Bummer. You’re not going to have the vacation days and/or the savings needed to bolt south from Calgary when the weather inevitably turns disgusting. No problem: The city boasts a nice selection of Mexican eateries, sure to light a small Mayan sun of deliciousness inside your belly. Here are a few ideas for when you need a little Mexican heat via eats in Calgary.
Salt & Pepper Mexican Restaurante
Sitting on the corner of a mini-mall on Macleod Trail, Salt & Pepper is unassuming from the outside; well, it’s unassuming on the inside, too. That doesn’t mean they don’t make great Mexican fare. A feud split the management and menu of the more recognized Salt & Pepper Inglewood and Bownes restaurants from the same-name Macleod Trail S&P. This latter one’s been open since 1987 and specializes in “home-cooking,” the nice Latin woman working there assures me. Use whatever descriptive generalization you want: It’s delicious food, regardless. 4351 Macleod Tr. S.W., 403-243-3173.
Formerly Boca Loca, Salsita brings everything to the table: deli, grocery, caterer, culinary institute. Quite simply, this Mexican restaurant covers off not just any but every urge you may have for Latin cuisine. Particularly recommended are the Chilean-style empanadas and the spicy chili wraps. If you really want to turn up the spice, go for the chicken and green salsa hot tamales. 777 Northmount Dr. N.W.
Los Chilitos Taco & Tequila House
Los Chilitos takes the traditional taquería (Spanish for taco shop) concept of a sit-down street vendor and places it right in the heart of 17 Ave. S.W. Another big part, perhaps the most important part, of the Mexican experience that they do oh-so well here is the booze. Whatever you’re in the mood for — margaritas, beergaritas, mezcal, tequila, sangria, mojitos, pina coladas — Los Chilitos keeps the bar stocked like it’s Cinco de Mayo, every night, and mixes some pretty mean drinks. 1309 17 Ave. S.W.
How hungry does this picture make you? We know. The authentic Mexican grocery and take-out at Las Tortillas has people coming in droves to get their simple taco creations, on handmade tortillas. If you can’t make the trek to the Northeast, keep an eye out for Las Tortillas vending its delicious tacos at major Calgary festivals (Expo Latino, Global Fest, Fiestaval) throughout the year. 2, 4100 Marlborough Dr. N.E.
El Sombrero Restaurante Mexicano
The uptown, upstairs dining room of El Sombrero is probably the closest you can get to Mexico in Calgary. It may be the lack of windows, submerging you in the experience, but whatever it is, the feeling you get dining amongst the old wooden-thresholds, bright yellow walls, and Mayan décor is one of pure Mexicana. After a few Coronas and one of the Sombrero’s many huge combo plates, you’ll be so immersed in the romance of the place, you’ll be convinced you’re a long lost relative of Zapata. 520 17 Ave. S.W.
Image courtesy of Roitsch.