This tiny beach-side shack on the Island makes awesome tacos

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Road trip eats can be dismal if you stick to the big name fast food joints. But if you happen to be tipped off to a local gem, suddenly things are looking up.

Located on Qualicum Bay at nearly the mid-way point on the east side of Vancouver Island, Tidal Taco Shack is a beach-side spot for tacos and burritos all year ’round.

tidal taco shack qualicum
Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome

Turn off the Island Highway and park in the gravel lot facing the water. That truly tiny wooden hut is about the size of a food truck–without the four wheels and engine.

“I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry,” reads a nearby sign.

tidal taco shack
Tidal Taco Shack (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome)

As you smell the food being cooked up, and as you take your place in line, remember you may have to apologize to your dining companion if you already showed up famished. Because it’s a small operation–as in a couple or just one employee handling food and orders–you can expect a wait. That’s okay, though. There’s a lovely view, picnic tables, and…you’re getting tacos.

tidal taco shack
The seating area at the Tidal Taco Shack at Qualicum Bay on a chilly January day (Lindsay William-Ross/Vancouver Is Awesome)

The star item from Tidal Taco Shack is for sure their fish tacos, which also come in burrito form, and in a pared-down version for kids. Battered and fried fish comes nestled in a tortilla and topped with chopped cabbage, pico de gallo, and a chipotle aioli.

Piping hot and a lovely meld of texture and flavour, these hand-held gems will take the edge off not only an appetite but also the chill of an off-season day. (I imagine the lines are deeper come summer, but it’s going to be even more enjoyable to eat fresh tacos beach-side while basking in the sun, too.)

Now, I have to apologize, not for what I said when I was hungry, but that I was so hungry I didn’t stop to photograph my lunch. But fortunately lots of others have.

Tidal Taco Shack also has chicken, beef, and vegetarian tacos and burritos, plus an assortment of hot sauces if you want to kick things up a notch.

Tidal Taco Shack is located at 6001 Island Highway just north of Qualicum Beach.

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Lindsay is the Managing Editor of Vancouver Is Awesome. A fifth generation Vancouverite, she was previously the Food Editor of Daily Hive, Senior Editor of Vancity Buzz, and Editor-in-Chief of LAist.com. Lindsay grew up in Vancouver and Toronto, then spent over 20 years in Los Angeles, where ahe earned her Masters in English, attended culinary school, and was an English professor. Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancouverisawesome.com