The inspiration for Calgary’s Añejo restaurant on 4th Street SW came from one of it’s 4 amigos. Jeff Hines is one of four partners in the restaurant ownership group. He has a second home near Puerto Vallarta, and was inspired to bring the rural Mexican culture to Calgary.
The room is decorated in a beautiful mash-up of skeletons, religious symbols, all in a bright, tacky and almost Christian Audigier-esque palette. It’s a gorgeous nod to the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival in Mexico that takes skeletons and makes them beautiful.
First win for Añejo? I made my reservation via Twitter. I simply tweeted a question asking if reservations were needed for a Sunday night deuce. Not usually, came the prompt reply, but they made one for me anyway.
We were seated right away (despite arriving early) and were immediately greeted by our server with a “can I bring you some fresh guacamole?”
This is part of the signature experience at Añejo. They bring three halves of avocado, some tomatoes, spices, and chiles in a traditional molcajete de piedra (volcanic stone bowl). The guacamole is then made table side giving you a chance to small talk with your server and get some translations on the menu and ask about the dozens of tequilas that line the bar.
It was this conversation that had us zero in on the soups. I almost cried with joy when I saw Pozole Rojo on the menu.
5 years ago, a friend of my parents became an ordained priest in Mexico City. (I know, I know, this was before I admitted I was an atheist) After the ceremony, everyone went back to the neighborhood where a block party broke out. Different people had food carts set up with tacos, rice, and .. pozole. I fell in love, and have only had it once or twice since.
My wife had the tortilla soup and raved equally about it. We also ordered some tacos, and molotes to have on the side. Note: the soups are filling. With the full bowl of guacamole and the hearty soups in our belly, we were barely able to tackle our tapas plates.
The tacos are exactly what you’d expect. Fresh, simple, and, depending on the salsa you choose to spread inside, spicy or mild. The molotes, on the other hand, were disappointing. These little purses are a little too large and didn’t really grab us. We split one, left the others on the plate (perhaps because we were full from the rest of our meal).
The staff were upbeat and knowledgeable. The room was a little bright for our liking, but the atmosphere was still cozy. Rock music played over the speakers, I would have preferred something more authentic to match the menu, but it is a modern restaurant, so maybe it didn’t have to be that kitschy.
Perfect place for 8-10 friends to celebrate a birthday or other special event.
Dinner for 2 including guacamole, 2 bowls of soup, 2 starters, 1 ice cream, 1 margarita, 2 beers: $98 + tip.