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Primo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina serves up delicious, Celiac-friendly Mexican cuisine

On Thursday night my mom and I had dinner at a little Mexican restaurant I first discovered a couple of weeks ago: Primo’s Mexican Grill & Cantina. It’s a tiny little place at 1509 W 12th Avenue, half a block west of Granville.

What struck me when I first looked at their menu was the use of corn tortillas for the majority of their dishes, so they’re safe for little ol’ Celiac me.

Primo’s opens at 5pm for dinner service, so we arrived at 5 o’clock on the dot. We started with a glass of red wine for my mom, and one of sangria for myself. Along with our drinks we were served complementary chips and salsa. This salsa was definitely not for mild mouths; it was spicy, but fabulous.

My mom ordered the Chicken Enchiladas: “corn tortilla with melted cheese, topped with enchilada sauce, served with rice & beans”, which she thought were incredible.

The portion was large, and for an additional five dollars they added sides of guacamole, sour cream, salsa and freshly made flour chips. I of course couldn’t try the chips, but they made a nice accompaniment to my mom’s dish.

I had trouble deciding what I wanted to eat, but didn’t want to try something safe like tacos; I wanted to experiment with something different. I let our server know that I have Celiac Disease and therefore can’t eat anything with gluten. He informed me that everything there is made from scratch, so they can reliably tell you what is gluten-free.

I decided to order the Pozole Soup: “homemade chicken broth with fresh red cabbage, tomatoes, hominy and lime”, and the Beef Taquitos: “crispy corn tortillas filled with your choice of seasoned meat”.

I ordered the soup (pictured at the top of the page) because it intrigued me.  Even though I didn’t know what hominy was, the soup sounded like it would be very flavourful and unusual. It was served with corn tortilla chips mixed in with chunks of chicken and a lot of cilantro. It had a bit of heat, and I found the hominy taste very interesting.

As it turns out, hominy is dried maize kernels that have been treated with an alkali solution.  It looks like large white corn kernels and has a very intriguing taste; like a mix between corn and chickpeas.


I really loved the soup overall, but my one complaint was that the tortilla chips went very soggy, and I didn’t really enjoy them after that.

I moved on to the beef taquitos. There were four small taquitos cut in half, served on a bed of iceberg lettuce and shredded cheese, with salsa and sour cream.  Nice and crispy on the outside, they were filled with well-seasoned beef. The beef had a bit of a kick to it, but wasn’t overpoweringly spicy.

After our meal, we decided that we would splurge and order dessert. My mom ordered the Deep-Fried Ice Cream with chocolate sauce, and I decided on the Mexican Flan (crème caramel) since all the other dessert options included ice cream, which I wasn't really in the mood for.

I couldn’t try the deep fried ice cream because it was battered in flour, but my mom said I didn’t miss out on much. It was good, she said, but a little overdone, and nothing spectacular.

My flan was good too but, like the ice cream, nothing spectacular, though that didn’t stop me from eating the whole thing. It was well-cooked, served with just enough caramel and dolloped with whipped cream.

All in all, our meal at Primo’s was fabulous. The service was great, the atmosphere comfortable, and the server’s knowledge about Celiac and gluten-free food made me feel instantly at ease. I will definitely return to Primo’s to eventually try all of the gluten-free options they have to offer.

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