Last Wednesday, as many of you know, was the quintessential stoner celebration known as 4/20. While I find the festivities surrounding the "holiday" to be fairly lewd, (if you were at the mountain, you know what I'm talking about), I can't ignore an excuse to do something celebratory/a bit out of the ordinary.
For me, on a day like 4/20, all I really want to do to celebrate is eat some incredibly delicious food. Munchies and all that, you know, and since my need to feed would be an ode to the high gods of 4/20, the meal had to something mildly indulgent. One that marijuana-enthusiasts have enjoyed for years.
Of course, my mind instantly went to burritos, the baby-sized bundle of flavours everyone loves (stoners included) that is the crowning achievement of so-called Mexican cuisine (tacos come second).
Unfortunately, Montreal isn't exactly conducive to great burritos. Yes, we do have a few solid burrito shops, but I've already hit up M4 (a little too commercial for me), Burritoville (sorry, but I need meat in my life) Burrito Shop (which used to be way better), and Tejano BBQ Burrito (not exactly traditional).
Basically, I wanted to expand my burrito horizons in Montreal, and so took a chance on a very hole-in-the-wall spot on Sainte Catherine, Don Taco. I had passed by this purveyor of Mexican foods in Montreal several times during my journeys around Chinatown West, always noting how its small, quaint interior may be a sign of its quality.
Needless to say, I was right, because Don Taco is the real deal. Dare I say it, Don Taco serves the best burritos in all of Montreal. Not to mention their tacos are supremely legit too.
So, paired with my beau, I stepped into Don Taco for the first time, my stomach rumbling and taste buds longing for the flavourful comfort only a burrito can afford.
Like I've mentioned, Don Taco is quite small, with seating space that can only accommodate a small spattering of patrons. This could be a problem if you're looking for a legit sit-down meal, but not really for a two-some, so we didn't really mind the size as we stepped up to the counter.
Here was my first clue that Don Taco was legit: there wasn't some 20-nothing hipster white kids behind the cash or in the kitchen. Both stations were manned by two older Mexican women. Needless to say, my mildly prejudiced presumption that the duo would do a better job than some white folk was later confirmed.
After being greeted by the friendly staff, me and my man took a look at Don Taco's somewhat-small-but-still-extensive menu. Boasting 7 types of burritos and 9 styles of tacos, along with some extras, the menu has a solid amount of variety. But what is most apparent at-first-glance is the price.
Almost every single taco on the menu is between $1-$2, something you don't see in a city where tacos generally cost at least $5 each. Don Taco's burritos are priced just as fairly, none going over $7. Yes, that's right, only $7 for a burrito. Let that sink in before I tell you how delicious the burrito is at that incredibly fair price.
Since we were both pretty hungry (4/20, remember?) the two of us decided to get a full plate for our respective meals, which comes with rice, beans or salad, and a small cup of guacamole. I opted for the Tinga (chipotle shredded chicken) burrito and my fella ordered the tacos al pastor, both adding up to around $10 in total.
After a pretty short wait, our meals stood at the counter looking glorious. The tacos steamed with freshness and bright colours, while my burrito was the size of a newborn (just like I like it). We were both pretty excited without even taking a bite.
Before delving into the main meals, however, lets take a second to appreciate the sides that came with our meal. I know, rice and beans (we didn't take the salad because we're manly like that) sounds basic and boring, but not when they're done well.
Don Taco doesn't just throw some pre-made rice or beans into a cup and serve it to patrons. They actually take time to craft both. The rice, mixed with a variety of veggies, was fresh and flavourful, while the refried beans were creamy, velvety, and utterly tasty. Seriously, best beans I've had in a long while.
But that burrito, though.
I am going to sound pretty hyperbolic here for a second, but simply because that's the only way I can express my sheer joy when biting into Don Taco's Tinga burrito. Bursting with smoky notes of chipotle, succulently zesty, and perfectly rolled with equal distribution of ingredients throughout, this burrito was next level.
Granted, someone living in Montreal doesn't exactly have the best handle on great burritos, as they're lacking in this city. But I have been around the burrito block, having had some of the best in Toronto (a truly burrito-centric city), and experiencing the Mexican culinary magic coming out of San Francisco's Mission district, an area famous for its burrito shops.
Don Taco's stands on par with both. Well-balanced in every respect, every bite brought my taste buds a myriad of spicy flavours, all balanced out by the added creamy-cheese (like sour cream and cream cheese mixed) and cooling zestiness of my side of guacamole.
The burrito didn't explode or crumble, either, and we all know that a burrito which retains structural integrity is definitely primo. A shout-out also has to go to Don Taco's all-you-want-to-take salsas and hot sauces, as the salsa verde gave my burrito the kick of heat it needed.
The tacos were nothing to scoff at, either. Seasoned with onions, coriander and a splash of fresh lime juice, the al pastor tacos were lusciously tender and juicy. The corn tortillas didn't crumble, too, and given how much meaty filling was in all three, that's a feat in itself.
On Tuesdays, Don Taco even has a special $1 deal, making their magnificent tacos even more affordable.
By the end of our meal, me and my man were both more than satisfied. Actually, I was kind of a little stuffed, which is exactly what I want out of a burrito. Looking back, I didn't really need to have the sides to fill me up, so the stand-alone burrito is an option even for the hella-hungry. But again, those rice and beans were damn good.
The thing is, right after finishing my burrito, insanely satisfied in every respect, all I wanted was to come back to Don Taco and eat another burrito. With so many styles (next on the list is the beef tongue, for sure) I am currently on the mission to find the best burrito on the menu.
I personally implore you to do the same, because Don Taco, dare I say once again, has the best burritos in all of Montreal. Not that I want you to fill up the place, but we need to ensure this purveyor of Mexican delights stays in businesses. So if you're in the Concordia area, Don Taco is the undiscovered food gem you need to have in your life.
You can find Don Taco at 1855 Sainte-Catherine West.
*cover photo of burritos is not from the restaurant in question