May 30th, 2012
I’ll be the first to admit, my definition of mexican food is somewhere between Carlos & Pepe’s and 3 Amigos.
Spare me your pity. It’s just that, prior to this day, I have never set foot to Amaranto.
Here I was, on a sunny April afternoon, looking for a place to eat. My sister raved about this little Monkland gem for over a year now, hence I did what older sisters do best. I never listened. But then, the food god
urbanspoon send me a message. This review aroused my curiosity, and this is how, on a sunny April afternoon, I found myself, Monsieur and camera in tow, lunching at Amaranto.
The small basement-level restaurant’s walls are covered with Mexican decorations. The country’s map… some jewelry… family pictures all add to the place’s charm. The menu is filled with novelties for me (carnitas, horchata, oaxaca cheese?). Monsieur and I ask what their homemade drinks are, and minutes later, the sweet owner brings us shooters of horchata (a milk drink sprinkled with cinnamon) and agua de jamaica (hibiscus flower drink) on the house!
We decide on starting with guacamole soup (I’m head-to-toe intrigued), and before that arrives, we munched on homemade chips with green and regular spicy salsas. When the soup does arrive, the owner shares some advice: you can either mix the avocado paste with the water or scoop up the paste a little by little as you go. Sprinkled with pomegranate and topped with crushed tortilla chips, I’m quick to proclaim “this is the reason for my existence” the second I taste the mind-blowing soup.
Monsieur’s pork marinated carnitas arrive, on soft corn tortillas, generously topped with coriander and onions. Served with a cucumber/radish side salad, the carnitas come sans the sour cream/guacamole toppings you’ll find at your local tex-mex. And this is a good thing. My chicken enchiladas are swimming in a fiery hot salsa verde. I eat some black beans/rice to kill the burn and long for a beer or tequila shots (my only gripe with the eatery – their lack of liquor license). We initially planned on sampling dessert, but forget it, we’re just too full.
A week doesn’t go by before I return, this time with my Mom. She tries the shrimp quesadilla and the chorizo tacos while I attack my newly appointed favourite soup and beef tacos and exclaim, my mouth full, how I love this place. The ever-so-sweet owner tells us she and her husband (the young couple behind Amarento) have been open for five years.
In a city that offers tex-mex as the Mexican norm, I’m happily converted to the authentic side of this cuisine.
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