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Best tacos in Ottawa

By Kathy Ferguson on April 2, 2012

Originally posted on Kathy Eats – Adventures of a street food geek. Reproduced here with her permission.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have a small infatuation with tacos.  OK…maybe not so much an infatuation, but rather an outright obsession.  I can’t help it.  And I’m not talking Old El Paso or Taco Bell here…I’m taking handmade soft corn tortillas, fresh ingredients and traditional flavours.

My problem started years ago with travel through California and Mexico.  I was introduced to what tacos REALLY should taste like, and since then I’ve been ruined.  Whether it’s LA style carnitas, Baja fish tacos or even the pork brain tacos of the Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana…it’s all beautiful and delicious.  After my last trip to Southern California I came home and immediately bought a tortilla press.  It’s taken several failed attempts and endless nights slaving over a hot stove, but I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of the tortilla.  Since then I’ve been putting basically anything I can into a tortilla and subjecting close friends to “taco parties” against their free will.

Up until recently, there were few worthwhile taco options in Ottawa.  But that all seems to be changing now.  We’ve got a long way to go to catch up to other large cities, but that’s typical for our local food scene.  So, for now let’s just enjoy what we have and support our local “Taquerias”!

Here’s where you can find some of Ottawa’s best tacos;

The Piggy Market is a craft butcher and gourmet food store in Ottawa’s Westboro neighborhood.  They have a daily lunch counter which offers tacos every Thursday. The handmade tortillas and succulent local meats make for one of my favorite stops through town.

Piggy Market's Cochinita Pibil Taco.

 

Stone Soup Foodworks, Ottawa’s lone gourmet food truck does Taco Tuesday every week.  Situated on  Marie Curie Dr on the University of Ottawa Campus Monday through Friday lunch, this truck has become a hotspot for streetfood loving students and professionals seeking fresh and healthy alternatives to fast food.

Stone Soup's Beef Tacos.

 

The Whalesbone offers fish tacos during their famous “Brown Bag Lunch” every Tuesday to Saturday 11-2pm at their Kent St retail location.  This local institution in sustainable fish supply is the place to go if you love seafood in your tortillas!

Whalesbone's Octopus Tacos.

 

TacoLot is the newest kid on the scene and on their first day last week they were already sold out by 1:30pm.  Although they have yet to set up a website or social media accounts, they can be found in on Wellington St in Hintonburg, right beside Suzy Q Doughnuts (which makes for a very tasty combination).  Hours are12-9pm, however since they are just getting started it is likely that for the time being those hours are no guarantee.

TacoLot's pork tacos.

 

Los Tacos de Mauro aka DiscoTaco is a hidden gem at 349 Dalhousie St. in the Byward Market. Sharing space with a Latin Discoteka, they are open 11-9pm Tuesday to Friday.  Here Mauro Rosario’s tacos are served along side other traditional favorites like chile rellenos, tamales and tortas.

Lamb, Chicharrón, and Chicken tacos.

 

Mercado Latino on Montreal Rd in Vanier is a specialty grocery store that cooks up tacos every Saturday from 12-2pm.  Don’t be shy to ask about the tacos, they aren’t advertized anywhere.  There is likely only one meat option available, so just tell the store clerk how many you want and she will head to the back to whip them up.  There is a small table located in the front where you can sit and enjoy lunch, or they will pack it up for take out as well.  It’s deliciously messy and the most authentic street tacos you can get in Ottawa.

Mercado's Tacos de Pollo.

So there you have it. There are a couple other restaurants with tacos on their menu, but in my humble opinion these are the ones most worth your while.  It’s a pretty good start for our to city really embrace the taco, and I’m glad I am no longer alone in my obsession.

If you think we’ve forgotten any great tacos in the city, leave us a comment!


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  • Chris

    I think you’re leaving out one of the best spots for taco’s in the city. Burrito Borracho in the Market is not just a burrito place. Their menu offers a wide selection of Mexican dishes included killer tacos. Try ’em out.

  • What about Corazon de Maiz!? So delicious. And the people that run this joint are so friendly and cheerful that you want to go back every day.

  • Jessica

    Sidedoor has AMAZING tacos! Especially the fish, shrimp and lamb!

  • Lara

    Vital information to those of us living in Ottawa – great article! I second Burrito Borracho and you also missed out on Ahora which has lovely and simple black bean tacos.

    On a sort-of related topic – does anyone know where I can buy corn tortillas in this city?

  • Manon

    I haven’t tried any of these, yet, but I do enjoy Pancho Villas on Elgin…but you have to have their homemade hot sauce.

  • I’m not a fan of Burrito Borracho myself, but I really enjoy the beef tacos at the stand in the Market Buidling Corazon De Maiz!

  • Sara

    Ahora definitely deserves to be on this list! Absolutely tastey and the location is quite endearing!

  • Second Danielle’s nomination for Corazon de Maiz. Best authentic Taco’s I’ve had in Ottawa to date (although the toppings are of Northern rather then Southern proportions). I’ve posted pictures on Flickr.

    Another winner that was missed (while non-traditional) is the Manx Pub’s Vegetarian Tacos. Delish!

    @ Lara – You can buy frozen soft shell corn Tacos at Grace International Food store on Bank Street (near Laurier).

  • François Levesque

    @Danielle – good call on Corazon de Maiz. They are the nicest people. I’ve had the burrito there every time but will try the tacos.

    @Jessica – you’ve convinced me to try Sidedoor’s tacos!

  • j

    For the vegetarian taco lover the Manx has an amazing tofu taco

  • Awesome taco love everyone…thanks for reading!!

  • Jay

    +1 to Stone Soup Foodworks delicious tacos are always my choice when French Onion Soup isn’t on the menu.

    Also, I’ve heard that they serve Tacos not just on Tuesdays, but on every single day which starts with the letter “T”!

  • Danielle, I owe you an enormous thanks for suggesting Corazon de Maiz. Didn’t try the tacos, but the burritos were spellbinding. Best burritos on this side of North America.

    Merci.

  • Ewald Friesen

    Where in Ottawa did you buy a taco press?

  • MaryLS

    I second the comment re Pancho Villas on Elgin. This is probably my family’s favourite Ottawa restaurant. Reliably good food — decent prices. The Pancho Special is a favourite.

  • Patsy

    I second Ahora. I’d also argue they make some of the best nachos in town as well – if you like cheese. (and who doesn’t?).

    And I’m afraid Poncho Villa doesn’t come close to making the cut for me.

  • Brien

    La Cabana is an el Savadorian restaurant on Merivale near Carling with excellent tacos but also pupusas, plantains and tamales. Their store beside has a little bit of everything Central American. My go-to restaurant when I need a meal out.

  • ilikefood

    all looks gross…ew sorry

  • michelle

    Spin restaurant in the marriott hotel has a beautiful adobo spiced mahi mahi taco that is excellent on their summer menu. The fish skewers are grilled uses 2 flour tortillas, crispy jicama slaw, mango salsa and kefir lime cream. amazing flavors

  • Jessica

    I think you might have overlooked the one “foodie” spot in the west end… Aperitivo. The fish tacos there are simply amazing, and they also happen to be real corn tortillas making them gluten free!

  • wendy torres

    Hi! I need to know where to buy mexican products and corn tortillas in Ottawa… Thanks!