Last Wednesday I got tired of drooling over everyone’s instagrammed taco platters and decided to do something about the mean taco craving I have had since Native Tongues Taqueria opened on Canada Day. Hubby and I were on 17th last week, only a short five block walk from Native Tongues Taqueria located at 235 12th Ave SW. I thought that maybe they wouldn’t be too busy on a Wednesday night but boy was I wrong! We were told the wait might be as long as 45 minutes but since we had had a few recent nibbles, hubby hadn’t yet reached the pinnacle of his ‘hangry mode’. We added our names to the wait list. Our wait outside was rather pleasant as the weather was really gorgeous and after only about 20 minutes we were called inside and seated at one of the long communal tables.
This is a serious taco stand. The chairs are not ‘stay all night’ comfortable and you get to know your neighbours quite well. That said, there is a lot going on with the space, making it a feast for the eyes. The whole space is ‘creatively distressed’ with tinny Mexican style and decorated longhorn skull wall hangings. The distressed turquoise walls make a stark contrast to the blue and white tiled portions around the kitchen and bar areas and the height adjustable Grillworks artisanal grill is definitely a show stopper.
The menu is one long sheet of paper with ordering spaces on the end of each dish listing. You are meant to indicate how many of each dish you would like, bearing in mind that since the tacos range from $3.75-$4, this price should reflect that they are single tacos. Don’t be like the people next to us and order one of each and then wonder why you only get a small platter of tacos. There are also larger dishes, like the Barbacoa de Cordero (slow roasted lamb neck) and Chorizo Verde (house made herb and green chile sausage) that are meant more for sharing with a group. These larger dishes come with a stack of non-GMO corn tortillas made in the traditional way by chefs Cody Willis (founder and co owner), Ryan McNamara, Scott Beaton and JM Mailloux. Every day they take 20 kg of corn and soak it in an alkaline solution to remove the outer hull. The resulting kernels are dried, then ground into masa which is the traditional corn flour used for making tortillas. The freshness and authenticity are evident in the finished product because these tacos are indeed, outstanding.
We chose to ease into our feast by ordering the Chips y Guacamole, Elotes, and Esquites. I am awfully picky about my guacamole and this one was the stuff of legends, being deliciously creamy with a slight flavour of onion and lime; all topped with fresh jalapeños AND enough tortilla chips to finish the dip. Absolutely perfect.
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I’m glad we tried both the Elotes and Esquites even though they seem to be essentially the same dish; the largest difference was that the corn kernels were left on the cob for the Elotes. They both had a similar crema/mayo sauce and were topped with queso, chile, cilantro, and lime.
Then came the tacos. We ordered one of each except for the Frijoles (next time…I promise!). They came with salsa verde and salsa rojo and each had a substantial amount of filling for the size of the tortilla.
After those dishes, hubby declared himself full and I was a bit disappointed because I wanted to try more dishes, especially the grilled octopus (Pulpo). I guess that leaves some new dishes for the next time we visit and we will go again because I can’t stop thinking about their perfect margaritas, made with mezcal instead of tequila.
Native Tongues Taqueria
235 12 Ave SW, Calgary