When you walk through the doors of Tres Carnales, it’s like entering a party, thanks to the thump of Latin music, brightly painted walls and communal seating. The owners are three homeboys (carnales, in Mexican slang) whose goal is to bring authentic Mexican food to Edmonton – no Tex-Mex here, just plenty of house-made salsas, guacamole, tacos, quesadillas, carnitas and tortas. While the dishes might be closer in style to Mexico than Edmonton, there’s still a stronglocal connection. Much of the protein (think beef brisket, braised pork shoulder, chorizo sausage) comes from within 200 kilometres of the city and is always used fresh. And, like any good party, the three friends serve up plenty of pitchers of sangria – again, don’t expect any deviations from the real thing, just lots of wine, fruit juices, liqueur and even fresh fruit.-Caroline Barlott 10119 100A St., 780-429-0911, trescarnales.com
Runner-Up: PAMPA BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE
While Brazil is primarily known for its soccer, samba and the Amazon, itshould also be known that no one does all-you-can-eat like the Brazilians- rodizio being the perfection of the form. Waiters saunter around theroom with skewers of meat, stopping at diners’ requests for a cut ofparmesan pork, bacon-wrapped chicken, or charcoal-grilled steak. Takeoff your jacket, get a hearty helping of salad at the cold buffet, and get nestled at your table. Because once a server stops for the first time at your table, it will be a while before the festival stops. -Caleb Caswell 9929 109 St., 780-756-7030, pampasteakhouse.com
Honourable Mention: CAFE DEL SOL
Cafe Del Sol is a hole in the wall in a Belvedere strip mall. But don’t judge the book by its cover. This is a family-run establishment that offers authentic Mexican food. And, expect to wait in line on the weekends, as word-of-mouth has made this a go-to destination for Mexican dishes. This might bethe only place in Edmonton that reminds me of the great family-run tacoshops you’ll find throughout the American southwest. And Cafe Del Sol isyour best choice for ceviche (a weekend special) in the city – a strongblend of tomato flavours and fresh seafood. -Steven Sandor 6502 132 Ave., 780-802-5393, cafedelsol.ca
If you can get vaccinated before the end of summer, will you consider going on vacation?