Kyle and I stumbled upon Gringo restaurant one rainy Saturday afternoon in Vancouver, with the intention of sitting down for a few tacos and good conversation. After finding out that the beer was only $3.50 all day every day, however, we quickly turned what was supposed to be a brief pit stop to the beginnings of some serious day drinking. Considering that’s cheaper than the price of orange juice at most restaurants in Gastown, it was definitely one of the wiser choices we made that weekend.
Ridiculously affordable is just one of the positive adjectives that can be applied to this Mexico-inspired taco joint in Vancouver. The staff are incredibly accommodating, making sure to know your name when you order and remembering it throughout the night. The atmosphere is casual, and since it’s such a small place it’s hard not to start chatting to the person next to you. The best part? Pretentiousness is a word that simply won’t fly in the place, and if you enter smelling of this foul attribute the closest thing you’ll get to meet your demands is a shot of the “crap” tequila and a swift kick in the face. Maybe not the latter, but it will certainly cross more than one person’s mind. The staff at Gringo purposefully don’t tell customers what brand of alcohol they serve, because as Co-Founder Shoel Davidson puts it, “it’s more important who you’re drinking with, than what you’re drinking.” I couldn’t agree more.
Granted, there are people who enter Gringo dressed to the nines and ready to drop hundreds on a bottle of Grey Goose, but since the bartenders refuse to cater to these demands, the assholes leave and you’re left with a great group of people to party the night away with. If you do tire of the $3.50 beer, Shoel and his team shake up a stellar mix of cocktails for your drinking pleasure. Of course, in true Gringo fashion, their method is “shake and dump,” so instead of straining the ice everything is poured straight into the glass. Whether or not this is the proper way to drink a cocktail is besides the point. If it tastes good, why waste a decent block of ice?
As for the tacos, they aren’t the best I’ve ever had, but again this is not a foodie hangout and never will be. Anyone entering the restaurant looking for a gourmet meal should turn around and leave immediately, because this is not what Gringo is about. For those working in Gastown looking for an affordable lunch spot, the staff can whip up three tacos for eight bucks in less than ten minutes. I was recently chatting to the crew that works at a coffee shop nearby and mentioned this, to which they turned around and said, “why the hell have we been eating at A&W for the past two weeks?” Plus, if you’re feeling cheeky you can always grab a pint too and return to the office feeling extra smug, considering you just had a satisfying lunch and booze break for under $15 – a feat that’s near impossible in Vancouver.
At first the flamingo decor and pink paper bags over the bottles of booze might confuse you, but after learning about the reasoning behind it all, it’s hard not to fall in love with Gringo. Its cheesy, laid-back attitude attracts the kind of people who you want to be spending the night with, rocking out to nostalgic 90s hits that blast over the speakers. Unless you’re the kind of person who falls into the pretentious category, you’ll come for the $3.50 beers and stay for the “crap” tequila shots and rowdy conversations sure to ensue.His Take