If you think of tacos in Edmonton (minus the Taco Time's, Taco Bells, and the Taco Del Mar's), no doubt Tres Carnales springs to mind. They definitely have some sort of monopoly on Mexican food in our city. Now this might tarnish my reputation irrevocably, but I've never been to Tres Carnales. Sad right? If it helps, I've been to their more elevated sister restaurant, Rostizado, but I wasn't exactly blown away by their food (except their churros. Their churros are everything.) I guess I'm not too keen on line-ups and crowds or else I'd be knocking on their door... yesterday.
So what's a girl to do when she's craving Mexican food? Enter Huma Mexican Comfort, a humble, family-run restaurant located on the corner of 99th Street and 63rd Avenue.
For a late afternoon on Sunday, they were surprisingly busy. I guess being named one of the best new restaurants by Avenue Magazine is helping drum up business.
The decor is loud, with bright colors painted on the walls, and various art and knick-knacks scattered around the restaurant. Look up and you might just spot a flying (butt-naked) angel.
Our server was especially nice and attentive, handing off the menus which were secured on straw place-mats. The menu was quite extensive, with five pages broken up into various categories: appetizers, soups, tacos, light entrees, street food, main entrees, and desserts.
The carnitas were muy delicioso. Honestly, soooo good. The pork was seasoned well, juicy, and succulent. The onion and cilantro also provided enough freshness and bite to cut through some of the fattier pieces of meat. Just save yourself time and effort looking through the menu and get the carnitas.
Because they were so good, the fish tacos unfortunately paled in comparison. The fish was tender and cooked well, but the flavour was slightly underwhelming. The batter and mayo needed more of a kick, so we definitely helped ourselves to the trio of salsas laid on the table. I just wish the taco itself was better so it didn't need that extra assistance.
From the street food portion of the menu, we stuck to the taco theme and got the tacos de camaron ($16.00): two flour tortillas piled with fried shrimp breaded in a pork rind coating, cebolla en escabeche (a spicy pickled onion salad), fried beans, avocado, and a drizzle of chipotle mayo. Pico de gallo, sliced radishes, and cucumber were served on the side. There's also the option to replace the flour tortillas for a torta bun or three smaller corn tortillas.
These tacos were much more substantial than the previous ones we ordered, with four plump shrimps featured in each large tortilla. The crunch from the fried shrimp paired nicely with the creaminess of the avocado and beans. Surprisingly, my favourite part of the taco was the pickled onions which gave a spicy edge to every bite.
Our table gave us good vantage of the desserts in the display case so we were lured into ordering a couple of them to try after our meal. Coincidentally, our server recommended the two desserts that had caught our eye so we went ahead and ordered them with confidence. The first was the tres leches cake ($5.00), a traditional milk-soaked sponge cake with custard and fruit filling. Huma makes three different varieties (peach, pineapple, and nut-filled) which I assume they rotate. On offer that day was peach.
Tres leches translates to "three milks" and refers to the three kinds of milk (evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream) that the cake is injected with. What you're left with is a soft, creamy bite that is rich but also light at the same time. It felt like eating a cloud until you step away and realize you just ate a whole slice of cake. A delicious cake nevertheless.
My sister (the one who has chocolate coursing through her veins) predictably chose the chocolate molé brownie ($2.50), a glazed cake brownie with hints of coffee, cinnamon, and chili spice. She also got it served à la mode with a scoop of ice cream ($1.50) which was vanilla with a strawberry ripple. Pro tip: always get ice cream if it's offered.
The brownie was served slightly warm which was an amazing contrast to the cold ice cream. The brownie had a cakey texture and a tiny hint of spice which you could only detect in the aftertaste. The glaze made the brownie veer on the border of being too sweet, but the ice cream also helped to temper it. My sister basically hoovered this. I only got to sneak in a couple of bites before she finished the entire plate. Enough said.
Comfort is not just in Huma's name, they exude it. (Literally. I could smell the food wafting out the door from the parking lot.) It's a bit confusing getting to the restaurant if you're travelling south down 99th street, but it's definitely worth the turns (and *cough* U-turns *cough*) to get there. On our visit, we barely scratched the menu surface so hopefully there will be many a return visit in my future. I'm especially game to try their al Pastor and chorizo. And something called a chicharron de queso which is basically a giant cheese chip?! Say no more; I'm on my way!