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Tag Archives: authentic mexican

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.

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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

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SO Much Tequila, Thanks NAFTA! An Intimate Review of Anejo, Calgary’s Newest Mexican Restaurant

Summary: An upscale casual Mexican-themed restaurant in Mission serving up delicious food along side Canada’s largest tequila menu. Prepare to be impressed.

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When I heard the newest kid on the restaurant block was a Mexican-themed restaurant from the owners of The Living Room, I was immediately intrigued. Calgary doesn’t have too many (good) Mexican restaurants in the first place, much less upscale casual ones, so I had to check it out. And it was worth it.

DSC01496Kent and I showed up on a bustling Friday night (Richard bitched out at a work xmas party) to their newly opened Mission location. Even though it was miserable weather, it was pretty hard to miss the only restaurant on the street, nay Calgary, with a huge flower-adorned skull next to the restaurant name.

We had to line up for about 10-15 min. before getting seated as the place was packed, but the restaurant has a pretty wide indoor "staging area" so you don’t have to freeze your ass off in winter. The restaurant itself was a Anejo,  Mission, Calgary, Mexicobit too dimly lit for my liking but maybe they are going for the lounge effect. The wall immediately to the right is adorned with Mexican artwork and the wall on the far back with all kinds of awesome tequila. Overall, the feeling is that of an upscale restaurant for a classy dinner date or a lounge where you can hang out with your mates and get trashed on expensive tequila. Either way, it works.

Kent & I decided to start off with the guacamole and tortilla chips while figuring out what to order from Anejo’s extensive tequila menu, which according to the server, is the largest in Canada (that’s when you know you have kinda made it as a city). The food menu, which was quite extensive, offers a more contemporary twist on traditional Mexican cuisines while still retaining some of the authentic flavours and customs. For instance, the guacamole was served in a lava-rock mortar and prepared table-side as we were watching. It’s also got the only restaurant in Calgary (maybe Western Canada?) that serves cactus in a salad. Awesome.

Anejo, Mexican, Mission, CalgaryWhile waiting for our appetizer, we went through the pretty massive tequila menu. For those who don’t know much about tequila other than the Jose Cuervo crap you shot as a university student, there’s five distinct types: blanco,  joven, reposado, and anejo. Blanco is the clear tequila that most people are familiar with; joven is a mixture of blanco and reposado,  reposado is any tequila that’s been aged for a minimum of 2 months, but less than 12 months in any oak barrel; and anejo is tequila that has been aged for a minimum of one year, but maximum of three in small oak barrels. There’s also the extra-anejo which is aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, but that tends to be not as common…and way more expensive.

Anejo, Mexican, Living Room, Mission, Calgary The guac is the best we have ever eaten. Made fresh at the table in a lava-rock mortar, the only way to top this is for the staff to fly you to an avocado farm and hand feed it to you. Its fresh.  Never has there been guacamole this good in Calgary – flavoured with nothing but serrano/jalapeno salt, onions, and tomatoes, and lime juice, this was nothing if not finger-licking good. Seriously. I was literally scraping the last bits of guacamole in the mortar with my finger and licking it dry – it was that good! My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough dip for the amount of chips given.

Kiran’s Judgement

Anejo, Tequila, Reposado, Blanco, Mission, Calgary, MexicanAnejo offers three 1 oz. drink flights. I ordered a "Vertical Flight" which means I got to sample one type of tequila (resposado) from three different distilleries (Asombroso, Excellia, and Baluarte). The cost of a flight is the total of each drink minus a $4 discount, so depending on the drinks in your flight, it can get expensive pretty quick.

I loved my flights. My favourite was definitely the Excellia which had a hint of sweetness and went down real smooth. My palate isn’t developed enough to pick up other aromas and flavours, but I am working on it (while writing this article ;D). It’s too bad Excellia isn’t sold at my local Co-op otherwise I would have bought it by now!

For the main course, I went with veggie tacos and chills rellenos. The former came with six, SIX different types of salsas and hot sauces. I was too wasted by the time the food came out to remember the names…all I remember is I couldn’t have enough of the hot sauces and the salsas. I rolled my eyes when the server was emphatic about the salsas packing a punch, but I take it back. I was pretty impressed by the amount of heat AND flavour each salsa or hot sauce packed. If that wasn’t enough, Anejo’s Executive Chef also has a house GHOST PEPPER hot sauce which I was super-impressed with – it wasn’t crazy hot like the store-bought ones and at the same time, packed lots of flavour. Hats off, sir.

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The chills rellenos was also pretty fantastic. I have never had one with rice before, so it was an interesting take on it. The rice had too much bite for my liking, but apart from that, it was a tasty and well-made dish. I have now had chills rellenos from every Mexican restaurant I have been too, and this one, IMHO, is the best out there. Well done.

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Kent’s 2 Cents

I’m not much of a tequila drinker and was hesitant to try their high-end selection. I tried the "Horizontal Flight" where I got to try blanco, reposado, and anejo varieties from one distillery (Centinella). Although I couldn’t tell much of a difference between reposado and anejo, I can definitely confirm that its better tasting than the nightclub tequila shots, which I’m pretty sure is just low-octane gasoline. I’m moving up in the world.

I was very impressed with the selection of sauces for the tacos – all made in house and there was something for everyone. A few forgiving ones, but mostly very hot and enjoyable. The ghost pepper sauce was incredibly spicy, but in a way that still had flavor and didn’t burn your digestive tract.

The tequila mac & cheese came out in a very large portion. I unfortunately was not hungry anymore after having the guacamole and tacos. The cheese was rich and creamy, but it was a bit salty for my taste. The panko sprinkled on the top was a nice touch, I think it should be used on everything. I wanted to finish it, but just couldn’t by this point.

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Summary

I think I have my new favourite restaurant in town. From classy drinks to good comfort food, Anejo has it all. Even though it was a packed house, the service was top notch and on par with the food. The fact that they are doing something different from other typical ethnic eateries always excites me. Anejo is going to do to Mexican what Mango Shiva did to Indian – upscale, trendy, and the place to be. A definite must-see!

-Kiran

RANKING

Kiran

Kent

Ambiance 4/5 5/5
Service 5/5 4.5/5
Taste 4.5/5 4.5/5
Originality 4/5 4.5/5
Value 3.5/5 3.5/5
TOTAL 21/25 = 84% 22/25 = 88%

Anejo Restaurant on Urbanspoon