Chickpea, BBQ cauliflower, and vegan birria tacos for a $1 each
Calle Octava #8310, Tijuana, BC
Young couple David García and Ariss Mercado started delivering vegan food via bicycle around Tijuana over a year ago. After biking around the city, they garnered enough fans via Facebook and Instagram to open a small shop called Veggies Are Us. It’s on 8th street on the corner of Madero in downtown Tijuana, and the grand opening was on March 20. They are selling out every day hours before closing time.
The shop is tiny, with just enough room to snuggly sit ten people. The open kitchen takes a third of the space. Bicyclists usually hang outside the store, as it is encouraged to arrive via bike for a 15% discount.
I saw an appetizing picture of their Mac-No-Cheese, but they were sold out. I had to settle for a bowl of chili ($3.25) and a handmade orangeade ($1). The chili was good but nothing spectacular. I didn’t think about the fact that it was vegan. The orangeade was a tad weak, but I appreciate the effort of freshly squeezed OJ.
I visited the following day, and this time their menu had a tofu fish taco and a cauliflower ceviche tostada for around $1 each. They also had a hummus torta, but again it was sold out.
“Veganesa?” Ariss asked me after I ordered the tostada, and I gave her a puzzled look. “Do you want Veganesa on it?” I was taken aback by the question and simply replied that I wasn’t vegan. “No, Veganesa is vegan mayonnaise. Do you want some on the tostada?”
Both the vegan fish taco and the ceviche tostada did an amazing job at replicating a non-vegan dish. The battered tofu would have fooled me if they told me it was fish. It had some Oriental bite to it. I accompanied that meal with cucumber water. It was better than the orangeade but still a tad weak.
For the third try I opted to use their bicycle-delivery system and ordered three tacos for $1 each. It didn’t take long for cyclist delivery to arrive with three different vegan tacos wrapped in tin foil with green salsa on the side.
The soy birria was my favorite, though it doesn’t come close to the real non-vegan taco. The cauliflower barbecue I found a tad sweet, and their chickpea was just strange. Overall they were tasty, but the tortillas could be better.
I visited one more time. The last torta ($3.25) went to me, as they again sold out early. The torta was filled with the same chickpea filling that the taco had. The bread was a better complement to the flavor of the chickpeas than the tortilla.
“Our first couple of weeks, we were barely selling one to five meals a day,” David tells me. “The first six months were so slow that we were thinking about quitting, but we kept pushing it until we started selling 35 to 40 meals. That’s when we thought about opening the shop. We couldn’t keep up with the demand. I expected to sell a lot to the vegan community, but I didn’t expect all the non-vegan customers we’ve been getting.”