Beer · Pubs

Waterloo Kitchen and Bar – Tacos

I’ve been trying not to eat out as much in my quest to get fitter. However, after having my hair done by the talented Mai at Good Salon, I was in the mood to go out.

L was tired and thus less likely to humour my more frivolous nature, so I had to appeal to his tastes. I knew Major Tom wasn’t on the table right off the bat. So I called L and announced I wanted to take him out for tacos. He agreed but requested the restaurant be close to home. Let’s listen to “Bang Bang” by Nancy Sinatra for this post.

Lately, I’ve been into Waterloo Kitchen and Bar. Usually, when I’m at a pub, I’ll have a pint of beer and avoid the food. I’m pretty surprised with the flavour coming out of this bar. At Waterloo, I focus more on eating than drinking.

On Saturdays, the Waterloo offers three tacos for $12 or five for $16. Each taco is small, so I would order five tacos if you have an appetite. L and I each ate four, and I was still snacky, so I ordered a side of fries ($5).

L’s favourite taco was the beef brisket. The beef was smoky, with a nice chew to it. L thought the BBQ flavour was fantastic.

For me, the fish taco and pulled pork stood out. The generous portion of fish tasted fresh, and the light batter melted in my mouth. L noted the battered fish wasn’t greasy. I loved how the fish was piping hot, contrasting with the cold, creamy house tartar sauce.

This was the first time I had tried pulled pork, and I didn’t find the meat dry. Instead, the pork was so juicy that I had to suck back the juices when I took a bite. The Carolina BBQ sauce was delicious – a little acidic with an edge.

The smoked pull chicken looked like it was all-white meat. Proportionally, there was a generous amount of chicken to the tortilla and cabbage.

Waterloo’s tacos are smaller but packed with more meat compared to Mikey’s. The smokey flavour of the bbq meats at Waterloo is also more pronounced than Mikey’s. I thought the quality of BBQ at Waterloo was even better than some other popular BBQ joints in Calgary. Hitting the Sauce gives Waterloo Kitchen and Bar two phat thumbs up.

Happy Hour · Mexican · Restaurants

Mikey’s on 12th – Live music and tacos

On Sunday afternoon, L and I went to Mikey’s live music event – Sit Back Jam with Tom Philip and Friends. When we walked in, the laidback environment and the music-loving crowd reminded me of King Eddy. For this post, let’s listen to a song I overhead – “Don’t Mess Around with Jim” by Jim Croce.

Service was genuinely friendly, despite how busy the captive audience kept the servers. We sat in the far back of the bar, next to the kitchen. I ordered a Caesar ($6.50), and L got a pint of Mount Crushmore (Banded Peak, $7.99).

I liked my cocktail. The flavour of the Clamato was strong and salty, even after most of my ice melted. I could taste the heat from the spices and the tartness from the pickled bean. I’m picky when it comes to Caesars, and I would order this again. I sensed the bartender gave me a full shot of vodka and undulated at that. Call me paranoid but I get the sense most pubs water down the booze or don’t give you a full shot. Not so at Mikey’s.

For only eleven bucks, you get three tacos. Cheese and guacamole are extra, and unnecessary in my opinion as these babies are jam-packed with flavour. We shared nine tacos: beef brisket, pork pastor, confit pork, Baja fish, panko shrimp, tinga (chicken), and calamari frito.

I enjoyed the stewed meat tacos over the deep-fried fish, shrimp and calamari. In particular, the tinga impressed me. The white chicken meat was tender and flavourful. I loved the addition of the sour cream and warm, chopped tomatoes.

L’s favourite taco was the beef brisket. The beef was saucy. The meat’s saltiness contrasted with the cold, crunchy pickled radish and onions. He liked that each taco was loaded with filling and came with two thin corn tortillas.

The pulled pork was light with a subtle smokiness. The pork pastor tasted like it was grilled. The juicy piece of pineapple was sweet. I thought the kitchen did a great job with the beef, pork and chicken tacos, as each tasted distinctly different from the other.

I noticed all the customers were drinking alcohol, but most weren’t eating. I don’t understand how anyone can come here and not indulge in a street-style taco, especially when enjoying an ice-cold beer. My father always said that music fulfils the soul, so perhaps there’s less of a need to fill the belly.

For dessert, we shared an order of Churros ($5.99). Each churro was warm and fluffy like a doughnut. The texture was cake-like, and it melted in your mouth. The chocolate sauce reminded me of chocolate chip cookies. I would order the churros again.

L and I had a nice time. The musicians were talented and lively, the food was yummy, and the service was warm. I would return and recommend this place to anyone who enjoys live music and cheap tacos. Hitting the Sauce gives Mikey’s two phat thumbs up.

Restaurants · Seafood

Big Fish – Anniversary Dinner

For our eighth wedding anniversary celebration, I took L to Big Fish. I thought since we weren’t going to Mexico for our yearly jaunt of sunshine and tacos, it would be nice to eat some seafood and at least pretend we were away. So for this post, let’s listen to “Crush With Eyeliner” by R.E.M.

Big Fish is different from the norm. The restaurant is comfortable and homey. Our server Michael was well versed with the menu and wine list. I could tell he was no newbie. The customer base appeared to be all regulars, and as L noted, not a douchebag insight. I knew better than to take him to Cactus Club. This ain’t my first rodeo.

To start, L ordered a pint of Last Best IPA ($8), and I sipped on a flute of Pares Cava ($7.50). Next, we shared a dozen west coast oysters ($45). The Kussi oyster was smaller than the Fanny Bay, but the flavour was more intense and sea-like. The Fanny Bay oyster was meaty, mild in flavour, with a crunchy texture that reminded me of cucumber. I was impressed that we could get oysters that tasted this fresh in Calgary.

I read Google reviews of customers raving about the Warm Lobster, Crab & Artichoke Dip ($19), so I had to try it. I couldn’t taste or see the lobster and crab because of the thickness of the cheesy sauce. I could imagine seeing a recipe for this dip in my mother’s Better Homes Cookbook.

Michael picked out a dry white wine (Zestos, $12) to pair with the Mussels ($22). The broth was still steaming when our mussels arrived at our table. People always tell me mussels are so easy to make, but why don’t other restaurants make them like Big Fish? Each fat mussel was sweet and silky smooth.

L enjoyed the rich, fragrant broth of white wine, leek and creamy green curry. We alternated soaking up the sauce with the fresh bread that came with the mussels and the toasted bread that arrived with the artichoke dip. These were by far the best mussels I’ve consumed in Calgary.

The Fish Tacos ($19) were generously stuffed with red snapper, guacamole, lettuce and salsa. I could taste a slight sweetness from the tomato mango salsa and heat from the sriracha lime aioli. I liked how the tortilla was grilled and not dry in texture.

L wanted dessert, so we shared a slice of Pecan Pie ($12). I noticed the pie was heavy with the scorching hot pecans. L was a happy camper. I should encourage him to order dessert more often – he looked like a kid when he ate his pie.

L and I plan to return for the mussels, oysters and other dishes. Big Fish does seafood well, in refreshingly unpretentious digs. Hitting the Sauce gives Big Fish two phat thumbs up.

Mexican · Restaurants

Con Mi Tacos

On Sunday, I noticed L wasn’t his usual self. I had a feeling it was related to Calgary’s cold snap and the fact we haven’t gone on our yearly jaunt to Mexico. I suggested we brighten his day by ordering tacos and drinking Pacifico. For this post, let’s listen to “El Herradero” by Lola Beltran.

My go-to restaurants for Mexican are Con Mi Taco and Moose and Poncho. Con Mi specializes in freshly made tacos and seafood. Moose and Poncho serves up authentic dishes that are richly flavoured and hearty. Both spots are equally awesome. We ordered from Con Mi because they serve L’s favourite taco – al pastor.

I was impressed with the Prawn and Scallop Ceviche ($16). The ceviche came with three pieces of homemade sesame tostada. The crunchiness of the chip reminded me of a Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisp, only nuttier and thinner. The shrimp was crunchy and plump. The scallops were succulent, silky morsels. The amount of lime was perfect, there was just enough acidity that it didn’t overwhelm the natural sweetness of the seafood.

The peanuts added a nice clean crunch and it reminded me of corn nibs. I thought the strong melon flavour of the cucumbers complemented the peanuts and seafood. L doesn’t like cucumbers and even he liked this combination.

We shared the Al Pastor Kit ($33), which comes with 2/3 pound of pineapple chili marinated pork, ten freshly ground hand-pressed corn tortillas, lime wedges, onions, pineapple, cilantro, salsa morita and vegan jalapeño aioli.

L’s face lit up when he bit into his taco. The texture of the pork was velvety with a smoky flavour. I loved the fragrance of the corn tortillas. L noticed I was eating everything even though there was cilantro in it. I actually like cilantro in Mexican food, it’s just in Asian food I find the herb obnoxiously strong. Con Mi finely minces the cilantro, so the flavour is more delicate.

I also liked that the onion and pineapple salsas were finely diced because it provided tiny pops of flavour and texture. There was so much sweet pineapple that each one of our tacos got a heaping amount. L noted that Con Mi is as generous with the seafood as with the sauces and garnishes. There’s no skimping in quality or quantity here.

My new favourite dessert is the Passion Fruit Cream Churro ($6). The churro itself was sweet and crunchy, and tasted a little like apple pie. The passion fruit cream was fragrant and perfumed with citrus. I would order this again.

When we feel comfortable dining in again, we want to try the deep fried shrimp, fish and soft shell crab tacos. In the meantime, we’ll probably stick to the options that are easier to reheat at home, like the birria, beef cheek and asada.

If you haven’t gone, I would recommend checking out both Con Mi and Moose and Poncho. Some Vitamin B (beer) and Vitamin T (taco) will surely cure you of the winter time blues.

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.