Our sometimes annual top taco guide is always one of our most-read pieces, so now’s the time for an update.
We’ve once again consulted with our main man from Morelia, Alberto Velasco-Acosta* to ensure we have all the authentic options below (no chains, as always) and there’s a number of new spots that recently opened that you’ll see aren’t in the above 2019 guide.
Plus, Cinco de Mayo is on Friday, so here’s a list of events where you can celebrate in the city to get us started.
Cinco de Mayo events (note: one is happening on the 6th)
Cinco de Mayo Celebration at St. Norbert Community Centre - 3450 Pembina Highway
The Mex Y Can Association of Manitoba will be staging this event from noon to 4 p.m. on May 6. It’s a good choice for family fun as there will be piñatas, games, performances from Salsa Explosion and DJ-ing courtesy of DJ Salsero, plus there will be plenty of food trucks onsite too, including La Taqueria Mexican Street Tacos which you can learn more about below (it’s so good). Plus, Alberto is going to be the emcee!
Admission is $5 for adults (tickets only available at the door which go to support the Mexican Pavilion at Folklorama) and kids are free. More details here.
7th anniversary party at La Roca - 155 Smith Street
Winnipeg’s “Premium Mexican Lounge” has been rocking for seven years now, if you can believe it, and to mark the occasion with margs you can check out the anniversary party this Friday. The full details have yet to be announced, but given May 5 is set to be sunny, surely that patio with its downtown views will be bumping, while the DJs will be spinning as you wash avocado frito, tostados and chicharron down with Patron late into the night. Here’s the website for any further announcements.
Nonsuch Brewery First Fridays’ Cinco de Mayo menu - 125 Pacific Avenue
Nonsuch always takes part in Exchange District Biz’s First Fridays by bringing in guest chefs to run the kitchen. Fittingly for Cinco de Mayo they are bringing in Roberto Cano and Cordell Drohomereski of Berto’s Taqueria (a ghost kitchen and catering company) who have offered a sneak peek of the menu which includes mini birria chimichangas, pozole, and chorizo nachos. Service starts at 5 p.m. Stay tuned to Nonsuch on Insta for more details.
Our top authentic taquerias
Sargent Taco – 698 Sargent Avenue
Chef/owner Carlos Bosque moved to Winnipeg in 2005 from Mexico City. During that time, he’d been checking out the Mexican food scene here and concluded that no one was doing tacos the way they do in his home city. So, he eventually opened up Sargent Taco in late 2017 and has created a devoted local following ever since. The menu has all the classics, from al pastor (they usually do the full spit on the weekends) to chicken mole, nopalos (cactus) and carnitas, along with a nice selection of antojitos (“little cravings”).
Our particular jam is the huitlacoche tacos with rajas and grilled queso fresco, as that funky, umami-rich corn fungus is a rare find in Winnipeg and the grilled queso fresco – available on most of Bosque’s tacos – takes it all to another level with its chewy texture and crispy saltiness. The salsas all rock too.
There’s only a few tables, and it’s not the sort of spot to get in and out quickly from as the kitchen takes time to ensure an excellent experience. Here’s the website for hours and menu.
BMC Market - 722 Osborne Street & 1113 Henderson Highway
BMC is still the best bang for your buck in the city, with most tacos being just $5-7.99 for three. Like Alberto, chef/owners Rigoberto and Betty Calderon-Villasenor moved to Winnipeg from Morelia, Michoacán, and the recipes here mainly come from (or are influenced by) Betty’s grandma. Betty and her crew make the tortillas from scratch to order, pressing then hand-forming the masa mix (which has a bit of regular flour for binder) making a vessel that is slightly thicker than some of the store bought options that you can get from companies like La Cocina.
On top of all the standard tacos that come with choice of salsas, chopped raw onion and cilantro, there’s a selection of sides (all just $2.89!) including a lovely carrot and raisin salad. My five-year-old is obsessed with her refried beans and quesadillas, which are also hand-formed into an oval shape before being grilled and stuffed with cheese. BMC is licensed and there’s a number of grocery items like hot sauces too. It is probably our most covered spot on this website, as it was one of the first features I did for PCG back in 2015 and I’ve had Betty on CBC Radio before. Here’s the website for hours and more.
JC’s Tacos and More - 187 Henderson Highway
Chef/owners Marvin and Mayra Dubon are from El Salvador and Monterrey, Mexico respectively, the latter of which is celebrated for its burritos which you can find on JC’s menu – including massive “El Señor” burritos for sharing. They opened back in May 2010 and on top of tacos, chef Marvin’s Salvadorian dishes like pupusas (his curdito provides a nice zing) shouldn’t be missed.
Alberto’s pick are the enchiladas, which too are massive, while I’m all about their tostadas featuring fried La Cocina tortillas (which are gluten-free) stacked with your choice of slow-braised meats, sour cream, salsa, and shredded lettuce. There’s also a selection of products for sale on site and chef Marvin does a fabulous job with supporting local producers on his huge plates of food (hence, the slightly higher prices). Here’s the website for hours and menus.
La Taqueria Mexican Street Tacos (1863 Ness Ave Unit B + a food truck too!)
Our newest authentic taqueria and food truck has been garnering rave reviews since it opened in summer 2021, with no signs of stopping. La Taqueria’s food is by Cristhel Pipper, who came to Winnipeg from Córdoba, Veracruz, in 2019 after she married her husband (a resident of Sunny St. James) Lyle Jackman. Together, this couple is knocking it out of the park when it comes to meticulously crafted, authentic cuisine from pozole to Yucatan-style cochinita pibil and a mushroom al pastor that is going to blow you away (take note vegans). When you mention this place to Alberto, he immediately gets that far-off look in his eye and you can tell he's there on Ness Avenue in his head, savouring that chicken mole which, "transports me back Morelia, where I was born, bred and raised," he says while salivating as his eyes gently water.
Mercadito Latino - 570-C Sargent Ave
Owned by Salvadorians Sonia and Julian Lemus, this gem of a space in the West End is celebrated for its pupusas, tortilla soup – and of course, Salvadorian-style tacos using gluten-free corn tortillas. The shop carries a large number of products from Latin America and the menu includes a number of cassava/yucca dishes that come on large platters topped with curtido and your choice of protein. The tostadas are pretty great too, providing plenty of texture, acidity and flavour in every bite. Find out more on Facebook.
In 2017, the family, led by son Jesse Lemus-Aguillon, opened Latinos Market Canada in St. James (1769 Portage Ave) where you’ll find upwards of 1600 products from Latin America.
More tacos at a glance
At Hargrave, Academy Hospitality’s The Good Fight Taco specializes in small, vibrant tacos topped with everything from crispy shrimp or cerveza -battered cod, to a really nice vegetarian taco with sweet potato, romaine, radicchio, avocado, rajas and Manchego. The star though is the al pastor, as the pork is prepared authentically – right on the spit with the pineapple on top and a flat top alongside to make it extra crispy once the meat is shaved. At The Forks, Habanero Sombrero has successfully transitioned from years of operating as one of the city’s original new school food trucks, to a kiosk that has won both the 2021 and 2022 Taco Week. Its 100 per cent gluten-free menu has all the classics – from fried fish, to barbacoa, carnitas, tinga and mushroom, with tacos running 2 for $11.
Relatively new to the taco scene in Winnipeg is Poncho & Lefty’s, a ghost kitchen by King Cole Catering that has an extensive selection of tacos served on La Cocina tortillas. Another newish spot that previously wasn’t on our radar is Fire and Spice Taqueria (66 Donald Street) which opened in August 2022. This pickup-only establishment makes its own gluten-free tortillas using this machine and the menu has all the classics along with birria tacos, which were all the rage from 2021-2022 across North America. Plus, there's Berto's Taqueria that is mentioned in the top section which got started in summer 2022.
For even more fusion-style tacos, including more birria options and bannock tacos, check out Carter Chen’s 2021 guide here.
*Catch Alberto on Citytv on Thursday talking about all things Cinco de Mayo.