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Tacos From Costa Vida – A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver, WA

Tacos From Costa Vida - A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver, WA-2

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Tacos From Costa Vida – A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver, WA

Tacos From Costa Vida - A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver WA

Tacos From Costa Vida – A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver, WA

Living a “Tapas Lifestyle” requires evaluating how to adapt this concept to every place one may visit. Applying the “Small plate, great taste” approach however, is a natural occurrence when you are eating tacos.

In honor of National Taco Day (October 4th) we were invited by Scott C. Dickinson, one of the Operating Partners of the Costa Vida, Fresh Mexican grill here in Vancouver WA, for a live demonstration of how to make various taco recipes, as well as cooking tips… and best of all, sampling!

Scott C. Dickinson, one of the Operating Partners of the Costa Vida, Fresh Mexican grill here in Vancouver WA

Scott addressing the group.

Lets talk a little about he background of the fine establishment. The initial inspiration for the menu at Costa Vida comes from the Baja Peninsula. It turns out that some fine folks from Utah (JD and Sarah Gardner) used to vacation down in Cabo San Lucas and loved the food so much that they thought… “We need this at home too!”  The result was their first location in Layton, Utah.

Tacos From Costa Vida - A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver, WA-2

Set-up…

Now, in order to make this the right way, they decided to duplicate the home cooked experience executed with great passion. All of the items on this menu are made from scratch and they use locally sourced, sustainably raised meat, local vegetables and real, whole ingredients. As a matter of fact, all of the produce they use must be grown at least 150’ from roads and vehicles to eliminate exhaust contamination.

The cooking process involves preparing the food early everyday and is quite the labor of love. They make tortillas (both flour and corn) by hand, chop everything, cook rice and beans and grill up all the meats. Delicious deserts are just part of a daily routine. When you order your food, they even  assemble it to your specs.

Costa Vida can also accommodate people with gluten sensitivities as 95% of the menu does not contain gluten and they will take the necessary steps to  avoid cross-contamination. They can even meet the needs of our vegetarian friends.

Now let’s get down to the delicious trials…

We sampled four tacos selected by store proprietor Scott. Each taco was made on an excellent flour tortilla and had a layer of shredded cheese on it before adding the rest of the ingredients.

I got to Assist Scott During the Presentation

I got to assist Scott during the presentation

Grilled Chicken Fajita taco with tangy sour cream and chunky guacamole – 

The source of the key flavor here was the chicken (See the recipe below). It was flavorful, moist with the nicest amount of grill char. The other ingredients helped accentuate the chickens perfection. This was very tasty but a little low on the heat (chili) scale.

Grilled Steak taco with crisp romaine, Cotija cheese, honey habanero salsa and lime – 

Now we got to enjoy some flavorful beef (Recipe also below). Here the romaine gives you a slight cooling effect, while the habanero sauce supplies a combination of sweet and hot all at once. The Cotija adds just enough saltiness and the lime tops it all with a lovely tart spin. This one left a nice, lingering burn in my mouth and on my lips; that is just what I look for in Mexican food.

Tacos From Costa Vida - A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver, WA-4

Yumm! Grilled Steak taco with crisp romaine, Cotija cheese, honey habanero salsa and lime.

Raspberry Chipotle Chicken taco with crisp romaine and fresh pico de Gallo – 

This combination of sweet raspberry with savory chicken and a hint of Chipotle (not very spicy) is smoothly matched with the cool refreshing effects of the romaine and the pico.

Signature Sweet Pork taco – 

This taco may be your new favorite pork dish. The juicy, tender, yet slightly sweet shredded pork is cooked with Coke soda!  When complimented with the savory base ingredients and some house salsa fresca, this taco is rapidly becoming one of Costa Vida’s fastest growing sellers.

Even though we were quite full of tacos, who can say no to dessert? We had a sampling of Costa Vida’s  main trio.

Tacos From Costa Vida - A Taste of the Baja Peninsula Arrives in Vancouver, WA-5

Time for Dessert!

Flan –

This is a staple of Mexican desserts and one that I am very exacting about as I make a mean flan. Cost Vida’s flan was smooth and sweet with a slightly runny consistency. There was a hint of caramel on top and the whipped cream is a distraction from the flan itself. The egg flavor pops out nicely and I would have liked just a little less sugar in the blend. All in all, not bad.

Tres leches – 

A moist cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream. The name “Tres Leches” means “three milks” and comes from the glaze (that goes over the Vanilla cake) made from evaporated milk, condensed milk, and half and half. This was not overly sweet and nicely refreshing.

Key Lime Pie –

One of my favorite pies and this was excellent sample. The “Mini Pie” had just the perfect balance of a very Key lime flavored, smooth filling, graham cracker crust and a dollop of whipped cream. Cool and tropical; this will be my go to on future visits.

Valery and Raul Amador - Costa Vida

Me and My Sweetie, Valery

I grew up on Mexican food and consider myself a very demanding consumer. After sampling just the tacos, I found that I enjoyed the food at Costa Vida very much !(I would have liked a bit more heat, but that’s just my fiery palate). I am going to go back to test the rest of the menu over the next few months. My wife and I will We will share the entrees in true tapas style and you can’t go wrong with tacos!
Valery and I invite you to check out Costa Vida for yourself. If you are in the Portland/Vancouver area, our Mill Plain restaurant is currently open with two more coming to  other Vancouver  locations in the next year.

(And as promised… here are 2 great Costa Vida recipes)

RECIPES:

Chicken Marinade Recipe

Ingredients:

3 lbs. fresh chicken breast

½ cup pure olive oil

1 Tablespoon fresh garlic, minced

¼ cup all purpose seasoning

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

Juice of 2 Lemons

Instructions: 

Rinse your chicken and pat it dry. Set aside.

Combine all ingredients, except the chicken, in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine completely.  Add chicken to the marinade bowl. Using clean hands, tongs, or a large rubber spatula, mix chicken and marinade until every piece of chicken is completely covered in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or pour marinade and chicken into a large gallon-size Ziploc bag).

Let rest in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.

Steak Marinade Recipe

Ingredients:

3 lbs cleaned, fresh sirloin steak, divided into 5-6 oz portions

½ cup pure olive oil

1 Tablespoon fresh garlic, minced

1 Jalapeno, minced

1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 Tablespoons chili powder

Juice of 2 Limes

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients, except the steak, in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine completely. Using clean hands, tongs, or a rubber spatula, add the steak and gently mix well to ensure all pieces are well coated with the marinade. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (or pour steak and marinade into a large gallon-size Ziploc bag).

Let rest in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Fire up the grill, cook to your desired doneness, and let rest 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

For more information:

www.Costavida.net

 

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Variety Freshness Local
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Sauces Could Be Hotter
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Raul Amador has a passion for Latin and world-music. He serves as the Executive Editor of Bass Musician Magazine and is the Co-founder of viethrive.com.

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