Revolutions often start in small secretive ways, whispers of change discussed in dark corners, right before they popularly explode. And right now a true revolution in fine, authentic Mexican dining is brewing in the heart of Old Montreal.. The instigator of this revolution you may ask? Emiliano’s restaurant and bar.
Named after Emiliano Zapata Salazar, one of the central leaders of the Mexican Revolution, Emiliano’s is bringing an exciting and badly needed change to the status quo of eating Mexican in Montreal. While a couple of good taco joints have appeared recently, there really isn’t any good Mexican restaurant to speak of in a city filled with sloppy Tex-Mex nightmares. Until now.
As soon as one walks in to Emiliano’s, one is greeted by a warm and very pleasant ambiance imbued with wonderful aromas and sounds. For those who like to start the evening with a drink, the restaurant offers an impressive bar and cocktail list. Their cocktails are great, displaying a true sense for mixology, and well worth a try. Of note is the “Coco Loco”, a blend of spiced rum, apricot brandy, pineapple, and coconut. And for the tequila fan out there, Emiliano’s does not disappoint due to their impressive list of imported tequilas and fine mescals. Unbeknownst to many, Mexico makes some of the best wines in Latin America and Emiliano’s is one of few places in Montreal to find them.
Reminiscent of Zapata’s revolutionary tactics, Emiliano’s brings a ‘guerilla warfare’ approach to Mexican cuisine – surprising you when you least expect it with an explosion of authentic flavours and unorthodox dishes that will leave you wondering “what just happened?” as you recover from an onslaught of taste.
Our hosts recommended we start with two excellent entrees that brought a fresh approach to standard Mexican fare. One was the delicious “Guacamole with spicy Crab” – an orgy of flavours blended into what I can only say is perhaps the most delicious serving of guacamole I have ever tasted. The other entree was the succulent “Grilled Queso Fresco”. This tasty dish involved wrapping tortillas around pieces of grilled cheese, chorizo, mango, avocado, and cilantro. Add some squeezed lime and voila! Perfection.
Next we were treated to two main dishes that embodied all the Mayan, Aztec, and Spanish roots of real Mexican cuisine. The “Red Tamale” was a hearty corn based ‘pocket’ that came stuffed with tomato salsa, avocado, queso fresco, and cream. Along with a side of excellently made refried beans, this dish was as real as it gets in experiencing tasty authentic Mexican flavours. Our other dish was a true Mexican classic: “Green Enchiladas”. Wonderfully prepared, these chicken stuffed, green sauced enchiladas were brimming with flavours of peppers, jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro, onions, and more. A true delight that would leave any Mexican food lover wanting more.
Emiliano’s desserts do not disappoint either. One can choose from a variety such as their tequila based flan or the deliciously fluffy “Tres Leches” coconut cake. All are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. And for those who wish to end the evening with a drink, the coffees are excellent and there are plenty of excellent ‘digestif’ choices from the bar (they have a smoky mescal that goes down like a scotch that I would highly recommend).
Overall, Emiliano’s is a wonderful and authentic Mexican experience. The service is always impeccable, fun, and courteous. And best of all, they never hurry you to leave. Its like being in someone’s modern Mexican villa where you are always welcome. In my opinion, Emiliano’s is by far the best Mexican restaurant in Montreal. The revolution to free us from the past is here. Spread the word and go be a part of it now!
* Emiliano’s is located at 260 Notre-Dame Ouest in Montreal, QC. Tel. 514-316-8017
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Brooding intellectual and firebrand, the late Billy Wilde had varied interests, including philosophy, cultural critique, science and fine cuisine.