Comal y Canela: The restaurant I don’t want you to know about

Journalistic integrity forces me to write about Comal y Canela at 1692 Jane St. I desperately want to keep it secret from you, because it is a hip, gourmet Mexican restaurant right here in Weston. It’s a tiny space, with 15 seats, a cute decor, and gorgeous, delicious, authentic Mexican food. I don’t want you to know, because I fear I’ll never get a seat there again.

But it’s marvellous. And you have to go.

Comal y Canela has only been open for about 4 months, but word seems to be out. It was busy there tonight—a Tuesday—with a few families jumbled  on benches and chairs around the polished, rough-edged wood tables. The place is close, familiar, friendly, and inexpensive enough to frequent. (We spent $62 for a family of four.)

The menu is only in Spanish, in keeping with the authentic food. Our server, who was wonderful, helped us through it, as there was lots of stuff we’d never heard of. The guy next to me, emerging from a rapture, tried to explain pozole. He said it’s like chilli, but he said ‘chilli’ with a sneer. No Tex Mex hard tacos here, friend.

I wanted to try it all. The sausage is made in house, as are the tamales (they didn’t serve them today, because the recipe they started last night didn’t work. The corn meal in Canada is different, our server explained.)  The pork is ‘tip to tail’, and some of the food takes hours, or days, to make.

But oh, is it worth the wait.

I got goat birria: a rich stew, served with tortillas, chopped onion, sliced radishes, and cilantro. It was fabulous. When it was hot, it was warm hangover food. The braised meat fell apart, and little delectable droplets of red oil surfaced on the brown broth. While it cooled, it got better and better, as the spicy blackened-pepper flavours came forward. I love goat, and this was perfect; just a teensie bit fatty, with two knuckles of bone in. I joined my neighbour in the heavenly choir.

My wife had tacos gobernador (shrimp tacos). No amateur alimentarian, she loved them, and she denied me all but a bite—and that was begrudgingly granted for science. My kids had chicken tacos dorados (taquitos) from the childrens’ menu, topped with lettuce, sour cream, and queso fresco. Unfussy and unspicy, they were total kid wins.

There are only two shortcomings. The first is vanishing: I would have killed for a beer (even a Mexican one) to go with my meat, but, at least for now, Comal y Canela is unlicensed. Instead, I had a made-in-house hibiscus iced tea. It was great. The second means everything or nothing: the menu is meaty, with little for vegetarians, and nothing (as far as I can tell with my Spanish) for vegans.

But ignore those quibbles. Comal y Canela is superb.

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