It’s daunting to open a new business at any time, but to do so during an economic downturn is even more difficult. So it’s been heartening to see local restaurants supporting budding businesses who need a leg up to get going or to test out ideas. Recent examples including Dovetail Deli (RIP) hosting pop-ups for Northern Chicken and Honest Dumplings. Alberta Hotel Bar and Kitchen opened up their doors this weekend to La Mar, a forthcoming food truck hoping to hit the streets this month.
La Mar is the brainchild of Larissa Martinez and Chef Victor Hugo. Offering up the flavours of Mexico, this seafood-forward truck has developed a menu that differentiates itself from other local vendors. Mack and I were invited to a menu tasting at Alberta Hotel on Sunday to taste what La Mar has to offer.
Larissa and Victor of La Mar
The historic bar inside the Alberta Hotel wasn’t perhaps the most congruent space for a tasting of Mexican street food, but we didn’t come for the surroundings. We were told that no item on the menu would be more than $7, which is a competitive price point to start with, especially if the actual serving portions match the size of the dishes we were provided that day.
The Vallarta shrimp tostada layered creamy avocado, tomatoes, shrimp, chilies, and their house “chimichile” sauce over a crispy tortilla. The fried base was balanced by the freshness of the shrimp, tomatoes and citrus. Our only complaint was that it would be very difficult to eat as a take-out item, and would fare better as a street eat if converted to a dish comprised of dips and chips.
Vallarta shrimp tostada
The chicken Itza taco was easily our favourite plate. The shredded chicken retained its moisture and absorbed the flavours of the marinade. Unadorned with the exception of pickled onions, it allowed the chicken to remain the star of the show – but really, if allowed, I would have eaten the chicken up with a spoon.
Chicken Itza taco
Our third and final taste featured the fish taco. The battered and fried fish was topped with tomatoes, cabbage, and their house “chimichile” sauce. The textures spoke for themselves, crisp and light.
Chef Hugo was in his element, hamming it up for the camera between the kitchen and the dining room. It’s clear he’s passionate about his food, and I can’t help but think the food truck will be the perfect stage for someone with his energy and enthusiasm.
There are still a few hurdles for La Mar to clear before they can officially join the fleet of food trucks in Edmonton, but I look forward to the day when La Mar is out on the street! If you’re hoping for an early taste of La Mar, Alberta Hotel Bar & Kitchen is hosting a Cinco de Mayo and patio launch party on May 5, 2016 which will feature Chef Hugo’s menu.
Thanks again to Larissa and Victor for the invitation and hospitality!