Los Tacos de Mauro serves up tasty Mexican fare, if you can find it

There’s a new Mexican restaurant in town, but you may have some difficulty finding its Byward Market location. Situated on Dalhousie inside of a bar, this place doesn’t have its own sign, save for a sandwich board out front. The sign you will see is for the Discoteka Lounge and Latin Bar. It’s confusing to be sure, but don’t let that stop you from climbing the stairs to sample the affordably priced Mexican tacos.

The decor here is not just kind of bar-like. It is a bar. We’re talking disco balls, mirrored walls, purple rope lighting and a big square dance floor. I’m told that the floor even lights up. The tables are spread out around it and are covered with quaint oilcloth that doesn’t quite fit the Saturday Night Fever vibe that permeates the rest of the joint.

Ambience aside, the food here is as close to authentic Mexican street food as you are going to find in Ottawa. The menu is comprised primarily of tacos, tostadas and Mexican sandwiches, called tortas. On weekends, you’ll find a few more options, including lamb consommé and chicken mole.

The lamb tacos here are particularly good. Three corn tortillas arrived filled with tender bits of pulled lamb meat. They were served with an array of toppings in little pots, including chopped onions, cilantro, lime wedges, a mild green chili sauce, a moderately fiery red sauce and some feisty habanero pickled beets. The salad that came with the tacos was fairly ordinary but fresh.

The chicken tostadas were also delicious. The tender chicken was served atop fried corn tortillas and dressed with shredded lettuce, sour cream and crumbled queso fresco cheese. Top the tostadas with more fresh lime juice, cilantro and red sauce and then chase with a Dos Equis for maximum effect.

Desserts here are unusual but worth a try. The corn cake was very moist, held whole pieces of corn and was garnished with a drizzle of maple syrup. The equally tasty tres leches cake, or three-milk cake, was also moist thanks to the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream that was soaked into the white cake base.

In spite of the unusual location, this place is worth a visit. Just be sure and get your taco fix in before 9, when the place goes disco.

Los Tacos de Mauro
349 Dalhousie St. (613-562-9756)
Weekday mains: $7.75- $9.50
Cash only