Taco Del Mar
Fifth Ave. Place
420 2nd St. SW
Unit 203
(403) 514-0911

Hours of operation: Mon - Fri, 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Rating: *** 1/2
Price range: $
Reservations: No
Client negotiations: No
Lunch w/co-workers: Yes
Social Lunch: Yes
Quick solo lunch:
Time in: 12:00 p.m.
Ordered: 12:10 p.m.
Food arrived: 12:15 p.m.
Time out: 12:40 p.m.
Total time: 40 minutes
Low $: Chips and Salsa, $1.99
High $: Platter, $7.99
Lunch menu: Main menu
Licensed: Yes

Finding good, fast Mexican food for reasonable prices can be a difficult thing in Calgary. However, Taco Del Mar has helped quell Calgary’s hunger for a quickly made Mexican meal that won’t put a dent in the ol’wallet. A big step up in quality from massive chains like Taco Time and Taco Bell, Del Mar offers a more authentically Mexican type of fast food.

Decorated like a California beach bar, Taco Del Mar, or Taco of the Sea, is much more Cal-Mex than TexMex. The California beach vibe thrives on the inside of this small eatery, with pictures of surfboards, palm trees and surfers adorning the green walls, alongside pictures of some of the food items on the menu.

Taco Del Mar features large hand rolled burritos and tacos with fresh fixings. Although the freshness leaves something to be desired, it is still decent. The way in which my meal was put together lacked finesse but still tasted good. Nevertheless, for a fast food-style Mexican joint in the prairies of Alberta, it’s pretty darn good.

For lunch, I chose the Platter for $7.99 because of its mix and match options. I picked enchiladas, a taco, refried beans and rice. It was both flavourful and colourful, but it could have been a bit warmer. Extra sour cream and guacamole is $1.99, but is worth every penny. The guacamole is seasoned to perfection and has just the right amount of cilantro and lime. For my meat filler, I chose the braised chicken to go in both my enchilada and taco, but other meat options include: Ground beef, seasoned pork, carne asada steak, shredded beef and Alaskan fish. Other food items available are Mondo Burritos, Taco Salad and Quesadillas, and combos.
The concept of Taco Del Mar, when it was started in Seattle as an homage to surfing, Baja life and beach culture — with fresh food and traditional flavours in mind — is a great one. However, as so often happens in franchising, some of the original fire is gone from Del Mar’s belly and without keeping freshness and quality in check, it risks becoming a glorified Taco Bell.

Taco Del Mar is a hopping lunch joint and the lineup that nearly leads out the door indicates that people are quite happy to have a taste of Californian-style Mexican food in Calgary.