17th Ave · Bakery · Dessert · French · Mexican · Restaurants

Con Mi Taco, Black Sheep, and Wow Bakery – COVID-19 edition

Right before The City of Calgary declared a State of Local Emergency​, my friend Lovegastrogirl visited me for wine and snacks. Before she left, I sent her home with saffron lime pistachios from Ayoub’s Dried Fruits and Nuts, a bottle of my favourite wine that I discovered at Bar Von Der Fels, and a moisturizer she admired. For this post, let’s listen to “It’s Tricky” by Run DMC.

Lovegastrogirl surprised me last Friday night with a Beef Birria Taco Kit ($38) from Con Mi Taco and pastries. I’ve been wanting to try the birria ever since FoodKarma’s posted her hubby’s photos on Instagram.

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Photo credit: @therealbuntcake

Our kit included a 2/3 pound of 18 hour chili braised beef chuck, ten freshly ground hand-pressed corn tortillas, lime wedges, onion garnish, mozzarella cheese, cilantro garnish, salsa morita, vegan jalapeño aioli and birria broth.

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Photo credit: @therealbuntcake

The beef chuck was tender and saturated in flavour. We found the beef and broth so rich, that instead of dipping the whole taco into the broth, L and I just drizzled the sauce on the very top. The combination of the broth and sauces created a smoky, spicy profile. I’m really into Con Mi Tacos sauces – it’s more complex and creamy than what I’ve sampled in my trips to Mexico.

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Photo credit: @therealbuntcake

I prefer the beef birria taco over al pastor because I like heavier, richer tasting meats. L stated while he enjoyed the birria, his all time favourite is al pastor.

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The Guacamole and Chips ($10) was a hit too. The dip was cool and creamy, with just the right amount of salt to make the flavour of the lime and avocado pop. I liked that we received so much dip, we ran out of chips before we finished the guacamole. Usually it’s the other way around because avocados are expensive.

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I took FoodKarma’s advice and used the leftover broth for Mexican ramen. The broth must be potent because it made a beefy bowl of noodles. Con Mi Tacos should consider selling their broth to customers to use at home. I would buy it.

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Lovegastrogirl also brought us pastries from Black Sheep and Wow Bakery. L and I shared the Blueberry Croissant ($4) and the Pan au Chocolat ($3.75). I was impressed with the flaky crisp shell and the big air bubbles inside the pastry.

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The house made blueberry jam is delectable. I’d order this again and I don’t normally order pastries with fruit filling. I would buy this jam if Black Sheep ever bottles it up for sale.

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The pain au chocolate contained two sticks French Valrhona chocolate. Such a simple combination but when high quality chocolate and pastry is used, it’s a perfect pairing.

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Black Sheep offers contactless delivery and pick up at their store. The stop is open every day except for Tuesday, from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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Lovegastrogirl also bought us pastries from Wow Bakery. I knew beforehand that she was a fan of Wow Bakery because she bought a cake for the No Man’s Dinner at Moon Korean BBQ. Wow Bakery is piloting a free delivery system with no tip for orders $25 or more until June 15th.

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We tried a French baguette ($2.99), Sweet Almond Bread ($3.80), and an Onion Cheese Bread ($4.50). L crushed the almond bread. The onion cheese bread reminded me of my homemade pizzas. My favourite of the bunch was the French baguette from Black Sheep, which I used to make a sandwich the next day.

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L said if we were in prison, Lovegastrogirl’s generous gifts would make us her prison bitches. I agree. I’m no one’s bitch. Next Thursday is my turn to treat her. But how am I going to top her?

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Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

I’m not a competitive person, except when it comes to hosting parties. Since I can’t host anymore, I’m going to bring the party to Lovegastrogirl. I’ve been scouring her Instagram profile to get clues on what would appeal to her.

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Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

As you can see from her posts, she’s a complex person. She has an affinity for finer things in life, like views from expensive tourist spots, over ordering at fancy restaurants, and consuming grossly overpriced cocktails. But she also has a soft spot for fast food, Cluck N Cleaver, and dazzling sweaters.

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Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

If you have any suggestions on what to get her, send me a message. I have until Thursday to come up with a plan. Thanks again Lovegastrogirl, you really know how to spoil a friend.

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Photo credit: @lovegastrogirl

Wow Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mexican · Restaurants

Shelter’s Taco Pop-up Event – COVID-19 edition

Usually, I only check out a new restaurant if it’s recommended to me by someone I trust, such as FoodKarmaBlog, Loaf2go, missfoodie, and lovegastrogirl. When I saw FoodKarmaBlog’s post on birria (spicy Mexican stew) from chef Daniel Ramon of Alforno, I took notice. Damn, that’s a beautiful stew!

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Photo credit @therealbuntcake

A week later,  I saw on Instagram that Daniel Ramon, Mikko Tamarra, and Andrew Ocasion were putting together a taco pop-up event at Shelter. L’s most favourite food in the world is al pastor, so I booked my order before they sold out. For this post, let’s listen to Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player”.

Our kit ($32) included ten hand pressed tortillas, 300 grams of al pastor, salsa verde, salsa roja, and generous amount of pineapple, cilantro, onions, and limes. When I went to pick my order up, the entire restaurant smelled like a taco stand in Mexico. All I needed was a beer, preferably not Corona, some sunshine, and I would be transported back to happier times.

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Photo credit @therealbuntcake

To make his tortillas, Tamarra brings in his own corn, prepares the corn through a nixtamalization process, grinds it, and then cooks each tortilla himself. That is a hell of a lot of work, but it was absolutely worth the effort. He nailed it. Cupped in my hand, the tortilla felt thick and soft. The tortilla smelled fragrant and tasted like the authentic stuff in our past travels.

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Photo credit @therealbuntcake

The al pastor was excellent. The pork was so juicy and flavourful. I loved the seasoning and the flavourful charred bits. I thought I could detect a little smokiness in the meat. I could taste the labour of love that went into this meal.

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The two salsas were very different from each other. The vegan jalapeño aioli was spicy with a lingering heat. The salsa morita was richly flavoured, tangy, with a hint of chipotle. L was happy Ramon included pineapple, as he doesn’t like al pastor without it. For me, pineapple doesn’t make it or break it.

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This taco kit was not only delicious, but it was inexpensive too. We would pay the same price in Cabo.  I heard through the grapevine that there might be a second taco pop-up event, this time featuring birria. I wholeheartedly endorse what this talented taco trio is bringing to Calgarians. We need a taste of Mexico to cheer us up. Hitting the Sauce gives Shelter’s taco pop-up event two fat thumbs up.

SHELTER Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheap Eats · Mexican · Restaurants

Moose and Poncho

Haskayne 1.0 invited me to join them for tacos. Gillian said my recent Instagram post inspired Divine Offering, Lasagna, Big Mac, Minnie and Zoomhahaa to check out Moose and Poncho. For this post, let’s listen to a song I heard playing that evening – “Havana by Camila Cabello.

This is my second time at Moose and Poncho. Here’s my advice. Ask for the best selling soft tacos and load up on the array of condiments. The first time I visited, I enjoyed my tacos. However, the second time I visited, I was more liberal with the sauces, which really kicked up the flavour.

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Soft tacos are $3.75 each. The feature taco of the day – tongue – was $4.50. Big Mac said he was glad he splurged for the tongue taco, as it was his favourite of the bunch. One of the owners, I’ll refer to him as Taco Guru,  recommended getting three tacos a person.

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Grab a fork to eat your food. The generous portion of meat is far too bountiful to wrap the tortilla around the filling. Plus that way, you can load up on all the yummy sauces. I added feta cheese, sour cream, pickled vegetables, and the green and red sauces. I avoided the cilantro salsa.

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My favourite taco was the chicharron prensado – crispy pork. Lasagna thought it was savoury and salty and reminded him of bacon.  Minnie said the skin crackled like Chinese roasted pork, but it was juicier with Mexican flavours.

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The chicken with pineapple and adobo was far better than L’s favourite places in Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. The chicken was tender and succulent. The use of pineapple was subtle. I can’t wait to take L to Moose and Poncho. So effing good. Excuse my language.

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The food was so yummy we didn’t talk until we finished eating. Zoomhahaa said she prefers Moose and Poncho over Native Tongues. I’ve only been to Native Tongues once, and all I can recall are the creamy mushroom tacos.

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Gillian ordered a tamale and shared it with us. She liked the texture of the masa. I enjoyed the smokey flavour of the meat. The garnish of pineapple and mole sauce jazzed up the tamale. I would order this in the future.

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I shared my churros ($5) with my table.  Lasagna said that there was just enough sugar so that the churro wasn’t overly sweet.  I liked the crumbly, almost cake-like texture. Big Mac liked how the outside of the churro wasn’t as hard as Stampede version. I’d order this again and I avoid desserts.

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Taco Guru come over and asked our group how we found out about Moose and Poncho. We responded we saw pictures on Instagram and that his little taco shop is famous in Calgary. Taco Guru laughed the compliment off and said he was happy we enjoyed our meal.
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Big Mac said he loves how busy and vibrant Moose and Poncho and thinks it gives Calgary more culture. Yes, having an awesome taco shop in a Chinese mall is pretty cool. I think it’s just what Chinatown needs. A small business bringing in long lineups of people that wouldn’t ordinarily visit Chinatown. Two fat thumbs up! Moose and Poncho makes it on my list of best restaurants in Calgary.

The Moose and Poncho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cabos San Lucas · Cheap Eats · Mexican · Restaurants · Seafood · Special Occasion

Los Cabos 2018 – Part Three

After breakfast on our deck, N treated me for a massage on the beach. My massage at Bety’s was better than the one L took me to. N complained that her masseuse would stop massaging her to check her phone or talk to her colleagues. For this post, let’s listen to Q-TipVivrant Thing.

N paid for the massages in US currency, but she gave 500 pesos and asked for 300 back, leaving 200 pesos for a tip. Her masseuse didn’t give her back her change until N reminded her twice. There was a long uncomfortable silence and her masseuse wouldn’t make eye contact until the manager came over and said to the masseuse with a shrug and a face, “That’s like a $3.50 tip.”

N was pissed. She told me later that 15% was a good enough tip for the massage she received. I calculated 200 pesos and that’s about $10 US, which is $5 a person. I thanked N for treating me and I said I hoped the manager’s remark did not ruin the experience. N said no it did not it just irks her when people expect more than 15% when the service wasn’t good. She said it angers her when she gets a coffee in Vancouver and the tip option is 18% and up. I told N to visit Japan, where there is no tipping.

On the way back to our condo, N bought fresh fruit from a vendor selling it from his truck. For a plate of assorted fruit, he charged $10 US. She gave him a $5 US tip.

N brought a special bottle of champagne to share with us – Belle Epoque Perrier-Jouet. I looked up the bottle and was shocked to see it sells for over $200 a bottle. I was relieved to hear that N didn’t buy the bottle herself. It was a birthday gift from her friend. I asked if she still hung out with him. She said no, not since he got a girlfriend. Dammit N. He sounds like a nice guy with very good taste. You should have given him a chance.

The bouquet was strong and a bit yeasty. The bubbles were soft and not as carbonated as I’m use to. The flavour was mellow and disappeared on the tongue with no aftertaste. To date, this is the best champagne I tried. Having said that, I would rather spend my hard-earned cash on Pol Roger, which is my new favourite splurge.

After we finished N’s champagne, we walked over to Tacos Gardenias for a late lunch. I ordered a lobster and shrimp quesadilla. The lobster meat was sweet and crunchy. The shrimp quesadilla was tasty, but nothing compared to the lobster version.

L preferred the grilled shrimp and fish over the battered version. The seafood at Gardenias is the best of the bunch we tried at other taco joints in Cabos. The pork taco was highly recommended by our server and L was impressed by it. Tacos are around 40 pesos and the shrimp quesadilla was 50 pesos.

N picked cactus and green peppers tacos and quesadillas. She raved about how much she enjoyed her lunch. L was surprised that N enjoyed Gardenias so much because she usually dines at high-end restaurants. I’ve known N since 2007. She likes fancier restaurants more than I do, but she’ll eat anywhere, as long as the food is good.

For our last dinner, N treated us to our favourite restaurant – Los Tres Gallos. The open air courtyard is beautiful. I like the lights and coloured flags hanging overhead.

N ordered Sopa Tortilla (150 Pesos * 3) – cheese and mushrooms in thick homemade tortillas. The cheese was chewy and luxuriously soft. One of the best things we ate on the trip. A must order.

For N’s main, she ordered Sopa Tortilla (150 Pesos). I ordered this two years ago and I remember not being impressed. She raved about the soup. The presentation is different from previously and it’s now a bigger portion with more ingredients. I took a sip and while it was good, it wasn’t worthy of her ecstatic compliments. I thought that perhaps because she’s a vegetarian, her expectations were lower than mine.

N enjoyed her margaritas (120 Pesos) so much, she ordered a second one. I thought this margarita was more refined and subtle than Monkey Business.

I wasn’t hungry so I ordered a Caesar Salad and shared it with L (260 Pesos). The salad is made table-side. Our server whipped up the egg with garlic and did a lot of lettuce tossing. Tasty, but I wouldn’t order it again because it tasted just like a regular Caesar salad but with more dressing.

Los Tres Gallos is known for their mole dishes. L ordered the Enchiladas de Mole Chicken (290 Pesos). L liked this even more than the mole chicken entrée he picked two years ago. The enchilada was made with shredded white breast meat. The sauce was rich and tasted of cocoa.

I’m pretty sure in 2020 when I reach my milestone birthday, N, L, Beep Beep, Veronica, Jughead and I will have dinner at Los Tres Gallos.

For our last breakfast, N and I walked over to Cabo Bakery . N ordered the grilled vegetable panini (155 Pesos) with a side salad and I ordered salmon lox on brioche bread ($130 Pesos). She loved the flavour of the salad dressing and the use of pea shoots. N could only finish half her panini and saved the rest for her dinner on the plane.

I didn’t realize my breakfast included two eggs. Had I known, I wouldn’t have ordered it because eggs over easy makes my tummy queasy. The scoop of horseradish went well with the lox and capers. I didn’t like how thick the red onion was sliced. The brioche was dry and the egg was too runny for me.

I ordered two sandwiches from Cabos Bakery to eat on the plane. The slender baguette of ham and butter was simple but good, as the quality of ham was excellent. The baguette itself was dry. The tomato, ham and avocado sandwich I ordered was soggy by the time we ate it, about 4 hours later. The bread wasn’t up to my standard – it was too light and without a nice crunch.

L has this tradition of eating at the airport before we fly home. This year was better than the last time we dined here. He ordered the deluxe guacamole – grilled cheese, pork rinds, guacamole and beans. Our neighbours hot wings and onion rings looked far better. Good to know for the next time.

Speaking of the next time, I’m bringing my own wine in 2020. Tourists are allowed to bring up to three bottles of wine in their checked luggage. The wine selection in Mexico is limited, and wines were generally marked up a third more than in Calgary.

Highlight – Belle Epoque Perrier-Jouet. Lowlight – N won’t date a nice guy with good taste in women and champagne.

Cabos San Lucas · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

Los Cabos 2018 – Part Two

I was counting down the hours until N arrived. Unfortunately, her flight was delayed and she could only get a flight out the next day. I can only imagine the earful the customer representative received. If anyone can get compensation from an airline service, it would be N. For this post, let’s listen to Consuelo Velasquez – Besame Mucho.

On the way to our Airbnb, our driver recommended Las Guacamayas. He said locals dine there and the molten seafood cheese molcajetes are delicious. When N’s flight was delayed, I cancelled our reservations at Roasted Grill and Bar and we went to Las Guacamayas instead. The restaurant itself is pretty neat – there are two and a half levels. Throughout the evening, there was live music and dancers.

L and I shared an order of Molcajetes ($18 CAN). The lava bowl was searing hot – filled with octopus, prawns, avocado, asparagus and covered in a mushroom cheese sauce. The tortillas were too dry and cracked when we put the cheese and seafood inside it. The asparagus was overcooked. The mushroom sauce would have benefited from seasoning. I couldn’t ask our server for fresh tortillas because they were short-staffed. I didn’t mind – the ambience and music made up for it. I thought the food was fair for the price.

After dinner, we walked around and admired an art gallery with a rock formation behind the store. An artist came out and asked us if we would like to attend the party behind the gallery. The exhibition consisted of 11 new artists and to celebrate the full moon, there was live music, poetry readings, and complimentary wine. He said to walk to the back and to follow our hearts to find the party. What a romantic! The curved stairs lead us to the top of the hill.

I was surprised that I enjoyed the wine – so much that I went over to take a picture of the label. I looked up the price and it’s around $9 US. I wish pubs in Calgary would serve Nicolas Merlot for their happy hour selection. There was nothing offensive about it – fruity, light with no after taste.

We walked around and enjoyed the view of the city. When the live performances were finished, we checked out the art exhibition. Our favourite painting was created by the artist that pulled us into the studio. He refurbishes old paintings and recycles it by adding his own story. We asked him how much his painting was and he looked shocked. He quickly said $500 US then admitted to us that he just made up the number. He brought over the gallery director who told us she didn’t have a way to ship the framed painting to us. I was tipsy so I told L we should take a look at the painting the next morning.

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The next evening, we ate at El Peregrino . We skipped appetizers because we didn’t want to overeat. L ordered the ribs that were on special that night for only $12 US. The meat was tender, though there was one piece that was too fatty. The fries were nice – thin and crispy like Earl’s version in Canada.

I loved my octopus dish ($15 US). The sauce tasted like olive oil, garlic and butter. The octopus itself was toothsome with no chew to it. I’d order this dish again. Best octopus I’ve ever eaten. I enjoyed our meal so much, I made reservations for when N arrived on Saturday. However, the pinot grigio tasted like tart apple juice.

The selection of wines here are good for a restaurant in Mexico and well-priced. The next visit, I found a bottle by the glass of red that I enjoyed with my steak – Montepuliano d’Abruzzo.

We returned with N on Saturday. I made sure that all the restaurants we took N to were vegetarian friendly. She asked for a cheese and mushroom dish.

L and I ordered the steak special ($15) – a large Argentinian cut. I gave about a third of my steak to L as it was too much meat for me. L raved about his dish. The beef was lean, which is probably one reason L enjoyed his steak so much. My salad had a fantastic balsamic vinaigrette and the mashed potatoes were smooth, buttery and perfectly salted. I’d return again for the octopus and the octopus ceviche, which I read was just as delicious. I noticed a lot of regulars chatting with the staff and customers having birthday parties.

After dinner, we stopped by my favourite bar in Cabos – Monkey Business. The open air bar seats about 10 people. I always order the pineapple margarita because it’s not that sweet. L ordered a strawberry while N wanted a traditional margarita. I watched as our bartender painstakingly blended fresh pineapple, slice and squeezed limes, add tequila and rim the glass with spices.

Monkey Bar use to have underwear and bras hanging up all over the ceiling. N’s 2016 drawing of a pair of panties was also absent. I asked what happened. The bartender said he took it home to wear. N asked him if he was  wearing a pair now.

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For dessert, we bought churros from a street vendor ($1 US). The pastry wasn’t hot from the fryer, resulting in a pretty tasting average pastry. N said we should have insisted on waiting for a fresh churro. Next time.

Highlights include N visiting, my octopus entree and getting a spontaneous invite to an art gallery. Lowlight was N missing a whole day and night in Cabos.

Cabos San Lucas · Mexican · Restaurants · Vegetarian

Los Cabos 2018 – Part 1

Every year, L and I try to go somewhere hot to get away from the cold. I like Cabos because it is convenient, cheap and clean. If the winds are in your favour, it’s less than a four hour flight. I also like the restaurants in Cabos more than in Playa del Carmen or Puerta Vallarta. In Cabos, there seems to be more of a variety and I think the seafood is superior. The only negative is the water is really rough and not ideal for swimming due to the strong undertow.

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L complained that the Airbnb place I rented in Cabos in 2016 was utilitarian. This time around, I rented a luxury condo. With service and cleaning fees, the apartment averaged around $250 (CAN) a night. I was pleased to see security was tight – we had to be buzzed whenever we left the complex. Drivers weren’t allowed in unless they had permission. Since we had an extra bedroom and bathroom, I invited my friend N.

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The apartment is situated three minutes away from the beach and a 12 minute walk to town. The pool was immaculate. We never took a cab because we preferred to walk everywhere. For this post, let’s set the mood with La Bamba by Ritchie Valens.

Tourism was down, perhaps because of the negative news of the six bodies found hanged in Baja California Sur or reports of tainted alcohol at Mexican resorts and bars. Whatever the reason(s), there were noticeable changes since we visited in 2016.

I could get into any restaurant I wanted that day, and this was the week before Christmas!  Massages by the beach decreased from $30 an hour to $20 for an hour and a half. Two years ago, I used pesos without any issue. This year, some vendors insisted on American cash, such as our transportation company. When I said I wanted to use pesos instead, they would recalculate and tack on an extra $3-7 American dollars. I ended up going to the bank to get US cash. In the future, I’d bring US cash for larger purchases and pesos as backup.

The first thing L and I did was get a massage on the beach. We found a newish looking tent with all white curtains and beds. Every massage tent offered 90 minute massage for $20 US. When L paid in pesos, they increased the cost to an equivalent of $46 US.

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Before N arrived, L and I planned to eat at the places that I thought N wouldn’t like. I convinced L to try Taco Gus again. On our last trip, I liked the tacos but he did not. The tortillas are thin and the meats are grilled to a pleasing crispness. As with any open air eatery, you have issues with flies landing on food. Tacos range from 25-45 pesos. There’s a large carousel of toppings and vegetables that I have a feeling are probably reused for the next customer. No proof – just speculation on my part.

At Tacos Gus, we met two Americans. They both complained about how much more Americans work compared to Canadians and particularly, Europeans. They both have jobs at good companies, but only get two weeks of vacation. They said it’s an expectation to work that much in the States. We also discussed how skimpy the shot pours are in Canada compared to the States, as Americans free pour. I told them I think it is due to taxation and likely, regulations. 5.3.8 a) from Alberta Liquor License says the standard amount of spirits and liqueurs is 28.5 ml (1 oz).

L thought the tacos were tasty but he missed having pineapple with his al pastor. The next day, I suggested we check out El Pasia , an open air restaurant that is popular with the locals.

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I saw several people who just got off their shift stop by for a light meal. I liked how El Paisa’s condiment bar was sealed up in the middle of the room, preventing flies from landing on the food.

The combination of the sweetness of the pineapple and spit-roasted pork can’t be beat. At Taco’s Guss, each taco is about $2 US. At El Paisa, it’s a little more than $3 US but the portion of meat was double that of Taco Gus and you can taste the difference in meat quality. Our lunch came up to about $25 US. L said he was happy to pay that for these tacos.

Highlights so far include massages on the beach, tasty tacos, and our apartment. The location was perfect and it was one of the nicer Airbnb’s I’ve stayed at. Lowlight was getting dinged when I tried to pay with the local currency.

 

 

Restaurants · Seafood · Vancouver/Richmond

Victoria – Tacofino

For New Year’s Eve L and I visited my friend Tan and her husband Yah at their acreage in Sooke. We feasted and sipped the night away but we couldn’t quite stay up past 11:30 p.m. I fell asleep hearing the fireworks go off. So close. Maybe next year.

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The next day L and I headed over to Victoria to spend the day. We checked out the Empress Hotel, strolled around Fisherman’s Wharf, and explored the waterfront by the harbour.

We were feeling hungry and discovered Tacofino has a location in Victoria! For this post, let’s play Bandages by Hot Hot Heat, a band from Victoria. It was either that or Hanson and I’m pretty sure no one wants that. Or do you? Let’s think about this… hmmm MMMBop!

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Tacofino does plenty of take-out. Throughout our stay there was a steady flow of customers and calls to pick up food. I ordered a Tuna Taco ($7.25) and L ordered his usual Crispy Ling Cod Taco ($5.50). We shared a large bowl of Tortilla Soup ($10.50). A single taco makes for a good snack. You would need two to make it a meal.

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Maybe I should have played Hanson because this taco made my taste buds say,

Say Mmmbop, ba duba dop!

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du, yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du, yeah

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The tuna was lightly seared, still soft and cool. I really enjoyed the combination of flavours from the soy, seaweed salad, white ginger and wasabi mayo. All together, it was like the most delicious bite of sushi in my mouth.

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The tortilla soup was good and not overly seasoned so you could really enjoy the ancho chicken broth. Inside the bowl were chunks of roast chicken thighs, sour cream, chunks of melted molten cheese, soft slices of avocado and still crunchy tortilla crisps.

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There wasn’t much to do after we ate so we left early to visit my brother Narc, my sister-in-law Enforcer and their two kids. There wasn’t any restaurant open on New Year’s Day except for the good old White Spot. L offered me some of his legendary  burger but I was in control and didn’t bite.

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I know the burger looks like a puffier McDonald’s cheeseburger, but it’s the secret sauce of relish, mayonnaise and ketchup that makes this burger so addicting. I enjoyed a filling and fresh salad of chicken, romaine, pecans, apples and grapes. We washed everything done with beer from Fuggles and Warlock.

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Little did I know that the next morning I would be returning to White Spot. Stay tuned for White Spot Part Deux.

Tacofino Victoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mexican · Restaurants

Unimarket – Taco Wednesdays

The new boy in our office – Richie Rich – asked Office Dad, Asian Persuasion, and myself out for tacos at the Unimarket. This market looks like a hidden gem, but based on the line-up, plenty of people already know about this place. Richie Rich found Unimarket when he got lost coming back from the Farmer’s Market.


Unimarket sells Latin food. In the grocery section, you can get dried chilies, frozen corn tortillas and sweets. In the back of the market is a cafeteria-style area selling a range of baked goods, tacos and a number of savoury pastries. To the right of the cafeteria is a butchery.

Tacos are normally $3.50 but on Wednesdays, a taco is only $2.50. I counted nine different fillings: Carne Asada, Birria, Cowboy Taco, Chicken Tinga, Happy Taco, Carnitas, Al Pastor, Chorizo, and a vegetarian option. I felt like a fish out of water trying to figure out what sauces and toppings to add onto each taco. After I saw Richie Rich’s taco creation, I realized I was too conservative with the condiments.

I tried the Carne Asada (beef tenderloin), Carnitas (fried pork chunks with garlic and spices) and the Al Pastor (diced and trimmed marinated pork). For toppings, I opted for salsa, guacamole and lettuce.

The corn tortillas were warm and tasted homemade. I liked that each filling was spiced and prepared differently from each other. The salsa was heavily seasoned with cilantro.

I took home an Empanada Chilena ($5) for my husband for dinner. The dough was flaky and a tiny bit sweet. Inside was a mixture of ground beef, onions, black olives and a hard-boiled egg.

If you haven’t been yet, check it out and find something new. This is a unique supermarket with some very tasty eats.

Unimarket Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Cabos San Lucas · Cheap Eats · Italian · Mexican · Seafood

Los Cabo – Day Six

I woke up wanting to enjoy every second of our last full day in Cabo.  I made non-fried ramen noodles for breakfast. I usually eat Asian food for breakfast anyway, and I couldn’t stomach another Starbucks breakfast.

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L and I did our usual walk by the Marina and along the beach. Around 10:30 am I was craving a margarita from Monkey Business. Naomi’s drawing of her underwear was still up on the wall.

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There was a large group of American tourists from Texas that monopolized the bar. I saw a blonde lady in her late forties grab the arm of a man and suggestively say, “Too bad your wife is here…” His expression was completely blank.

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I was peacefully sipping away at my pineapple margarita  when I looked up and noticed a really gross advertisement for Viagra. I asked L why the elderly man’s face was so nasty. L said it was to add to the creepiness factor.

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Before we left, I had to wait in line to use the washroom. That blonde woman I saw earlier (I’ll call her Jezebel) came up behind me and told me there was a hot guy there that looked like some actor I never heard of. Jezebel said that it was too bad he was with his wife. Her friend came out of the washroom and said it took her a long time to tee tee. I asked Jezebel what tee tee meant. She said Texans say tee tee instead of pee pee because it sounds nicer. I was surprised she cared enough to use a more polite word for urinating when she was so open about being a manizer.

L and I wanted a little snack at Burrito Surf. We walked near the outer skirts of Cabo, which is about a ten minute walk from our Airbnb. Burrito Surf is known for their vegetarian friendly food, which is hard to find in Cabos.

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I received a free tamarind drink for using my Yelp check-in. We shared a bowl of guacamole and one surf and turf burrito. The guacamole is made with olive oil. Personally, I think Burrito Surf serves up the best guacamole I tried all trip. The avocado was chunky and the tomatoes tasted like it was plucked from a garden. There was more guacamole than chips, always a winning ratio in my book.

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I liked the balance and ratio of vegetables, sauce, rice, and proteins in the burrito. The beans were firm and not mushy, like what you get from a can. However, the flank steak and shrimp were so salty. The shrimp and beef tasted like it was grilled with soy sauce. Otherwise, the burrito would have been perfect. This entire meal cost about $17.00 (CAN).

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We walked around for a few more hours to work up an appetite. At around 3:00pm we were off again to check out Tacos Gardenias. If you ever come to Cabo, you must come to Tacos Gardenias. This was one of best places we ate the entire week.

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L raved about the fried fish tacos. The batter was light, crispy and not greasy. The generous piece of fish was fresh and flaky. The prices are a steal. A fish or shrimp taco is about $3.00 (CAN).

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The shrimp tacos were delicious, large, sweet and crunchy. The numerous condiments also tasted fresher than any other taco stand we visited.

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I ordered the mixed seafood soup. The broth was hot and well-seasoned. Again, all the seafood tasted incredibly fresh, like it was just caught that morning. This bowl was filled with octopus, shrimp and fish. Muy bueno!

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We walked this meal off again and went back to our place for a siesta. I was still feeling that margarita. We watched another Netflix show and showered for our evening venture. L wanted to check out the local mall and some of the luxury shops. We spent a couple of hours walking along the marina because I knew I was going to miss the view and smell of the water.

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Late that evening, we decided to dine at La Dolce. I had a craving for Italian food. The host took a liking to L and we got a prime spot on the patio without reservations. L ordered beer and I enjoyed a nice glass of pinot gris.

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L ordered fettuccine with chicken and I ordered the beef ravioli. Normally I order for both of us because L doesn’t really care or forgets what he wants by the time our server takes our order. However, I noticed throughout the trip that all our male servers found it odd that I did all the ordering. They give me a look and then look at L as to say, “Dude, you okay with this?” I also notice that when I speak to the local men (cabs, taxis, transfers, etc.) , they look like they aren’t listening to me. When L spoke to them after I attempted to talk, they were animated and would joke around.

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L loved his pasta. I thought my homemade ravioli was even better than his dish. The ravioli filling was plump and the pasta itself was al dente. The sauce was creamy and filled with goodies, like toasted pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms. With two beers, two glasses of wine, two mains, or entire whole dinner cost about $80.00 (CAN).

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For dessert, we walked over to a churro stand right next to our Airbnb. L ate churros from here the previous night. I wouldn’t eat one before because I wanted to see if L got sick first. Each churro was 50 pesos, which is a bit more than $3.00 (CAN).

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For the filling, we requested a mixture of chocolate, vanilla and caramel sauce. The filling was like hot lava, particularly at the bottom. Oh yeah – buy your water at the local grocery stores, it’s cheaper than the XOXO convenience stores. We ended the night the only way we should – by watching Back to the Future III.

Highlights of Day Six include: finding a real taco gem – Tacos Gardenias, having a delicious and romantic last meal at La Dolce, dessert at the Churro Man, and reliving my late 80’s/90’s childhood through Michael J Fox.

 

Beer · Italian · Seafood

Los Cabo – Day Five

L and I woke up on day five in Cabo wanting Starbucks again for breakfast. We are such regulars that all the baristas recognize us. My favourite breakfast is the ham and cheese croissant. Most of the hot sandwiches are slightly different from the options you get in Canada or the States. For example – the use of ricotta instead of feta, the grilled cheese sandwich, and a savoury strudel.

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That morning, we took a purple public bus to check out San Jose. As we arrived on a Thursday and leave on a Thursday, we missed out on San Jose’s popular weekly Art Walk. The bus ride took about 40 minutes.

The bus doesn’t take you directly into town. Instead, you have to get off near the highway and navigate your way over with a map.  I’ve never been to Palm Springs before but I imagine that it looks similar to San Jose. We passed by a lot of brand new American-style stores. Everyone I saw was North American and drove a car.

The town itself is pretty, peaceful and clean. Lots of flowers everywhere and quaint art galleries. I can see Canadian seniors really digging this place. From what I could see, San Jose is quieter than Cabo and sleepier. Personally, I like cities with an urban energy.  I find it far more interesting to be in Cabos, with its louder sounds, smells and hustle and bustle.

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We stopped by Baja Brewing Company for beers to wait for La Lupita Taco & Mezcalto to open at 2:00pm. My boss Tread Lightly visits San Jose frequently and he recommended that I check out La Lupita. The beers at Baja are okay and a nice change from Pacifico. We sampled six different beers ($7.00).

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We sat in La Lupita’s outdoor patio and watched an employee make homemade tortillas. L and I both ordered Mexican craft beers ($10 CAN). My Vera Neiga was refreshing and offered a floral bouquet. My favourite beer by far.

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We started off with guacamole ($6 CAN) and a side of beans ($3 CAN). I’m glad we ordered something to nibble on because it took forty minutes for our tacos to come out. I didn’t mind because I could see the care and effort that went into each taco.

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When the tacos finally arrived – some of them were worth the wait. I found two stones in the rib filling. I was informed it was part of an ingredient.

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We sampled pork, rib meat, pork belly, steak, miso fish, and duck tacos ($2.50-$5.00). The best of the bunch were the duck tacos. It tasted like Peking duck in a rice crepe. My least favourite were the more expensive ones – pork belly and the rib meat – both were bland.

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L’s favourite was one of the cheapest – al pastor with pineapple. We ordered four tacos each and that made for a filling lunch. He still thinks that the best al pastor tacos are at Pancho’s Takos in Puerto Vallarta.

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L and I walked back to the highway and waited for our purple bus. We checked with the driver to ensure we were heading back to the Marina. We went back to our place and rested up before heading out to dinner at Los Tres Gallos, which was only a couple of blocks away from our Airbnb.

I would highly recommend reservations at Los Tres Gallos, as the restaurant is packed nightly. We arrived right at 5:00pm because we didn’t have reservations.  Even though the restaurant was empty, we were still asked if we had reservations and where our hotel was located.

The open air patio is beautiful, the trees in the courtyard are lush and old. Service was excellent – everyone was polite, friendly and professional.

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The prices for the food are very reasonable. L and I shared the specialty appetizer of molten stringy cheese and sausage ($12 CAN). Delicious but very rich for even two people to share.

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I wasn’t hungry so I ordered the tortilla soup ($10 CAN), which is poured into your bowl at the table. The broth wasn’t hot. There was cubed cheese and avocado and slivers of crispy tortilla. The bowl was small.  I didn’t think the soup was anything special.

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L ordered the chicken breast mole enchiladas ($22 CAN). This dish was a winner. The sauce was rich and had a bittersweet aftertaste. The sides of rice and beans were excellent as well. If there’s only way place you could visit in Cabo, this would be it.

Just a warning – the prices for food are reasonable but the drinks are not. There also is no drink menu. For my small tamarind margarita, it cost about $14 (CAN). I could tell there was only a shot of tequila in it. L’s craft beer was $10 (CAN) and my bottle of water was $4 (CAN). If you don’t drink, this prices are a steal. If you do and are on a budget… well, maybe you pre-drink beforehand.

Day 5 highlights: Confirmation that I picked the right city (Cabo versus San Jose), and finding two of my favourite restaurants (Los Tres Gallos and La Lupita).