A Bee-View of the Drive – Tio Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant

by admin - March 31st, 2012.
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This little restaurant located at 1134 Commercial  Drive, only a couple blocks from our Vancouver B&B,  has apparently been around since 1988 and is very proud of being voted  “Best Mexican Restaurant 2001/2002/2004/2005” (Vancouver Sun).  Our goal with these reviews is to give our guests an honest recommendation/opinion of the restaurants nearby, while being as kind as possible to to the businesses who are our neighbors.  But in the case of Tio Pepe’s, we would have to ask “what happened”?  Obviously they were serving great food at least until 2005, but we were sadly underwhelmed by our dining experience at this restaurant yesterday. Also, we were just sad!  Mexican is one of our favorite cuisines and when we moved to the Drive seven years ago we were very happy to have a cute little Mexican restaurant right around the corner.  The fact that there were only 2 other diners in Tio’s during the time we were there for dinner yesterday should have been our first clue that things were no longer going well. When we arrived, there was a server but she seemed to disappear after taking our order and thereafter a very sweet man who appeared to also be doing the cooking waited on us. However, with only four people in the restaurant, it wasn’t a problem for him to keep up!

There was a sign outside that advertised two burrito dinners for the price of one, which was $13.95, plus tax, so we went for the deal.  It was true that there were two burritos but the two burritos come served on one plate with a scoop each of rice, beans and salad, so really one meal with an extra burrito.  While we were waiting for the burritos, we munched on a complimentary basket of chips with salsa (not fresh cut) and checked out the decor.  Our first thought about the decor was “Where are those Restaurant Makeover people when you need them?”  Well, to be fair, it was really only the rows of plastic flags hanging from the ceiling that we found particularly unattractive – other than that, it looks like a basic little restaurant.)

So back to the food…..our dinner arrived and I can’t say it was horrible, but it was sadly not at all the delicious food we had experienced in this restaurant a few years ago. The burritos were kind of doughy and filled with an unrecognizable mixture of chicken and other things. With them on the plate was a bit of green salad with dressing and a scoop each of rice and refried beans. We would have been very disappointed if we had paid $13.95 each for this plate.

I wish I could write a review that would encourage people to try this restaurant, in the hope that getting more business would help them get back on track. But we’re concerned that it may be too late. In reading the reviews on Yelp, DineHere, etc. we notice that most of them are not recent, which is a pretty good indication that people are no longer eating at Tio Pepe’s, and most of those that are recent are not positive.  Unfortunately, at this time we could not recommend our guests to Tio Pepe’s, but we wish the owners the very best and hope that very soon they will be back to being voted among the best of Vancouver’s Mexican restaurants!