“This is weird. And not good weird” is how Jason summed up our lunch at Sportstown Tavern.

Sportstown is a cavernous facility for indoor soccer and tennis. It’s also home to a gymnastics club and an outdoor swimming pool. I’m guessing the tavern is a place for parents and coaches to gather, as well as sports fans to watch games. Children are allowed in the restaurant, and I spied one high chair for wee ones.

The local paper had been advertising the bar’s new Mexican menu and tacos for a while. And there’s now a banner up re-naming the tavern as “Pesos” though that branding isn’t anywhere else.

Sportstown Tavern, Richmond, B.C.

Sportstown Tavern, Richmond, B.C.

Ever the optimist for great food in weird places, I’m not one to pre-judge restaurants based on their surroundings.

Not even when we walked in around noon, and it felt colder than the sunny -2 degrees outside. Several times, teens swung open the door leading from what I’m guessing is an indoor field, letting in a very chilly breeze. There was a portable oscillating heater — pointed at the empty bar, and not at the side of the restaurant where customers were shivering.

(We thought the heat was broken; but the waitress told us, at the end of our meal, that the cold was because the building was old, and the heat was actually cranked up.)

I ordered three tacos (choice of soft or hard shell, $12) but was disappointed to discover you can’t mix and match; all three have to be the same kind. I decided on the braised short rib.

Jason ordered the enchiladas. It took more than 10 minutes for the waitress to come back and tell us there was no enchilada sauce. So Jason opted for the gaucho steak tacos.

I sipped my hot water and waited. And waited. And waited.

(There were only two other tables at the time, and we counted three staff, a manager, and a chef milling around in the bar/dining area.)

Sportstown Tavern, Richmond, B.C.

We stared at the muted sports games, and listened to the drone of adult contemporary hits.

My optimism was fading fast.

But then the food finally arrived.

I liked my tacos (photo at top): meaty, slow-cooked short rib with a hint of chipotle and fresh slice of avocado. It was well-assembled with lots of cheese. The salsa that came with the side of tortilla chips was surprisingly vibrant.

I also enjoyed Jason’s steak tacos (cooked rare, yes!), with bright chimichurri sauce on top.

It’s too bad the soft tortillas were flour and not corn.

Sportstown Tavern, Richmond, B.C.

No one checked on us after the food arrived, and we were so hungry and cold that we wolfed down lunch and got out of there.

I wish I could say we’d go back, but I just don’t have the patience or body heat to try again.

Sportstown Tavern, open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-midnight.

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