In continuation of our monthly food adventures, this month found us chilling in a relaxed Mexican cantina serving typical Mexican food such as fish tacos and burritos. Maybe it was also some funny twist of fate that prior to coming to this restaurant, I borrowed an illustrated biography of Frida Kahlo. I got hooked on her very colorful and very “telenovela” type of life. Her fight to continue living (albeit she died early) is a testament of the spirit’s strength to find purpose, love, and a place of belongingness. Could it be I was also brought here to this restaurant to experience a piece of her culture? Yes, I’ve eaten Mexican food and dined in Mexican establishments, but none were close to the authenticity of this place. Of course, once arriving at the restaurant, a large mural of her was there to capture her iconic glory.

A large mural of Frida Kahlo. She was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country’s popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.
Source: Frida Kahlo – Wikipedia

The interiors are cozy and rustic. From this bar area and the catchy Spanish tunes playing in the background, you can imagine this place come alive in the evenings, with diners and patrons enjoying cerveza over scrumptious finger foods, to which Mexican dishes fit the bill.

I know I’ve mentioned other restaurant we visited being homey and comfortable but I think Chilitos Taberna has done it on a different level. There  aren’t lavish or expensive decors, no hanging chandeliers, or glassware. Instead, you will feel almost too comfortable to arrive in shorts and slippers. It has the feel of being invited to actually “feel-at-home” wherein the host offers you drinks from a well-prepared bar, and you can put your feet up while enjoying a cigar at the patio under the stars. 

This restaurant has a spacious patio that uses festive colorful vibes for its tables and chairs, perfect for lounging in while people watching over the busy downtown street.

The weather was cold and a bit gloomy during our stay but we were able to stay at the patio area since the area was protected by large covers to protect us from potential rain. 

Sure we didn’t experience the lively “bar” ambiance but I think we were at the right place to feel the homey lull of siesta. No, we didn’t take a nap, but it was a good place to have a midday meal before we took a nap once we got home. The place is warm, comfortable, and intimate, with a very helpful server, who answered my questions regarding the menu since it was our first time there.

 

Frida Kahlo. Cazadores Blanco, grapefruit juice, lime, orgeat syrup, angostura bitters.

I love Mojitos. It was my plan to order one but when I saw this drink at the top of their cocktail drinks, I just had to try it. Call it a bit of my tribute to whom this drink is named after.

Guacamole and Chips. Jalapeno, onion, cilantro, corn chips.

These nacho chips are unlike any chips you bought in stores. Perfectly crunchy but less salty although not altogether bland. They also don’t crumble easily. They go perfectly with the guacamole that has a slight kick into it. 

 

Beef Quesadillas. Flour tortilla grilled with cheese served with house salsa, sour cream, and corn chips on the side.

Enough filling that goes well with the salsa and hot sauces that are available on the table. I’ve had a disappointing experience at a mall, wherein I ordered quesadillas in a food court and they were so thin I wasn’t even sure there was filling in there. So yea, this dish alone will fill your stomach just right.

Tacos. My usual experience in ordering tacos involves ordering those in set of 2 or 3 and they can be too large for me to finish. In this restaurant, I found it delightful to have the option to order just a piece of taco and they aren’t too big either so I can try varieties if I want to. That was what we were able to do.

From top-bottom, L-R: Chorizo, Mexican sausage, cilantro, salsa macha. Mushroom, mushroom, spinach, onion, corn, chipotle sauce, mozarella. Cochinita, slow cooked pork in achiote sauce, pickled red onions. Barbacoa, shredded beef and onion in adobo sauce. Pescado, panko crusted haddock, guacamole, lettuce, mayo, salsa de la casa.

Tres Leches Pancakes. Buttermilk pancakes infused with sweetened tres leches milk sauce. Topped with cherry, and whipped cream. 

We already had orders of sour, spicy and salty. Why not indulge in a bit of sweet? Especially since my toddler loves pancakes. Plus this is a delectable way of having pancakes. No need for butter of syrups. The milk itself is very alluring to see and once you get a bite, you would want to have more.

 

Mexican Coca Cola. Mexican coke sweetened with cane sugar.

We’ve already heard about this and since we found this here we decided to try it. It tastes like the Coca Cola we know of but not as sweet and it felt like it has more fizz. 

Churros. Chocolate and dulce de leche dipping sauce.

Why not cap of this dining experience with some sweets? I haven’t had churros for a long time so here we are with very tasty dessert.

So if you want to spend time with family and friends over easy-to-eat foods without thinking much of the fuss onto dining out, I think Chilitos Taberna is one of the best place to go too. Food is delicious, ambiance perfect to literally chill out and to appreciate spanish culture just right in busy downtown.

Chilitos Taberna

1309 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0C4 chilitos.ca