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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Two Cowboys: Mi Lugar Favorito Para Margaritas en Canmore, Alberta

My Two Girlfriends

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Here's the confession. If you don't know already, I have two girlfriends.

Caipirinha and Margarita are both breathtakingly beautiful. They make my world a better, happier place. You need to be careful to pick a favourite. If you do, don't let them know about each other. If I have to pick one, it will be Margarita (Please don't tell Caipirinha).

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If I cannot meet her her at her place we often meet halfway at our favourite alternative spot in Canmore, Alberta. A small restaurant operated by Mexico City natives. A place she calls her home away from home. For me, it is my home with good friends, good food, and good Margarita. It is
Aroma Mexican Restaurant, an authentic Mexican establishment in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, that is owned and operated by Jose Castillo. A little bit of Mexico in the snow. Margarita and my happy place.

Jose and his maître d', Rafael transports us weekly to lapping shores on the Caribean sea, filled with flavours and aromas from his homeland. Mole verde, salsa verde. Pick any verde, for your little bit of Mexico in the mountains. Above all, remember to meet Margarita. She will take your breath away.


Canada is a land of many peoples. Immigrants from all over the world make it their new home. The Castillo family from Mexico journeyed via Montreal to finally settle in Canmore. They operate their very own authentic restaurant on Main Street. They are now Canadian. With them came their traditions of authentic Mexican cooking and a wicked understanding of the perfect Margarita.

Canmorians gained a little bit of Mexico without having to make the pilgrimage south. We can have our weekly dose of the good times in measured and responsible quantities, right here at home in Canada.

How do I know it is authentic?

Ask for Jose, the owner, operator and head chef. You will see a head peak out from a hole in the wall with a view to the kitchen at the back. This is where Jose will be busy stirring his mole on the stove, which is Mamacita's recipe from way, way back when. The restaurant is authentic because, the owner, which is Mexican, cooks his favourite home-made dishes for his favourite customers, himself.

Aroma is often filled to capacity. Yet, you will always find one table marked "reserved". That is the table that is kept for the surprise arrival of special guests. Friends of Jose and Rafael. Loyal and long-standing customers.

Let us just say, we've never been turned away.

"Jose, thank you for introducing me to Margarita. Thank you for bringing Mexico to us in the mountains. Thank you for always treating my family, my guests and I with the very best in food, hospitality and friendship."

P.S. Thank you for sharing your favourite Mezcal with me.

Hendrik van Wyk
Mexican Cowboy

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