Mexican food is a lot of things but boring is not one of them. This holds true for Escondite, a new Mexican eatery on Union near Cathcart. Tucked away in an unassuming location, hidden under an old marquee, Escondite is about to become Montreal’s worst kept (delicious) secret.
Last week DJNL stopped by the restaurant for an exclusive look at the space and a taste of what they are offering Montreal’s Mexican obsessed, mezcal swigging, foodie fanatics. What we experienced was wholly out of this world. Read on for more.
It was early Friday evening when we stepped into Escondite. Natural light flooded the front of the restaurant where we grabbed a seat and settled in. Right away the phones and the camera came out so we could grab the best shots possible. The space is casually yet comfortably decorated with typical Mexican references (think sombreros, wresting masks, religious iconography WEARING wrestling masks, Frida etc.) but Escondite also takes these references and rocks them out, bringing them to an edgy new level. The restaurant is completely unique in that it’s located downtown but feels like it was made for the Mile-End or St. Henri crowd. The relaxed atmosphere feels fresh and will attract everyone from the 5à7 crowd to those who are investing a longer night out on the town.
There are many ways to describe the food at Escondite but all roads will lead to one result, full-flavoured and delicious. We kicked things off with a couple of cocktails before getting down the business of ordering food. We ordered two potent Mojito del’King (dark rum, lime juice, pineapple syrup, jalapeño, fresh pineapple, mint and verbena leaves and soda) and proceeded to scan the menu and ordered a few items. Just as we sucked back the last of our first drinks, the food started coming out.
First up, we ordered the Esalada de Jicamas, a citrus infused salad with pink grapefruit, candied papaya, bacon, Jicama, watercress and a guajullo and guava dressing. The salad popped with peppery flavour from the bacon and the zing from the dressing blended with the grapefruit was wonderfully tangy. From the starter menu we also ordered the Quesadillas Sincronizada de Hongos, which were packed with sautéed mushrooms, black truffle paste, oaxaca cheese and aged cheddar. Truffle lovers will devour these without question.
Esondite features an extensive taco menu and from that menu we chose two. Adding a little Montreal flair to our meal, we chose the smoked meat tacos (smoked meat, smoked mustard crema, mirin and green tabasco pineapple, slaw) as well as the deep fried chicken tacos (fried chicken, chipotle crema, corn bread croutons, iceberg lettuce). Out of the two, the smoked meat was won our vote for best taco but we will have to keep trying them to see which will be the big winner.
The next couple of dishes to arrive at the table had a BBQ theme. We were served a plate of sticky BBQ chicken wings and a serving of BBQ ribs. These were some of our favorite items from the menu. The wings were just spicy enough with with chipotle and a light maple flavour. The ribs were dripping in a sweet black cherry, chipotle BBQ sauce and the tender meat fell off the bone. These are both a must-try on our list.
By now we were pretty full and we had a pretty good idea of what to expect from Escondite. Just when we thought it was time to leave, the waiter came over with shoots of smoky mezcal for us to try and a suggestion for one final cocktail. We ordered (and enjoyed) the Cartel de Santa, a mezcal cocktail featuring hibiscus flower syrup, fresh lime juice, soda and hibiscus foam. The service throughout the evening was quick, courteous, well informed and kept the beat casual yet professional.
Escondite is a wonderful addition to Montreal’s growing contingent of new and interesting restaurants (there’s an excellent Star Wars reference that you’ll have to see for yourself either at the restaurant or on our Instagram @dayjobnightlife). With a very fair price point, great food, cool atmosphere and warm service, the restaurant has all the right ingredients to a bit of spice to Montreal’s nightlife.
Be sure to follow all of DJNL’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram: @dayjobnightlife
Photo credit: David Major-Lapierre