Co-owners of Tres Carnales Taqueria, Chris Sills and Dani Braun, first got the idea to open an authentic Mexican restaurant while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta.
“We went up (to a room), and we downed a bottle of Nicaraguan rum over the next few hours and scrawled on napkins and hotel notepads, and we pretty much hammered out the entire concept,” Sills said.
Today, Tres Carnales is a true Edmonton success story. They celebrated their 10th anniversary this past June and are the go-to place for Mexican food in the city. Braun is originally from Mexico, and Tres Carnales continues to serve Edmontonians authentic Mexican food based on Braun’s mom’s recipes.
Since its opening, the restaurant has received a lot of publicity from prominent magazines, TV channels, and newspapers.
Shortly after opening, Sills recalled, “we got a call from The Food Network.” The network representative said, “‘you guys have been brought to our attention as a long-standing, go-to taco joint in Edmonton,’ and I said, ‘well, we’re currently the go-to taco joint, but we’re not long-standing; we’ve only been open a couple of months at this point!’”
The Food Network called back the next day to say they wanted to feature Tres, and Sills thought it was “amazing that we had only been open for such a short period of time and had garnered such an amazing following.”
Another crowning moment is when the Red Hot Chili Peppers came and ate tacos at the taqueria while they were on tour. Sills was enthusiastic while telling the story and said, still slightly in awe, “my favourite band of all time… stood in line to eat tacos in my restaurant.”
These are just a few examples of the publicity that Tres has received since opening and Sills said “there is no end to the craziness that the taco shop is still producing in its 11th year of business. We’re really, really proud, and we’re so grateful for Edmonton’s support all this time; it’s been pretty bonkers.”
When asked what led to their explosive success, Sills immediately replied “an unrelenting commitment to quality and service. Dani and I treat everyone that comes into the restaurant like friends that are coming over to our house to hang out and eat some wicked tacos.”
According to Sills, there are many popular menu items that he considers must-tries. The hottest item is the fish tacos. “It’s fresh pacific red snapper, never frozen. We go through so much of this,” he said. The fish is sustainably caught and freshly prepared.
On Taco Tuesday, Tres offers “nine tacos and a side dish of albondigas, which is a Mexican meatball, or our papas fritas, which are chunks of russet potatoes that are double fried and topped with a guallio chilli mayo and queso fresco and cilantro. And so you get this giant plate with a ring of tacos that you and your friend can share for 15 bucks each,” said Sills.
The quesabirrias are another favourite. According to the website, the quesabirrias are “huge double-layered corn tortillas filled with fried cheese and Alberta beef shank and garnish. Served with a side of beef consommé” and are only served on Monday and Saturday because the meat is braised for 12 hours before serving.
Although he couldn’t disclose everything, Sills did hint that there is more on the horizon in addition to Tres Carnales Taqueria and Tres Carnales Rostizado — perhaps even a new burrito shop with their well-known La Mision burritos.
Tres Carnales is located downtown (10119 100A St NW) and is open from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
The restaurant is just a short walk from campus; be sure to check it out the next time you are looking to grab a bite.
You can follow Tres Carnales on Instagram (@trescarnales) to stay in the loop with the latest happenings.
Photo location: Tres Carnales Rostizado