This week’s blog is a restaurant review, rather than a recipe, but it will make your mouth water just the same! As a Celiac, or someone eating gluten free, many cuisines can become trickier to eat – Italian, Chinese, Ukrainian, to name a few, but not Mexican!! The majority of the base of Mexican food is corn, so most of it is naturally gluten free, and all of it is delicious!
Native Tongues Taqueria is a hip new joint that opened in Calgary in the summer of 2015. In their own words, it is a “neighbourhood Mexican restaurant specializing in house-made, non-GMO corn tortillas, Antojitos, and Tacos al Carbon”.
NTT uses a wood-fire cooking method to create traditional Mexican street food, that will actually make you feel like you are South of the border. For those that have just had “tex-mex”, you’re in for a culinary treat!
First things first, we needed to wet our whistle. The cocktail menu is very creative and original, which is a nice change to see in Calgary. They do feature a lot of mezcal drinks, which was right up my alley. I had the “mezcalgarita” which was along the same lines as a margarita, but with mezcal rather than tequila. Warning: these go down easy!
Wanting to try an array of different flavors, we decided to order some of the Antojitos (appetizers) and also try a mix of the tacos. Rest assured the serving staff and kitchen team were all very aware of what celiac disease was and also how to cater to those eating gluten free. Everything we ordered was naturally GF and nothing had to be modified. Yay!
We started with an order of the chips & guacamole. The chips are made in house, and are corn based, and are not fried in oil with anything else. Take it from someone who used to live in Mexico – they are authentic! And the guacamole was full of flavor, and just spicy enough. It was brought out after being made in the kitchen, rather than at the table, which I prefer, so kudos to them.
The next antojito we ordered was the Elotes – grilled corn on the cob, crema, queso, chile, and cilantro. I have to admit, this is one of my all-time favorite Mexican street dishes! The order came with 2 medium sized cobs, so was perfect for sharing with a friend. The char on the corn adds to the other flavors, and they all work so well together. It’s slightly messy, but SO worth it!
What I was anxiously awaiting most was the tacos. I felt like they were the make or break menu item that could either seal the deal, or let us down, and I have to admit, these are by far the best tacos I’ve tasted outside of Mexico! They’re to die for. They are authentic street tacos, about the size of the palm of your hand, corn tortilla (naturally GF and made fresh daily!), and come with a variety of choice. We tried the lengua (beef tongue, white onion, cilantro), the carnitas (confit pork, white onion, cilantro), chorizo con papas (sausage, potatoes, onion cilantro), and the hongos (mushrooms, crema, queso fresco, cilantro). Don’t let the beef tongue scare you away, it is almost like braised beef, and trust me, it melts in your mouth. Not one to skip!
Each taco is $3.75 (the mushroom is $4), so you can easily mix and match. I was able to eat 3 after the appetizers. The nice thing is, you can always order more.
While we didn’t save room for dessert, they do make in house donas (donuts), which are unfortunately not GF, but they do have a daily dessert that is sometimes GF, so make sure to ask, and they also offer paletas (like a popsicle) which are totally GF! Or, if you’re like me, you can always drink your dessert by enjoying a smoky mezcal.
All in all I would encourage anyone and everyone to try this place! It is a haven for those of us eating gluten free, and you can order almost anything off the menu without having to modify, so you really feel like you are having a normal restaurant experience, which for some of us can be a challenge. I would suggest going early as it gets quite busy, but, you can always leave your number at the door and they will call you when a table opens up. If you get the chance to belly up at the wood, order a cocktail called “el matador” from Tom, and tell him I sent you!