Last week, El Mariachi opened its doors alongside the shops of 124 St. Yesterday was their grand opening, a celebration of Latin foods and free tacos for all who came between 4pm and 8pm! I was merely doing my usual scan of #yegfood on social media when I came across a tweet promoting the event. Perfect timing too, I had a dinner with my friend Alex in two hours time in the downtown area. A taco can’t hurt right? Now who to drag with me… who likes free food… Joshua! So we drove down to the area to make it to the 5pm crowd.
The shop is small, lined with three rows of various Latin products and two coolers in the back. Ohhh, sopes! Looks exactly like the ones Joe and I got at Hawkers Market.
I arrived earlier than Josh to quickly scope out the place. When I hit the chips section, I nearly jumped for joy. My last trip in January was to Cancun and I frequented plenty gas stations to stock up on Crujitos, a spicy, cheesy spiral, similar to our cheese puffs here. I have a slight addiction to chips, so when I saw their selection of spicy, lime-y flavours, ahhhh swoon. I will be back to try all of you!
The shelves were filled with various sauces and spices. A whole section for salsas, re-fried beans, and the most interesting of all, mole! Perhaps I don’t delve into the ethnic foods section of the grocery stores enough, but I have never seen mole in a can or jar before. I can ease my way into cooking Mexican food now but using these sauces!
I thought the chips section was impressive… then I saw dried chili. Bags and bags of various kinds of dried chili. Oh, this is a dangerous section for me. I suspect that if I ever want to make sauces from scratch for Mexican night, I will be using these bad boys.
There was a taco station set up, seven (!) different kinds. A plate was for two tacos, although I’m sure if I asked we could have tried them all. I knew I was only able to take a bite of each taco for fear of being too full for dinner in an hour, which is where my friend Josh comes in. He’s a big guy and he will eat anything I can’t finish. What we ended up with: pork carnitas (braised pork shoulder), rajas con creme (roasted poblano peppers with creamed corn), chorizo (spicy pork sausage), and pork (I think?) in a mole sauce. A separate table showcased all types of salsa, hot sauces, and guacamole to add to your liking.
They were amazing. Definitely no Tres Carnales, but felt like more like home cooked, comfort food. My favourite was the rajas con creme, something entirely new to me. Creamy, sweet from the corn, heat from the peppers, whoa! Their tortillas were thicker than what I’m use to, although preferable than two layered thin tortillas that some restaurants serve.
Which brings me to my last question. Who made these tacos? El Mariacha is a Latin product shop, rather than a restaurant. Asking the lady who served our tacos, she replied that they made it themselves. She pointed to a back room and told us that eventually it will become a small eat in/take out restaurant serving up exactly what we were eating. Hot tamale, I’m excited! The restaurant portion is expected to open next month, but judging from the completely empty back room, I think it could take longer. Can’t wait to try more tacos!
Great addition to 124 St and not too far from the main hub of restaurants and shops closer to Duchess. Until my next visit, I’ve got Crujitos chips to slowly ration out and savour (can’t feed the addiction too quickly!), and picked up a churro kit. Churros! Complete with a bag to pipe out the mixture into your frying pan. Can’t wait to try! For more photos of what they have available in the shop, visit their website or Facebook page!
10991a 124 St Nw