I heard about the new taco and tequila joint through my Hamilton foodie buds! The restaurant is run by chef and owner, Manny Ferreira (former executive chef of Earth to Table Bread Bar) and a hardworking, attentive team. The atmosphere is casual, relaxing and cozy. They’ve got 90’s hip hop bumpin’ pretty loud to set a chill vibe. The space is small and only holds about 25-30 people including the seats at the bar. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a table. I’d say the decor is similar to Brux House with wooden fixtures, exposed brick, chalkboard drink menus and a beautifully organized bar. Natural light floods the space through two large windows during the day and dim Edison bulbs set an intimate atmosphere at night. Tables are set with a stack of plates, a tin of eating utensils and napkins, homemade jars of pickled vegetables (enoki mushrooms, cauliflower and peppers) and two sauces in squeeze bottles (also homemade).
I came here twice within a week. I was with my friends during my first visit, then met up with fellow Hamilton food bloggers during my second visit. It was my first time meeting a group of food enthusiasts in Hamilton and Mezcal was a perfect place to make it happen. My first visit almost flew by without a hitch… almost. It was a few days after their soft opening, so I wasn’t surprised when they got my order wrong. My second visit went much smoother. We took over the back of the restaurant with 11 people in our party. When foodies unite, we’ll share everything on the table.
Say hello to these happy eaters! Chanry (@TheRealCHANRY), Chere, Justin (@The_Jmoney), Priya (@_kitchen_WORLD), Judy (@Judskii), Sid, Rachel (@hungrynhamilton), Leslie (@HungryHamOnt) and Jonathan (@johnnywedekind).
For starters we ordered 2 or 3 things of guacamole n’ chips, salsa n’ chips, Cuban cicharones and jicama salad. Demolished them. The chips were fresh, hot and crunchy. I was able to pile on guac and salsa without it breaking into pieces. I favoured the guacamole more than the salsa because it was creamy, light and fresh. The cicharones were heavenly. Chunks of meaty and fatty pork rind covered in hot sauce and sprinkled with feta, it was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The crunch from the cabbage and pickles cut the salty, soft meat, it was a beautiful balance. Yea… it was just amazing, order it. The jicama salad was light and fresh. Great appetizers to start off the meal!
Got me all excited for the tacos. Since we had such a large group, we all sampled 3 tacos – crispy cauliflower, chorizo pastor and bistec adobo. To be honest, I was focused more on the conversations around me than tasting the food in my mouth. I was excited and curious about my buddies’ foodie experiences!
I think we all agreed that the cauliflower was our favourite. It was a combination of crunchiness, saltiness and sauciness with a bite. Of course cauliflower is a bit bland when it’s straight boiled, but when little bits are fried, they become delicious pebbles of goodness. The chorizo was an interesting mix of flavours. I’m not a fan of cooked pineapples on my pizza, so when I saw pineapples garnished on the taco, I was skeptical. I’m on the fence about the flavour and texture of this one. Although the pineapple added sweetness, I think I prefer my chorizo dishes to go all-out savoury and possibly heavy – like a good ole chorizo hash with runny eggs, nom. The last taco of the night was the bistec adobo. The meaty filling was topped with crunchy cabbage and a sprinkle of feta.
Overall, the combination of ingredients are more exciting than your average taco and the tortilla held everything together nicely. $5 for tacos is a bit steep but it’s worth it – once in a while!
Moving onto the dessert… possibly the best part of the meal. There are 2 options to choose from – arroz con leche (rice pudding) and chili chocolate tarro (chocolate lava cake). I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, so I immediately knew I’d enjoy the rice pudding over the chocolate cake. The rice pudding was comforting and warm with a hint of sweetness. It’s topped with a scoop of ice cream to loosen the creamy texture of the pudding and to create contrasting temperature flavours in your mouth! You can also find tiny grapes throughout – which was an interesting surprise. The chocolate cake came in a warm mason jar, luxurious and decadent.
I haven’t mentioned anything about the cocktails because I’m not much of a drinker. I also didn’t order any drinks during both of my visits. Other than special cocktails, they have a huge selection of tequila, Mezcal, beer and wine. Here are photos of some beautifully crafted cocktails!
Serving such a large party after their soft opening can be a bit intimidating but the staff took care of us. Between each taco, our plates would be swapped for clean ones, the table would be cleared, jars of pickled vegetables would be refilled and drinks would be refreshed. I’ll be back to to try everything else on the menu!