One of my favourite spots in Old Strathcona is El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar (8230 Gateway Blvd).
El Cortez by day!
I describe El Cortez as one of the coolest restaurants in the city because of its amazing decor and wicked atmosphere.
The coolest neon signs everywhere at El Cortez.
There’s awesome graffiti/street art, cool neon signs with funky life sayings, a basement that’s more like a dungeon, and music that makes you feel like you’re hanging out in the streets of Mexico (I don’t actually know what that is like, but I imagine being at El Cortez is like that lol).
The basement a.k.a. Mexican Dungeon at El Cortez.
I’ve been to El Cortez a bunch of times now, most recently for their new brunch menu (launched mid-March 2016) and for their Taco Tuesday specials.
The dinner menu at El Cortez.
El Cortez offers a selection of pork, chicken, beef, fish, and vegetarian tacos, on hand-made tortillas. On a typical night, you get two tacos for $12.
On Taco Tuesdays – which is my preferred day to go to El Cortez – you can order single tacos for $3 a piece. I think this is the best value and gives you the best variety (because at $3 a piece – you should be ordering every single one of their taco offerings!)
ALL THE TACOS during Taco Tuesday at El Cortez!
My top taco picks at El Cortez are:
- Grilled Pescado Taco – with grilled habanero coconut pescado, crispy shrimp, and tropical salsa
- Red Neck Taco – ground beef, chile, house queso, lettuce, and Valentina
- Queso & Mushroom Vegetable Taco
But if it’s your first time, try it all!
See their full lunch/dinner menu here.
Tacos tacos tacos.
Of course while the tacos are tasty (and on Taco Tuesday – priced just right), you can’t just order tacos at El Cortez!
Molten Queso Dip with Chorizo ($14) at El Cortez.
Mike is a big fan of El Cortez’s Molten Queso Dip with Chorizo ($14) – paired with housemade chips.
Patatas at El Cortez!
I am obsessed with El Cortez’s Fried Patatas – potatoes with smoked paprika, guacamole, cheese, aioli, and walnuts ($12).
I also LOVE their mini tuna tostadas ($12) – super refreshing bites of tuna with avocado, vegetables, lime and chipotle aioli on a crispy tortilla – great texture/crunch as well as flavours.
Mini Tuna Tostadas with avocado and chipotle aioli ($12) at El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar.
I think El Cortez’s new brunch menu is also great and well-priced – all their brunch dishes are $14.
For something sweeter, get the Cinnamon Corn and Saskatoon French Toast with honey butter and maple mezcal syrup ($14):
Brunch: Cinnamon Corn and Saskatoon French Toast with honey butter and maple mezcal syrup ($14) at El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar.
For something more savoury – get the Heuvos Rancheros with rojo sauce, 2 eggs, house-made tortillas, queso, pulled pork, pico de gallo and crema ($14).
You can also add (and should also add!!) a side of fried patatas to your brunch ($4).
Brunch: Heuvos Rancheros – with rojo sauce, 2 eggs, house-made tortillas, queso, pulled pork, pico de gallo and crema ($14) at El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar.
Overall, I love to recommend El Cortez to people looking for a restaurant with a really cool vibe/atmosphere, and great food.
It’s just cool, you know?
A damn good night at El Cortez!
The tacos aren’t the best value if you’re not going on Taco Tuesday because they are smaller tacos and you can’t mix and match with the $12 price, but on Taco Tuesdays it’s a steal of a deal.
Check out their other daily specials too!
Service has also for the most part been fantastic. When we’re in the ‘dungeon’ especially, we’ve gotten great attention from servers.
When we went for brunch, our food took a long time to come out, but it was their opening weekend for brunch so some kinks were to be expected.
This dog’s pee spells El Cortez. Cool, right? [disclaimer: not actual pee. lol]
And I just can’t get over the decor.
So much so that I’m wrapping this blog post up with a few more photos of their decor!
Cool prediction of our evolutionary future at El Cortez.
The coolest decor at El Cortez (this is the women’s bathroom – head downstairs into the basement to access the bathrooms!)
This cat greets men in the men’s bathroom (thanks Mike for the photo)
Eating tacos all day all night.
There’s a cool semi-private room in the dungeon/basement at El Cortez that is illuminated by just this glowing cross.
On weekends/at night, El Cortez turns into a club!
So have you been to El Cortez?
What did you think! Leave a comment below or tweet me!