Design Crush: Tacofino Reinvents Itself Again
The West Coast taco spot finds a folksy-industrial home in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood.
If we’ve learned anything from Tacofino, it’s that variety is key. Each new offering (there are eight now, if you’ve lost count), whether food truck or bricks-and-mortar restaurant, has its own personality, something designer Shiloh Sukkau has gotten used to—and not just because she’s got a thing for fish tacos.
This is the fourth time Sukkau has partnered with the Tacofino team (she also designed the Gastown, Yaletown, and Downtown locations). “They really want every space to be unique,” she says. “The menu is different every time and it’s important that the space reflect that—they’re never really duplicating things.” Case in point: the new Ocho location in Mount Pleasant boasts a menu chock-full of fire-grilled meats and vegetables and a Mexican folk-inspired interior—read on for all the design deets.
Tacofino Ocho has a more casual vibe, and the subtle design reflects that. “There aren’t a lot of tiny details,” says Sukkau. “It’s not about creating intimate little corners—it’s about being in a big room with a bunch of people.”
Sukkau also made sure to layer in a few elements that can be found at other Tacofino locations—the metal mesh that hangs from the ceiling (designed by Tyler Reed Lepore) can be seen at the Yaletown and Financial District spots, the colour palette is a nod to the Hastings Commissary.
Sukkau wanted the lighting to reference the building’s history, but didn’t want to go too industrial in style; the hanging fluorescent tubes from Australia’s Mance turned out to be the perfect compromise.
The corrugated concrete is Sukkau’s favourite thing about the design of Tacofino Ocho, partially because it turned out nothing like she expected. “I just think it’s unique—especially on the large planter in the centre,” she says. She loves the way it extends above the countertop so that diners can see it (see below).
“Putting plants in is always a dubious thing,” laughs Sukkau. “Are they gonna make it or not?” With this in mind, she took a less-is-more approach, incorporating one large planter in the middle of the room. “We didn’t want anything on the walls because we wanted people to look in,” the designer explains. “The bar and the planter give you something to look at in the space.”
Aside from the mix-and-match green chairs from Modernica, the colour palette in the restaurant is muted. Contrast primarily comes from the textures found throughout the space: “The concrete, the plaster walls—it’s sort of subtle, but there’s enough difference there that you can appreciate it,” says Sukkau.
Of course, the new room also comes with a slew of new menu items: empanadas, cauliflower al pastor, and tacos of course: “The fish taco is always really good, but I feel lame saying that,” says Sukkau when asked about her fave dish. (The grilled romaine salad and whole roasted rockfish were also at the top of her list.)