In 2012, Tres Carnales won our Best New Restaurant title. Now, for the second year in a row, it tops the Best Latin category. For anyone who loves authentic Mexican food, Tres Carnales is the closest thing we have to the roadside stands that inspired the three co-owners to open the restaurant. Even when temperatures plummet far below anything conceivable in Mexico, you can enter the bustling confines of Tres Carnales and warm up with a Pacific red snapper taco and a large pitcher of sangria. The vibe in the space with communal seating is extroverted and exciting, with Latin beats emanating from speakers on colourful walls. And while it’s always busy, soon the city will have even more options when it comes to Mexican food. The owners are looking to open another restaurant and, while it will be separate from Tres Carnales and have a completely different concept from the original location, it will still serve authentic Mexican food. Though, if the food is anything like its sister location, it’ll be just as difficult to find a place to sit in the new restaurant. -Caroline Barlott
Proof of Pampa’s worth lies in its decadent cuts of meat that just keep being served table-side until you finally switch your card from green to red. It’s a revolving door of deliciousness with more than 10 different types and styles of meat, all slow roasted and juicy, at your disposal. Careful not to take too much of any one meat because the beef top sirloin or the chicken thigh wrapped in bacon or the pork loin with Parmesan cheese might be next in line – and you don’t want to miss out. In-house baked breads, imported cheese, fresh greens and in-house made desserts round out a meal that goes beyond a simple footnote in your food journal. -C.B.
9929 109 St., 780-756-7030, pampasteakhouse.com
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Honourable Mention: CAFE DEL SOL
Part of the attraction of Caf Del Sol is the bric-a-brac – there are Catholic churches that don’t have as many Virgin Guadalupes on the walls. It only adds to the atmosphere of this family-run establishment. Homemade salsas, soups and tacos give you the feel that you’ve simply walked into someone’s kitchen where all the good stuff is laid out. Pork and beef fillings are cooked slowly, to bring out their flavour. The meat pulls apart easily. And, there’s the choice of up to four salsas, including a rich mild salsa and a bright red version that offers a bit more kick. But don’t be scared; it won’t burn away a layer from your tongue. It’s authentic and really charming. -Steven Sandor
6502 132 Ave., 780-758-8890, cafedelsol.ca
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