Taco Del Mar‘s slogan is “Delicious is our middle name.” Well, here’s what I have to say about that: No freakin’ way. Unless “delicious” means bland, unsatisfying, and saturated with salt.

The chain markets itself as a fresher, tastier option to Taco Bell et al. I’ll admit I didn’t have high hopes, but I figured people lining up every lunch hour at Taco Del Mar’s downtown location at least meant it was passable, no? NOPE.

Taco Del Mar, Calgary

We went to the new northeast location near Sunridge Mall. Service was atrociously slow. When the counter guy asked what meat I wanted, I told him, “Carne asada,” as it’s listed on the huge menu on the wall. He looked at me blankly. I said it twice. Finally I said, “Steak?”

He scraped the bottom of the container and put three sad, tiny beef cubes into my second taco. I said, “Can I get more meat than that?” Again, blank stare. Never mind. Later, he called to his colleague for more steak, and she took out a big container and threw it in the microwave.

My two hard corn tacos were stale. The carne asada had that texture of meat sitting around in liquid for too long — dry, gritty and chalky — and tasted entirely of salt. The “hot” salsa was so bland I doused my lunch in Tabasco sauce.

Jason’s soft corn tacos were better, I guess. His pork was “OK” and the tortilla was fine. He got a combo with chips and salsa, and a drink.

Our lunch came to just under $16. I say, save your money and don’t bother. The Mexican food drought continues in Canada.

Taco Del Mar, website here.