Showing posts with label taco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label taco. 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
____________________________
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

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


Maiz Latin Food (Toronto)


With my love for small family run restaurants, I wish… just wish … I could rave about Maiz. The restaurant has the makings of what could be a niche neighbourhood spot: it’s the only one in the area serving Latin food, the dining room is casual but comfortable, and with the roll-up windows and dark décor it has a Queen West coolness.

If only they didn’t push the arepas ($11) so much. Having had them delivered through Ubereats and at the restaurant, they certainly taste better in person. Yet, despite the amount of pulled chicken, guacamole, and cheese stuffed into the maize flour toasted shell, the pastry was still tasteless and dense. Perhaps if it were fluffier, thinner, or contained more salt in the dough it'd be better. The thick la negra salsa, which is dark and flavourful like olive tapenade, could have helped augment the arepa if it weren’t served so cold, shocking the taste buds.


The pabellon ($15) is better, especially if you need a filling meal. The plate is heaped with black beans, rice, fried plantains, pulled beef, and a miniature arepa. The actual protein was decent and has a lovely hint of spice in the background, but I still prefer the pulled chicken, which is more succulent and flavourful. Overall, the dish really needs something saucy and the pulled beef is where the moisture comes in; everything else (except the rice) was dry and heavy so it screamed for sauce. 


I’d go back for the corn-shell pulled chicken tacos ($12 for three), which could easily be made into a meal with a shared appetizer or side. Although simply adorned with cilantro, onion, and sour cream (we added oaxaca cheese for extra $1.50), they were tasty and the perfect three bites. 


I always try to order the “traditional” dishes during a first visit to a restaurant. Therefore, it could be a shared disappointment in Maiz and me that I didn’t like the arepa and pabellon more. Instead, it was the mainstream tacos that won me over. Oh well, the stomach wants what it wants.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3220 Yonge 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:


Maiz Latin Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wilbur Mexicana (Toronto)

Wilbur Mexicana Toronto


You know Wilbur Mexicana is serving something good from the constant line that forms at its doorway – having passed by the eatery on numerous occasions, I’ve never seen it clear. So, when a casual meal was required, after an event in the King West area, this bustling restaurant came to mind. Part of the growing quick-service industry, the concept is simple: grab a menu, order, sit down anywhere with your sign on display and they’ll bring the food to you.

Wilbur Mexicana Toronto

Not realizing that every meal already comes with crispy warm non-greasy tortilla chips, we started with the guacamole and chips ($5), which came shortly after settling down at one of the large communal tables. For the price, Wilbur provides a relatively large cup of the rich creamy dip, a simple combination of avocado, cilantro and lime juice.

Wilbur Mexicana - guacamole and chips

For those who can’t decide between seafood or meat, the S&T burrito ($12) solves your dilemma since it contains both brisket and shrimp. What a hefty burrito, its grilled tortilla brimming with rice, beans, peppers, onions, jalapeno, cheese, sour cream salsa and lettuce. All the ingredients were fresh and delicious: a good portion of the soft shredded beef, the hot shrimp just barely cooked through and even the rice retaining its individual grains and giving off a fragrant aroma.  

Wilbur Mexicana - S&T burritoWilbur Mexicana - S&T burrito

The bulgogi taco ($4.25) was stingy with the beef, although what was on there was well marinated and tasty, but did contain plenty of crunchy red cabbage and pear slaw. Not remembering the taco contained sriracha, the blast of spice was unexpected but contrasted nicely with the otherwise sweeter elements.

Wilbur Mexicana - bulgogi taco

In a way, it’s such a shame that the burrito and taco were already so flavourful, really not requiring additional salsa or hot sauce, since Wilbur Mexicana has such a great selection of both. The salsas range from a mild pico de gallo (which was delicious with the chips) or sweet pineapple to more lethal pureed sauces that hide devilish chilies such as ghost peppers. Even the middle-of-the-range asada, made from smoky chipotles, already had enough of the burn quotient for me. With the jalapeno in the burrito and sriracha in the taco, I didn’t even bother venturing to the hot sauce shelf.

Wilbur Mexicana - crazy range of hot saucesWilbur Mexicana - fresh salsas

I rather enjoyed the laid back brightly lit environment at Wilbur. You wouldn’t necessarily go there for a long meal filled with meaningful conversations. But, for a quick bite or a re-fueling while doing a King Street bar crawl, I can’t think of a better place.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 552 King 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:



Wilbur Mexicana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seven Lives Tacos Y Mariscos (Toronto)


Seven Lives Tacos Y Mariscos’s tacos have been haunting me ever since I’ve first tried them about a year and a half ago. On this return visit, nothing has changed: the small restaurant is as busy as ever, eating in is still limited to a table of six and standing room for about the same, but most importantly, the tacos are still $5 each and just as delicious as ever.

Diners rave about the Gobinator ($5), a rare combination of smoked tuna, shrimp and cheese. It’s never sounded appealing to me, but with this much praise it’s at least worth a try.


You have to like the idea of smoked tuna - are you the type of person that salivates at the site of a Scandinavian herring platter? Then this one’s for you. As for me, the fish was simply too overpowering that even the pickled red onions couldn’t counterbalance it. It wasn’t bad, but give the simple spicy shrimp taco any day.

The grilled octopus ($5), on the other hand, will fast become a go-to taco. The tendrils were cut into little discs and reheated on the flat top so they arrive smoking hot with a tender chew. The sautéed peppers and abundance of fresh cilantro worked well with the meaty seafood, with drizzles of sour cream to tie it all together.


Seven Lives has a great selection of house made salsas. The hot habanero one seems to be the most popular, but trust me it's SPICY. If you don't like the sting, the medium version has the kick of jalapeno with acidic tomatillos to mellow it out.


Even with double soft corn tortilla shells things are bound to get messy as each taco is overflowing with toppings. So grab a few wet naps and wear a dark shirt. For such affordable eats packed with delectable ingredients and flavours, sticky hands and a messy shirt are worth it.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 69 Kensington Avenue

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:


Seven Lives - Tacos Y Mariscos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato