Windsor’s Latin American Food Scene Leaves a Lasting Impression

By Anastasia Barbuzzi

When you search “best Latin American restaurants in Windsor” on Google, it’s always saddening to see Taco Bell pop up amongst the top results knowing the small but growing number of delectable, family-run gems that fly just below the radar in a city where many people’s palettes have yet to open-up to more authentic flavours and spices.

But the restaurants I speak of are not meant to be kept a secret— Windsor’s best Latin American restaurants welcome anyone and everyone in to sample their delicacies. Take, for example, Café Amor & Art, where Amor Hernandez and her husband, Mauricio Ontaneda, have made celebrating and sharing their Mexican and Ecuadorian heritage with the masses a special focus.

Hernandez grew up watching her mother and family members cook and came to love doing it herself. All the food items at her café, including the handcrafted desserts, are made using her home recipes. Crowd favourites include the deliciously seasoned and grilled chicken tinga and adobo pork tortas (sandwiches), a hearty breakfast burrito with black beans and cheese, and mouthwatering tres leches cake steeped in sweet milk, dusted with cinnamon.

At Victoria Latina, another family-run operation tucked in the lower level of a tiny Downtown plaza, regulars gather around mismatched dining tables overflowing with traditional Salvadoran dishes like pupusas (thick, stuffed corn tortillas) oozing with melted cheese, fried yucca, flaky fish, steaming sweet corn tamales, and ice-cold fresco de fruta (fresh fruit drink).

And at Rico Taco, yet another mom-and-pop stationed at the popular Windsor Eats, birria tacos— the first in the city— are served with soft corn tortillas filled with stewed chili-adobo beef, cheese, onions, cilantro, lime, and of course, the sultry, beefy broth for dipping.

You might be thinking, why would anyone still go to Taco Bell with these incredible options accessible to them? Hernandez has a good answer: “[Latin American food] is trendy right now. Even when we came to Windsor a few years ago, there was nothing really Latin. We didn’t even know Victoria Latina existed. But now, more people are mentioning this place or that place.”

Regardless of whether or not the “trendiness” of Latin American cuisine helps to broaden Windsorites’ taste buds and minds, Hernandez and I agree on one thing in particular: “It’s nice that Windsor is so multicultural. It’s nice to see people appreciating not only Latin food but all kinds as well.”

And it’s available for takeout.