We didn’t end up making a stop in Red Deer two weeks ago, so Mack and I planned a special trip down to visit Tom on Sunday. Tom didn’t object to our restaurant choice, so with Kim and Jon along for the ride, to Las Palmeras (3630 50 Avenue) we went.
Mack outside of Las Palmeras
The air-conditioned venue provided a much-needed respite from the 30+ degree weather. While we were greeted by a “HOLA” floor mat and a ceramic mariachi band, the overall kitsch was restrained – a decorative tiki bar and a neon Corona sign notwithstanding. Washrooms marked “Senioritas” and “Hombres” were expected, but still brought a smile to my face.
The dining area we were seated in was comprised of booths as well as stand-alone tables, filled by three other parties on that late afternoon. Our efficient waitress tried to tempt us with “something refreshing”, but we stayed the course and stuck with food only. Mack and Tom opted for Chicken Quesadillas ($13.95), Kim and Jon the Super Burritos ($12.95), and I the lone Chicken Enchilada ($15.95). Mack and I topped off our plates with an order of Pupusas ($8.95) for good measure.
Just after we polished off the complimentary fresh-fried tortillas chips and house-made salsa, our pupusas appeared. Crispy hot corn tortillas concealed a deliciously savoury filling of ground pork, tomato, onion, zucchini and cheese. Like some supporting characters that steal the limelight away from the main players in a production, the wonderful appetizer overshadowed my entree.
Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Our main dishes, on kid-friendly, bright-bordered plates, arrived all with serving sizes I thought daunting for the average individual. Kim and Jon seemed to like their burritos fine (Jon even polished off the tortilla condiment container), while I think Mack and Tom had my share of entree envy with their quesadilla. My enchiladas, dressed with an overzealous amount of cheese, were not what I was expecting. The chicken baked up a tad dry, and the tough casing didn’t help matters. The beans were pretty good, accented with some green onion bite, but half of the rice on my plate was undercooked – more stirring in the communal pot needed, perhaps?
It was a snappy meal – quick, no-frills, and intensely filling (we all remained full for hours afterwards) – but for better quality and a much cheaper price for El Salvadoran versions of the above, I’d recommend El Rancho in Edmonton’s north end. Still, I’m excited to have finally been able to try something off the Gasoline Alley-beaten path, with many more yet to visit.
Tom and Kim
Mack and I