1 min

Corazón de Maíz

Bustling taqueria is located in the Byward Market Square building

Corazón de Maíz's dining room feels like a patio in summer. Credit: Laura Zahody

Don’t be fooled by Corazón de Maíz’s tourist trap location; the food at this tiny, bustling Mexican taqueria is fresh and fabulous. Chef-owners Erick Igari and Mariana Torio opened in December 2011 and haven’t taken a day off since.

The dining room is cozy, with bar seating and a couple of four-tops strapped with vintage patterned plastic tablecloths. It’s like a patio in summer when the garage door–style wall of windows is ripped open. The menu is printed on two yellow-trimmed chalkboards hanging above the cash. Prices are an absolute steal.

Tortilla soup topped with a tangle of long white corn chips is only $4.

The chicken broth has a distinct tang and greenness that’s heightened by salty queso and smoothed by a squirt of cream. A garnish of perfectly ripe diced avocado and slivered guajillo chili, with its green tea–like flavour, give some bites more living green flavour than others.

On to tacos — beef, chicken or pork. The generous plates have three tacos with three layers: refried beans; braised, shredded and sauced meat; and finely diced fresh salsa. Guacamole is served on the side. Refried beans are silky and seasoned with slightly bitter, citrusy epazote, a dried Mexican herb Igari refers to as his secret ingredient. Shredded meats are moist and well-seasoned. All the meats are seasoned with the same blend of earthy spices redolent of garlic and cumin.

Delicious, chewy quesadillas are made with the same meat as the tacos and topped with melted cheese. Tacos and quesadillas have little chili heat until the special salsas are added.