clear fans of Lucha and basically come once a week just for the Key Lime Pie Cup. That should say enough, right?
In true Chloe’s Countertop fashion, we are always spreading the love and like to recognize the good vibes we received as soon as we walked into Lucha Verde. The owner really knows how to show his love through not only food but down to earth style of the space and energy. He encourages people to embrace the plant based, not shy away from it. You’d be surprised 😉 Whether you are plant-based, vegetarian or a meat-eating machine, you must add Lucha Verde to your list of taco (or just food in general) joints in Vancouver. Major love to John and the Lucha Verde team for having us and sharing their passion so deliciously! Also, stay tuned to learning more about John and his restaurant/philosophy inspired escapades in a future Conscious Conversations Podcast episode coming in the fall!
IMPORTANT DEETS FOR YOU TO KNOW ABOUT LUCHA VERDE:
1326 Davie St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1N5
Tel: (604) 669-8620
Tuesday – Sunday 5pm – Late