Verdun's Hecho en Mexico is an island of Latin-American warmth in the cold north
I was thrilled to learn that Montreal finally has an authentic Mexican snack spot like the ones I’ve visited late at night after evenings spent in cervejarias in Mexico City, and nothing soaks up a few too many Dos Equis like pigs in a blanket, Mexican style – a.k.a. pork tacos.
We walked into Hecho en Mexico’s homey main room on Wellington St. late one blustery Tuesday night, and were all ready to hunker down in front of the telenovelas on the flat screen near the open kitchen, but the waitress shyly asked us if we wouldn’t prefer the patio.
We were alone in the large back terrasse in our sweaters, but all three servers visited us about every five minutes throughout our meal, to make sure we didn’t need anything. I kept thinking up new ways to order margaritas just to keep them busy. The margaritas, by the way, are superb. Served either blended or over ice and not as salty as usual, they’re the real deal. The glasses are rimmed with a mixture of salt and sugar and a Mexican supermarket spice blend called Tagin (I know this because on our way out, Claudio Madariaga, the joint’s Mexico City-born owner, insisted on sending me home with a whole bottle).
The menu is simple and changes daily – we knew what was on offer because it was scrawled on a blackboard. Though nights are getting cold, I’ll wait till winter to sample the pozole (a Mexican special-occasion soup that dates back to the pre-Columbian era), though I’m looking forward to it. Instead, in keeping with our cocktails and finger-food mood, we stuck to things that could be eaten on a chip or in a tortilla.
We began with guacamole, which was smooth and creamy if a little bland (I like mine with more garlic). The true genius of the meal, however, was what they did with pig. Mexico City’s official dish (like Montreal smoked meat, if you will) is tacos al pastor, mildly spiced pork in little piles on soft tortilla rounds topped with canned pineapple slices and an avocado sauce. My companion pointed out that they’d be better with fresh pineapple, but they were still a taste of the capital city to me. At the waitress’s urging, we also tried the carnitas: soft tacos filled with pork boiled in milk and fresh oranges, served with slices of lime. It also needed some hot sauce or something, but still, the milky citrusy pork was pretty tasty. My guess is that this place will be even more appealing in the winter, when the cozy dining room and pozole will feel like a vacation down south.
Hecho en Mexico
4816 Wellington St., Verdun; 514-439-3868
Dinner for two, before tax, margaritas and tip: $25