Bandidas Taqueria - THE DRIVE’S MOST WANTED
When it comes to vegetarian and vegan cuisine in Vancouver, Commercial Drive is a leader, with many diverse restaurants and shops. A big hug also to the animal based kitchens that do their best to cater their vegetarian and vegan guests!
If you go south of the border from the Broadway train station, closer towards 12th street stands one of the most popular, Bandidas Taqueria.
Now in its ninth year since it opened, Bandidas is a great business model that has been able to solidify hard work, delicious food, and commitment to their brand and success.
“It’s important to us that our healthy and conscious food is made really fresh and by hand. We also wanted to make it affordable so it serves the whole east side neighborhood.” says Aiyana Kane, the other Bandida which was started by her and Jackie Rae-Avery.
The potential of opening a Vegetarian-Mexican restaurant in 2009 was two-fold. There weren’t that many restaurants at the time, and there were very few Mexican options as well. Having a plant based menu for their restaurant also allowed them to widen the concept of Mexicana cuisine.
Their menu is simplified and diverse, such as the savory “tortilla soup."
Rain or shine, its a perfect starter!
As far as tacos are concerned, the best part upon ordering them is that you can mix and match with a multiple choice of different fillings. It’s tempting to try them all!
When it comes to entrees you also have the options to choose what you want inside and so it really gives you complete flexibility of their wonderful dishes. Plates that come with generous portions of healthy ingredients and spices, complete with vegan options.
They take pride in their ability to source their ingredients locally from the vegan cheeses and to the vegetables.
The beer and wine is also 100% locally sourced and supported.
The artwork that adorn their walls are also local!
Shopping local is reciprocal and for this establishment, it also works internally. They went from an initial staff of just the dynamic duo to 48 employees since their initial and humble beginnings. Impressively, Bandidas’ incredible growth is attributed by their investment with programs that develop leadership skills for their employees.
It’s clear that if you work at Bandidas you really are not just working a typical restaurant job. Employment is accented with the owners’ commitment to allow their staff to grow individually as well as the business itself. From standard operations to management, it champions everyone and their responsibilities!
Aiyana and Jackie’s “pay it forward” mantra also reaches out to the East Side community. At least four times a year they create fundraising days where 100% of the restaurant’s business gives back to their sought charity. The list includes Women’s Day, Aboriginal Day, Earth Day, and Pride.
Their Philanthropy started when they did a weekly fundraiser during a teachers strike until the strike ended. Both of them being teachers prior to entrepreneurs, it’s inspiring that history repeats itself with success.
With great effort, Aiyana makes it clear that they really want to keep their quality of food and service exclusive to The Drive, without the need to expand for the time being. Let’s also add that they have a Bandidas Food-Truck, (partnered with a former employee) that takes their cuisine downtown on a daily basis at Burrard and Georgia as well as at the new Emily Carr campus on Tuesdays.
So there you have it. Operating at a high and healthy volume, they’re really busy, period. Achievements well deserved. This Cantina (for a lack of better words) is so “BADASS!” It’s fitting though when you tie in the name Bandidas. They might even be legends already…
Open seven days a week and with a full day breakfast, visit them at:
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