Carnaval del Sol serves up a festival of flavours

The annual bash in honour of Latin American culture taps local restaurants for a bright, diverse menu

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      As part of its 12th annual celebration, Carnaval del Sol is taking to local restaurants this weekend (August 7 to 9). At a time when much of Latincouver’s multifaceted event’s other programming has shifted online, it’s a way of spreading the fest’s joy in person (at safe distances) through Latin-American flavours.

      “Carnaval del Sol is really beautiful celebration of so many different diverse cultures and always a good time,” says Natalie Rivas, co-owner of Bodega on Main (1014 Main Street), a tapas restaurant. “While the festival may look a little bit different this year due to COVID-19, it’s amazing to be able to still celebrate Latin culture in any form. We are honoured to be a part of this year’s festivities.”

      Several restaurants are offering promotions as part of Carnaval del Sol, with Bodega on Main taking $10 off its paella mixta (saffron rice with seafood, chicken, and chorizo); paella negra (squid-ink rice with prawns, calamari, baby squid, mussels and clams); and paella jardinera (saffron rice with Padrón peppers, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, grilled fennel, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and artichoke hearts).

      “Paella takes its name from the wide, shallow, traditional pan used to cook the dish,” Rivas says. “It’s one of our signature dishes, and one of our most popular because it really offers a true taste of Spain.”

      Andrea Iñurria

      Boteca Brasil

      Boteco Brasil (2545 Nanaimo Street) draws its naming inspiration from the Portuguese word for a casual night spot or pub where people go to eat, drink, and hang out. And, naturally, it focuses on authentic Brazilian fare.

      To celebrate Carnaval del Sol, the restaurant is putting feijoada on special. The thick black-bean-and-pork stew is served with sautéed kale, farofa (toasted cassava flour), basmati rice, and vinaigrette salsa. Boteco has a vegan version of the traditional stew as well.

      Make it a combo by ordering a caipirinha to go with either, the cocktail consisting of cachaça (a Brazilian spirit that, much like rum, is made of fermented and distilled sugarcane juice), lime juice, and sugar.

      Plus, all desserts are discounted to $4.50; try the mousse de maracujá, with passionfruit, cream, and condensed milk; or the tiramisu-like pavé, the ladyfinger cookies covered with chocolate or lime cream.

      La Casita

      La Casita Mexican Restaurant (101 West Cordova Street) is serving nachos for $7.50 and draft beer for $4 all day, while Palomas are on special at Zócalo Modern Cantina (646 Kingsway) for $8.

      The restaurant is named after Mexico City’s central square, but now the term zócalo is commonly used to refer to any place where people gather. Made with fresh grapefruit juice and soda, Palomas are widely considered Mexico’s most popular cocktail.

      Tequila Cocina

      If it’s a margarita you seek, head on over to Tequila Cocina in North Vancouver (1933 Lonsdale Avenue), where the drinks are going for $5 all weekend; if you get peckish, the Carnaval del Sol deal has you covered with three meat tacos for $10.

      Elsewhere: For every $20 spent at Los Cuervos Taqueria (603 Kingsway), you’ll get a complimentary plate of churros, while it’s a full-meal deal at Sal y Limon’s Surrey location (2428 160 Street), with $25 getting you two burritos, two cans of soda, tortilla chips, and pico de gallo.

      Other participating restaurants include the Cambie Bar & Grill, Cafeoca Brazilian Bistro, Provence Marinaside, Charqui, the Loft Lounge, La Taquria, Calabash Bistro, Los Cuervos Taqueria & Cantina, Zocala Modern Cantina, Cafeoca Brazilian Bistro, Tequila Cocina,and Sal y Limon. Some venues will have live music and performances. Reservations are required by Thursday (August 6). Full details are at