Don Pedro’s Mexican Grill

Neighbourhood: Exchange District
Address: 114 Market Ave
Phone: 204-956-7465
Entrees: $12-$19

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

If the memories of your last tropical vacation have faded away and you’ve been longing for lively fiestas and fiery cuisine, Don Pedro’s Authentic Mexican Grill quells those cravings. It is also an important addition to Winnipeg’s dining scene where Mexican-inspired cuisine is a rare but sought after offering.

The restaurant’s large warehouse space has been transformed into a cantina with vibrantly coloured walls and multi-hued mosaic tiles. Daily live music ranging from smooth jazz to upbeat mambos gives a nod to the Mexican tradition of mariachi and creates a lively atmosphere. Souvenirs like colourful painted masks, sparkling sombreros and strings of lights shaped like chile peppers and Corona bottles decorate every inch of space.

The menu offers a large selection of Tex Mex favourites—a cuisine originating hundreds of years ago in the Southern US when  Mexican settlers combined American ingredients like cheddar cheese with ingredients like beans and tortillas.

Crispy taquitos are a hearty appetizer, with small tortillas wrapped around a spicy  beef filling  and dunked in the deep fryer. Bursts of heat are contrasted with tangy sour cream.

An option for a lighter starter is the zesty queso fundido—a sizzling heap of roasted peppers and melted cheeses served on a cast iron skillet. The mild mozzarella is complemented with the bite of the green peppers. Roll the mixture inside an accompanying stack of pillow-soft tortillas.
Tequila drunken shrimp wake up the palate with bright flavours. Perfectly cooked shrimp and a bed of Mexican rice are both saturated with fresh taste of lime. The acidity of the liquor adds complexity to the citrus notes.

The sopa Azteca transforms a simple tomato broth into a fiery stew. A generous handful of shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheeses melts into the broth making it thick and rich, while slices of smooth avocado add gentle nutty flavour. Strips of tortilla chips bring a salty crunch while cilantro offers a herbaceous punch.

Entrées also venture into Cal Mex cuisine with offerings like Baja shrimp tacos. Battered shrimp are served inside soft tortilla shells and topped with southwest sauce—a creamy, smoky chipotle creation. It pairs perfectly with the mild shrimp and thick wedges of cool avocado. A smattering of shredded cabbage adds crunchy texture.

Customary ingredients often associated with Mexican food like beans, peppers and cheese make up the foundation of most entrée choices. They come wrapped in tortillas with a choice of steak, chicken and, in some cases, shrimp. The differences are accentuated in the way dishes are presented and finished.

The fajita burrito is a testament to smouldering barbeque flavour. Char-grilled strips of peppery steak are combined with beans, grilled onions and peppers and rolled into a hearty-sized wrap. Spicy Pedro’s red sauce offers tantalizing heat with red chillies, and a layer of broiled cheddar adds gooey finish. Enchiladas offer similar satisfaction as a trio of smaller filled shells.

The chimichanga gives the familiar wrap crispy pizzaz after visiting the deep fryer.

Once you’ve made your way through the pepper and chile filled menu, cool off with a scoop of deep fried ice cream. Rich vanilla ice cream is rolled in a mixture of coconut, cinnamon and brown sugar then flash fried. The result is a sweet, crispy crust that contrasts the melting ice cream on the inside.

Don Pedro’s is open Tues-Fri 11 am-10:30 pm and Sat 5 pm-10 pm.