Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Tacos are Coming

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have a small infatuation with tacos.  OK...maybe not so much an infatuation, but rather an outright obsession.  I can't help it.  And I'm not talking Old El Paso or Taco Bell here...I'm taking handmade soft corn tortillas, fresh ingredients and traditional flavours.

My problem started years ago with travel through California and Mexico.  I was introduced to what tacos REALLY should taste like, and since then I've been ruined.  Whether it's LA style carnitas, Baja fish tacos or even the pork brain tacos of the Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana...it's all beautiful and delicious.  After my last trip to Southern California I came home and immediately bought a tortilla press.  It's taken several failed attempts and endless nights slaving over a hot stove, but I think I've finally gotten the hang of the tortilla.  Since then I've been putting basically anything I can into a tortilla and subjecting close friends to "taco parties" against their free will.

Taco time @ home

Up until recently, there were few worthwhile taco options in Ottawa.  But that all seems to be changing now.  We've got a long way to go to catch up to other large cities, but that's typical for our local food scene.  So, for now let's just enjoy what we have and support our local "Taquerias"!

Here's where you can find some of Ottawa's best tacos;

The Piggy Market is a craft butcher and gourmet food store in Ottawa's Westboro neighborhood.  They have a daily lunch counter which offers tacos every Thursday. The handmade tortillas and succulent local meats make for one of my favorite stops through town.

Piggy Market's Cochinita Pibil Taco

Stone Soup Foodworks, Ottawa's lone gourmet food truck does Taco Tuesday every week.  Situated on  Marie Curie Dr on the University of Ottawa Campus Monday through Friday lunch, this truck has become a hotspot for streetfood loving students and professionals seeking fresh and healthy alternatives to fast food.

Stone Soup's Beef Tacos

The Whalesbone offers fish tacos during their famous "Brown Bag Lunch" every Tuesday to Saturday 11-2pm at their Kent St retail location.  This local institution in sustainable fish supply is the place to go if you love seafood in your tortillas!

Whalesbone's Octopus Tacos

TacoLot is the newest kid on the scene and on their first day last week they were already sold out by 1:30pm.  Although they have yet to set up a website or social media accounts, they can be found in on Wellington St in Hintonburg, right beside Suzy Q Doughnuts (which makes for a very tasty combination).  Hours are12-9pm, however since they are just getting started it is likely that for the time being those hours are no guarantee.

TacoLot's pork tacos

Los Tacos de Mauro is a hidden gem at 349 Dalhousie St. in the Byward Market. Sharing space with a Latin Discoteka, they are open 11-9pm Tuesday to Friday.  Here Mauro Rosario's tacos are served along side other traditional favorites like chile rellenos, tamales and tortas. 

Lamb, Chicharrón, and Chicken tacos.

Mercado Latino on Montreal Rd in Vanier is a specialty grocery store that cooks up tacos every Saturday from 12-2pm.  Don't be shy to ask about the tacos, they aren't advertized anywhere.  There is likely only one meat option available, so just tell the store clerk how many you want and she will head to the back to whip them up.  There is a small table located in the front where you can sit and enjoy lunch, or they will pack it up for take out as well.  It's deliciously messy and the most authentic street tacos you can get in Ottawa.

Mercado's Tacos de Pollo

So there you have it. There are a couple other restaurants with tacos on their menu, but in my humble opinion these are the most worth your while.  It's a pretty good start for our to city really embrace the taco, and I'm glad I am no longer alone in my obsession.

And as the back of my card says;

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