This Sh*t's Delicious

Exploring the world through cocktails, shit hole restaurants, and UrbanAg

Paloma Family Restaurant: Calgary’s Answer to Shitty Latin American Cuisine?

Summary: A great little family restaurant tucked away in a NE strip mall with friendly service and decent food.

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Paloma’s been on my hit list for a while. Most people have given up on Mexican food in Calgary, but I have not. In my quest to find that one little Mexican restaurant that can, I continue on. Paloma is not a "true Mexican” restaurant in that they serve up a range of Latin American dishes, but the focus is definitely on Mexican food.

When we finally made it there on that blistery day, Richard and I were pretty bemused to find that the restaurant co-existed with a lounge/bar right next to it. Kinda like Africana Eatery and Cheers Pub which is a full-blown restaurant….with a pub on the side. Things were looking promising…

The interior was pleasing but ultimately typical of authentic restaurant that no longer fall in the "hole in the wall" category.

Paloma Interior

The best word I can use to describe it would be "chintzy". It wasn’t overly gaudy, but at the same time, it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was the like the whole place was designed for short people. You looked up one foot and the decor changed from the typical hacienda to just a black ceiling with piping sticking out. There was also a giant 55" flat screen TV in the corner showing static to simulate that authentic Mexican taqueira feeling. The funny part was that there was TV in the exact opposite corner that was working just fine!

Kiran’s Take

The waitress brought out the standard green salsa with tortilla chips. The salsa was actually quite delicious with a nice spicy kick to it. We ordered guacamole as an appetizer as well, and unlike the one at Fine Diner, this one was actually good. Maybe just as good as the one at Anejo. I found myself licking the bowl clean with my fingers, so that’s usually a good sign. It was the right amount of tangy and salty. Perfect.

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Paloma actually had a surprisingly large amount of vegetarian dishes. I wanted to try Chilaquiles which is kinda this deep fried goodness of tortilla chips topped with cheese, onion, and salsa, but for some reason, they were "out of it". Which doesn’t make sense…who runs out of tortilla chips in a Mexican restaurant? Anyways, I ended up ordered enchiladas for 13.95. At first it seemed pricey, but it was a good sized dish that came with rice and refried beans on the side. It was a hearty meal. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the meal, but at the same time, I was stuffing my mouth with all that delicious salsa goodness. For a shitty -20 deg C Calgary night, it was very satisfying meal.


 

Richard’s Ruminations

For some reason, we have gotten into the habit of going to restaurants shortly before closing hour – in the case of Paloma, we strolled in around 8:30 while a large Spanish-speaking group seemed to be wrapping up a banquet of sorts.  Upon being seated, our Colombian waitress asked us if we spoke Spanish, as she didn’t have much confidence in her English – but it turned out to be passable (certainly orders of magnitude better than our Spanish).  The decor was an odd mix of pseudo-classy and 80′s ethnic restaurant – strangely charming

While we perused the menu, we were served some chips and house salsa – a nice smooth green salsa with a good kick, served severely chilled.  We ordered a guacamole to start, which turned out to be a great decision – garlicy, oniony and bowl-licking good.  I was having a little trouble deciding which main dish to pick out of their vast selection, but in the end decided on the Puntas de Filete a la Mexicana con Tequila – fajita-like dish comprising of sautéed steak tips, peppers and onions.  It was quite the mouthful to say, and as it turned out, many mouthfuls on the plate.  Unsurprisingly, rice and beans came as standard sides – the rice was quite nice, but the beans unremarkable.  The beef for my fajita was sadly mediocre, being overdone and with little flavour – though the peppers and onions were done very well, which helped salvage the dish.

December 4 008

While I wasn’t that impressed with my fajitas, the menu is varied enough to make me want to give it another shot in the future.

Summary

Paloma is like an upgraded version of Rico’s Tacos…if Rico’s Tacos managed to not get shot up in 5 years (we think it’s a front for selling drugs…but hey, the food is good, so who cares, right?). Like most ethnic restaurants, Paloma offers a huge and varied menu, so I wouldn’t mind going back to check out their Chilean dishes. While the food itself was nothing overly exciting, I had a pretty delicious and filling meal. Paloma is no Anejo, but it’s certainly no Julio’s Barrio either. The secret is in the salsa …

Ranking

Criteria

Kiran

Richard

Ambiance 3/5 3.5/5
Service 4/5 4/5
Taste 3.5/5 3.5/5
Originality Authenticity 4/5 4/5
Value 3.5/5 3.5/5
TOTAL 18/25 = 72% 18.5/25 = 73%

Paloma Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

2 responses to “Paloma Family Restaurant: Calgary’s Answer to Shitty Latin American Cuisine?

  1. Sabahat June 11, 2013 at 10:07

    Have you tried Las Tortillas in the NE?
    Its a hole in the wall for sure, but they make kickass tacos – tasty, fresh and just the right size. And great prices too!

    • Kiran Somanchi June 11, 2013 at 11:30

      I haven’t Sabahat. Thanks for the tip. Will check it out, along with another taqueria in Bridgeland I have been meaning to check out (opposite of the Fiddler’s Court).
      It is amazing how even the Taco Bell in US had better Mexican than Calgary. I am thinking it’s just the access to fresh produce – that seems to make all the diff with Mexican cuisine.

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