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Upscale Mexican in Toronto

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I'm looking for a list of upscale Mexican restos in Toronto. Can anyone help?

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  1. Mexican food is not something Toronto is really good at, let alone upscale Mexican. Anyway, the closest thing to what you're looking for may be Jalapeno at King and Bathurst. The food is decent by Toronto Mexican food standards and the ambiance is casual and comfortable, and definitely not grungy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Juniper

      Agree with your assessment and just want to emphasize that by no means is Jalapenos "upscale". But it is the closest you'll get in TO.

      1. re: bluedog

        What about La Mexicana (is that the name?) on Bathurst, between Lawrence and Wilson? It's been there for a long time. Not exactly upscale, but nice, from my recollection.

        1. re: Yongeman

          Dreadful place. Avoid at all costs. It's bad Mexican, even by Toronto standards.

          1. re: Ron

            We like "Mariachi's" on Yonge St, north of Davisville. It's not upscale...but, I can't really picture going to an "upscale" Mexican place! It's all about stuffing yourself with guacamole anyways....

            1. re: kathleen

              Totally agree with your recommendation...mexican is supposed to be laid back and relaxing.....Mariachi's is fantastic

    2. It's not "upscale" but Dos Amigos does a good job. One owner/chef is from Mexico, the other owner is from Ecuador. It often gets overlooked b/c it's isolated.

      Link: http://www.dos-amigos.ca

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gritseeker

        Dos Amigos is OK but very pedestrian. The food is generic with no real regional focus or flavor. Mexico's a big place but you'd never know it from their menu. It's overlooked because it's unremarkable.

      2. Agreed. Another issue in aiming to serve authentic Mexican dishes would be the lack of availability of fresh authentic ingredients at a price that made business sense. I think there are a few of us on this board who will just continue to haunt Perola's and cook up authentic Mexican at home.

        1. I've been curious about Eduardo's (the former Latitude on Harbord St.) since its transformation a couple of months ago, posting a query about it on this board, with no replies.

          Joanne Kates reviews it in today's Globe. I really do not understand this woman. She loves the place, not for its food (which she admits is not great), but because she is enamored of the owner's charm and warmth. What gives? Everything is either bland (including the mole, which is the reason she loves the version at Eduardo's), under-cooked, or over-cooked. She has no qualms about blasting other, more worthy restaurants in the city for her perception of their failings, yet she glorifies a restaurant that serves food that is mediocre, at best.

          I don't get it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: FlavoursGal

            For the record, and I am QUOTING here, JK praises the "clever, tiny tuna tacos of barely seared tuna in crisp taro slices topped with fab pico de gallo...impeccable micro greens, and a hot/cold splendour of tinyy shredded radishes", the "happy empanadas (of) thin delicate pastry with a lovely lamb filling", and the best mole suace she has ever had from Mexico City to Texas, calling it a "light suace with just enough undertone of chile, cinnamon and chocolate". Granted she calls the chicken that it accompanies over cooked and is disappointed by a tough lamb duo, a paella and a chocolate cake. The impression I had was that the chef often soars, but sometimes flies too close to the sun, as it where. Indeed JK seems impressed by judicously chosen dishes, the service and the value, and is disappointed that the quality is not uniform. Perhaps the chef will see this review and take her comments to heart. Indeed, for a board that laments the availability of good mexican food in this town perhaps a little encouragement is in order!

            1. re: bluedog

              And the references to Nana's latter years? I quote, "Barillo is the Nana of Harbord Street." Here's the review. Read all about Nana, everyone. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servle...

              You will notice that Ms. Kates begins her review by setting a particular tone which is hard to ignore. Although my taste buds and hers often clash, my initial post referenced what I read into her review. Yes, she did enjoy five of the ten dishes she sampled (not a terrific ratio). The five she found fault with revolved around a principal ingredient - not a side dish - or the temperature at which something was served.

              By the way, my post was not an attack on Eduardo's. It was a reaction to the hypocrisy of Joanne Kates, and her lack of professional objectivity in the face of one charming, and very cunning, restaurant owner. Since I've not been to the restaurant myself, I cannot comment on the food personally. It is likely that I would have a very different sensory experience from that of Ms. Kates. It is in the context of her remarks about the food and the owner of the establishment that I have submitted MY opinion.

              And I have every intention of trying Eduardo's out for myself. The reviews written by Joanne Kates have never dissuaded me in the past.

              1. re: FlavoursGal

                A reminder- please focus on the chow, not the reviewer. If you'd like to discuss Joanne Kates, please post on the Food Media & News board. If you'd like to discuss the food and restaurants she reviews, please post here. Thanks.

                1. re: FlavoursGal

                  Thanks for this reply FlavoursGal. Nicely balanced and I do appreciate your comments. Personally I enjoy JK's reviews and often agree with her...However, given the remarks from the Chowhound Team, why don't we both try Eduardo's for ourselves and post on that later this month :)

                  1. re: bluedog

                    I'm in total agreement, bluedog. I'm looking forward to experiencing Eduardo's hospitality for myself, as well as giving the kitchen the opportunity to shine on its own merits. I've never been one to judge a restaurant's food on the basis of its outward appearance or service, good or bad.

                    Hasta la vista! :-)

            2. What about Milagro, on Mercer St? Has anyone been there? It just opened a few months ago.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ognir

                I went there a few weeks ago. The service was a bit spotty, very nice servers but their timing was a little off (i.e. I asked for more tortillas and they cleared all the other plates before my tortillas arrived...).

                I had the pulled pork, it was good but (like someone else posted in another string) what I enjoyed most were the sides of fried plantains and a bean sauce. A friend had the sirloin and octopus ceviche, both of which he really enjoyed. His wife had their fixed price meal (a steal at $30, not sure if they're still running it). Their creme brulee is great, creme caramel is ok, and the banana and mango ice creams are yummy. Their sangria was also tasty. Price-wise, it was 40-60 per person depending on what you ordered, including a drink, tax, and tip. I'd go back

                Hope that helped!

              2. Bandido's on King West is the only "upscale" Mexican restaurant that I've tried in Toronto. The place was small but it filled up fast on a Saturday evening though I doubt there was ever a line up. We tried their Margaritas --- cactusberry, very exotic. They specialize in Enchilladas but offer a variety of other Mexican food. The final bill came to about $85 for two people including an appetizer, two entrees, a dessert and two margaritas, and tax and tip. The appetizer of red snapper Tostadas was light and refreshing. The fried ice cream on a bed of Sopapillas was way too heavy even for two people to share.

                1. There's a new place at Yonge between College and Wellesley. Anyone tried it yet? It's Mexican and the entrees run around $20-$30.

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      I was also very surprised at the prices, because the place used to be Arre Burrito, like a run-down half-done joint. But they really did it up nice(r) inside. Those are dinner prices I quoted above...I'll have to take a better look at specific menu items.

                    2. re: canadianbeaver

                      What are they serving at those prices?

                    3. I haven't tried it yet, but there's a new place that opened up at Yonge & Eg called Frida's.

                      Has anyone tried it yet?

                      I know people are down on Mexicana, but I had a few good meals there. The three times I've gone, it looked like the entire family was on site... so maybe that had something to do with it! haha!

                      But, I agree, I haven't had a mind blowing experience over Mexican in the city - but, I am curious to hear about Frida's

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: sweatersister

                        Here's the menu:http://www.fridarestaurant.ca/table.html

                        It's the usual TO scattergun approach to regional Mexican with some slightly bizarre touches. The pricing is waaay off for what's offered.I'd be very curious to know where they're sourcing queso fresco and Oaxaca cheese in TO--not to mention what they're really using if not the real thing.

                        1. re: Kagemusha

                          Doesn't Emporia Latino in Kensington (and others) sell queso fresca?

                          1. re: Dimbulb

                            Yes, and Perola's as well. It's not rocket science finding actual Mexican ingredients in town.

                            1. re: Snarf

                              Maybe, provided variety and freshness aren't important. Dried chiles tend to be over-priced and stale--these things do have a shelf life.Canned and bottled selection is improving.

                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                Are you saying that you have actually been to Perola's, or are you generalizing? Perola's is on my list of frequent stops, and I've never had a concern with freshness. In fact, many of the chiles they sell are fresh, such as the poblanos and serranos. As for the dried, never had a problem.

                                1. re: Snarf

                                  Poblanos aren't the issue, nor are serranos. It's dried that's problematic. I get mine from family in Phoenix and they're miles fresher and tastier than I've had in TO. Then there's variety...

                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                    Let me try this again. With all due respect, you seem to be staying at the 10,000 foot level on the topic of Mexican in the city. Have you been to the purveyors that have been mentioned in response to your statement that the Mexican ingredients we get are 'substandard'?

                                    1. re: Snarf

                                      It's generally not so great, Snarf. Mediocre to substandard blended with pricey sums it up for me. Stale anchos, mulatos, and guajillos don't cut it, so I don't bother. Same goes for the restos. I can make better at home. Phoenix has "T&T-style" supermarkets that cater to its large Mexican community. It's that "large Mexican community" thing we're missing in TO, Snarf. I get my stuff shipped up here. You're welcome to what's peddled in Kensington.

                                      1. re: Kagemusha

                                        No offence, but you seem to be going to a lot of effort to comment on restos and stores that you're never going to try.....

                        2. re: sweatersister

                          Word on the street is that it's not at Yonge and Eglinton. It's in the old location of Boujadi, 2 blocks east of Allen Rd.

                          1. re: foodyDudey

                            Another Mexican place to avoid.

                            I went to La Tortillaria 1040 St Clair West for lunch. It was un-speakable. Four dreadful tacos for just under $10 the contents of which were worse than the foulest in Oaxaca market. http://www.latortilleria.ca/ ( I notice they have a branch in Kensington Market, maybe it is better)

                        3. Milagros on Mercer Street was the closest restaurant I've been to that meets your specification. When my parents were visiting from the UK in June we got caught in a terrible rain storm, they let us in and served us hot chocolate even though they weren't officially open, we felt obligated to book and go back a couple of evenings later, and were glad we did, had a great time. It was the only mex. restaurant here that reminded me of my favourite diving destination, Cozumel.

                          http://www.milagrorestaurant.com/