Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts

Campechano (Toronto)

Campechano is a great place for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Their menu contains options for both and items are sold by piece, so everyone can order whatever they want.

Most tables start with the guacamole ($8) where it arrives with two cups brimming with thin crispy chips, which they refill if you finish the tortilla before the dips. The salsa roja is great, with just a bit of spice and plenty of zest. It leaves the guacamole feeling fairly neutral, jazzed up with pomegranate - an interesting twist, though personally I do enjoy my dip without fruit.


If you’re feeling hungry than order a sencillo sopes ($6) for yourself; otherwise, it’s hearty enough to share. The tortilla is thicker and soft, almost like naan but not oily. A layer of refried beans is spread on top with lettuce, cheese, and two types of sauce covering the pillowy tortilla. A different alternative to Campechano’s tacos, but not nearly as exciting.


If you can handle spice, the hongo ahumado ($6) has a healthy kick of fiery sauce drizzled on top. This heat was unexpected as the taco’s description made it sound earthy tasting, from the smoked mushroom base, with a hearty finish, thanks to the white bean puree. In reality, aside from the spice, it's rather fresh with plenty of herbs sprinkled over top and very tasty, despite all the water you’ll have afterwards.


On the other hand, the healthy sprinkling of cotija cheese on the rajas ($5) makes the roasted poblano peppers taco richer than you'd expect. Additionally, the peppers aren’t spicy at all, instead having a deep earthiness. With little bits of corn added for bite, this was another tasty taco.


Campechano’s dining room is small and cozy, so try to make a reservation. Regardless, there seems to be plenty of walk-ins and on our weekday dinner visit, the wait wasn’t long… their service is friendly and efficient so most tables turn over quickly.

Becoming a flexitarian has been a breeze with restaurants like Campechano. Their vegetarian tacos are so delicious that I definitely don’t miss the meat. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 504 Adelaide Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Campechano Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana (Washington)


Biting into the thin non-oily tortilla chips dipped in the slightly spicy salsa was the first hint there’d be good food to come. Mexican cuisine is a meal I always look forward to in America. Where choices are abundant and things just taste more authentic compared to Canada.


Oyamel Cocina Mexicana didn’t disappoint. Their tacos were each four delicious bites. The palm sized shell could barely contain the lengua guisada ($4.50), to the point I had to finish the second half with knife and fork as the thick slices of tender beef tongue fell out. Braised until permeated with flavours, this is the way tongue is meant to be served: bites of the soft meaty properties while the unsightly bumps are hidden from view.


The pollo a la parrilla ($4) had lovely smokiness with the chicken even the green onion garnishes getting some time on the grill. If you order multiple tacos, eat this one first as the flavours are mellow. The smear of smashed heirloom Resboseros beans at the bottom were the perfect condiment, just thick enough to hold everything together but fluid enough to not get sticky.

Cheese lovers, the quesadilla huitlacoche ($10) is for you with tons of soft gooey Chihuahua cheese studded with corn and bits of bell pepper, onion and tomatoes. There’s something magical about the preparation of the cheese, slightly crusted so the caramelized parts breaks into pieces that tastes like bacon bits. We had to double check with the waitress to make sure it was indeed vegetarian and pork free as it tastes so real.


Of all the items, the guacamole ($15) seemed the most run-of-the-mill. But, to be fair, it’s a dish that’s easily made at home. At Oyamel, a staff member stands in the dining room making it fresh with mortar and pestle, before topping each with queso fresco and a green tomatillo salsa. I would have liked a more of the Serrano chile for heat, but did enjoy that the acid was balanced so the creamy avocado was present.


Oh land of stars and stripes, just remember how lucky you are to have such tasty Mexican food. Just why would anyone ever want to build a wall to keep out something so delicious?

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 401 7th St NW

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

Oyamel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Quetzal (Toronto)


Quetzal certainly looks and feels different compared to other Mexican restaurants. The dining room is white and sleek and there’s no images of skulls or Frida Kahlo anywhere, they’re bringing an upscale flair to Mexican cuisine.

Things haven’t gone so smoothly since its opening on August 2018. The restaurant had to temporarily close down in January when two of their chefs and co-owners quit, citing they felt overworked.  Chef Grant van Gameren stepped in and after adjusting the menu (so long, nine types of salsa) things are simpler but still relies heavily on the 26-foot wood-fired grill. They also stopped serving bugs and grubs (you heard right), with the exception of crickets found in their dessert (more on that later).

While some establishments serve complimentary salsa and chips, at Quetzal their amuse bouche is a tostada adorned with spiced salmon and guacamole. It gives you a taste of things to come - fresh neutral ingredients combined together to provide flavour, but nothing tastes overly harsh (any use of lime and cilantro is restrained).


The kanpachi tiradito ($21) is absolutely delicious. The fish is first grilled so the skin has a slight crispiness and a mellow smokiness that hangs in the distance. Yet, the flesh remains raw and after sitting in the light acid sauce starts to break up so it’s even tenderer than typical sushi.


Nonetheless, it’s a dish I’m torn about. Sure, it tastes great but when you’re visiting to experience bright Mexican flavours, you can’t help but feel a bit disappointed with something that tastes like tataki. Perhaps it’s where this dish sits on the menu, under ceviche, when this is noticeably not ceviche. The flavours are rather neutral sitting in a liquid that’s not overly tangy and merely adorned with chili oil and micro greens. Delicious, but not Mexican.

Luckily, the memelas ($16) that followed has the traditional tastes. Blue corn masa tortillas are freshly pressed and toasted so they emit such a lovely aroma when mixed with the cheese and morels. It is dishes like this that reaffirms why I love sitting at the Chef’s table … the aroma, at its peak strength, may only last a minute so you want to be sitting close by.


Covered onto the masa are asiento (a thin layer of pork lard) and plenty of quesillo cheese so they form an almost squeaky cheese curd layer. It sounds like it’d be heavy, but with the plump morels and dollops of refreshing salsa cruda everything works nicely together. Just don’t bother eating it with a knife and fork – it’s difficult to cut through – hand-to-mouth is definitely the way to go.


Almost all the mains are cooked on the wood-fire grill. The whole grilled sea bream ($58) was an excellent suggestion from the chef near our seats (consequently, he’s also the one preparing it so we had an excellent view of our meal being created). Our waiter’s suggestion of adding on an order of tortillas ($2.75 for six pieces) was another smart suggestion as it helped make tasty fish tacos.


The sea bream is butterflied, deboned, marinated with salsa roja (a slightly spicy red sauce), and then grilled over the fire so the skin get crispy and the meat retains a lovely smokiness. On arrival, the fish is moist and tender, but because the plate is heated, starts to become overcooked halfway through the dish. Indeed, the heated plate helps ensure the fish stays warm until it’s served, but perhaps provide bigger sharing plates and suggest to customers that they move it onto these dishes, if they’d like the fish less done.

Having had the fish by itself and sandwiched inside warm soft tortillas, both work and taste delicious. However, since the tortillas are rather plain, I had to really layer on the salsa verde to give it flavour, so an extra dish of the condiment is required if customers pair the sea bream with tortillas. In fact, I wish there was the option to purchase an order of pico de gallo to add to the experience.


Quetzal’s dessert menu is sparse: with only two options, I almost wanted to call it quits and find something elsewhere. However, the helado de hoja de aguacate ($11) sounded so interesting that we had to taste it once.

You really need to dig straight through to the bottom to get a bit of the avocado leaf ice cream, chamomile and tropical fruit espuma, cocao nibs, and of course one of the candied crickets. It’s a dessert that reminded me of a margarita – there’s sweet citrus flavours that ends with a salty finish. As a person who only occasionally enjoys salty and sweet combinations, it really wasn’t something I warmed to.


And the candied crickets? If you don’t think about it, they’re really just crunchy bits in the ice cream. As soon as I saw a leg, my stomach turned and I could only manage it get down two of them. My previous statement that eating bugs should be left to Fear Factor contestants remains.

Quetzal’s service really excels compared to Grant van Gameren’s other restaurants. We were appropriately brought to an ideal spot at the Chef’s table: closest to the centre of the restaurant so I could still see what’s happening elsewhere and right by the fire but not under the drafty venting system. The experience was much better than the terrible encounter at Bar Isabel. Moreover, the Chef manning the fish and meat station immediately started speaking to us – offering suggestions on what to order, so there wasn’t that period of awkwardness when I wondered if I should ask questions.

For those who are really stuck on what to order, you can even ask the waiter to put together a customized tasting menu. In retrospect, that may have been a smart idea as he would have likely steered me towards a more traditional ceviche and away from the crickets.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 419 College Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Quetzal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rosalinda (Toronto)


It’s getting easier to have a plant-based meal in Toronto. Newly opened in the spring, Rosalinda serves vegan Mexican cuisine and is probably the fanciest meatless eatery you’ll find in the Financial District. Their airy dining room feels carefree and is polished and pretty enough for business lunches and socialites alike. The love child of Grant van Gameren, Jamie Cook, and Max Rimaldi, these owners know a thing or two about creating trendy hip restaurants.

Their multigrain chicharron ($9) provides a tasty nibble while waiting for the other dishes. You’ll want to gently spread the thick tangy guacamole onto the crispy multigrain crackers as they're not nearly as strong as pork rinds. But, they do have that puffy crunchy texture, the various seeds giving it a nice nutty flavour. 


It’s not often you’ll find fritters light and moist. Rosalinda’s veggie fritters ($7) contained plenty of shredded vegetables bound together with a bit of chickpea flour, enough to hold it together without forming a lump of dough. Accompanied by a tamarind-ancho dip, to give it that Mexican flavour, I could have easily eaten them plain if there was a bit more salt in the batter.


If I didn’t know Rosalinda’s menu was vegan, the young coconut in the ceviche ($14) could almost fool me for squid. There’s the blast of acidity you’d expect from ceviche, but the dish lacked the herbs and onion to balance out the lime juice. Moreover, if the coconut was cut into cubes, it’d combine better with the diced apple and celery for contrast. With the coconut slices, the dish felt fragmented as it’s difficult to get all the elements in one bite. 


Our waitress described the chilaquiles rojos ($15) as “nachos”. While not entirely untrue (since the dish is made with a base of tortilla chips), my friend described it better as “soggy Frito Lays”. You really need to get to the bottom of the dish for the ones soaked in sauce for flavour; the ones on top merely taste like moistened chips. With nearly half a dozen ingredients listed on the menu for the dish, it was still bland and uneventful, even just a drizzle of crema on top would have been nice.


Not surprisingly, there are a variety of tacos and tostadas on the menu. I’d skip the roasted cauliflower tostada ($7) - the fried shell was brittle (not crispy) and breaks into shards with a slightly bitter finish. Although the cauliflower florets were nicely roasted, the sikil pak (a pumpkin seed spread) and herb salsa verde were all colour and no flavour. The chorizo verde taco ($14) was better, at least the corn shell was warm and soft with great flavours seeping through from the poblano tomatillo salsa and cucumber pico de gallo. Just don’t order it expecting the salty spicy taste of chorizo as the filling tastes more like spinach paneer than sausage.


In fact, the taco led us into a conversation as to why vegetarian restaurants insist on naming dishes after meat to begin with. If it’s their way of appealing to meat eaters, anyone who orders these tacos expecting chorizo would be sorely disappointed. However, if they called them paneer verde tacos, it’s closer to the reality and would be just as appealing. I, for one, wish vegetarian restaurants will just showcase vegetables, legumes, and pulses proudly; not trying to disguise them as imitation meat.

The dish I was most excited for was the roasted Japanese eggplant ($16), which when done well can be so good. Rosalinda’s version was almost there, with plenty of flavours and textures from the salsa macha, sikil pak, cashew crema, cilantro, and pomegranate - I especially enjoyed the spicy kick from the salsa macha – it just lacked salt, something the spongy eggplant needs a lot of.


Thankfully, the Casare aioli on the Tijuana-style broccolini ($14) saved the day – adding it to the eggplant made the dish sing. Consider ordering both dishes together as a bit of the crunchy roasted broccolini paired with the softer eggplant is a nice combination.   


Although the spiced churros ($8) with cinnamon sugar and chocolate banana caramel looked and smelled great, they were so dense it was felt like we were eating fried bread sticks. Where is the airiness of churros? Since the recipe doesn’t call for eggs, it’s not as if making the dessert vegan is to blame.


Go for the rhum roasted pineapple ($8) instead. While the pineapple is a little sweet and there’s no rum flavour, the coconut whipped creamy is heavenly and the toasted coconut chips adds a nice crunch.


Even with my love for Mexican food, I don’t love Rosalinda … it simply doesn’t do the cuisine justice. Mexican fare has so many vibrant sauces and ingredients. While Rosalinda’s menu lists many of these, what shows up on the plate looks pretty but tastes bland. All pomp, but little substance.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10



How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 133 Richmond Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Rosalinda Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


El Catrin Destileria (Toronto)


Torontonians love patios during the summer and El Catrin, located in the Distillery District, has one of the best patios. It’s cheery and spacious, but best of all away from any automobile traffic given its location in the middle of the Distillery compound.

El Catrin Distillery Toronto

To really get the good times started, a bowl of guacamole ($12.95) works wonders. The menu notes it’s “made” tableside, but in reality it’s just a quick crushing of halved avocados with a pestle in front of you. It’s not exactly an extravagant tableside experience, but nonetheless the fruits resist browning.


The guacamole includes plenty of creamy avocado that’s simply flavoured with cilantro, onion, a bit of Serrano chili, and tomatoes. Dip a chip into the creamy concoction while you sip on a cold drink… what else do you need on a nice day?

El Catrin Distillery Toronto guacamole

Weekday lunches are a good time to visit as El Catrin’s not overly busy and they offer a special lunch menu ($16.95) with a choice of soup or salad and two tacos. It also includes a non-alcoholic juice of the day, which was watermelon during my visit, sweet and refreshing.


With my love of shrimp tacos, I had to try their camarones en adobo. Although small in size, the shrimp were cooked well and being tiny there were more to spread out across the taco. The hand-made corn tortilla was a key ingredient for creating an authentic taste and there were plenty of flavours from the salsa verde, pineapple chipotle adobo sauce, and pineapple pico de gallo. Despite all the condiments, I had to add on some of the habanero hot sauce, which made it even better.

El Catrin Distillery Toronto shrimp tacos

The accompanying bowl of ensalada de kiko is a quinoa based salad topped with diced cucumber, tomato, avocado, and queso fresco cheese. The smoked corn aioli dressing was more citrus than smoke and could have been saltier. Luckily, with the complimentary salsas, a few spoonful of the roasted tomatillo salsa helped give the salad interest.


In hindsight, I’d forgo the lunch special for another taco as they were the best part of the meal. The Baja fish tacos ($16.95) were your typical fried battered version with coleslaw wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. Despite there being nothing unique about El Catrin’s version, there’s nothing disappointing either: the fried fish was crispy and not overly oily; the coleslaw nice and crunchy; the tortilla fresh and soft; and the chipotle lime mayo providing sufficient flavours.

El Catrin Distillery Toronto fish tacos

When the sun is shining in Toronto, it’s difficult not to be in a great mood. Get outside and enjoy it while it lasts! With El Catrin’s colourful décor and cobblestone flooring, for a moment you feel like you’re transported somewhere foreign and exotic.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 18 Tank House Lane

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

El Catrin Destileria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Carnita Eglinton (Toronto)


As an establishment you have to decide: are we going to be a full-service restaurant or casual walk-in? Once you start taking reservations and proceed to warn patrons about the 15-minute grace period and two hour seating limit, you’ve slated yourself into the full-service category. It also means you need to spring the extra minimum wage hours to hire a host or hostess.

Upon arriving at La Carnita, we awkwardly waited at the empty hostess stand. After two food runners passed us with no acknowledgement and a line of other diners started forming, my husband approached the bartender to inquire about a host, only to be told that they have one and to just go back and wait.

A waitress passes dangerously close to us, takes one look and decides to walk back the other way. Finally, after a few minutes, someone who must work downstairs at Good Fortune (he’s in a tropical shirt while La Carnita staff swathed in black) stops and greets us. He’s cheerful and advises that they all “share” in the job – oh poor delusional soul, you most certainly do not.  That same waitress that avoided the line in the first place, suddenly approaches and offers to show us to our table if the other guy tells her where to seat us. Take a deep breath, stay calm

From there the service improved, the waitress that seated us quickly took our drink orders and provided good suggestions. The Peach Don’t Kill My Vibe ($13) she liked was rather refreshing filled with fruity flavours that hid all hints of alcohol. Whereas, the Spring It On ($13) we chose ourselves had none of the promised St. Germain or cucumber - it’s really best classified as gin with simple syrup.

Yet, when I wanted another cocktail and stopped one of the runners, I was informed he couldn’t take the order and would go find someone else. After five minutes and no follow-up, I decided to skip the second drink, our food would be finished soon anyways.

Having ordered practically all the tacos, their fish ones reign supreme. The best was the grilled fish tostada ($9.95) which starred a thick slice of perfectly cooked Arctic char; it was still jewel-tone in the centre. The light smokiness from the grill went well with the sweet corn salsa and hint of Diablo's Fuego hot sauce in the background. But, it’s messy. The crispy tostada has no chance of holding up against the heavy fish – consider replacing it with a regular tortilla wrap instead.


The In Cod We Trust ($5.79) combines the typical deep fried battered fish with crunchy red cabbage and green apple slaw. There’s plenty of flavours thanks to the lime crema and “Voltron” sauce (a spicy soy drizzle). Sure, fried fish tacos are practically a staple item at every family restaurant in Toronto, but La Carnita does them well.


Although it was included in the menu description, I wasn’t expecting the coconut milk used in the tostada de ceviche ($7.95). Hence, at first bite was thrown off by the sour cream taste and consistency of the ceviche. In hindsight, it wasn’t terrible, incorporating plenty of cubed tuna and bits of tomato and cucumber. It just didn’t look appetizing and if it weren’t for the crispy shell, the mixture would be way too soft.


I’d go back for the pollo frito ($5.79), a thick crispy chicken tender smothered in a nutty sweet mole, hot sauce, crispy green cabbage, and refreshing pico de gallo. It was way better than the carne asada ($6.79) which despite having great flavours, I still couldn’t get over the odd soft texture of the meat (too much powdered tenderizer perhaps?)


The daily special ($5.25) wasn’t any better. That evening featuring pulled pork with mango salsa. The spicy salsa was delicious, but even with all the flavours couldn’t save the terribly dry pork.


If you craving meat, I’d go for the ancho BBQ wings ($15.95), the crispy edges smothered in a poblano lime barbeque sauce that’s thick and flavourful, almost like mole. With seven to an order, there’s also plenty to go around.  


By the end, I wasn’t sure whether to stay for a slice of the Sweet Jesus ice cream cake or just grab something on the way home. Our waitress was awfully friendly and the food came at a respectable pace. Yet again, we did have less than half an hour left to the strict two-hour seating limit. In the end, we decided to leave while things were still good. 

On the way out, sure enough, another line had formed by the hostess stand. Poor patrons, where’s the delusional guy in the tropical shirt when you need him?

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 130 Eglinton Avenue East

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


La Carnita Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato