I’ve had the opportunity to go out for lunch with one of my imaginary friends, Mike several times over the past couple of years.  Yesterday was just such an occasion and we went, once again, to Carlos’ Cantina on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines.  We’ve been there thrice, now and Amy and I went there once together.

It is a typical-for-downtown-St.-Catharines-sized restaurant.  There are perhaps 15 tables.  Today was the first time I’d ever sat in the back area (there were five of us and things were busier than I’ve ever seen them).  The place doesn’t look like much from the outside, being a fairly modest storefront with a really ugly but memorable sombrero on the sign out front.  The kitchen takes up the entire right hand side of the front room and as far as I can tell, there are only two people who work there.  Carlos is the chef and there is also a woman who waits tables and busses (she is perhaps his wife or girlfriend.  Maybe business partner.  I couldn’t say).  The colour scheme is all reds, yellows and oranges and the chairs are serviceable, though I wouldn’t say comfortable.

The times I’ve been there, I have had the chicken chimichanga and the burrito and that’s about it.  Each meal starts with house-made tortilla chips and three kinds of salsa.  The one with the metal spoon in it is the hot one, so be aware.  The chimichanga is a big fried package of shredded chicken in a tasty sauce along with a whole bunch of cheese.  The burrito is basically the same thing but baked with cheese on top instead of being fried (note: a lot of Mexican food falls into the category of ‘meat and cheese wrapped in a tortilla and baked/fried with cheese’ so this is not a highly specific description of what I had).  Each is served with a side of spicy rice, beans and salad.  The portions are about right for a lunch.  I would perhaps go here and then get dessert someplace if I were out for dinner.  The prices are very competitive with other restaurants downtown.  The chimichanga was about $12 and I think the burrito is comparable.

They don’t have any fountain beverages at all.  Any pop or juice comes from a can or a bottle (they have the small, glass Coke bottles which may or may not be made with real sugar) and they have a pretty fair selection of beer, as far as I can tell.  I usually get either a Coke or an iced tea (Coke in this case which is why I’m still up at 1:05, writing this post instead of sleeping.  Caffeine is becoming a serious problem for me).

There was an upholstered office chair in area where we were sitting (which apparently used to have couches and a Nintendo but is now just tables) and a very small girl was pushing it around in circles while her mother and grandmother ate.  She was very quiet about it, which I appreciated.

rests his head on a pillow made of concrete