A lot of the restaurants that Jamie and I have recommended over the past few years have been stand-outs in a culinary sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if the good majority of our friends, who know us quite well, would have assumed that we were quickly becoming – God forbid – foodies. I hate that word, with a vengeance. It’s loaded with pretentiousness and every single person who embodies its meaning is a part of the most obnoxious cult since Scientology.
To anyone who thinks that Jamie and I have entered the pretentious world of food critics, think again. Sure, we like food. In fact, we love good food. But I will not for a second think twice about recommending Gringo, a bar in Vancouver’s Blood Alley that is firmly positioned itself in the anti-foodie’s trenches.
Gringo is like a slap to the face of every iPhone-wielding idiot who would rather tweet about the colour of their turds than have a conversation with the person next to them. When ordering a drink, the bartenders are friendly, hilarious, and always sure to introduce themselves (if they haven’t met you before). If you’d like a beer, you order a pale ale or a lager. No brands are mentioned. You’d like a shot of tequila? Take your pick between “ok” and “crap.” Think you might be able to sneak a peak of the label to make sure it’s a tequila that’s up to your standards? Tough shit. The bottles are all wrapped in paper bags to help you focus a little bit more on drinking and having fun, and a little less on becoming the douche-bag who orders a bottle of Patron.
This is not to say that the drinks are terrible. On the contrary, they’re amazing. One cocktail is a Pina Colada mixed with beer. Sounds gross? Wrong. It’s delicious. As for the food, the tacos are an answer to what Vancouverites have been largely missing up until now: late night drunk food that isn’t Megabite pizza. The tacos are tasty enough, fully capable of absorbing a couple of the cocktail concoctions I mentioned earlier, and you can buy three for $8.
On the topic of prices, pints of beer are $3.50 each. That’s not a happy hour special – that’s all the time. Daytime, after midnight, whenever. The beer is $3.50. For Vancouver, and especially for the neighbourhood of Gastown, that’s unheard of. I’m telling you, if you’re looking for a spot to wind down your night (or get it started), this is the place.
However, just because it’s a good place to have a few beers and some tacos at the tail end of a bender does not mean that it’s for everyone. The beauty of this place is sure to escape some, and Jamie and I got a pretty good glimpse of this on a recent Saturday night visit. While we chatted with one of the bartenders and a few guys who had just come from a beer league soccer game, a woman decked out to the nines with her tool of a boyfriend walked in. She asked to see a menu and was quickly confused. “What kind of tequila do you have?” The bartender calmly told her, “We don’t tell you. You can either choose from ok or crap.” She was, to put it simply, not impressed. The pair sat down for a few minutes, scrolled through their cellphones without hardly saying a word, and left. Good riddance.
The next time that you find yourself strapped for cash but in need of a good night out, head to Gringo. In fact, you might as well get there a bit early and grab some tacos for dinner while you’re at it. You’ll probably get a bit drunk and have a chat with every other person in the place. If that doesn’t sound like a good time to you, well, I’d doubt that you find much fun in anything at all. Including your lonely bottle of Patron.Her Take