Tacos: they’re not just for Tuesday anymore

Blanco Cantina, 713 17th Avenue, SW...great place on Taco Tuesday...or any other day.

It used to be that you couldn’t go ten steps without coming across a Mexican restaurant in Calgary.

But even though there were spots a-plenty, the menus were pretty consistently standard: guacamole, tacos, burritos, enchiladas…and fried ice cream for dessert. And it pretty much tasted the same, from one place to the next.

Then there was an era when the Mexican food became more sophisticated, elevated to a level that perhaps we weren’t quite ready for in Calgary.

Today, there seems to be a balance between traditional Mexican food and the more popular dishes we’ve all come to expect, as well as Mexican mixed in with other concepts or cuisines.

On 17th Avenue, SW, there used to be a great place for Mexican, on the north side of the street around 5th Street, upstairs in a place with small rooms and big “platas”.  (If anyone remembers the name of it, tell me!) While it's not there anymore, on this quest I have come across two places of note for Mexican food on 17th Avenue, SW.

The first is Los Chilitos, (1309 17th Avenue, SW), and—true confession—I didn’t stop here during my food quest.  BUT I did eat at this nice little place less than a year ago and, as I recall, the food was very authentic and very delicious.  Large servings of enchiladas and a range of tacos (check out the “Stampede Tacos”) and some amazing special recipe dishes too. The restaurant itself is situated in an old house and, as a result, the tables wind around smaller nooks and rooms and make for an intimate feel—Los Chilitos also has an outdoor patio and I found out that they also have a booth at the Calgary Farmer’s Market (definitely worth checking out).

The other spot, Blanco Cantina is just east of 7th Street at # 713, has been on the Mile for just about two years.  They’ve got inside and outside dining (the exterior seats are set up so drinkers and diners can watch people pass by on the street), and the menu features more Tex-Mex offerings that strict Mexican.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Jillian and I decided to check them out Blanco, and I can testify to some really, really good guacamole, a very potent margarita (or did I have two?  I don’t remember and I didn’t care, I was walking), and we each had three soft tacos for our main meal, which filled us up pretty quickly.  The place has a party vibe to it (Los Chilitos is more of a family or quiet date night kind of place). Anyway, it was good and we were happy (also about the fact that Jillian and I hadn’t seen each other in a few months and had quite a lot to catch up on).
Tuesday night Taco special....

So I know I started out with a title that suggests that tacos aren’t just a Tuesday night special anymore—that you can have them anytime—they actually are on special on Tuesdays both at Los Chilitos and Blanco Cantina. And Jillian and I intentionally waited for a Tuesday to go and get a Mexican meal. 

So mark your calendars—or don’t, and just be spontaneous…but get out and try some Mexican on the Mile soon.