Authentic (?) Canadian Mexican Cuisine

Review

Tres Carnales

Eloquently translated by Google as the “Three Carnals (Mexican Restaurant)”, Taqueria Tres Carnales has been a go-to restaurant for the gastronomically literate Edmontonians since early 2012.

For good reason too.

Some friends and I went to unwind Friday after work and were greeted by a bustling, pleasantly full restaurant.

We were promptly seated (we got there at 4:50, you may not be so lucky on a Friday afternoon) and ordered two of the combination plates, a pitcher of sangria and a batch of chips and guacamole.

The service was fast and non-obtrusive, and you were asked if you wanted an explanation of the foreign-sounding food before the wait staff proceeded to butcher the Spanish language as they described the menu items.

Muy bueno

Muy bueno

Our food arrived within 30 minutes or so, and we we had ample time to chat and enjoy the rather violent sounding Latin hip hop and rap that reverberated throughout the restaurant.

My coworker (and Latin thug music aficionado) graciously informed me that the song that was playing was not actually Mexican, but was instead from some other Spanish speaking South American nation.

I work with a tough crowd..

I work with a rough crowd…

The guacamole was chunky, delicious and vibrant. The vegetables were fresh, and nothing was over-complicated. It was just good, simple guacamole.

Instead of corn chips, Tres Carnales fried quadrants of soft-shell taco wrappers as a great alternative.

Seriously, you don’t get any of the grittiness of corn husks and they’re just as crunchy.

I forgot to take a picture, so here's one off GIS.

I forgot to take a picture, so here’s one off Google.

The sangria tasted somewhat watered down, but hey, there was a pitcher of it and it was alcoholic, what more could you want?

The tacos, however, were the best part of the meal (as they should be).

Said tacos.

Said tacos.

Our combination plate came with one of each of the meat-based tacos on the menu and the majority of them were superb.

At the time we went, Tres Carnales offered:

  • Carne Deshebrada – Beef short rib slow braised with mortita chiles and tomatoes
  • Pollo – Marinated and roasted locally farmed chicken
  • Cochinita Pibil – Yucatecan style Alberta pork shoulder
  • Chorizo – House-made mexican ground chorizo sausage
  • Al Pastor – Slow roasted, marinated pork
  • Some other chicken (pollo) taco which is no longer listed on the website
I actually took this one.

Obligatory close-up

The pork and beef tacos were perfectly cooked, tender, juicy and flavorful. The soft-shell tortillas were also on-point and were wonderfully fresh.

The two chicken tacos were on the salty side, but didn’t take away from the rest of the dish.

Dessert came in the form of three shots of Corzo Silver tequila.

Dessert tequila should be a thing.

Dessert tequila should be a thing.

We were informed that the restaurant did not provide salt or limes as Corzo Silver is apparently a “sipping tequila”.

This was somewhat confusing as they gave us the tequila in motherfucking shot glasses.

The Good

  • Fun environment
  • Delicious, finely-cooked meats
  • Fresh guacamole/produce
  • Speedy service
  • Good choice of tequila
  • Relatively budget-friendly

The Bad

  • Salty chicken
  • Mangled Spanish (and I don’t even speak Spanish)
  • Somewhat mediocre sangria

The Ugly

  • To quote Jeff Pocaro (drummer and leading creative force behind Toto): 

    “… a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.”

    For a lack of better explanation, Tres Carnales is to Mexican food as Africa is to…well…Africa.

    This place

    This place.

    Don’t get me wrong, Africa is one of my favorite songs, and Tres Carnales is a great restaurant that provides delicious mexican-style food in a fun and vibrant atmosphere.

Painting of stereotypical Mexican man

Complete with painting of stereotypical Mexican man

However, you get the the feeling that the inspiration behind the restaurant comes from travel ads and bad Mexican dramas as opposed to actual experience or…you know… Mexican people.

I’ve never met the owners, so I could be wrong.

Next time I’ll keep a lookout for decapitated students and bricks of cocaine and we’ll know for sure.

Tres Carnales Taqueria on Urbanspoon

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