I’m just recovering from our first road trip as a family in a minivan. We drove from Vancouver to Medicine Hat and back in a week. It was interesting to say the least. I’m happy that we didn’t subsist on fast food, as tempting as that convenience was.
I relied a lot on TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon when we had time to stop for a nice meal. In Kamloops, I was surprised to find that Quilas, a modest Mexican restaurant, ranked as No. 1 among the city’s 210 eateries on TripAdvisor. So of course, we had to check it out.
Quilas is a clean, earth-toned spot downtown. Its clientele is an obvious mix of regulars (hugs and first-name greetings from the owner) and visitors like us (a German-speaking family with a large camera came in behind us). The menu is full of Mexican standards but the pupusas hint at the owner’s El Salvadorean roots.
Since online reviews were gaga about the fresh guacamole made at your table, and I’m a sucker for tableside prep, we got that as an appetizer. The lovely waitress came over with a tray of “secret spices,” red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, tomato, two ripe avocados and fresh limes that she assembled in front of us in a mortar. It was good but nothing spectacular for $8.50. I would try the nachos next time.
However, I did enjoy the accompanying house-made tortilla chips. It’s so simple but so many Mexican places don’t bother doing it. We also got a complimentary basket of those and some slightly spicy salsa shortly after we sat down. Good thing we ordered the guac since H commandeered the salsa and chips basket. (I’ve been calling him The Dictator.)
I was not disappointed with my tacos al pastor ($16) for both flavour and portion. The cubed pork shoulder had hints of a tequila marinade, and was topped with fresh pico de gallo and pineapple. It came with Mexican rice, refried beans, and salsa. H, who suddenly became a picky eater on this trip, gobbled one up to my relief.
Jason’s chimichanga ($17) was deep-fried goodness, stuffed with cheese, sour cream, salsa and shredded chicken.
We got a banana xango (tortilla wrapped around banana, then deep fried) to share for dessert, but I couldn’t honestly tell you what it tasted like because The Dictator kept taking the plate to hog the ice cream, and I was rocking a tired T in my arms.
I can see why weary travellers (and parents) found Quilas to be a casual, comfortable place to eat.
Quilas Mexican Restaurant, 330 Victoria St., Kamloops, B.C., (778) 471-6364. Open Monday 5-10 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
High chairs: Yes.
Room for strollers: Yes.
Change table: I think I saw one in the women’s washroom.