Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mexican is Norte just Street Food, To Enjoy the Heat is a Lifestyle!

Norte Street Food
1308 Gladstone Ave.
Fernwood
Victoria, BC
Phone: 250-882-8594

If a huge difference is supposed to exist between the food of North Mexico and South, I will honestly admit I don't know what it is. The tortilla is a staple of many a product from this country, and if that is not well made, or good enough, the rest of the meal will fall apart.

One can simply replace the shell with a new one, and that's what the cook at Norte Street Food did, when he saw that it crumbled as I tried eating a beef taco, a Picadillo, using some mighty fine beef from Two Rivers Meats. I've tried this brand before, and they produce some bacon!

Not only was the customer service great, the meals were just phenomenal. Everything in their menu is gluten-free, which is a plus. Normally I could taste the difference, but here, I barely noticed it. Their sauces grow in intensity from one side of the table to the other. I went from mild to ay carumba! but yet kept my cool when I was offered a hibiscus drink to sample. Even that was quite good.

I can certainly tell that most of the product was either locally sourced or home-made. Add the fact I could pile on top as much cilantro or even white onions as I wanted to my tacos was a bonus. I nearly wiped one bowl clean since I love the flavour of this particular green. Plus, I recall some other places don't even give me the option of going nuts with the condiments.

While the prices may seem to be a touch on the high side, this place is one where I fully support the costs of keeping this operation going.

Depending on the type of taco, one could buy three for $10. When considering the tortilla is made in-house and can be bought separately for home cooking, the cost is worth it. Even the size and proportion of the maize to the filling is quite decent.

And I have to say the Chile Bomba is killer. It's a large nicely fried up jalapeño stuffed with finely melted cheese. The pepper had a mild smokey taste and it wasn't all that hot. Grilling will do that to any pepper. I had three without any extra dressing, and I didn't feel like I was on fire afterwards. I overheard the owner saying that this particular dish was a breakfast staple, and if that's true, I have to wonder what else is offered, quesadillas topped with goat's cheese?

Normally, ordering two of these tacos is enough for a simple lunch, but I arrived in Fernwood with an appetite. I could have tried one of each from the billboard, but my taste buds needed to focus on two tastes at a time.

I'm certainly going to be back to try cactus leaf as a filling. I have to wonder if cuitlacoche, an edible type of corn fungus, might get offered down the road. This dish might be offered in limited quantity, and based on the DIY menu tucked at the back wall, each daily visit may very well will offer something new.

And with my buddy Steve Saunders, a fellow writer living a few doors down, I have a reason to come back. We're both huge comic book and role-playing game nerds. To visit to play test his next game with good food down the road is a no brainer. I have to thank him for mentioning Norte on Facebook. Without him, I wouldn't have known that this operation moved here. Originally, they were operating near Bay Street Bridge which is basically the industrial part of town.

It seems not many diners stay in operation in this part of where downtown Victoria meets Victoria West. When I was working in the area, at Absolute Underground Magazine's old stomping grounds, I discovered Connoisseur Catering. They made a wicked bison burger and flavourful soup du jours. I miss them, but problems with the building not being up to specs forced them to close down and operate elsewhere. A few diners survive in the area because someone has to feed the construction workers and mechanics here.

I'm glad Norte has set up shop in Fernwood. The neighborhood has gotten a lot more colorful! Mmmm, salsa. Olé!

4 Blokes out of 5

Norte on Urbanspoon

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