Mexican Food in Calgary
I'll second the salt and pepper bowness recommendation. i've eaten at tio's, juan's and el sombraro and would place those three in that order, from worst to best. Juan's just hasn't been the same since they've moved. tio's is OK at best.
I'm also a big fan of chico's tecate grill in the NE (by Rona). unfortunately, their hours are ridiculous (i think they close at 7:30 now) and they're a bit out of the way, but their tacos are really good, and it's just about the only place in calgary where you'll find a salsa bar. Ambiance-wise, it's a fast food joing. The staff, other than the owner, are pretty young, but manage to crank out some good food.
check out an old review i wrote below.
Two thumbs up for both El Sombrero and Chico's Tecate Grill.
Me and the missus like El Sombrero a lot, but it is true that they are a little over-priced on some items, and lacking altogether on others. (chilies rellenos?) They make up for that by being a charming place in an otherwise freighting strip of Macleod trail. The fact that there is a used book store next door, Mexican soaps on the t.v., and live/karaoke Mexican music on the weekends also adds to the fun.
We discovered Chico's while hunting for a Rona out in the burbs and were pleasantly surprised by what we found. ...(we live about a 1/2 block from that Julio's travesty, and get a kick out of imagining all the suburbanites trekking into Kensington for Mexican food and some browsing at the trendy shops, while our idea of a cultural adventure is heading to Chico's in the suburbs, and then browsing at a Rona.)...
I'd concur with Tio's being only so-so, it wouldn't be my first choice.
Still havent been to any of the Salt and Peppers here in town but a friend also said there was one in Cochran and that it was worth the drive for the atmosphere alone. Can anyone confirm?
I have to say that there is no place in Canada that has good Mexican at a good price, but El Sombrero does have some nice options, like the REAL tacos on grilled CORN tortillas and cilantro onions etc, not the garbage iceberg lettuce stuffed abortions you get at places like that horrible, HORRIBLE place in Kensington (the one where Red Robin used to be- real Mexican imported from Edmonton, why did I ever even try this place??). Problem is that El Sombrero charges something like $12 for TWO modest tacos- I save my Mexican for when I'm in Cali or even Portland, which has many authentic, delicious and cheap Taquerias.
I live maybe 2 blocks from Tios- was only there soon after it opened, like 2 changes in management ago- anybody have an opinion about this?
re: John Manzo
Tios is always good for a Mexican breakfast, but I'll still stand behind Salt and Pepper in Bowness (although some nights the service does lack) and Juan's on 8th Avenue SW between 1st and 2nd Street SW (although the basement location has very little ambiance).
Boca Loca on 11th Street at 16th Ave SW (due north of the Royal Liquor store) has excellent lunch time offerings. There is a new one up on Northmount Dr and 14th Street NW but I haven't been yet.
El Sombrero is also a favourite but I really prefer to go with the chef's selection of the day, as their taco prices can be a little steep.
re: ever hungry
I'm surpirsed no one has mentioned Boca Loca yet! It's off off 17th Ave SW. I think around 11th St or so, just down the street from the Good Earth and underneath an apartment/condo building. They also have a place open in, I believe, the strip mall across from Northland Village.
Aboslutely delicious guacamole and salsa, the best you'll have in this city, and tortilla soup to die for. And their enchiladas and tacos are delicious too. All home-made, fresh, and reasonably priced.