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Aug 11, 2006 03:26 PM

Good Mexican Food in Toronto?

Does anyone have a recommendation for fabulous Mexican food in Toronto or GTA???

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  1. You're kidding, right? Mexican food is the single most lacking cuisine in our fair city. There have been long, ranting discussions about this topic on this board over the years. There was even a Toronto Star article about it earlier this year (citing the long, ranting discussions on this board).

    You will get supporters for Tacos El Asador, Jalapeno, Dos Amigos, El Sol, etc. But none are anywhere close to "fabulous", and some aren't even Mexican. Mind you, I actually like going to these places when I'm in the mood for beans and rice and such. But if you compare them to amazing places like Frontera Grill, Salpicon, and Topolobampo in Chicago, you'll quickly realize that the places here are on a totally different plane of existence.

    Anyway, there are two new entries into the field. Johny Banana on Bathurst has been getting decent reviews (especially for their smoothies, oddly enough). Milagro (on Mercer, I think?) just opened. Haven't been and haven't heard any reports yet.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      The most recent Toronto Life Magazine mentions Milagro.
      Yes on Mercer; Check out their thoughts.

      1. re: Stewart

        Here's a little blurb on Milagro from Toronto Life's website:

        "A dozen years after NAFTA, Toronto finally has a reason to celebrate: the arrival of Arturo and Andrés Anhalt and their new restaurant, Milagro. The brothers vow to break Cal-Mex cooking’s spell on the city, with such authentic offerings as pork cooked in banana leaves and blended with Yuca­tán spices, and a delightful salad made from the leaves of the nopal cactus. Little things count: homemade tortillas, fresh sangrita to accompany an outstanding list of tequilas, plus the judicious—and around these parts, exceedingly rare—use of pork fat, key to traditional Mexican cuisine. Here’s to a menu blessedly free of nachos and sour cream."

      2. re: TorontoJo

        A friend dragged me to Jalapeno on King West a couple of Fridays ago during the holidays. Mostly empty (it was around 9 pm) but pleasant service. Food, predictably, was disappointing. Average guacamole and chips. Overcooked chicken mole with slightly strange black bean mush and a pile of carrot-infused rice on the side. Although, I have to admit, I had worse mole chicken at a casual place (filled with locals, not tourists) in Cabo, Mexico. Mediocre margarita (I admit I tried the mango version, but still). My impression is that it's an "authentic" place but they just don't produce tasty food. Or maybe it's that Mexican food will never be "good" food and we're waiting in vain.

        1. re: Food Tourist

          "Or maybe it's that Mexican food will never be "good" food and we're waiting in vain."

          Whoa. I can speak from personal experience and having gone to countless wonderful Mexican restos and street vendors in Southern California and Baja that Mexican food can most definitely be "good" food. "Amazing" food, even!

          The fact that Toronto is, inexplicably, totally incapable of churning out a decent authentic mexican experience, should not be a commentary on the overall quality of the cuisine.

          1. re: spades

            Okay, I'll admit that I was grumpy when I wrote that. I had amazing tacos in Baja, but not on the street or in local restaurants. The amazing food was at the Hilton Cabo resort! To-die-for pork & pineapple and cactus tacos. Nothing in the small towns around could rival those tacos. I still crave them. All Toronto needs is a place that doesn't overcook (dry out) their meat, and that would be a huge step in the right direction.

            1. re: Food Tourist

              Has anyone tried the place way out on St Clair West? Don't remember the name but it looked very authentic and was stuffed with Latino families when I stuck my head in.

              St Clair Restaurant
              69 St Clair St, Chatham, ON N7L3H8, CA

      3. As TJ said, it's a wasteland for Mexican food. Problem in TO has always been near-total unfamiliarity with the cuisine or the fact that Mexico is a BIG place with varied regional cooking. Most of what's on offer exploits this ignorance with Central Americans passing off all sorts of stuff as "authentic Mexican" food. Much of this is OK eating but not the real deal. The Chicano population in the GTA is miniscule relative other Spanish-speaking communities and this fact structures the whole enchilada--as they say.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Kagemusha

          I used to think that Mexicans just never made it up that far north, or if they did, crossing another border wasn't worth it (for any number of reasons -- not trying to insinuate they're all illegal immigrants blah blah). But then I came across some very decent Mexican food, including unique regional specialties, in the middle of nowhere Midwest America. If it can get there, why can't it make it to a frickin metropolitan city ?

          In any case, I'm not from Toronto but am in the area for the next month or so -- recently I drove through a nabe in Toronto that had alot of "Tacos el _____" restaurants, but can't recall where I was. Also some real tiny places offering pupusas and the like. What neighbourhood is Mexican/Latin or even remotely so ? I can't remember where i was .....

          1. re: Nab

            That'll be Kensington Market, I believe.

            1. re: Nab

              if u go to the Kensington market go to a taqueria call EL TROMPO, is in Augusta street, great tacos real mexican tacos, also try the red sauce made with chipotle and the tamarind water is great . and im mexican and i think this is the only place i can tell is real tacos.

              1. re: Nab

                Tacos El Asador - it is Salvadorian and absolutely the most authentic tacos in Toronto. Everything we've had is fantastic - espcially their chorizo tacos. Real tortillas - so delicious!

            2. I am not sure if you have tried Mariachi's at Yonge & Eglinton (south of Eglinton). I think it is one of the better ones in the city and the place is always busy.

              1. Better? How? That wasn't my experience. Struck me as haute Taco Bell. McDonald's is busy, too.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Kagemusha

                  I found Mariachi's favours rather ordinary. Where the fast food comparison comes, imho, is the neither here-nor-there/indifferent (how Canadian) aspect of the food/presentation. I've had Mexican food with robust flavours served either simply or 'done up.' Most north american establishments do a neat non offensive plate with none of the nuance that comes from authentic preparation. What makes me cringe is any kind of coarse hot and spicy passing off as the refinined piquancy that notes some Mexican cuisine.

                  1. re: neighborguy

                    You obviously can't get amazing, and authentic mexican food in Toronto, but of the ones I've been to, I would go to Mariachis. Not authentic, but I still have great meals there...
                    I also go to Margarita's, not superb, but it fills a craving I have for Mexican food which isn't Taco Bell.

                    1. re: jayseeca

                      mariachi's, imho, could not reasonably be described as either authentic or exciting. I eat there sometimes however, because I do love to fall into a sugary marguerita in the summer.

                2. Not sure what you mean by 'haute.' Highend? That's isn't bad. Afterall, a burger at Bymark is the haute version of McDonald's Big Mac.

                  I am a big fan of their Chicken Mole. Not a lot of places in the city serve it.

                  RE: Busy. Yes, McDonald's is busy too. You are right. The difference is, many people visit McD's because of the price and convenience. People choose this restaurant because the prices are reasonable and the food is good.