Dona Cata Mexican offers a menu of 100% original tacos plus salsa bar and chips.
I really didn't know what I wanted for dinner so after some agonizing decision making the gf and I decided to stay close by and headed here. I've been pretty disappointed by the availability of authentic sytle Mexican food in town and how terrible the "tex-mex for locals" variety have been so I made sure I came in here with no expections. Totally unfounded.
It wasn't busy so we were seated immediately after being greeted (which turned out to be one of the owners). We were immediately served complimentary tortilla chips in a small, plain disposable paper plate while we decided what to get. Too hard to choose since everything looked fantastic. Finally, the girlfriend chose the Mole entree while I ordered the Sarape. A brief wait and we were already eating. Our warm tortillas that came with our meals were served in a wicker basket, a nice touch. My Sarape was a mix of cheese, green peppers, onions and longaniza sausage, among other ingredients. Absolutely delicious. Great blend of flavours and with a tiny hint of spiciness. My gf's entree was also good, with the mole sauce hinting us with its chocolate undertones. The tortilla chips looked homemade since many pieces appeared oil soaked; they probably make them in batches. Portions are deceiving, and fill you up a lot faster than you think.
Service wasn't a sore point but it's not delivered like our western influcenced counterparts. The staff are very friendly (I noticed them explaining some of the menu choices to a few tables) but they didn't follow up with our meal until they cleared our plates - didn't bother me, though just so you know. Other than that tiny oversight, the service would parallel a typical restaurant with good service.
The restaurant is dressed up similarly like their food, with homemade touches all around, including the wall with all the framed media clippings of the restaurant, the colourful art paper cutouts hanging across the ceiling, a Mama Cata dedication on the long wall and a salsa/condiment bar on the mirroring wall. I will also state that the restaurant was amazingly clean, especially the floor tiles.
Clearly, the food they serve here is priority, made and presented in a simple manner. Think comfort food. Everything else from the service to the decor are executed without the forced tawdry seen elsewhere.
The food isn't by any means elegant, just good, no frills, tasty homestyle Mexican grub. Will return. Highly recommended.
I had dinner here with a friend and I got all their different kinds of tacos (there were 7 in total) as well as their rice and beans combo with it.
The tacos ranged from not good, like the chicken I found very bland, tasted like steamed/boiled chicken, to great, the beef as well as the pork with sausage were very good. I do realize that you are suppose to put salsa and chilis/onions with it, but I expect it to be somewhat tastey without. They have several different salsas which I found pretty good.
The rice was hard, like crunchy. The beans were almost tasteless, not sure how they were suppose to taste. Did not enjoy the beans or rice at all, had about 1/2 of it, then left the rest, as it was too crunchy/bland.
Service was pretty decent, food came quick. Music was pretty loud in here, as well as the seating a little cramped, at least where I was sitting. Definitely not a place to hang around after finishing your meal.
Perhaps I just didn't order the right things, but a few things good, and a lot of things not good, I would not come back again most likely. I have been to other mexican restaurants with similar prices that I enjoyed much more.
Their soft tacos are superb! They don't seem to soak through & get soggy the way most other places make them. This is a new favourite for my taco cravings. For ppl eating in, you're able to help yourself to a great number of sauces/topping choices for your tacos! They have bowls & bowls of them lined up for you to scoop out of buffet-style. Freshly housemade.
Unfortunately, sitting in can get a little crowded if you're able to snag a seat at all. Prices are decent for the portion. Though I don't care much for the location, it's still alright. It's a solid for ambiance since it's relatively clean though small. Service is pleasant & adequate. Seems to be family-run & I can't say for authenticity as I'm no Mexican expert, but I do know I have enjoyed their offerings very much whenever I don't mind making my way to the area.
From reading the reviews on here, I went with pretty high expectations. What I got was half and half.
The food itself was pretty good. Love their corn tortillas, very nice. tacos were reported as yummy. I ordered the carne enchilada(?) which was tasty, but came with fat untrimmed.
A huge plus was the hot sauce bar. Lots of choices from avocado to green tomato.
The ambiance was bright and cheery, but nothing special. The music was a little bit loud though.
Service was what turned me off from probably coming back. We sat down and everyone else got chips to sample the salsas. No chips for us. No biggie. Then after we ordered our meals, my boyfriend ordered 2 pineapple jarritos. The server said they don't have pineapple, only strawberry, mango and guava. Boyfriend didn't want those, so he asked for a ginger-ale and I asked for strawberry jarrito. We got a blank stare for a second, then she walked away.
We got the tacos and were waiting for drinks before diving into the hot salsas. We kindly reminded the server and again a blank stare before walking away. Another 5-10 minutes passed and I got my meal and no drinks. We called over another server and asked for our drinks. She grabbed our bill and said no drinks were ordered. She asked what we would like and then said that they were out of strawberry jarrito and they don't even serve pop. At this point, we were dumbfounded and just asked for 2 waters.
We were surprised nonetheless.
Tacos were well-priced, but the experience left a sour taste in my mouth and I probably will not return. At least not soon.
Been here a few times, even early on at their original very small location. But I haven't been in awhile, so I'm basing my review on my latest dinner there. Their corn tortillas are still fresh and delicious…and toppings…I think they put the most attention on the pork. I found it the most flavourful and tender. The beef was tough, and the chicken was dry, and both didn’t have a lot of flavour. But my friend ordered one of the bigger dishes with steak, and that steak was amazing, tender, juicy and tasty. So that beef was so different than the beef that came out on the taco it seemed like 2 different restaurants prepared it... I might order the full steak dish next time (which also comes with the tortillas).
Great variety of salsa although I stay on the milder end of it. I find the spicier ones have a bitter undertone to it. The mild green and red are decent, a little watery, not bad but not amazing. Maybe the spicier ones are more impressive. Overall, I think their menu is hit and miss, but they have some good dishes. I went on a Friday night and it was packed, and I'm giving the ambiance a 4 because they had live music with a woman who had just a beautiful voice. And it was nice, it didn’t overwhelm the room the way it usually does with live music. Don’t expect amazing service, they are working hard to make sure everyone gets their order, and they are all about efficiency. Everything came out in a timely manner, they got all the orders right, they make sure everyone is taken care of, so I have no complaints.
I'm a bit mixed about the ratings I'm giving. This is a solid place that's quite good. Unfortunately, I also spent 3 years down in San Jose where we had our pick of a lot of Mexican food, much of it authentic. Now, I'll admit I was not a big fan of Mexican food, but then I found the good stuff. And it's pretty darn good! (For the record, you should check out the deli in the Chavez Market, San Jose location only. It's better than most "real" restaurants in terms of price, service, variety, etc.).
I missed Chavez ever since I came back, but was pleased to find Dona Cata! The menu isn't as extensive, but it's quite good and inexpensive. This looks like the real deal, with the "usual" burritos and tacos, except it's not the usual. Fresh tasting and tasty, not heavy at all. They also have daily specials and other things too. Once in a while pozole pops up, and the horchata is really good, maybe the best I've had yet.
Service was very friendly. Definitely not a fancy place, but a great place to stop by for a quick Mexican food fix. We'd go back.
I came here friday nite with my friends after the gym, it was about 9:30 and it was completely empty, kind of weird for a friday nite I thought. Anyways, after we were seated at our table, we probably sat there for about ten minutes before anyone came to take our order and give us a pretty small portion of chips (and no salsa). After we ordered (all mains) our food came one at a time. wtf????? There was four of us so we waited until we all got our food before we started eating. I don't know what time they closed but I'm guessing it was 10, because while we were still eating they started putting up the chairs and pretty much started closing up! If they didn't want us there, they just should have said they were closing up when we came in. Who the hell closes at 10 on a friday nite?????? Well I had a chicken burrito with rice and it was pretty lame, the rice tasted like microwaved uncle bens and the burrito was nothing to write home about either. After reading good reviews here and in the westender, seriously I thought this place sucked. But the thing that pi*&ed me off the most was it was like they didn't even want us there......which won't be a problem because I won't be back!
The atmosphere, food and numerous people around you speaking meixcan makes you feel like you just walked into a cafe in Mexico not Vancouver.
The food is very tasty and authentic. I had the steak meal that comes with beans, rice and 3 flour tortillas. The multiple salsas and chilis allow you to season your meal to your tastes. Beware the hot salsas as they will put a fire in your mouth. This is the way to visit Mexico without leaving Vancouver.
Thanks to Dinehere, we have discovered where the authentic Mexican food has been hiding -- in East Vancouver! This place has tacos, alambras (sort of like a mixed meat, vegetable, cheese stir fry with tortillas to scoop it up), tortas, even pozole and cactus. Everythign is authentic -- sometimes a bit too authentic, as I found a gross chunk of fatty pork skin in my carnitas taco. Service is somewhat inefficient but friendly, you do have to ask for stuff more than once sometimes. Not exactly a five star setup, you get a handful of tortilla chips on a small styrofoam plate when you arrive, there are no little cups to fill with salsas, the bathroom is clean but strangely arranged, etc. For me, it's exactly the kind of cheap authentic Mexican I have been hankering for, and I will be going back for more soon I hope.
Six different kinds of tacos for $1.50 a pop... I ate 7. I would have eaten more but the place was closing up. I haven't had REAL tacos like this since I was in Mexico in 1980. I mean REAL... amazing. I'm looking forward to the alleged upcoming wave of Meixcan immigrants to supplant all the fast crap outlets we have now with amazing tacequerias like Dona Cat where you can get fast real food for pennies. Excellent quality and taste and the selection of 9 selfserve salsas was an added treat. Gracias Dona Cata.
What a surprise, we saw the large Mexican flag outside and rendezvous here with a couple of friends. The restaurant is tiny, bright and very clean. The small size gives this a very cozy feel.
But the taste is very big and homemade. I was hungry and ordered all seven varieties of their Tacos (one of each) for my plate. My companions ordered a combination of the Tacos available: chicken, beef, spicy pork, sausage, etc. And we washed it all that down with the rice and cinnamon drink.
They had an extensive menu and I will definitely return for more sampling. The price was very reasonable and I thought I was in a Mexican Cantina paying in Pesos. Highly recommended.
We tried this place one Saturday night in May. It is quite small inside and the you are really crammed in there with other diners. But the food was fresh and tasty, the service good, and energetic live music to boot! I tried a few of the many types of tacos, which were pretty good. The salsa bar was great, with so many to try. The margarita was one of the best I've had - tasted like real fresh limes instead of the fake mixes many places use. It's not a fancy place, but overall enjoyable and we'll be back.
This might be authentic Mexican mediocrity. Service was perfunctary. Chips and salsa were OK. Main meal: two dishes. Average tortillas, average vegetarian dish. Some kind of "leftovers" fry-up, consisting of mushrooms, cheese, bits of tomato, and onions. What a joke. Could have made a much better meal at home.
Margaritas were sub-average. Hardly any tequila, and phony lime-cordial mix. Lotsa salt though = more 'authentic' Mexican Mediocrity.
Very limited beer menu. Not good enough these days in Vancouver.
All of this was overpiced for what it was.
I get the sad feeling that some Vancouver diners are willing to put up with that down-home, simple, unpretentious fare, as though somehow this is acceptable because its oh so genuinely working class Mexican. They've been had! Won't be back.
hi after so many years in vancouver i finally found REAL..mexican food, i loveit i love it i love it..i choose all the 7 meats i like the carnitas my favourite mmmh very tasty , the salsa bar was great peanut,chile de arbol, avocado, i was dying with the salsa diabla..bien picosa as a mexican lady i recomend this place,i went today i travelled from surrey and i will back again and again..gracias a dona cata ..viva mexico!!!
My friends and I came here on a cool day and wanted some hot water to warm up. In total we ordered 1 coke and 3 hot waters. We were charged $10 for this.
Besides this, my order came out wrong. I had ordered a lamb taco and 2 different types of pork tacos. They gave me a chicken instead of lamb. When I got it switched, the lamb tasted very bland, I could barely tell it was lamb! So overall, food was only so-so. The salsa bar was very low on salsa and you can only use tiny paper containers (like what you get for ketchup at McDonald's) for these salsa so we made 3 trips to get enough for the 3 of us.
Ambiance - Average. It feels homey, but as if a group of kids decorated it.
Servcie - Average. The establishment is small, so it's easy for the server(s) to keep on top of everything.
Value - Fantastic. $2 tacos. Beef, chicken or marinated pork. Nuff said. (cheese is 50 cents extra)
Food - Fantastic. Add your favourite salsa from the salsa bar (more than 5 choices) and you're set.
Highly recommended for small group (2-4 people). It's a bit small for larger groups.
(short review as I've had to re-type it three times...)
Don't go within an hour and a half before closing. They will be wiping up and putting chairs on tables all around and you will have to go to counter for service. Warning, you might be ignored. If you ask for more food, they will try to talk you out of it, or say there is none left. The prices do seem high, but the tacos are good, and value good. All other foods overpriced. The salsa bar was great, but near closing it is just whatever is left, some dishes empty and won't be refilled. I might go back, but only near opening time.
recently arrived to vancouver, and was a surprised tome found dona cata because the food is exactly the same as mexico any difference, the most important to me is that the dishes, the salsas and the mexican service is great, like the pozole is very good, t=my favorite tacos are carnitas and lamb with the horchata is a good combination a little bite sweet but ok, if you are not mexican and wanna find mexican this is the real place dont expect, texmex like chunky salsas, fish taco, or fajitas because you will be disapointent, but expect classic, typical, clean, and good food...!!!! i dont miss my mom now....yeah..!!!!!
I asked a friend, who happened to be from Latin America, if he could suggest some Latin American type food. Although he is not from Mexico, he said he was interested in trying this place. So we went.
Being a weekend night, I was slightly surprised it was not full. Now, the other customers were Spanish speaking (Mexican?) so that was at least a good sign. We were seated soon and given a small dish with chips. The tacos are $1.75 each ($2.25 if you want cheese), so we settled for an assortment (OK, there is no such "item" in the menu, rather, we order several tacos).
Our order came out in about five minutes. Unless my tastebuds are wrong, I had a lamb, carnita and longaniza. To go along, I had some tomatillo, peanut, mexican and avocado salsa. Overall, they all tasted quite good, probably with exception of the peanut salsa - rather than a roasted peanut flavour, it was more of a raw peanute flavour. Probably acquired taste?
Ambiance was mixed. It is a small place and, as have already being noted by others, the music was way too loud for such a small place. And I don't care it is Juan Gabriel they are playing (according to my friend, he is a famous Mexican singer - regardless it didn't work for me). Parking was problematic. You can park on the street, if you can find a parking spot, that is. We had to park a couple of blocks away. Not fun.
Service was bare. The waitress didn't check on us (to those who care about this - not that we cared, though) but the one thing that did bug us was that, although we ordered drinks (pop), we weren't given glasses of water by default. That is a new low...
Overall, the food is quite good but that is about it. The fact the portions are small (but relatively cheap) allows you to order just a couple or a lot several tacos, depending on your appetite, is a plus. However, I might not want to eat it. If I drop by, I think I would rather have take-out.
My partner and I live in Kensington Cedar Cottage and have wanted to visit Dona Cata for a long while. Have you ever been to a restaurant where the food is decent, but the service is so otherworldly in its dreadfulness that it casts a pall over the whole affair? No? Well do I have a place for you!
We arrived at 6:00 on a Friday night. As other reviewers have pointed out, right when you enter the place there is a long counter/salsa bar. There were three staff standing behind the counter that night doing various things (prep, wiping glasses, making tortillas, etc.) when we arrived. One of the staff glanced over and I raised two fingers and said - "for two please". She nodded, then returned right back to what she was doing. Huh. OK. So we waited. And waited. I saw three empty tables. Staff walked back and forth. No communication - none. After *10 minutes* a young man came and, without a hello, without a word, seated us at a deuce at the back of the room. OK. After a quick peruse of the menu, time to order drinks. 5 minutes...10 minutes... staff walking back and forth.... 15 minutes... 20 minutes... after 20 minutes our waitress shows up to take our order and asks us if we want anything to drink. Sigh...So we order. Food arrived in a decent amount of time. We both ordered tacos and the were yummy, but my partner's were swimming on a lake of red-orange grease. So greasy in fact that he couldn't hold on to the tortillas. Just gross.
I haven't encountered such morose, listless, unenthusiastic and just plain shitty service in a long time. It's almost like the customers were inconveniencing the staff from engaging in some other activity. The food at Dona Cata is OK - it won't blow your hair back by any stretch - but the service...the service is punishing. Won't be back. You've been warned.
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