Though Montreal isn’t exactly a capital for the spicy food of our southern friends, there are a few hotspots around to satiate cravings for a more authentic Mexican food experience. The faceoff: Tequila Taco House versus La Matraca.
Round 1: Tequila Taco House
Their interior may be small, but the high ceilings with tall shelves supporting earthenware pottery and desert plants gives it a comfortable and open feel. A waitress arrives instantly with water, menus, and preemptive bowls of hot sauces. You know you’re in for a fun night when every table is filled with margaritas and festive salsa music is playing in the background.
Before sinking your teeth into a main course, try the guacamole nachos as an appetizer. The guac is homemade with the summery tang of lime that goes great with the oily bitterness of the thick cut corn nachos. For colder weather, there’s the Aztec soup. Though salty, the taco shells lining the bottom do well to offset this, and the cheese and sour cream swirled on top are irresistible.
For the indecisive, the waitress enthusiastically recommends the Tequila Taco special. It has a little of everything, and is perfect for sharing. It comes with four soft tacos with two shrimp balls each that are fried in cornbread. Served with spicy mayo, a corn-herb-rice medley, chunky tomato salsa, and a side of nachos speared into a dollop of refried beans and cheese, it is positively filling. As a side comment, their food presentation gets a top grade.
As for drinks, the margaritas are where it’s at. The lime was maybe a bit salty, but the fabulous Jamaican margarita is reminiscent of an amaretto sour with tequila.
In all, it’s not exactly cheap, averaging at $12 a dish, but the food is quality enough to make it worthwhile.
Round 2: La Matraca
Anyone looking for the Mexican equivalent of a Belle Province, look no farther! La Matraca is a diner with quirk, from its signs about la etiqueta del taco, to its corkboards crammed with photos of satisfied customers, to the “I <3 Tacos” t-shirts for sale.
The menu is a DIY checklist allowing for a mix-and-match of different dishes. While there isn’t any guacamole, they do have a savoury bean and Mexican sausage entrée soup, that I highly recommend. The flautas, taco-cheese rolls with a bean dip, are great for a group of friends to split.
The main dishes are a wide array of tacos, sandwiches, and burritos. The guera is the highlight of the menu, a flour tortilla with seasoned beef and cheese improved only by copious amounts of the three types of spicy sauces provided. For dragon-people who like to feast on fire, La Matraca’s hot scale for these sauces starts at around a 6 and hovers comfortably at a 9.
Their unique beverage selection includes milky sweet agua de Horchata, agua de Jamaica (a homemade ice tea), and fizzy apple soda.
Prices range from $5-8, but the portions are small and the prices reflect this.
The quality of Tequila Taco House gives it first place, but both are worth checking out. I suggest taking a date to Tequila Taco House, and friends to La Matraca!
Tequila Taco House is located on 2 Sherbrooke East St.
La Matraca is located on 4607 St-Denis St.