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May 15, 2008 11:47 AM

Great Mexican in Winnipeg

I just had lunch at Times Changed High and Lonesome Club (corner of St. Mary Ave and Main Street). It was delish. While the toritilla chips and salsa were not free as they are in many U.S. Mexican restaurants, I'm glad we ordered some. The chips were hot, just-out-of-the-fryer fresh, lightly salted, and served with amazing guacamole. We wound up ordering a second basket because they were so crunchy and good.

My beef chimichanga also had great crunch, and was served with lovely black beans and pretty good spanish rice. My friends seemed to enjoy their enchaladas. Service was excellent; our drinks were repeatedly refilled. We were in and out in less than an hour. Other people there were eating bowls of something, so maybe the chili is great, too. I didn't get to try the homemade ice cream listed on the menu, but I want to.

If you're missing Mexican food, try this place. They're open for lunch Wednesday to Friday.

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  1. Did you think it was more like Mexican, Tex-Mex, or what usually passes as Mexican (i.e. in the vein of Carlos & Murphy's)? We usually wait till we get to MSP for our Mexican fix, but if they're doing it in Winnipeg, it'll be one of my first stops!

    One more question--did they have other things on their menu like moles? And do they make their own tortillas? (OK, that's two questions.)

    7 Replies
    1. re: prasantrin

      I haven't been to Carlos and Murphy's because I've never heard anything terribly positive about it. I'd say it was fresher tasting and better presented than the Mexican food I grew up on in the Midwest. It's probably more Tex-Mex than true Mexican, but they have posole and one of the sauce choices (the one I in fact had) was a mole that was rich-tasting and seemed to contain ground almonds.

      The tortillas were yellow corn. I can definitely say they were freshly fried, but I didn't ask whether they had actually made the tortillas in-house. The salsas and guac were homemade, so there's a good chance the tortillas are, too.

      1. re: sojo16

        C&M isn't very good, except for their plain (cheese and green chile only) nachos (anyone can do those well, but they give you a large portion with a lot nicely melted cheese). Even their other nachos suck, in my opinion.

        I found Pollo Volante's website, and they have their menu online. They're calling themselves Tex-Mex, but I imagine it's due to the inclusion of items like burritos which are somewhat necessary in a market like Winnipeg.

        It's quite a small menu, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. My mother just returned to Winnipeg after several months, and she's anxious to try it. She said the restaurant that used to occupy the space (or perhaps a nearby space) had lousy food (but it was owned by El Salvadorans who passed their food off as Mexican). I won't be in Winnipeg for another couple of months, but if she gives it a good review, I'll definitely give it a try!

        (If you're from the US Midwest, I think Minneapolis and Chicago have some of the best Mexican food in the US, but elsewhere in the Midwest, that would be another story...)

        1. re: prasantrin

          I quite like good Tex-Mex (chimichangas and such) and Mexican American food (the beans! the rice! the free tortillas and salsa!). I probably have never had authentic Mexican food because I haven't been to Mexico (although we seemed to have a fairly authentic taqueria in my hometown).

          I think you have to distinguish Tex-Mex from American Mexican food from real Mexican food. In the States, in Mexican restaurants run by Mexican people, you get a sort of Americanized Mexican food that falls somewhere between Tex-Mex and true Mexican, just like what you see in a lot of Chinese-American buffets. Doesn't mean the Americanized version is bad, it's just not authentic. And maybe the authentic stuff wouldn't be to my taste...I don't enjoy organ meats or hominy, and I can imagine huitlacoche wouldn't be my cup of tea, either.

          Why aren't there more Mexican restaurants in Winnipeg? It seems like there are at least a few Mexican immigrants here. I heard a Taco Time ad not long ago urging Canadians to try a taco. Who hasn't tried a taco? Apparently, a lot of Winnipeggers.

          1. re: sojo16

            Mexican food is more than organ meats, hominy, and huitlacoche, so not liking those foods does not preclude a dislike for "real" Mexican food. I think there are a lot of very good *Mexican* Mexican restaurants in the US, not just Americanized Mexican food, but that's another topic.

            Winnipeg has very very few Mexican immigrants, and the majority of those who are in Winnipeg came only in the last few years (maybe the last 5 years). In the last 10 years or so, more Mexicans were coming to Winnipeg as students (ESL), but most of them had no desire to stay (Winnipeg was too cold, and too boring for most of them).

            I would say, however, that this problem is not limited to Winnipeg, but extends across Canada. It's a shame, though. Even Minneapolis has a huge Mexican population, and it's not so much warmer there than in Winnipeg!

          2. re: prasantrin

            where did you find the website,i cant seem to track it down .do they have fried ice cream?chi chis r.i.p

            1. re: howlin

              "times change" winnipeg
              is all you need to input, and you'll find it right away.

              1. re: prasantrin

                thanx ,i was looking under the pollo volante tag,your tip worked.

      2. Has anyone been to the Mexican place attached to the Pink Taco? 114 Market Avenue. I can't remember the restaurant's name.

        3 Replies
        1. re: prasantrin

          No, I haven't been there, but I believe the Sun critic reviewed it. I think the review said they had fried ice cream, cause I'd like to get ahold of some of that, too, howlin.

          There's also a burrito joint opening on Portage across from U of W, I think it's called Casa Burrito.

          1. re: sojo16

            I was at Don Pedro's, the Mexican place related to Pink Taco, last week. I won't be going back. It isn't anything close to what I know as authentic Mexican food. Most of the food is more tourist-Mexican or perhaps Californian-Mexican a la Chi-Chis or El Torrito.

            Chips and salsa--chips might have been homemade, but they were stale. The salsa was probably out of a jar or bottle. The salsa at Carlos and Murphy's is at least made in-house (but they took away the beef stock--darn those vegetarians!).

            My lunch partner had the Guadalajara enchiladas. She used to go to Guadalajara every weekend when she lived in New Mexico, and she said she couldn't find anything "Guadalajara" about the enchiladas.

            I had chicken enchiladas. The filling was sparse, and the sauce had very little flavour.

            Rice was dry, beans were OK, but didn't have a lot of flavour.

            Service--what service?? We sat there for about 5 or 10 minutes before my lunch partner finally stood up and went to the counter where the servers were milling about (5 or 6 of them--many of whom passed out table more than once) and told them we were ready to order. Apparently none of them were assigned to our table, so we had to wait until our assigned server could come. I understand the point of assigned stations for servers, but seriously...would it have killed any one of them to bring us some water??

            The experience and food rate a solid D+. Maybe a C if I'm being kind or am grading on a curve.

            1. re: prasantrin

              Prasantrin, if you haven't tried Times Change(d), you should. I wasn't disappointed.

        2. the food is good, granted, but the cliquish, snobby attitude of the staff is unbearable.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jilski

            Are you talking about the place at Times Changed or about Don Pedro's?

          2. Are there any other good Mexican restaurants in Winnipeg? I've been wanting to try Pollo Volante for ages, but their hours are limited and do not coincide with mine, sadly. Dinner out is a rare treat these days, and I would hate to be disappointed. Has anyone tried Desperado or JC tacos? I've heard mixed reviews, but usually don't trust the ones given by people who choose to dine at Montanas and the like. I am looking for the most authentic Mexican food that this city has to offer. Does anyone have any suggestions?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Allegra_K

              My wife and I tried JC's on Henderson a couple of weeks ago. While it wasn't bad, it wasn't overly good, either. She had a trio fo tacos, which she described as "ok", and I had a burrito, which while very large, was mostly filled with very bland rice. If I was with a group who wanted to go there, I wouldn't say no, but doubt I'd ever go back on my own.

              We are regulars at Pollo Vollante/Times Changed. While I wouldn't call it Mexican, the food is good, they frequently have specials not on the menu (just for something different), and the owners are super nice people who are trying really hard to develop a loyal following.

              Rhoda, the female half of the owners, also makes her own perogies which she sells frozen at the restaurant (hey, it IS Winnipeg), and she makes some unusual but delicious flavors. The best I've had is a sweet-potato and walnut perogie which was out of this world.

              Somewhere you MAY want to try, which I know is authentic(but not Mexican), is Mercadito Latino, a tiny little grocery store just a few doors down from JC's.....with a 10-seat restaurant in the back. The families who own it are Chilean and El Salvadoran (Salvadorian?) . The make everything fresh - papusas, empanadas, chirasco sandwiches, etc. Everything I've had has been EXCELLENT! They also have the best tamales I've ever had. It's very casual and homey, and everyone is as nice as can be.

              1. re: bubster

                Thanks for the info-I did end up trying Pollo Volante, and unfortunately it didn't blow me away, as I was hoping. It was just okay. Maybe it was an off night? I did enjoy the homemade salsa and the tostadas though. I'll have to go there again and maybe try one of the specials, and the perogies! The service was really nice and helpful though. They tried hard to please.

                I love Mercadito Latino!! I really enjoy the empanadas, and the pupusas are very good! I was told that they make pan con pavo, but it's only available once in a while. I will be sure to try the churrascos next time!