New eateries with tacos both fancy and authentic have popped up in Ottawa in recent months. Here's what five of them served the Citizen's restaurant critic.
Dining Out: Taco tour of Ottawa finds well-made beauts and sloppy bores
by Alex Lopez
1489 Merivale Rd., 613-695-7899, casa-mexico.ca
I’ve taken a taco tour of Ottawa in recent weeks, grazing at some of the newer places that focus on that sometimes more, sometimes less, Mexican treat. Below, in lieu of full-sized reviews, are my findings following some single-visit spot checks.
Silvia and Marco Martinez came to Canada in 2013 from Acapulco and about a month ago the couple opened Casa México in a Merivale Road strip mall just south of Baseline Road, replacing their sandwich shop that was called Passport Café. The rebranded business is humble, with its cooking area in plain view beside the cash. But the eatery is colourfully and festively decorated, and service here, especially if you can speak a smidgen of Spanish, was warm and personal.
A half-dozen tacos were available on corn tortillas sturdy enough to contain their slow-cooked, shredded proteins. Tacos here were right-sized, neither too small nor overloaded, and minimally garnished. Most flavourful were the tacos filled with pork adobo, chicken mole and Mexican chorizo with potatoes. Shredded beef and pork tacos benefitted from the boost of green salsa brought to the table. The shredded pork (carnitas) tacos would have been better with a finishing sear to make the meat crispy.
Still, these were basic but good tacos worth a visit (especially at $4 a piece), and the fine, flavourful tortilla soup ($8), house-made and not-too-sweet tamarindo drinks ($3.50) and Latin music sounds added to my positive impression of this no-frills but charming place.