El Cortez has been around for the past two years with a couple of ups and down. Vue Weekly sums it up pretty eloquently here. I’ve been here a couple times now for both drinks and food – this place is bumpin’ on Friday and Saturday nights.
The outside is slick with a couple benches to sit at although I’ve never seen anyone out there. Maybe it’s just for show?
They’ve done a swanky job with the interior as there’s lots for the eyes to feast on. Don’t forget to walk downstairs into the cave where people dance on weekends. Heck, there’s even a (hidden) patio for summer. Will try and sit out there next time.
The menu is pretty concise with a modern twist on Mexican fare. Tacos, ceviche, quesadillas and enchiladas to name a few.
They have specials every day. Tuesday seems like the best deal – $3.00 tacos!
They even recently opened up for weekend brunch and Friday lunches.
The signs know what’s up. Friyay indeed. Happy Hour from 11am till 6pm? Yes, please!
The water comes in cool bottles and this was one of the branded cerveza logo tables. We were seated near the entrance to the cave where a super random/bizarre film was being projected on the wall behind us. Super distracting to Bbops while we ate but it goes with the vibe here.
El Cortez guacamole ($8.00)
I’ve had their guacamole before and it’s addictive! Normally $12.00, this was one of their Friday happy hour specials. Fresh, creamy and well-seasoned, this might be one of my favourite guacs in the city (not that there’s that many alternatives).
It comes with a mixed bucket of tortilla and potato chips. Perfect to get your dip on.
Mexicali poutine ($8.00)
Bacon, smoked paprika and aioli. Normally $9.00, this was their other Friday “special”. Yup, you read that right, you save one whole dollar. WOW. Talk about false advertisement. Taste wise, it reminded me more of papas bravas than poutine. It’s nowhere near a poutine so that’s somewhat misleading. I don’t think I would get this next time as it’s not worth the price tag.
Grilled pescado ($12.00)
Grilled pescado, habanero aioli, crispy shrimp and a coconut tropical salsa. You only get two tacos – yup, you also read that right. Probably the priciest tacos you can buy, ringing in at $6.00 each! Yeezus. The house-made tortillas were lightly grilled which gave a nice, warm bite. I really like the addition of the battered shrimp, which gave the tacos another crunchy element.
Are these worth $6.00 each? Definitely not but it’s probably an easier pill to swallow if you order them on Tuesday.
Snapper and shrimp ceviche ($14.00)
Serrano, lime, tomato and olive. The ceviche was fresh, light and citrusy. I would never have thought to add olives to a ceviche but that combination paired beautifully. Even Bbops was impressed and he is a picky ceviche eater. It also came with a side of tortilla chips – too bad we ran out of ceviche before chips. Guess that’s a good sign right? 😉
El Cortez is a cool, hip little spot to grab a drink and bite to eat but prepared to dish out the moola. Our lunch worked out to $30.00/each including tip which is pretty hefty all things considering.
El Cortez Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar
8230 Gateway Boulevard