I can’t help feeling as though 2019 is going to be a particularly amazing year. If I can get personal for a second, everything is heading in the right direction for this writer…with more of my ink out in the open–and more parties paying for it–than ever before, it seems like I may finally be positioned to reap fruits from all these seeds I´ve been planting on these last few trips around the Sun.
As it relates to this week’s feature, the Canuck Cafe represents an even more concrete manifestation of happy endings. After getting word from a friend that the place serves up a tempting menu of breakfast favorites from both north of the border and north of the border north of the border, I figured it was an ideal place to kick off the productive phase of the year after spending nearly a full week bringing it in properly
The Vibes: This sunny eatery on Calle Guerrero just off Morelos in the heart of town is a study in unlikelihoods. The cafe is run by chef/husband Jorge and hostess/wife Jennifer, a duo whose paths through life crossed in that most romantic of ways: through a catering service at an oil field in the Great White North.
After apparently finding Jorge´s dishes much to her liking–and falling under Puerto Vallarta´s seductive spell as well–Jennifer eventually followed her native Mexican husband back to his homeland permanently. Indeed, her embrace of the freedoms our global world affords many of us had but one significant shortcoming…the near total absence of foods she enjoyed from back home.
Jorge agreed that the area could use more fried cheese and potatoes, maybe some decent coffee, and with a nod to his wife´s home and native land, the Canuck Cafe was born…hey, if there can be Mexican restaurants outside of Mexico, there can be Canadian restaurants outside of Canada.
The aesthetic of the restaurant reflects the blending of cultures, drawing in a diverse clientele of nationals and immigrants.
On one wall a tall shelf hosts meetings of our most enduring ambassadors, books in Spanish and English provided to visiting readers on a take-one-leave-one basis. Another corner greets guests with art pieces and artisan crafts in traditional styles. The actual Stanley Cup stands behind the counter, which is completely untrue but I wanted to make sure you were paying attention since most of us have had our brains turned down for a few days.
The Vices: Myself included, naturally. It had been a long night before the morning of my visit, but I felt clarity return as the steaming brew Jennifer placed in front of me began to take its effect.
¨We try to have something for everyone,¨ explained Jennifer as I browsed the surprisingly extensive breakfast selection. ¨People love our hot cakes, kids go for the strawberry, I prefer the pineapple caramel.¨ All of which is well and good, but in my current condition, a sound start to the day would have to involve something less sweet and more substantial.
Fortunately, that’s when one audacious listing in particular made itself apparent, and I wished it into my life. ¨Oh, you must be hungry.¨ Jennifer deduced with a smile. ¨I think you’ll really like that, a lot of guys order that.¨
¨That.¨ as the accompanying images show, is what the menu (and, appropriately, Adam Sandler’s ¨Spanglish¨) designates as The Greatest Sandwich in the World.
Now, I have developed a healthy skepticism of any food claiming to be the world’s finest. Short of some kind of Global Culinary Olympics set up to crown the world’s most delicious dishes in a range of categories, there really is no objective way to determine whether any given recipe stands above all other contenders as the unquestioned best in its class.
You know what, that’s actually a pretty good idea.
In any event, somewhere in my daydream of one day handing out a gold medal in cheeseburgers my order arrived to bring me back to reality in the best way possible. The massive sandwich imposed in all its´ glory, laughing at the foolish human who had dared question its dominion over mortal breakfasts.
A garlic baguette had been layered with a robust layer of oven-toasted gouda cheese before being decked with fried ham, two fried eggs, and crispy bacon along with just enough vegetable content to cut through the richness with a fresh green crunch.
As for its standing as The Greatest Sandwich in the World, professional integrity demands that I reveal that I have not actually tasted every sandwich on the planet at this time. Still, among breakfast sandwiches that I have sampled, I would definitely support its presence on a ranked-choice voting ballot to come to a clear-cut conclusion.
Anyway, It had been about 15 minutes since I took my first bite, and about that long since I had spoken a word or had an unrelated thought. This was clearly the effect chef Jorge had set out to achieve. He approached and asked if I was enjoying the quickly disappearing sandwich, to which I responded with another ravenous bite.
Pleased with this reply, he continued with his completely justified victory speech: ¨I put so much time and effort into this food to make sure when people come, they come back. I insist everyone enjoy my food at its´ best…I don’t even offer some dishes to go because the quality suffers. Where I come from we have a saying, ´the time to eat is to eat the time.´ I have always believed that good food was worth truly enjoying at a comfortable pace, and so it makes me happy to see people enjoy what I make.¨
From where I’m sitting, he better get used to it.
The Verdict: I like chilaquiles as much as the next weekly lifestyle columnist, but diner-style breakfasts are in short supply in the area and the Canuck Cafe is a welcome change of pace for your morning meal. It’s also a short walk from my various places of work, and so it will likely become yet another satellite office…maybe I’ll catch you there.
Info: Guerrero 182, Centro