A california style mexican restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere.
Came here tonight to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while. Hoping the reviews were legitimate but surely they jest.
The frigid cold was maybe why it wasn't too busy as they do not take reservations. We were seated quickly and slowly made our way to order. Our friends ordered the Prawn Burrito, Chicken Enchilada, the Burrito and Enchilada Entree, while the girlfriend and I shared the Taco and Tostada Entree. We ordered some soft drinks, beer and their Nacho Supreme to start. I found everything to be bland, especially our tostada. The dishes were indeed fresh but even for Cali style Mex I expected it to be packed with some decent flavour. The Nachos were OK, the chips looking and tasting like it came out of a Que Pasa bag. The house salsa was excellent however, fresh with a little bit of kick. The chicken in the tostada was dry, and mostly buried under a mound of slopped on lettuce. Our beef taco was soggy on the bottom however the rice was pretty good, although it too was buried under lettuce. My friend's burrito had a kick to it, but seemed they just sprinkled dry spices over the meat. I will note that the portions are extremely generous and my girlfriend and I hard trouble finishing our one entree. Maybe it was the beans. At any rate, I think I'm being a little generous with my value rating all things considered.
Service was good. Our server was casual but polite and very friendly. She checked up on us regularly.
The restaurant was a lot smaller than I imagined and very casual cafe style. There aren't too many tables and it was a bit cramped. Table space is tight.
Overall, it was an underwhelming experience. Very good bang for the buck if you like filling up on fast food quality Cali Mex outside a fast fast joint.
The prices here seem a couple dollars more than comparable mexican restaurants but the portions are large.
I ordered the beef burrito and chicken enchilada and both were tasty. The enchilada had sesame seeds on it which was unique and gave it an interesting texture. The restaurant has a casual atmosphere and the walls are covered with pencil crayon or plain crayon colored Topanga coloring book art.
Ordered the huevos rancheros and the eggs came over hard. I'm not an expert on the dish but from what I have had in the past, the eggs should be runny. The corn tortillas partly made up for it. Also the ranchero sauce was a bit on the bitter side, almost mole like. Small restaurant with good comp salsa and chips to start.
When we want to nosh a burrito or enchilada, Topanga is the place to go! We've been coming here for a long time, and started bringing our kid here ever since he was in-utero! Sometimes there is a line-up, but it's worth the wait. Bonus if you can sit on the patio, and watch people go by on West 4th Avenue! Nothing like a Friday evening in the summer, sitting on the patio while the sun goes down, quaffing a margarita, sangria or Corona, while munching on a plate of Carne Nortena!! Your server will bring you a basket of chips with really good salsa while you are waiting for your meal! Save room for the chocolate cake! It's terrific!
I must have eaten here honestly 100 times over the years, I have always enjoyed every bite of food and
don't recall any service issues. I crave the homemade chips and salsa which are complementry unlike
many mexican restaurants. I just don't see how Las Marj, Pepitas, etc.... compare.
I will say that the prices has risen to a point where I debate the value, drinks and entrees are now borderline
too much. It's all good though.
A few years ago I used to get food from The Topanga Cafe weekly, if not twice a week. Usually the burrito dinner for takeout once/week and then go there another time for a sit down meal and get something else.
Just took my girlfriend there, after a seriously long time, for a quick bite after perusing my menu at home and she decided on the Nachos Supreme - 1/2 order. In my menu $8.95.
Service was fine, Ambiance was fine, a little cold but wasn't packed so understandable. Nachos came on an oval plate and she enjoyed them with a beer.
I did not enjoy the price I paid. With tax $19.72. Pardon me, how much was the beer? Normal, umm, how much for the nachos - 1/2 order $11.65. What?! Well ok, our dumb for not reading the new menu.
Granted, my menu is a couple years old but here are a couple of examples of the price increase.
A La Carte Taco $5.25 now $8.35
A La Carte Chili Relleno $7.95 now $10.65
Burrito and Chili Relleno entree (includes chips, salsa, rice, & beans) $17.25 now $24.10
I asked the guy about the prices. He agreed they went up awhile ago and they are planning "another price increase soon"
Sorry, but I now think they are too expensive and I definitely won't be going back. What, 7 blocks away you can get a complete French dinner - appetizer, main and dessert for $27.
Good bang for your buck in the food department.
I think the funky atmosphere is what makes it. The hundreds of hand colored reinterpretations of the menu cover will at some point be a topic of conversation during your meal. The variety ranges from krappy kids stuff, to the one that looks like a poster for a john wayne movie. This place also has the lowest turnover of staff in town. Amongst others, that dude who wears shorts all the time has been working there forever.
The Topanga Cafe has always been a solid choice for me. I don't go there a ton but when I do the food and service + price level have pretty much hit the mark. I recently went back (Jan 7/11) for a meal and the experience was underwhelming. Food is still a tasty bastardized version of Mexican food. I like it. The salsa they serve with the chips is still fantastic. This all sounds good right? Well the problem is they have now raised there main entree price to 24 bucks which is high for this casual a restaurant. In combination with the new price point the service was absolutely horrible. The two waitresses might be the two worst servers in Vancouver. Only being able to do one thing at a time is a bad trait for a server. They fell into my category of, well we go to University so we are qualified to be waitresses. Uh-no you aren't. At any rate I paid the bill, left no tip and doubt I will be back for a long time.
I can honestly say that I'm just as unimpressed with Topanga today as I was the last time I ate here, twenty years ago.
The food was bland - it all tasted like burnt black beans. The rice was crispy, likely because they'd nuked the entire plate, (it arrived scorchingly hot). I ordered a vegetarian burrito and the server helpfully suggested that I add the spicy eggplant in since it added a good deal to the overall flavour. Sorry, it didn't. I asked for hot sauce to "add flavour". The server brought me a small dish, explaining she mixed the hot sauce down with the salsa so it wasn't so terriby hot. I was touched she cared so much for my well being. Unfortunatley it just made the hot sauce watery. Overall a very disappointing experience.
The only positive aspect was my server. She genuinely seemed to care about the customers' eating experience and offered her suggestions. The cooks should be ashamed at the lack of pride they take in their food and presentation. They betray the faith that my server had in the food.
If you're in the mood for greasy tex mex, then Topanga's will deliver. Food is tasty but smothered in cheese. You'll leave feeling very full indeed.
Service is solid, nothing special. I particularly enjoy though their endless chips and homemade salsa.
Wait times can be long-ish. Overall, a solid place to eat greasy tex mex.
Been a while since i paid that much for such bad food. the menu and cooking style is "vancouver mexican" circa 1977 . flour tortillas, stale chips,salty tomato sauce all baked in cheddar ; )
guys, don't be afraid to use the spices and ingredients they actually use in Mexico. they're readily available and delicious !
The Topanga Cafe is awesome. I was introduced to it through my husband who has been enjoying dinners there with his family since childhood. The service is so friendly and the food is delicious. Recommendations (especially if you are veggie): the enchilada with eggplant and beans and a Dos Equis. For dessert: their famous chocolate cake. Warm staff and atmosphere and wonderful comfort food.
Always a treat to come to Topanga and get some tasty food. The chips are salsa are the best in town, you can order both to go and take home a large serving.
some of my favourites include the burrito, prawn taco salad, and nachos.
to the fellow in the review below... who said the chips looked and taste like they are out of a Que Pasa bag.. learn the history of the restaurant and understand why.
I'd had a particularly rough week at work, so my husband and I decided to treat ourselves by going to Topanga for a plate of nachos (me) and some pork dish (my husband).
While waiting for the food to arrive, we got presented with a complimentary serving of tortilla chips and salsa. The chips were STALE and looked like something you'd get out of a generic brand purchased at the local corner store. The chips were so stale that I began to regret ordering the nachos, knowing that they'd be using the same chips.
When my nachos arrived, I immediately felt deflated. The order was 1/2 the size I thought it would be (I ordered a full order at $13!), and it was simply a pile of chips, with a few shreds of hard-to-find cheese, topped with a bizarrely large dollop of sour cream and guacamole. To give you an idea, I normally LOVE nachos. These were the blandest, most stale, boring nachos I've had. I left 2/3 on my plate, because the sour cream had started to make the chips soggy because there was no cheese to serve as a buffer. (Oh, my husband's dinner wasn't any better)
When my husband and I left the restaurant (disappointed), we joked "Ok, where are we going for a REAL dinner?"
Don't waste your time or your money. It's a real disappointment at Topanga!
Having grown up as a child in Southern Californa and raised on Mexican food, I think Topanga is FANTASTIC!!! When we moved to Vancouver we couldnt find any decent Mexcian food, then when we found Topanga we thought we were in heaven!!!! The burritos are soooooo good, the sauce they put on them is so good you could eat it plain as soup! It is by no mean a fancy place, but I love the attmosphere, great to sit and chat! Quite frequently on weekend my brother and I, get some DVD's and a take-away from Topanga, best thing ever!!!! You ROCK Topanga!!!
The waiter was not very proactive in taking our order and didn't ask if we wanted appetizers, just drinks. I know profits are in the drinks but seriously.
Club soda from a can.
Salsa with absolutely no zing at all.
Chicken burrito with no spicyness at all either - very strange.
Asked for hot sauce and was given a bottle with no peppers in it? Only tomatoes, spices and garlic?
How can Mexican food be so bland?
I've been eating at Topanga almost every week since I first moved to Kits five years ago. That tells you something about the consistency of the restaurant.
I really enjoy Topanga because of its laid-back atmosphere, great food and low prices.
Why should you make the drive further west from Las Margaritas? The food is more authentic, the line (if any) is shorter, and the atmosphere doesn't remind you of an Earl's restaurant.
My favorite is the Enchilada entree, which, for $12, gets you a very filling enchilada, rice, beans and nachos to start. There are several fillings, with spicy pork and half beef/half egg plant, which is also very spicy.
The real treat is the dessert. The chocolate cake is the best in town. Rich, moist yet not too sweet. They also make whole cakes for take-out, which are a steal at $25.
Try it once and I guarantee that you'll be back. If you want to avoid a line-up, they also do take-away.
I lived outside of Mexico City for a few years growing up and have found it hard to find decent Mexican food here in Vancouver. Many people told me that Las Magarita's is the best, yet I beg to differ. I liked Topanga and the atmosphere felt like I was in Mexico! Minus the red headed waitress of course. I love the tacos and the rice. The sangria does need some help thought!
I came here with my family in December. Firstly, they had a hard time accomadating our large party (8) and they even seemed upset that out party was so large. Only seconds after the rest of our party was seated (some of us got there earlier than the others), the waitress came and asked for our orders. Because some of us were in the middle of sitting down and had not even gotten menus yet, we were flusttered. Without waiting one minute, the waitress said very rudely and loudly, "are you ready? YES or NO?!?". The rest of out time there, she would bang our plates down on the our tables and rolled her eyes and made a face when one of the toddlers got in her way (which only happened once). SUCH DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR!!!
The food was bland with no flavour. It wasn't bad but it was not spectuacular. I have lived in California and califonia style mexican should have a lot more taste. To be fair the prices were alright.
The ambiance wasn't bad but it definately a place to go with families and children. Not a place I would take my friends to hang out.
Not many neighbourhood restaurants can gloat about maintaining loyal fans for as long as Topanga Cafe. The consistently tasty
food warms the belly, the lack of pretense warms the heart, and the familiar faces are a testament to what makes a neighbourhood restaurant prevail. Kudos Topanga people! Keep on keepin on.