Like most of us, tacos have been a staple for me since I was a kid via the mall food court, or when mom would buy a Taco kit at the grocery store for Taco Tuesdays.
After I was done school at the University of Winnipeg, I moved to Orange County, California, where my sister lived and I was introduced to real authentic Mexican food. I would travel to San Diego and Tijuana seeking the best tacos recommended by my friends. The focus for me about tacos is the tortillas, salsa and filling.
When I returned to Winnipeg in 2007 there were not many options for tacos, but today we have a great variety of spots for tacos, many offering their own spin that's not normally found in a taqueria.* Here's my choices for the best tacos in Winnipeg.
I've been going to BMC for 10 years now and it's mainly to see my friend Betty Calderon-Villasenor at the Osborne location. I always make an effort to speak to her in Spanish and she always teaches me new words and phrases. Her husband Rigoberto takes care of the Henderson location where they have a promo every Tuesday $1 Tacos, you cannot go wrong! What I love most about BMC is the variety of taco fillings from chorizo to rajas, and barbacoa to carnitas. What sets them apart from the rest is their homemade tortillas, which are fresh made to order. My advice is to eat them right away when they’re hot. BMC is a must!! Plus, you can't beat those prices.
Owned by Mexico City's Carlos Bosque, this Mexican restaurant has been a taco hub of the West End for the past three years. If you need instructions on how to eat tacos they have a fun guide on the wall. The main feature I love about Sargent Tacos is that you can add fried cheese to your tacos, which you should do because fried cheese makes the world a better place. If you're adventurous, try having the lengua (beef tongue) as your filling -- it is so tender. Also must-haves are the sopes, which come with a fried masa tortilla, along with churros for dessert.
Also located on Sargent Ave. closer to downtown is Mercadito Latino which is owned and operated by Julian and Sonia Lemus. They also have a full service grocery store that has everything you need to make Latin food at home. The tacos are Salvadoran-style and they're known for their big platters that come with rice and beans. You can choose from tacos de res (beef), tacos de pollo (chicken) and tacos de camaron (shrimp). To compliment your El Salvadoran experience you must have the pupusas, which are corn tortilla pockets filled with beans, pork and cheese.
Traditionally an Asian-fusion restaurant, KYU Grill have mastered crispy birria tacos that feature stewed beef in a fried tortilla that flaunts a cheese skirt. These tacos are truly a collaboration of Mexican and Vietnamese culinary influences (KYU Grill is owned and operated by Calvin and Peet Truong, whose combined heritages are Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese, and Thai), as the beef stew they make has similar techniques to making bò kho. I tell you, this beef dipping-broth is so delicious! I visited them at their food truck and enjoyed birria tacos with local beer on the patio. Follow them on Instagram to find out their locations throughout the week or find them online to place an order for pickup.
The Good Fight Taco
In downtown Winnipeg at the super swish Hargrave Street Market you'll find The Good Fight Taco from Academy Hospitality. Here, the emphasis is on fillings and salsas, along with serving al pastor tacos that are cut right off the spit (which is a rare site for tacos in Winnipeg). My go-to are the Rooster Tacos which have fried chicken thighs and serrano hot sauce. Excellent vegan option here as well with the picada salad. Their guacamole is unreal too!
Feast Café and Bistro
One of Canada's top Indigenous-owned and operated restaurants, Feast is led by chef Christa Bruneau-Guenther, whom you can now find on Food Network Canada's Wall of Chefs. Also located in the West End on the corner of Ellice and Sherbrook, Feast serves "Tipi" tacos on freshly made bannock that are pilled high with ingredients like bison chilli (the Pow Wow). They've become a major hub of the community with a Grab ‘N Go Market that emphasizes healthy whole foods. It is so beautiful inside with Indigenous art on the walls while the staff is always super friendly. Feast is a must when visiting Winnipeg.
*Should you be looking for more authentic tacos representing the diverse regions of Mexico, check out our 2019 Cinco de Mayo guide by Alberto Velasco-Acosta, who moved to Winnipeg from Morelia, Mexico.