I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to realize that Cinco de Mayo actually meant the fifth of May.
But I’m no clearer on the meaning or importance of this Mexican holiday. To quote a favourite Cake song, “I don’t know much about Cinco de Mayo, I’m never sure what it’s all about.”
But this mysterious hispanic holiday always gets me in the mood for some south of the border grazing.
If it’s important enough for the White House to celebrate, then it seems appropriate enough for Savour Winnipeg to present a roundup of Winnipeg restaurants offering some southern flavours.
Burrito del Rio – 433 River Ave
Burrito del Rio’s interior is a cheerful interpretation of a hacienda courtyard, the focal point an order counter accented with beautiful hand-painted tiles. Above, a vibrantly chalked menu board lays it all out, burritos of course taking centre stage.
Diners are offered a choice of fillings: Carnitas (essentially Mexican braised pulled pork), Barbacoa (beef slow cooked over an open flame), Pollo Achiote (seasoned chicken), Camardines (shrimp), and Vegetarian.
Casa Burrito – 520 Portage Ave
A favourite haunt of University of Winnipeg students and downtown denizens alike, Casa Burrito is Winnipeg’s first, and probably best, taqueria.
This bright, modern space is the perfect backdrop to some fantastic food including chorizo, braised chicken, smoky flank steak, spiced soy, bean and cheese, new curried lentil burritos and quesedillas. Casa Burrito boasts a great selection of Mexican Jarritos soft drinks and a liquor license is in the works.
Carlos & Murphy’s – 129 Osborne Street
Carlos & Murphy’s has been doing great insult to Mexican and Tex-Mex influenced food for far too long. At a time when it was all us Winnipeggers could get, it was an understandable staple. With plenty of alternatives it remains, however, an inexplicably popular hang-out. For the sturdy of stomach, test your tolerances on their nachos, fajitas, quesedillas, burritos, tacos, enchiladas and chimichangas.
Hermano’s – 179 Bannatyne Ave
This beuatiful brick and wood beam space has been waiting for a successful concept, having been home to the garlic inspired bar Gilroy and failed expansion of the Taste of Sri Lanka food court concept. Finally it’s found a winner in Hermano’s. Opened in October 2009, Hermano’s serves an astounding assortment of dishes with influences from Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Spain to name a few. Live entertainment often leads to dancing.
Cafe Dario – 1390 Erin Street
Occupying a nondescript building on the corner of a commercial zone in Winnipeg’s west end, Colombian born chef Dario Gutierrez delivers some truly sophisticated dishes at one of Winnipeg’s best deals – a $30 five course prix fixe menu that changes weekly. Also look for his new location, The Maple Tree, in Selkirk.
La Fiesta Cafecito – 730 St. Anne’s Rd
La Fiesta’s friendly and attentive staff serve beautifully authentic El Salvadorian fare in a suburban setting.
Handmade Pupusas (corn tortilla pockets) are a must, filled with beans, cheese, pork or combinations of the three they’re cooked on a traditional earthenware grill called a comales.
Also not to be missed are the fried Enchiladas, crispy tortilla shells topped with ground beef or shredded chicken, artfully topped with a slice of hard boiled egg. La Fiesta also makes fantastic burritos and tamales.