Every year, on May 5, people flock to restaurants and patios to consume copious amounts of tacos and tequila in celebration of a notable achievement in Mexican history. For years after gaining independence in 1810, the people of Mexico remained embroiled in battles. When the French came knocking on May 5, 1862, they’d had enough. They were out-weaponed and out-numbered but Napoleon III’s army was no match for the impassioned Mexican battalion. That fight and victory, referred to as the Battle of Puebla closer to home, became celebrated as Cinco de Mayo across North America.

Tres Carnales, a Mexican restaurant in Edmonton (10119 – 100a Street), is getting ready for its own Cinco de Mayo festivity this Wednesday, as they have every year since opening in 2011.

My first experience way back then certainly lived up to the months-long social media hype that intrigued us and whetted our appetites leading up to opening day. With incredible wall art, corrugated metal ceiling and Day of the Dead tchotchkes everywhere, it looked like any one of the number of taquerias I had eaten at in Mexico, but best of all, the food, a reflection of the owners’ cultural connections and travels, was unique, interesting and flavourful.

Tres Carnales was at the forefront in changing how people outside Alberta viewed Edmonton’s food scene. The restaurant was written up in publications nationwide, made several “best of” lists over the years, and was featured on You Gotta Eat Here. The lineups to get in were legendary.

Ten years later, and I still admire how they roll. Mostly, I appreciate that the owners still support small scale producers and that they purchase ingredients from mom-and-pop Latino enterprises. The fabric of a food scene is made strong when independent restaurants support local producers and other independent businesses. That’s a fact.

This Wednesday, May 5, Tres Carnales is offering a Cinco de Mayo special featuring cochinita pibil, a dish from the Yucatan that features pork marinated in achiote paste, garlic, Mexican spices (oregano and cinnamon), habanero, cloves and sour orange.

The ingredients that go into making cochinita pibil.

I was fortunate to eat cochinita at El Turix in Mexico City, a tiny place written up by all the big food mags. I was thrilled to be told this dish was going to be on Tres Carnale’s menu, if only for that one day.

Cochinita pibil at El Turix in Mexico City

I sampled it all, and I’m happy to report that the chef at Tres Carnales nailed it.

Cochinita pibil torta


Ready-to-assemble cochinita pibil tacos

The dish will be offered four ways, as tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tortas (sandwiches). The burrito and the torta, especially, are whoppers—I was still eating leftovers three days later. The soft tortillas for the tacos and quesadillas are corn based and the spice level (to me) was on the shy side of medium. Also, for this occasion, a 6-pack of Lupita Especial, brewed for Tres Carnales by Alley Kat, will be offered for $25. Place your orders on May 5 by filling out Tres Carnale’s online order form or calling the restaurant at 780-429-0911.

The cochinita pibil tortilla and a Lupita Especial (crisp, blonde Ale with smooth malty notes).

Also highly recommended are the papas fritas (traditional fried potatoes including your choice of protein with its corresponding salsa, crema, cheese, and cilantro).

Papas fritas

While the taqueria’s patio remains open, it is small with seating for up to eight (two people over four socially distanced spots). A good idea is to order the food and pick it up yourself. Make an outing of it—take your kid, your partner, or your dog for a drive and use that time to have a deep conversation about life, love, and the importance of fighting for what matters, no matter how tired or ill-equipped you feel at the moment. Celebrate life, good food, and the importance of keeping independent restaurants like Tres Carnales in business.

Your support matters. Please share this post, pick up the phone, order some food. On behalf of Edmonton’s food scene, I thank you.

Viva Tres Carnales!

This post is sponsored (with-pride). #yegfood