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Jul 28, 2009 08:13 AM

New Mexican on 17th SE? (Cgy)

I was on International Ave a few weeks ago and saw a new Mexican restaurant. I couldn't stop and I didn't see it when I went back. I think it was just off 36th street? Maybe by the ice cream place? Anyone know anything about this? Was I dreaming? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I think you are referring to this from a couple weeks back.

    3 Replies
    1. re: raidar

      Nope- that's about 48 blocks west of what Dan is referring to.

      1. re: John Manzo

        Sorry John, just an Edmonton man remembering something along the lines. Thanks for the clearing up any confusion.

        1. re: raidar

          Sorry- Calgarians get the quadrants mixed up sometimes too.

    2. Drove along International Ave. last night and spotted the new place. It's called "La Dona" and it seems to have replaced the old Four Seas Chinese restaurant (3603 17th Ave. SE).

      6 Replies
      1. re: Fid

        That's it! Thanks. I'll give it a try tomorrow.

          1. re: chewy_bakah

            I never made it back. It's on my list and I'll let you know as soon as I get a chance.

            1. re: chewy_bakah

              Actually Chewy, it was pretty decent. The complimentary chips and salsa came with a nice variety of salsas - chips were freshly fried. The guacamole was excellent - one of the best i've had in the city. Companion ordered tacos. I ordered burritos. Definitely on the high side cost wise, but my lengua and carnitas were both really good - the carnitas especially.They were friendly, but extremely slow. Told us they had been open for a month. Sold out of Horchata too.

              Worth trying, but would like a touch more value, and a bit faster service. However, the food was good. A full review will be coming on foodosophy. Hope that helps.

              1. re: foodosopher

                Went to La Dona for lunch today. I ordered the special that was posted on the window of the restaurant of 3 tacos for $5. I had trouble understanding the server so I didn't really know what kind of tacos I ordered but they were good. I prefer Las Tortillas' tacos but for the price, I am not complaining. They came with a bunch of condiments (two salsas, pickled onion, pico) that were all tasty. I ordered what I thought was a glass of horchata but they brought out one of those mini pitchers/jugs that ended up being $7. I didn't get any chips and salsa but that might be something they only do for dinner. I was the only one in the restaurant. It is nice, clean and spacious. Friendly server. Will go back for dinner to give it another shot.

                1. re: foodosopher

                  Hey Foodospher! Wonderbar! Love ur blog. Will keep this place in mind. Hopefully it has been some changes since it's winter now.

          2. My husband and I went to La Dona for dinner tonight. Oh my god, it was the best Mexican that I, personally, have ever had in my life. I didn't know it could be like that.

            We got complementary chips and some avocado dip as well as some really spicy salsa-type thing. I thought the chips were really good. The avocado dip was tasty but had a kick to it that you didn't notice for a few seconds. I was too cowardly to try the other one, but my husband seemed to like it.

            Then we ordered chorizo with melted cheese, and it was delicious. It came with tortillas so you could wrap it up. Really nice chorizo, but not terribly spicy (which I appreciate). We also ordered the cactus, tomato, and cilantro salad. It was so light and fresh and interesting! I loved it!

            I ordered a chicken burrito and my husband ordered beef fajitas. Mmmm, my burrito was excellent. I don't know what it was about the chicken, but it was so flavourful. I know it had a sauce on it, but it seemed like the chicken itself was really fresh and flavourful. I couldn't finish it all while we were there, but I don't think it will see tomorrow, you know what I mean? LOL

            Then I had to steal--er, I mean sample--some of my husband's food. The beef was really nice, tender, and tasty. His order came with rice, and it was so creamy and delicious! I don't know what was in/on it (it looked plain), but it reminded me of the time I had rice cooked in coconut milk (it was the same kind of mildly sweet, creamy taste, but when I say creamy I don't mean it looked creamy at all, just tasted that way), except that it wasn't as sweet. It was all so good!

            Oh, I also asked the guy what a drink on the menu was, called "Jamaican Flower Juice," so he gave me a sample. It was pretty good, too! Sort of like a sweet cranberry juice with a hint of floweriness.

            I am surprised that those of you who already went there weren't as impressed as I was. I mean, the guy told me his (Mexican) mama's the cook, and he tries to keep it as authentic as possible. I will definitely be back, and hopefully many times, with various friends and family. I'm so excited that it's so close to my neighbourhood!

            By the way, I didn't find it expensive, either, AT ALL. For the two of us, for all the food we got, it came to around $36 including tax (before tip). I've been to La Casa Latina a few doors down for lunch, and I found that place a bit ridiculously expensive. As for the service at La Dona, it wasn't very busy when we were there. The server (and I think, the owner, but I'm not sure) was a bit forgetful, but who cares when the food was that good?

            EDIT: How could I forget to tell you about the decor!? It's not for everyone, that's for sure. But I liked it. It's set up sort of diner style, with orange booths along the dividing wall, and there are two counters with stools around them. There's a mural with a Mexican scene on the far wall. There are a lot of skulls all over the place, but it's not creepy. It's just weird that the skulls are on these lacy scarves. There's also a devil marionette(?) hanging from the wall. I suppose that might turn some people off, but I just found it amusing. Then in contrast, they have a few of those paper Christmas bells hanging on the light fixtures. Hilarious! I love their crazy decor.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Lainey1978

              Superb review! Thanks! The "Jamaican Flower Juice" is hibiscus tea, just called "Jamaica" (ha-MIKE-uh) in Mexico and I agree it's delicious. In Jamaica itself as in my partner's home country of Trinidad it's called "sorrel."

              Cannot wait to try this place!

              1. re: John Manzo

                Thank you! It was a pleasure! I couldn't wait to get back here and post about it (well, okay, I could wait...I was enjoying my food so much!). That was hibiscus tea? Cold? That's interesting, and explains the floral taste! Well, I thought it was pretty good. Is there any sort of juice base in there? I thought I detected something fruity. Maybe it was just a lot of sugar, lol. I also didn't know hibiscus and sorrel was the same thing. You learn something new every day! Thanks!

                Ooooh, please let us know what you think when you go! Like I said, I thought it was great. But I don't always agree with a lot of the reviews on here of places I like and other people don't, or don't like that other people think are great. But that was my experience there, for what it's worth. I really am curious to know what other people think of it.

                I had planned to get dessert, by the way, but I forgot. Too wrapped up in the deliciousness of what I'd just experienced. You know it's good when...

                1. re: Lainey1978

                  Oh my. I used to drink gallons of jamaica when I lived in Guatemala. It can be very addicting. Great review Lainey. How big was the burrito by chance?

                  1. re: raidar

                    Thanks! Yeah, it was really good. Now you guys are making me want more of that stuff! :o)

                    Um, I guess it was about 6" long, 3" diameter. This is my husband's guess. It wasn't massive, but it wasn't small, either. My plate was smaller than my husband's, with just the burrito, lettuce, tomato (just a bit), and sour cream. But mine was also a lot cheaper ($ you could always order two if you were really hungry), than his fajita (which I think was $11). Like I said, I couldn't finish it all at the time (but I finished it later and now it's gone...*sniffle*).

                    1. re: raidar

                      Oops, I just saw that our total was actually $39.38 before tip (but including tax). Still, we got a lot of food for that price. Appetizer, salad, two meals, one Coke, some free stuff...we left pretty full.

                      The owner(?) gave me his business card. His name is Jose Luis Gurrola H. He was a pretty nice, friendly guy. Looked quite young (wow, that makes me sound like a little old lady--I'm 31). Seemed to genuinely care about what we thought of the food.

              2. Anyone notice anything vegetarian on the menu? I would kill for two Mexican-style quesadillas: one with squash blossoms and one with potatoes! (All totally smothered in salsa verde, crema y queso, naturalmente!)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jetgirly

                  I can't remember...I know they had a quesadilla on the menu, but I don't remember what was on it.

                  1. re: nonlinear

                    To be fair, there are some commenters (besides the owner and his son) who disagree.

                    1. re: nonlinear

                      I'm honestly amazed that s/he had such a bad experience at the same place. I added my experience to the comments. Thanks for posting that! It's good to see a different perspective. I hope that they have the consistency worked out, and it won't be terrible next time I go.

                      That said, I was kind of turned off when the reviewer, talking about the waitress, said, "she looked at us with that “Latina attitude” on her face that you all know..." No. I don't know. I thought that was a bit ignorant, and I'm not even Latina. Can you imagine someone saying that about another minority?

                      1. re: nonlinear

                        Who orders fajitas when they're lamenting the lack of real Mexican? And pork rinds??

                        1. re: John Manzo

                          I don't know much about "authentic" Mexican, but I was wondering about the pork rinds. I found that odd, too!

                          The things that made me believe it's authentic are that Jose's mama does the cooking, and I dunno, I've never seen cactus salad anywhere else in the city. Plus, there were a lot of dishes on the menu that I have simply never heard of before, even at other Mexican restaurants.

                          1. re: John Manzo

                            What makes pork rinds inauthentic? When I lived in Mexico they were EVERYWHERE! People always tricked me into eating them... (Yeah, yeah, fool me once... but I am so far vegetarian I had no idea that a meaty thing could even look like that!)

                            1. re: John Manzo

                              I'm with Jetgirly. Chicharonnes (crispy pork rind) are everywhere in Mexico. And very yummy may I add.

                              1. re: John Manzo

                                Chicharrones is one of those dual use words as far as I can tell, referring to both the fried and non-fried versions.

                                Happened to have the Chicharrones tacos with Salsa Verdes at Mi Tierra (was a special one day). Absolutely amazing, although I'm sure a lot of Canadians would be put off by the texture.

                                And the fried rinds with a squirt of salsa and a squeeze of lime is an absolute perfect street/beach snack. Goes very nicely with a cold beer.

                                Lots to be said for the relatively poor (or real poor) health factor of chicharrones, but when in Rome....