Café Cantina Taqueria brings sexy Mexican dishes to Point St. Charles
Marianne Larochelle, co-owner of Café Cantina Taqueria in up-and-coming Point St. Charles, says the neighbourhood needed some Tex-Mex. Her plan? Quesadillas, quinoa salad, killer cocktails, and “naked burritos” – slow-cooked chicken, pork, beef, or roasted sweet potatoes on brown rice with homemade guacamole, salsa, peppers, cherry tomatoes, black beans and sour cream. NIGHTLIFE.CA sat down with Marianne to inquire about the café’s conception and whether gluten-free is really as sexy as it sounds.
Why did you think Tex-Mex would fly in the Point?
We looked all around the city and tried to find a place with potential. Point St. Charles is next to downtown and the rent is cheap. Brunch is even picking up. We didn’t know about the neighbourhood, but it was a nice surprise. My partner Serge is from Paris and I’m from Quebec, but we moved here five years ago from California and missed the healthy, quality ingredients and the taquerias – the Mexican dives on every corner. So we try to combine those and make food we like to eat.
Is that jalapeño and tequila in my Bloody Juanita?
Yes. We’re working on our drink menu. We did a couple tryouts with coriander, and some with chocolate and rum. We also do fresh juices and smoothies.
So these burritos don’t like clothes?
It’s just the skin. The “naked” burritos don’t have the tortilla. I think it makes people sexy to watch what they eat. Gluten-free doesn’t have to be bland. We have a great quinoa salad with cilantro and feta, and the tacos are gluten-free, but I like the naked burrito best – it’s my baby. The pork carnitas are popular too. Serge, my other half did all the meat stuff. My dream is to have just local, organic food. To me it’s not fancy; it’s back to the roots.
Café Cantina Taqueria
1880 Centre | Métro Charlevoix
EL REY DEL TACO
El Rey del Taco spices up the north side of Jean-Talon market with some of the best Mexican snack food around: beef tongue tacos and cactus salad for adventurous eaters, pork tacos al pastor with pineapple or braised lamb for comfort-seekers, and homemade tomatillo and chipotle salsas paired with quartered limes for all. A fresh squeezed juice table and a small terrace turn the restaurant into a market hotspot come summer, while winter pushes brunch-seekers inside the cozy room for huevos rancheros and chocolate churros. Bring home the fiesta with marinated beef by the pound and flour tortillas to go.
El Ray Del Taco
232 Jean-Talon East | Métro Jean-Talon
CARTEL STREET FOOD BAR
International Taco Fusion
Despite its tourist-heavy Crescent Street location, Cartel does quality Mexican street food at a fair price. Thanks to a chef with a full passport after restaurant stints in Asia, America, and Mexico, the menu branches out to Peking-style duck crepes, 48-hour marinated Kuala Lumpur chicken skewers, lobster rolls, and oysters. Choose from six kinds of snack-sized tacos including beer-battered fish or shrimp, organic pulled pork with house-made guacamole, grass-fed beef short-rib or steak with tomatillo sauce, and free-range duck with chanterelle mushrooms, caramelized shallots and sour cream, all served on soft corn tortillas.
Cartel Street Food Bar
1422 Crescent | Métro Guy | cartelstreetfood.com
Tequila Taco does good business in both its namesakes, especially during happy hour Monday to Wednesday when margaritas are two-for-one. An affordable menu and prime location pack the restaurant at lunch, but the tequila selection (from inexpensive shooters to high-end sips) lures the evening crowd. From the tex-mex menu: surprisingly filling plates of four sweet-and-spicy pork tacos al pastor with rice, refried beans and complimentary homemade nachos and salsa; bigger appetites stick to carne asada beef burritos. Save the last dregs of margarita to cool the fire of the habanero salsa (there’s also sour cream for the virgins out there).
2 Sherbrooke East | Métro St-Laurent