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Tidal Taco Shack, Qualicum Bay, BC.

 This taco joint has been on the Vagrant Foodies “Must Try” list for some time now. We have been hearing good things for a couple years now.

 We waited 45 minutes for tacos at a beach-side parking lot, on a hot day with no shade to be found.  To be fair, the wait is always long, and they have a sign posted right near the window stating the wait is usually 30 minutes to an hour. It’s a popular place. 

  It’s truly a shack. A tiny shed like structure with a dozen or so picnic tables out front of it. We stepped to the window and browsed the menu which consists or six or so tacos, all of which can be made into burritos or salads as well.  We decided on four tacos between the two of us: one prawn, one fish, and two beef.  When we got there all the tables were occupied, so we sipped Mexican soft drinks and sat on the rocks and watched the ocean surf. It’s quite a beautiful location.

  Although it it a busy place, I was struck by how slowly they get food out. In that 45 minutes we were waiting there was only two other orders ahead of us, so within that time only ten or twelve tacos were actually produced. It could be that every component is made to order, but in such a tight working space, It seems unlikely. After half an hour or so, one of the picnic tables opened up to sit on, we were grateful to not have to hand hold our meal.

  At long last our order was ready and were served four tacos in paper lined plastic baskets. I first noticed the size of the tacos, they were quite big. We browsed the caddy of hot sauces and spices and decided on some suitable condiments for our tacos and returned to our table.  Trying to eat these unwieldy taco was impossible, so I pulled out half of the shredded cabbage so I could fold the tortilla at least part way. I started with the prawn taco. The prawns were cooked well, but even with much of the cabbage removed it was primarily cabbage flavoured. The actual tortilla was a plain white flour tortilla, gummy, not toasted and dull. The entire taco was frankly dull, underwhelming and mediocre. The beef taco looked better. Filled with stewed beef chunks, beans, corn, lettuce and shredded cheese.  As I finished taco number one, fighting off wasps for my food, I removed a good portion on the lettuce in taco number two so I could pick it up to my mouth. Served in the same gummy tortilla, I had a bite of the beef taco. It was actually pretty good, not spectacular, but after the first taco my expectations were lowered. The beef was tender and flavourful. The cheese, while merely shredded marble cheddar, was ample and the black beans added nice texture. All and all, it was a decent taco.

  These tacos from Tidal Taco Shack were definitely not authentic Mexican, nor are they the hipster “west coast” style that some places around these parts purvey. I wouldn’t say they are bad by any means, but they are a bit on the boring side. If I were a local to Qualicum, I could see myself going there for lunch on occasion but I don’t think this is a destination worth a long drive to. 

Cheers and bon appétit.

  Two years ago my good friend said to me “You like Mexican food. You have to go to Tidal Taco Shack” in Qualicum.  From that point on, they were on my facebook feed and were a pointed Foodies Destination.

  Finally this Labor Day weekend D and I had a sunny day, a van and no plan so we struck out toward the south island and determined we would stop at Tidal Taco Shack and see what it was all about.

  They have been expanding lately according to the facebook page, opening new locations around the Island and possibly in Kelowna although I am not 100% certain I read that or imagined it [D’s edit: it’s Osoyoos BC]. In any case the reviews were awesome and I was very excited.

  It was a perfect day for outdoor food. Hot and sunny, closing in on 30 degrees celsius, Summer decided she was making a September debut and we would all know about it, a perfect day for tacos.

  We came up on the restaurant and I was delighted to find it was actually a shack, no bigger than an average tool shed with a wooden porch, wooden side counter for hot sauces and a scattering of picnic tables right on the beach. You could not ask for a better view, ocean everywhere , a small rock wall that you could climb down to the beach while you waited for your food, and larger rocks you could sit on farther away if you didn’t want to take up a table while you waited. You will notice I said waited… twice.

  There was a sign when we first arrived to expect to wait 30 minutes to 45 minutes for your meal. Ok that was fine, I liked that there was a warning and it only gave me greater hope that this was going to be astounding!

  We ordered; and for 30.00 we got 4 tacos and two sodas (they were, however, specialty sodas) and we found ourselves a rock to hang out on until our name was called.  

  We waited about 45-50 minutes and were finally presented with 4 of the biggest tacos I have ever seen. I had ordered the beef taco and the fish taco. I have an addiction to fish tacos, and admittedly I am a bit of a traditionalist about them. I like them to have cabbage, white sauce and the battered fish. Some onion and cilantro. This was that. Almost.

  The fish taco was really nicely done, tons of shredded cabbage and the fish was well battered not too greasy, the only thing that put me off was the sauce happened to be a chipotle mayo instead of a white sauce.  Although I was disappointed by this, it was really nicely done and was pretty tasty, not what I expected and so my hopes were slightly dashed, still and all it was very good.

  The Beef was awesome, seasoned well and big enough chunks of ground beef that in theory it would stay in the shell. In theory! There was so much food stuffed into that taco shell that the majority of it ended up in the trap it came in. I only ate about half of the taco I had paid for but that was no fault of the establishment, a wasp decided to make its home in the fall out from my taco. D had to go hunting to save me from it and well, I just didn’t want to eat the beef it had walked all over and been removed from.

  I loved  the selection of hot sauces that we had to pick from,

  My biggest comments would be some shade was needed, there was no cover at all for our almost hour long wait and, being a ginger, I felt like it was a lot of sun with no reprieve. Also, I would suggest using a more stand up shell, for the quality of the fillings the shell was lacking by comparison.

  I would go back, I would like to try a burrito and see if maybe I could get all of it in me instead of the dish!

Thanks Tidal Taco Shack, you do it west coast, but you do it well.

Cheers and bon appétit,
Whiskey G


Tidal Taco Shack Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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