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Home Spotlight Business Spotlight Little Conejo brings big flavor to Vancouver

Little Conejo brings big flavor to Vancouver

Restaurant owners Mychal Dynes and Mark Wooten focus on farm-fresh ingredients, freshly pressed tortillas

Courtesy of Brooke Strickland

Several months ago, Little Conejo opened its doors and hungry diners have been flocking to it ever since.

The restaurant, owned by Mychal Dynes and Mark Wooten, came out of their mutual love for all things culinary and a dedication to cooking with fresh ingredients. Wooten and Dynes met while working at Noble Rot in Portland and with Wooten’s wealth of knowledge in the kitchen and Dynes’ skills in the beverage scene, they realized they were a winning combination and decided to venture into the world of restaurant ownership.

Today, the two have 10 employees and they’re currently looking to add more.

The team chose the name Little Conejo (translated to ‘little rabbit’ in Spanish) because all fresh produce comes from Phantom Rabbit Farm in Portland, where Wooten is a co-owner. Here, they grow a variety of the items that are included in the menu. Dynes shares that what makes Little Conejo stand apart is not only the use of these farm-fresh ingredients, but also their collection of fine mezcal and their freshly pressed tortillas.

“At the moment, most of the harvesting has ended, but we have a stock of tomatoes frozen and ready to roast for our salsa until next season,” Dynes said.

“Our tortillas begin every day as dried organic Mexican corn. In our basement, it is milled and converted to fresh masa, a corn dough we use to print fresh tortillas. It is labor intensive, but worth the extra effort. As for the mescal, it’s a bit like Tequila’s grizzled old man. It’s also produced through harvesting and roasting agave, but has a much more natural process where the plants are roasted underground using a method dating back to the Aztecs. We try to stay as close to traditional as we can regarding tacos and mezcal.”

The restaurant is currently open for dinner service Wednesday through Sunday nights, and on Saturday and Sunday, brunch is served. On the menu, diners will find a variety of tacos with meats such as lamb, fish and pork, all slow-cooked to perfection. All tacos are topped with house-made salsa and fresh onions and cilantro. And while the Vancouver food scene is changing and becoming more and more competitive, that’s not the focus for Dynes and Wooten.

“The Vancouver food scene is varied,” Dynes said. “We just want to offer a quality dining experience with interesting food and beverages. Our place in the competitive food scene is more than we have time to think about.”

As for the future, Dynes explains that as Little Conejo grows, he and his team will continue to focus on crafting out-of-this-world tacos and mezcal, while giving back to the community. The company recently donated to Friends of the Columbia River Gorge to help aid in the Eagle Creek fire restoration and they also committed to donate to Hough Elementary for an upcoming event at the school. They will also be donating to UNICEF Mexico to help Mexico City rebuild after the earthquake.

“We are not sure what the future holds, but we’re confident that if we stay committed to fresh, quality food and drink, everything will work itself out,” Dynes said.

Little Conejo is located at 114 W. 6th St., in Vancouver.

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