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Jul 10, 2011 07:50 AM

Tres Carnales - Edmonton

Had a chance to go to Tres Carnales on Rice Howard Way last night.

Arrived about 6pm. The place was completely full with a reasonable lineup. Tough to score a table, but it's a pretty casual place so people tend to get in and get out fairly quickly.

They had a variety of items on offer in either taco or tora format (apparently a torta is a sandwich). The following choices are the ones I remember:

marinated skirt steak
Carnitas (pork shoulder)
Al Pastor (skewered marinated meat, in the same rotating spit style that a Donair would be but of course flavoured totally differently)
Rajas con crema (poblano peppers, corn, and crema
Chorizo (spicy Mexican sausage)

For drinks they had Mexican Jarritos pop, agua de horchata, Mexican beer, and pitchers of sangria.

They did have a few sides/non-taco items such as chips with salsa/guacamole, soup, Mexican rice.

For $10 you get 4 small tacos. I think it's good value at that price.

Not sure how authentic it is since I've never been to Mexico but the flavourings were definitely more along the Mexican line than compared to mainstream North American "Mexican" places like Taco Bell etc.

I will definitely be back. I had the Al Pastor and now I can't wait to try all the other flavours.

If anything my only compaint was how busy it was! It's not a place where you'd spend an hour eating your meal but literally people were hovering over you for tables. Maybe they had a sudden rush because the Street Performers festival in Churchill Square had just ended early due to the downpour...

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    1. I went the weekend it opened and had the carnitas. When I went, it was three small tacos for $10, so it looks like the value for dollar has changed, so that is good.

      I thought they were good, but no better than a place like El Rancho. If I wanted a meal, I would still go to El Rancho, but if I wanted to go somewhere central with friends on a summer day, I would definitely go to Tres Carnales for some sangaria and to share some tacos.

      One thing I would have liked, especially since it is new and people are just getting to know the menu, is that each taco in an order could be a different meat, although I understand why the keep it to one meat an order.

      1 Reply
      1. re: aasg

        Hey aasg,

        I share the same opinions as you on this :) I love El Ranchero. After we went to Tres Carnales last week I actually took my friends to El Ranchero this weekend so they could compare the different types of tacos.

        Pupusas @ El Rancheo are $2.75 I believe and now a taco is $2.50 at Tres Carnales. I think this is a much more fair and street food price, even if you have to order a minimum of 4. I wish that you could just order one (sometimes I just need a snack or want a small lunch). Also perhaps a small side of rice and beans (minimal cost) would add exponentially to the value of the $10 plate you receive.

        All in all Tres Carnales is very good, very authentic, and I am very happy with their new pricing.

        I would highly recommend. :)

      2. We were so happy when Tres Carnales opened up - it is right around the corner from our place. We visited three times last week and really liked it.

        As for the other comments here, I've never been to El Rancho so can't compare. We loved the Al Pastor and Rajas con Crema tacos. My husband found the marinated beef (Arrachera) not particularly flavourful. The house-made guacamole and chips are also excellent. And just a clarification, as of right now they don't have horchata, just Agua de Jamaica.

        I love the vibe and the decor - casual and funky. It's just the kind of place we need downtown. And happily, the quality of food is strong and the value is definitely there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: thelittleredkitchen

          When I was there, they did have agua de horchata. The menu is on a chalkboard so I wouldn't be surprised if they change things up.

        2. Went by last night - I couldn't muster the will power to stay away (calorie counting) after reading tweets about their fish tacos special. Brought in fresh snapper on Monday (sold out) and again yesterday.

          I was impressed with the quality of the snapper tacos - nice crispy & light breading (using a tempura-esque technique), fresh ingredients, house-made tortillas. I was also really impressed by the hospitality and integrity shown by the 3 owners. They source ingredients carefully and locally - all protein except for the snapper has come locally. They are very serious about maintaining the authenticity and flavours of Mexico (ex. bringing contraptions from Mexico to make their tortillas).

          I'll definitely go back to try items from their regular menu. And reading the posts here, I think a trip to El Rancho is also a must.

          5 Replies
          1. re: foodkarma

            Wow... I am excited for fish tacos... this is a special or permanent menu item?

            1. re: kati3

              They were a special - the guys brought in snapper on Monday, sold out of the tacos. Had another shipment of snapper yesterday and did the tacos again.

              1. re: kati3

                Tres Carnales just tweeted they're getting fresh snapper this afternoon so fish tacos will be on tonight's menu. So tempted to go for a re-visit.

                1. re: foodkarma

                  I've gotta go tonight. No fish tacos on any of my visits so far.

                  1. re: raidar

                    Tres Carnales is an excellent example of the best qualities of an owner operated food establishment. I hope that if they decide to expand they 'll figure out how to maintain the quality. So far Mikado has managed to do it, but Kyoto which was a gem when it first opened has failed miserably to do so.

                    Just in case I recommend you try it soon

            2. Looking for a new lunch place, a friend and I went to Tres Carnales for lunch. When we stepped in the door we noticed that there was limited seating so my friend went to grab a table as I stood in line. Almost immediately someone came up to me and asked if we were dining in or ordering to go and when I told him we were dining in he told me that it is their policy to order first then take a table. I thought this was strange but did not care as if that's the rules that's the rules. I offered to call my friend back to stand in line with me so as to not breach protocol and I was assured it was ok this time, but if we could remember the policy next time. As I was standing in line and my friend was sitting at the table, a different server approached my friend and gave the same information about ordering before you sit down at a table. My friend explained that I was in line and would be joining him soon. Meanwhile, while I was standing in line I realized that my friend had no idea what the menu was so I took a pic of the menu to show my friend so he could tell me his order. As I began walking to the table my friend was sitting at the same server who just lectured my friend on the rules about ordering before sitting put me through the same; I explained to this server that another server already explained the rules to me and said it was ok this time. Then as I was standing at our table explaining the menu to my friend, the server who explained to the rules to me the first time came up to the table and started explaining the rules to me again. I reminded the server that less than 2 minutes ago he explained the rules to me and said it was ok this time; his reply was that he was reminding my friend of the rules (even though another server gave him the same speech less than one minute earlier). At this point my friend wanted to leave so we left. As we were walking out the door, the server who first explained the rules to me yelled to us " be that way". I won't be going back to Tres Carnales any time soon nor will I recommend it to anyone else.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jim bachinski

                This rule ensures that people are seated in the order they arrive and order. Everybody else seems to be able to respect that.

                1. re: felix the hound

                  It might be the rule, but people might not know if they haven't been there. Other places downtown with similar styles of service over lunch, like MRKT or Zuppa, don't have the rule, so people can be expected to know out of nowhere. It would just be annoying to be told the rule, then told it doesn't matter that one time, then be continually bothered about it. Perhaps there are signs about this there that I am not aware of, though.

                  I have never been impressed with the service there. The last time I was there, the people in front of us had already ordered and were chatting with the person working the till. We waited for a few minutes and decided to walk out after not being asked for our order.

                  1. re: aasg

                    Agree that the service is bad when they get busy. Last time I had lunch with a friend, they forgot her drink, and my side dish. We waited an extra 20 min because they messed up four orders before us.

                    Yes the staff are friendly and the food is fresh, but I often feel they need practice in providing timely service.