Bandidas Taqueria: where hearty home-style cooking meets social justice

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      Known for its killer brunch menu, hefty burritos, house-made drinks, and heaping plates of cheesy nachos, has been a staple of Commercial Drive for more than 10 years now. It opened at a time when vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings were scarce. With so many more options sprouting up in this city every year, Bandidas remains a leader in this niche. There are daily lineups for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but don’t worry, the recent expansion means the line moves quickly.

      The extensive menu is made from scratch, and it remains the only restaurant in Vancouver to hand-press all of its own corn tortillas. The limes and lemons are squeezed every day. All of these fresh touches add up to a meal that tastes like it was cooked just for you, by your favourite aunt. Meat eaters, vegetarians, and people with almost any dietary restriction can find satisfying solace within the art-covered walls of this East Vancouver institution.

      Bandidas is the creation of Jackie-Rae Avery and Aiyana Kane, two former school teachers hailing from Northern B.C. and Northern California, respectively. They left their professions with the goal of creating a restaurant that would serve great vegetarian food and also become a vehicle for social change in their community. To this day, they sponsor hundreds of local events, host shows for local artists and musicians, engage in environmentally and socially responsible business practices, and provide medical benefits and extensive leadership training for their staff. A few times a year, Bandidas hosts major fundraisers, creating significant community engagement and donating 100 percent of profits from the day’s sales in support of human rights and environmental protection.

      The fact that Bandidas has thrived in an industry famous for its high failure rate is an accomplishment, without a doubt, due to the heart and grit of the two owners and their sturdy team of dedicated staff who eagerly uphold the Bandidas mission with every burrito rolled and served.

      Drop by Bandidas from 9 a.m. until midnight (1 a.m. on weekends) to experience the Mexican-inspired menu and great vibes. You’ll most likely find a dining room full of friendly regulars. And if you go before 3 p.m., don’t leave without trying the cornbread.