Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jan 26, 2008 08:35 PM

Mexican Crusade Continued

It was a rainy day in pizzaland and Beautiful American is excited about our planned excursion to Kensington Market and El Trompo; she has been there before with sis. Kids are down for the holidays and my sister and hyper-active niece are along too. We actually find parking on Spadina near Baldwin. I’m out numbered and relent as Pashminas are the focus. I wait outside the Chinese shop chomping at the bit.

Finally, we are walking down Baldwin. The bakeries, the cheese shops, the fish; it has been a long time since I have been here. I stop by a small shop that has nuts and stuff and I see a sign for chilies. A teen on the steps gestures to me to come in see the offerings inside. I bite because I want to see the chilies. A half-full, canvas bag of chilies with a cardboard sign for the price above. Fine, give me 200 grams of Ancho. I think I've been rooked but I have them. The coffee house on the corner of Baldwin and Augusta has Beautiful American all excited. She picks buttered pecan and we're out.

Ok we're hungry off to El Trompo. Walking up to the store front, I'm unimpressed but it seems homey. There are a few people already sitting and seemingly enjoying. As a party of 6, we take the last of the available tables and chairs and we are in the middle of the small room. Beautiful American with a brow raised points out kitchen staff in the corner table of the dining room shredding chicken. Margaritas for Beautiful American and sis, me a Corona, kids pineapple pop, oh and did I mention my Mother was along too. Oops, sorry Mom. Two kinds of salsa; green and red arrive with chips. Sis points out on the menu..." do not Deep the chips "...we understand and follow directions accordingly using the plates provided. Awesome red salsa, chipotle inspired for sure (hope it isn't Herdez).

Beautiful American immediately wants the Guacamole and hyper-active niece needs nachos. Guacamole arrives soon and it’s a hit. It’s passed around and around quickly. Nachos are nachos. An uncomfortable long time between ordering and the arrival of the Margaritas has Beautiful American and sis getting anxious. All is forgiven when they arrive as Beautiful American grins with delight at first sip. I beg a taste and wow, holy Tequila. Soon after our order arrives. Tacos Al Pastor for me and a few others at the table. Beautiful American had ordered a Quesadilla Gringa and when she discovered the lime squeeze over it she was squealing with delight. Tacos for me were unenthusiastic. I watched hyper-active pick every onion and pineapple off all hers; then she enjoyed. I was actually impressed she dobbed some red salsa on it and waved franticly at her mouth every time. Ok, we're done and the bill comes. Sheesh, with the take-out Guacamole for Beautiful American we are just under $100; it seems excessive to me for what we had. Oh right, alcohol; fine.

We are walking back to Baldwin and the gurls see a flea market and I see Perolas. We split and I see where I should have bought my chilies; I knew I was rooked. Awesome place and the cantina in the back is as frightening as it is inviting. It is full of satisfied customers. I find Queso Fresco cheese and take to the cashier. I see across the street a butcher; there must be chorizo there. Indeed and I buy some medium and hot. We're done, I meet with flea market gazers and we're back to the car. Overall, a generally good experience.

After this expedition, I am truly crusading for all Mexican. I can't even remember what pizza tastes like as every Friday is a search the next Mexican. Beautiful American and I are actually find good luck in Durham region as there are a few places. As I mentioned before, there are these Mexico Lindos. We try the Whitby north one again and I experiment with the Pollo a Mole and she orders the Fajitas. I crave heat and order an appetizer; shrimp in a spicy red sauce. I am blown away and dream of this dish to this day. Dinner arrives and Beautiful American is not impressed with the large pieces of green pepper and onions, but she eats anyway; later, simply picking for the meat. The mole for me is quite different. It has an after taste that recall from long ago and I remember that I didn't like it then. The chicken is really a disgrace but I'm still trying to understand and assimilate the mole. It doesn't ever work and I don't finish; I just can't. I don't even know if this is truly good authentic; I hope not. The spicy shrimp, I'll be back for more.

On recommendations from work-buddies, I find the Eldorado restaurant on Winchester Road. Actually the golf course's restaurant, it has a full Mexican menu. Drinks first; Beautiful American orders the Margarita and I a Corona. A green colour she has not seen before in a Margarita puts her off right away. Tasting, she can't get past four sips and eventually leaves most of it. Reminiscent of Tang I suggest to her as she agrees. She orders steak Fajitas and I order a beef burrito and chicken enchilada with their homemade Diablo sauce. I'm on fire and it is almost too much. I was warned by the waitress so I must finish to save face. Beautiful American rolls her eyes. She finds her steak a little tough though and asks for a box for take home. After paying the bill and getting half way home, we realize the box is still on the table. Oh well.

Beautiful American through all of this has not really been satisfied and still craves; “I need some Guadalajara’s”. She actually liked El Trompo’s Quesadillas and wanted to go again, when we returned today to Kensington. We debated and while not really hungry, we decided to shop instead. Back to Perolas, I picked up the rest of chilies I think I need according to Rick Bayless. Beautiful American got some more cheap Pashminas for friends.

I have been dabbling in Mexican cooking at home. I’ve been cooking weekend breakfast with chorizo I got from the first trip to Kensington. Fried up with hash browns, scrambled eggs, and some shredded old cheddar all mixed together with a typical jarred salsa on the side; Saturday breakfast has a new kick from the usual. Beautiful American is looking forward to Super-bowl weekend. No pizza planned as I will try my hand at enchiladas and burritos inspired by Rick’s recipes along with homemade margaritas. Hopefully I get the thumbs up.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. that was a fun read!

    next time you're at El Trompo, try the Fajitas -- the meat is much moister and all around more flavourful than the same meat in the taco because it's done with more peppers and cheese..

    1. If you're using jarred salsa, the next time you're at Perola's pick-up San Marcos pico de gallo.

      Once again about your writing style... Bravo! Encore.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Googs

        Thanks for the suggestion. I think I actually saw that, but with so many other enticing items to try, I didn't think I would stop. It also now gives me an excuse to go back!

      2. Next time you're in Kensington Market, make a stop at the Latin Emporium market. It's a tiny place loaded with all sorts of Latin American groceries, and tucked in back is a small kitchen where a bunch of ladies make fresh pupusas and other Latin American treats. While it's not pure Mexican, per se, it's a yummy, cheap stop! The pupusas go for about $2 each. The place is right next door to Jumbo Empanada.

        5 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          You know, now that I think of it, it was indeed the place you say. Twice now I've been there and I haven't be able to try as there were so many people already there. I will make a point of being a little more assertive next time. It is a bit intimidating though and I just don't know about the electric skillet method. But, I will try. Thanks!

          1. re: schtanley

            Hmm, I don't recall an electric skillet -- I thought they had a large flat grill (industrial). But I could be misremembering! It's so crowded back there with people ordering and standing around, waiting for their food, that it's hard to recall. But do try next time, and ask for extra hot sauce, it's wonderful.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Sadly the pupusa ladies are gone, now its tacos. Were closed when I was there so I haven't tried them.

                1. re: Googs

                  Sad about the Pupusas! I went there for the first time maybe 3 or 4 weeks ago and really enjoyed them. But the new mexican menu sounds delicious and cheap (deliciously cheap?), can't wait to make my way through the menu.


        2. You liked the guac? Really? I'm originally from San Diego, and while the tacos at El Trompo aren't bad, the guac is disgusting.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Dr. No

            When you see crates of avocado stacked six high by the door, you gots to know its fresh; fresh wins.

            1. re: schtanley

              fresh made is great, but it still had to taste good. The guac at trompo turns me off too...perhaps you had a lucky day, or our tastes are just different...either way, we do like the place too.

          2. I think i ate at El Trompo - i think the tacos had pineapple in them and were generally weak.

            I spend a fair bit of time in northern mexico eating the real thing - and a bit of cabrito as well - best i have had in TO is rebozos on rogers rd. So small it lends an air of authenticity to the whole thing.

            So, anybody want to open up a hole-in the wall takeout stand in toronto with me that serves only 3 dishes - steamed hot dogs (Steame - as discussed in another thread), real smoked meat from Shwartz' not Lesters and 3 kinds of tacos (barbacoa, chicharon and frijoles). Kind of Burrito Boyz but with food that tastes good and is smaller. Four stools where you get smacked in the back by people in line. Fries coke or cream soda. Done and done - drive a cadillac -surely some resto mogul (oliver, di Donato, Jamie..) sees the wisdom here. 10 buck, 10 bucks, 10 bucks

            3 Replies
            1. re: marcharry

              The ones with pineapple are al pastor, which I personally thought tasted good enough but the meat was dryish.

              1. re: Blueicus

                And I thought it an odd ingredient as well. I was actually a little taken aback when we walked out and I saw the fridge in the front kitchen with one of those restaurant-size plastic containers of what probably was Dole canned pineapple. I don't recall seeing all but maybe one recipe in Bayless's book with pineapple....good call hyper-niece...and yes the meat was dry.

                1. re: schtanley

                  Pineapple with pastor is common in places like the DF and Puebla. From a geographic perspective, it makes sense that it would not be as common in northern Mexico.