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Mexican food in Calgary

mcmuffin Apr 30, 2008 06:20 PM

I know this has been touched upon before, but where can you get good Mexican in Calgary?

I've been to El Sombrero (I swear by the combinatione de la casa) and Boca Loca (only once very quickly, I need to go back)... Where is is decent?

  1. John Manzo Apr 30, 2008 06:56 PM

    I'd head to YYC, then board a flight to any city in the US or, of course, Mexico. There is no "good" Mexican in Canada. There is passable Mexican here and there (and Calgary is as good, or as bad, as any other city in the country), but no "good." El Sombrero has its moments though it's absurdly overpriced and there are some tasty things on the menu at Salt and Pepper.

    I have to add that the experiments we've been doing in my kitchen (most recently with posole verde) have been better than anything we've had in restaurants here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo
      fmed Apr 30, 2008 07:43 PM

      Concurring with John Manzo on the state of Mexican cuisine in Canada. Here in Vancouver, I see a spate of "Modern Mexican" and "Nuevo Latino" restaurants opening up and missing the mark. The scene is running before it can walk. I wish someone would just open plain old authentic "Mexican" and "Latino" restaurants first.

      However, if you are looking for tacos, there are a few decent and authentic tasting places run by Mexican families that serve tacos that taste very much like the tacos I've had in Los Angeles and Mexico. It's still fast food though.

      Mexico City is an amazing place to eat. The regional Mexican cuisine there is quite something. Chicago and LA have excellent high-end Mexican too. We seem to be decades away from this if it ever arrives. The demographics just aren't working in our favour.

      1. re: fmed
        sweeterpea May 1, 2008 09:04 AM

        I third that. We generally just wait until we head to Mexico. Had amazing carnitas in Michoacan and shrimp tacos in Nayarit. Sadly, I think the best Mexican I've had in Calgary is from my own kitchen.

        We've only had terrible food at Salt and Pepper. Wouldn't go back if you paid me.

    2. sarah galvin Apr 30, 2008 09:51 PM

      There is a little Mexican restaurant on Macleod Trail just before Heritage Dr on the east side of street - can't remember the name - but I thought it was great. I haven't been that thrilled with Boca Loca at the 11 St location lately. Since it was sold, things are not the same. Prefer their location on Northmount. But even their cooking classes are blase. I'm having a group of friends on Saturday and we're making tamales, carnitas, ceviche, chile relleno, and mango margaritas - for Cinco de Mayo, of course.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sarah galvin
        yen Apr 30, 2008 11:20 PM

        Los Mariachis. The first time i went, it was pretty good. Subsequent times were very inconsistent. I heard rumour that the original owners bought it back from the people who were "running it" for them... or something to that effect. They are from Mexico city, so supposedly things have improved, but havent had a chance to test that out yet.

        1. re: yen
          ybnormal May 1, 2008 12:05 PM

          I concur. I haven't been for a while though...

          In anyone happens to be in Washington State (of all places), check out La Tarassca in Centralia (on the I5 between Seattle & Portland). Some the best Mexican outside of Mexico at a hole-in-a wall.
          See my review from the PacNW board -->


          1. re: ybnormal
            John Manzo May 1, 2008 12:42 PM

            TON of Mexicans in inner Washington- Yakima might be majority Mexican now- so actually it's not a surprise to find good Mex there!

            1. re: John Manzo
              fmed May 1, 2008 01:49 PM

              Portland has very good Mexican too.

              1. re: John Manzo
                cdn May 1, 2008 02:59 PM

                Some of the best and hottest Mexican I've had comes from the Tri-City area. Lots of Mexican labour there in the ag. (fruit and veg) industry.

          2. re: sarah galvin
            fmed May 1, 2008 11:25 AM

            >> I'm having a group of friends on Saturday and we're making tamales, carnitas, ceviche, chile relleno, and mango margaritas - for Cinco de Mayo, of course.

            Going off topic...

            Here are some pics of my dry run (Dulce de Leche dessert tamales and chicken tamales with ancho )...Have fun!

            1. re: fmed
              fmed May 1, 2008 11:29 AM

              Photos didn't attach

          3. d
            Dan2007 May 1, 2008 08:17 AM

            I like Juan's on 8th Ave. It's not spectacular, but it's decent.

            1. m
              marcopolo May 1, 2008 11:13 AM

              honestly, i don't really think anything's changed since the old threads, other than the fact that the mexican place at CFM is no longer around and the board doesn't seem as hot on mi tierra tu taqueria as when they first found out about it. in general, great mexican is still hard/impossible to come by in calgary, short of making it yourself. i find juan's, salt & pepper, & el sombrero pretty much interchangeable in terms of quality (well, s&p is perhaps half a notch down), but they're still decidedly average. maybe you can get yourself an invite to sarah_galvin' cinqo de mayo party...


              1. m
                mcmuffin May 1, 2008 08:17 PM

                Thanks everyone! I had not heard of mi tierra tu taqueria, so it'll be a place to hit in the near future for sure!

                1. b
                  bluther2 May 8, 2008 06:09 PM

                  Well, not quite Calgary but I stumbled on this place yesterday in Cochrane

                  Calexico Foods Inc
                  118 1 Ave W, Cochrane, AB T4C1B6
                  Phone: (403) 851-1511

                  Good news/Bad news
                  It is a Burrito bar a la Southern California- yes I know that this is a mexican food thread- not original mex, but good....ohhh yeah

                  Bought 2 burritos an "Albertan" with beef and a pollo--wow, when the propritress handed them over they weighed about 3 pounds. Huge and at 6.75 and 7.25 I thought good value. Taste, hmmm when you have homemade salsa and guac as part of the foundation we are off to a good start, the beef on the first bite was an "Oh I was hoping for some heeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaattt, o mouth happy mouth happy" deceptive hot smooth slow release- beautiful. Chicken was very good as well. No I didn't eat them both- I brought one back to Calgary for the lovely- she got it about 3 hours after purchase out of the fridge and it was still warm because it was so dense.

                  The Bad- the sign on the window saying " thank you to our customers but we will be closing our doors May 16th and moving to the warmer weather in Vancouver"-doh!!!!

                  If you can get it before it's gone you save a 1250 mile drive

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bluther2
                    John Manzo May 12, 2008 07:42 AM

                    your "bad news" is the worst news imaginable- in fact I wish you hadn't even posted this.

                  2. c
                    carlitguy May 12, 2008 06:10 AM

                    John Gilchrist calls Las Palmeras in Red Deer the best Mexican Restaurant in Alberta. I agree.
                    Dean in Red Deer

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: carlitguy
                      Dan G May 12, 2008 08:08 AM

                      And saying that Las Palmeras is the best Mexican in ALberta is proof that there is a real problem with Mexican in this province. I've probably ate there 10 times between 2000 and 2006 and finally gave up. Disappointed every time.

                      My problem was that I lived in London Ontario during the 90s and there were 3 places there run by Mexican immigrants, any of which on a bad day were far superior to Las Palmeros.

                      1. re: Dan G
                        John Manzo May 12, 2008 10:10 AM

                        London must be the Mexican food capital of Canada then- of course there would be, conservatively speaking, a thousand times as many places like that in Chicago. If you're in London, just head to Detroit!

                    2. howlin Sep 15, 2008 09:44 PM

                      anyone heard of juliosbarrios in kensington ?any good?

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: howlin
                        John Manzo Sep 15, 2008 09:46 PM


                        1. re: John Manzo
                          howlin Sep 15, 2008 09:51 PM

                          wow that bad eh?is it just not authentic or just not tasty .there is a diference.i know we're not in mexico but what is tasty around here r.i.p chi chis

                          1. re: howlin
                            John Manzo Sep 15, 2008 10:03 PM

                            I'm happy with inauthentic, honestly, if it's good- this was just terrible- everything covered in heaps of shredded iceberg... I DO recall that they MIGHT have passable salsas and it's not a terrible environment, and I WILL admit that I only went once, but I recall it was awful.

                          2. re: John Manzo
                            Jetgirly Sep 19, 2008 07:18 PM

                            I ate there a few weeks ago. Some of the ideas were good (I like the idea of using a vegetarian chili to fill burritos) but the execution was atrocious. I'm positive the tortilla chips and salsa were made by Tostitos (is that the name of the chips you can get at the supermarket?). I'd put money on the refried beans coming from a can and the rice being Uncle Bens or something, as well. Also, the margaritas were verrrry odd. They were EXTREMELY sugary. And you could order them with a bottle of Corono tipped in. Huh? My burrito was in the $17 range, which is at least twice what it was worth.

                          3. re: howlin
                            peter.v Sep 15, 2008 09:51 PM

                            Haha, two minute response time John! But yes, I agree, not worth it by any stretch of the imagination. Expensive, uninspired, bland "Mexican" fare.

                            1. re: peter.v
                              howlin Sep 15, 2008 10:13 PM

                              but they have fried ice cream,how could they be bad ,dosent that absolve you of all sins(mabye not )thanks guys for the heads up anyway

                              1. re: howlin
                                John Manzo Sep 16, 2008 08:21 AM

                                I noted that on their menu... fried ice cream, mmmmm (seriously)

                                1. re: John Manzo
                                  howlin Sep 18, 2008 07:42 PM

                                  are you saying you dont like fried ice cream,,chi chis made good stuff ,but i cant see how you can screw that up.how can you not like that?

                                  1. re: howlin
                                    John Manzo Sep 19, 2008 08:34 AM

                                    I DO like fried ice cream! I don't see how it's remotely "Mexican" but who cares.

                          4. d
                            danniek Sep 16, 2008 12:10 PM

                            I agree with most posts. There wasn't any good mexican food in the city. I changed my mind about a year ago. Mi Tierra in Oakridge is AWESOME! It is a take-out joint, so don't expect frills at all. But their food is to die for. Everything is made there. Plus, they are not expensive at all. It is in an obscure area, but well worth the drive. Get to Southland Drive and head West until you can't go any further. You will end up at a T intersection. Turn right. It is in the little strip mall to your immediate left. I can't stress it enough, they have the best mexican in calgary.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: danniek
                              sharonanne Sep 16, 2008 03:02 PM

                              " they have the best mexican in calgary"
                              Can't let that statement just stand there. Have you tried Rincon Latino?

                            2. d
                              danniek Sep 16, 2008 03:45 PM

                              Actually I can. I have been to El Sombrero, Salt and Pepper, Los Mariachis, Juans, Julio Barrio, Chi Chis (when they were around), Santa Fe Grill (if you want to call that mexican), Casa Latina or Rincon depending on what you want to call it, Boca Loca and others. We eat out almost every nite. I have a fair bit of knowledge. And, I do believe John Gilchrist has it in his book of best cheap eats in Calgary.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: danniek
                                sharonanne Sep 16, 2008 06:33 PM

                                Wow, I hit a nerve I guess. Dunno why, I was just asking. I WAS interested in how you would compare them but not as interested now, thanks.

                                Nothing in what I said should have elicited a response like "I have a fair bit of knowledge."

                                I was talking about Rincon Latino which would be quite different than "Casa Latina or Rincon depending on what you want to call it." Not questioning your credentials just being sure we were talking about the same place.

                                1. re: sharonanne
                                  Merry113 Sep 17, 2008 08:51 AM

                                  I'm with you...I thought Casa Latina is on 17th SE & Rincon is further south. Two totally different places....right?

                                  1. re: Merry113
                                    The Winger Sep 17, 2008 01:01 PM

                                    Mi Tierra is definitely the best Mexican food in Calgary, nothing else compares to it. It is more of a taco bar but does have a few tables and I eat lunch here quite often. I highly recommend the Chuletta Con Queso, amazing!

                                    Calgary is a wasteland for unnaceptable and overpriced Mexican food, Mi Tierra fills the void between my kitchen or my frequent trips south for the real thing.

                                    Edited to add this link to a thread on Mi Tierra - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459380

                                    1. re: The Winger
                                      sharonanne Sep 17, 2008 02:50 PM

                                      Please don't get me wrong, I also like Mi Tierra. We had a couple of problems when we were there but if it was more convenient would go back again.

                                      Rincon Latino is more convenient even if it is on the other side of town from where we live simply because we go to the nearby rugby field fairly often in summer. There isn't a great variety of Mexican food on the menu as it is more generic latino but the food we've had has been really good and extremely good value. I was happy enough with the portion size when I was at Mi Tierra and then I went to Rincon Latino and could feed the family on what we took home.

                                      Thank you for posting the link to the thread to which I contributed.

                                      I totally do not understand why liking one place implies all others are trash. They are different. I would just have trouble saying Mi Tierra is the epitome of Mexican food in Calgary. I think we need more! Especially since my husband broke my tortilla press.

                                      1. re: sharonanne
                                        julie17 Oct 25, 2010 06:41 PM

                                        Ricon Latino was in the Glenmore Inn plaza but they are gone now. Tried it once and not impressed. Good Mexican is the 2nd location of Mi tu Tierra located at Heritage Dr and Acadia Dr. Used to be China City. It has quite a few tables and chairs, more a sit down restaurant but they do do Take out if you want. Everything on the menu that we tried was a hit. Dulce de leche cake was wonderful.

                              2. j
                                jsfoodchat Mar 20, 2011 07:23 PM

                                THANK YOU CHOW HOUNDERS! We went on a "food adventure" tonight and dined at a strip mall in Acadia. Tu Tierra was FANTASTIC. I have never had a chilli relenno in Calgary because I have never found anywhere that makes them - until now. It was our first visit but won't be our last. I had to laugh though because even though we drove right to the address (thanks to GPS) I couldn't see it right away because the old Asian restaurant pagoda sign which has been modified with the Tu Tierra name through me off. Not a place I would have rolled into without all of you foodies! Mucho Gracias!

                                Tu Tierra Restaurant
                                8316 Fairmount Dr SE #30, Calgary, AB T2H 0Y8, CA

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jsfoodchat
                                  julie17 Mar 20, 2011 08:00 PM

                                  to jsfoodchat: Glad you found it and enjoyed the food. If you're into eastern-european (Polish)
                                  food, right across the street from when you were, directly in the corner is Polcan...a wonderful deli-grocery store with lots of on-site smoked sausages (the best Kolbasa I have ever had) with fresh meats, sliced cheeses and desserts and a hot section with perogies, cabbage rolls and potato pancakes etc. Closed Sunday and Monday, other days 10-6 I think.

                                  1. re: julie17
                                    jsfoodchat Mar 20, 2011 08:32 PM

                                    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to stop!

                                2. c
                                  cdn Mar 21, 2011 10:54 AM

                                  While packing our bags at Costco, Jose, over heard me and my hubby toss around the idea of mexican for lunch...he said " you have to go to the best place in Calgary, over on Anderson and Elbow." We never made it and I've done a quick search on the net to find out what this place is called and exactly where its located...nada...anyone have an idea what-where-how- this place is? When i asked how it compared to Tu Terra he said..."oh bettttttter...."

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: cdn
                                    Scary Bill Mar 21, 2011 11:03 AM

                                    Here you go. Mexican/Colombian.

                                    Have meant to go but haven't yet. Gets rave reviews.


                                    1. re: Scary Bill
                                      johnjohnson78 Mar 21, 2011 01:30 PM

                                      Thanks for the link......

                                      Can't wait to try this place out!

                                      1. re: Scary Bill
                                        cdn Mar 21, 2011 07:01 PM

                                        Thanks Scary Bill, I will check it out and post a review.

                                        1. re: cdn
                                          javelina Mar 21, 2011 08:38 PM

                                          If you do and you find it good, it might be nice to post it in a new thread. A new, decent Mexican place in Calgary deserves it.

                                          1. re: javelina
                                            maplesugar Mar 21, 2011 09:03 PM

                                            They have info on Hola Calgary but my Spanish needs work. Found a review here: http://ugonnaeatthat.com/2011/02/25/c...

                                            1. re: maplesugar
                                              Scary Bill Mar 22, 2011 09:26 AM

                                              Went by yesterday to find out when it is reopening.

                                              It will not be the same place. The name is changing and they have a new logo designed. My guess is that it will be a restaurant with some of the same food in a revamped menu with no grocery store.and higher prices. Oh well.

                                              Re-opening in April, no date.

                                              1. re: Scary Bill
                                                maplesugar Mar 22, 2011 12:05 PM

                                                Good to know. I'll be in town Friday and was thinking of making a trip there. Thanks Bill. :)

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