As a relatively new resident of New Westminster, finding places to eat has been a great way to explore the neighbourhood. Ay! Picante is a Mexican restaurant that has been open in the Sapperton area for about 2 months, and Luis welcomed Roman and I to a tasting of some of the food and drinks on their menu.
With the Spanish word for “spicy” in its name, Ay! Picante does live up to it. The restaurant offers a range of hot sauces, from mild for the timid, to hot heat for those who like very spicy flavours. The hot sauces are a tasty addition to the tacos, burritos, tortas, tostadas, gorditas and quesadillas.
The menu has a great variety of tacos to choose from, all for $2.60 each. The hard part is picking with ones! Roman and I ended up going with the following choices:
- roasted lamb
- grilled chicken
- slow-roasted pulled pork
- a veggie taco with my choice of 3 veggies
These tacos were made with 4-inch corn tortillas, filled with one of the above listed, and garnished with onion and cilantro. I gravitate towards seafood tacos, and Ay! Picante’s shrimp and fish did not disappoint. The batter was light and crispy, and both tacos had a generous amount of shrimp and fish. Roman enjoyed the roasted lamb taco, which was tender. The grilled chicken was moist and very well-seasoned, and the pulled-pork taco was satisfying. For the veggie taco, I asked Luis what he recommended and he created a nopal (which is also known as prickly pear cactus), mushroom and pineapple taco. It seemed unusual, but I was curious about trying nopales, and Luis assured that these ingredients go well together. Amazing, they did! The mushrooms were earthy, the pineapples were sweet and bright, and the nopales added an interesting texture that reminded me of aloe vera, and green beans combined. This veggie taco was delicious!
In addition to devouring these tacos, we also had a gordita. A gordita is a fried stuffed corn cake with red beans, lettuce, white onion, cilantro, sour cream, avocado mayonnaise and fresh cheese. Just like the tacos, you can choose from the list of available proteins or veggies to put in your gordita. We went with the beef tongue. The gordita was very filling, and had different flavours and textures. It was soft, crispy, savoury, and creamy all in one bite, which made it enjoyable to eat.
To wash it all down, Roman had a mango Jarritos while I had their homemade horchata. Jarritos is a popular brand of pop in Mexico, and comes in many different flavours. Horchata is drink made of rice water, milk, vanilla and cinnamon and sugar. I’ve had horchata before, and love the cinnamon-sugar flavour of it. Ay! Picante’s cool and sweet horchata also served as a dessert for me.
If you’re in New Westminster and are craving tacos and Mexican food from a casual place, hit up Ay! Picante. The restaurant offers great value for good food, with all the tacos at the same price, making it easy to want to order one of everything! And with these tacos being tasty, you’d want to.
418 E Columbia St, New Westminster, BC