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La Taquiza: Mexican food in the GTA -- no, really!

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If you're like me, you tend to notice signs that go up in some of the parts lesser traveled. For me, it was a sign that said "Opening Soon" outside a restaurant in the Pad Sites at Vaughan Mills.

I noticed it mainly because it was "Opening Soon" for a Mexican restaurant.

That was February 2007. Since then, the Pad sites have become fully fleshed out and very well traveled, I got engaged, earned my degree, and got my first post-school job. And every week found some excuse to drive by that site looking for a "Now Open" sign.

If you could yank an image-a-week from my mind, you'd get a really neat time-lapse view of the painfully slow construction and opening of La Taquizza. And as of early June, it would come to a climax with the (at last) opening of this fine restaurant.

After a year of waiting, the question that has to be answered is: was it worth the wait?

Futz yes!

When you first walk into La Taquizza, you know you'll be in for a treat. The decor is gorgeous, making it feel like you're sitting on a street-level patio in Mexico.

You'll be personally greeted by Hector, the owner and proprietor of the restaurant. He moved to Canada from Mexico, armed with an MBA and a mother who is an excellent cook. He was a bit nervous if my party would enjoy some of his more "exotic" menu choices, such as cactus salad and authentic, freshly made tortilla chips. We said "bring it on"! If we wanted the bland and normal, there's a Taco Bell in the food court. =0

The homemade tortillas are interesting. They're a lot thicker and a lot crunchier than the bagged stuff. But they're worth every penny. With the tortillas, you also get access to the 'salsa bar', a serve-yourself buffet of 5 different kinds of homemande salsa: mild, onion-and-tomato, salsa verte, jalepeno, and Spicy. They're all delicious, though the salsa verte was a bit salty. But the spiciness of the Spicy was just spicy enough.

Having gotten hold of an advance copy of the menu on their pre-opening night, we knew exactly what we wanted to order. We got:

Chicken Mole tacos
Habenero Tacos (Rajas_con_crema)
Cactus, Tomato and Avacado salad
A Black Bean that I can't remember the name of, but it refers to the type of Mexican slipper that it looks like
chicken enchilladas

Everything was very tasty. Surprisingly, the two best dishes were the Rajas con cream and the Black Bean dish-- both of which are vegetarian friendly.

There were some nice sounding desserts, such as milk cake, but we were all too full after the feast to even think about it. There was also a whole slew of other dishes that sounded very yummy, such as Mexican soup and enchiladas-- all of which is just all the more reason to go for a second visit.

The price for the meal was also very reasonable. The three of us ate (very well) for under $40 (pre-tax), without alcohol. There weren't any leftovers, but there also weren't any hungry people.

So, after over a year of waiting, I can at last say that there IS good, authentic, and affordable Mexican food in the GTA. Highly recommended!

La Taquiza

3175 Rutherford Rd
Concord, ON , L4K5Y6

(905) 669-2277
(Reservations not required, but it can't hurt)

-----
La Taquiza
Vaughan Mills, Vaughan, Ontario

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  1. Thanks for the great review, h1234. Can't wait to try it.

    1. I was just going to post about this restaurant too. I went the week it opened and we loved it! The owner was really friendly and informative- he told us that even the chairs and tables were shipped in from Mexico from a craftsman to keep that authentic feel.

      Loved the salsa bar- I hadn't had salsa this authentic outside of Mexico of course! You can even buy some to take home (which we did, and they purposely made us fresh guacamole and fried beans to take home too, instead of giving us leftovers). We also had some delicious homemade tres leches cake for dessert. The prices were decent too. Highly recommend it if you're in that plaza for shopping!

      1 Reply
      1. re: so_lovefood

        How were the desserts? I was too full to try them. =)

      2. Ahh, concord is so not Toronto! For the benefit of those of us without a car, can you recommend a mexican place downtown, by which I mean south of Bloor st? Love mexican, would go weekly if any good!

        8 Replies
        1. re: stapler

          Personally, I'm a big fan of El Jacal (http://www.eljacalito.ca/) on Bloor near Dufferin. But it's on the north side of the street, so you might not be interested... ;)

          1. re: gregclow

            OK, the north side is manageable...

          2. re: stapler

            Nope, not Toronto. But Toronto already has so many good Mexican places, from fancier Jalepeno on King to the very informal Burrito Boyz on Peter, to a Mariachi's at Yonge & Davisville.

            Outside of Toronto you have-- Taco Bell. This is the first _real_ Mexican place to open up somewhere that doesn't require a subway trip. Ok, we do have (in the same area) Taco del Mar and Mucho Burrito, but those really are just Taco Bells that serve edible food.

            There's tons of Tex Mex all over the place, but they all have too much Tex, not enough Mex. =)

            -----
            Burrito Boyz
            120 Peter St, Toronto, ON M5V2G7, CA

            Jalapeno's Mexican Cuisine
            725 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V2W9, CA

            Mariachais Restaurant
            2084 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A3, CA

            Mucho Burrito
            30 Famous Avenue Woodbridge ON

            Taco del Mar
            90 Edgeley Blvd, Vaughan, ON L4K5W7, CA

            1. re: halcyon1234

              What about Rebozo's (no relation) on Rogers Rd. and El Palenque on St Clair W? Also more Tex than Mex?

              1. re: mrbozo

                Rebozos is definitely Mex, not Tex. No natchos or guac or fajitas etc. It's a very limited menu, just a small selection of tacos, tortas, a couple of entrees, some daily specials and carnitas you can order by the kilo ;-) You'll have to drop by since it's in our 'hood and check it out for yourself. They do close early since it's a family joint so go before 8. Have you been able to check out anything on St Clair W yet?

                1. re: fickle

                  Haven't had a chance yet. Been on somewhat of a restricted diet. But an old buddy who's a chowhound is coming into town to visit for the balance of the week so I may just throw the shackles off.

            2. re: stapler

              Isn't there a free shuttle from union station to vaughan mills mall?

              I'm pretty sure I saw this featured on a fashion friday (Cityline) ..

              1. re: BamiaWruz

                There is a shuttle and I'm going to take advantage of it! Weird how Vaughan is getting some nice food additions. Chicago Pizza and now this. Even Taco Del Mar is there now. I've enjoyed this in BC offers a tasty wet burrito that I used to get weekly when I lived in California. Hope they get an outlet down in the city.

                Here's info on the shuttle:
                http://tinyurl.com/p5qytq

            3. You just made my mouth water, we are going to have to make the trek up there! Would you say it's kind/infant friendly?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Wil

                When I was there, people were bringing in their families. I couldn't say 100%, though-- I'm not familiar with what would exactly make it kid friendly. Though, if you call ahead, I'm sure they'll make whatever accommodations you need.

                1. re: Wil

                  I'm generalizing here but Mexicans are pretty kid-oriented, I would give the place a try... personally I hope to get my Boston-pizza frequenting friends, who live in the area, to eat here with our toddlers.

                  1. re: Wil

                    Its a very casual place with music going (kids aren't likely to disturb anyone too much), they had a few high chairs available, and service was quick. Our waitress went out of her way to be nice to our 2-year old and he had to give her a hug before we left. No kids menu specifically but he was quite happy with the guac and chips and a plain cheese quesadilla.

                  2. Went there with Mrs. Wilsnip on the recommendations above. I must say, this place had some of the freshest Mexican food we've tasted - definitely the best we've had in the city.

                    We shared the carnitas tacos (fried pork), carne tampiquenas, sopa azteca and the totopos (tortilla chips). The pork tacos were filled almost exclusively with seasoned pork and the tortilla wrappers had a nice chew to them. They did not feel or taste heavy at all. The carne tampiquenas was a flat and extremely flavourful piece of grilled beef that came with sides of rice, beans and rajas con crema. The beans were creamy and the rajas con crema (onions with a cream sauce) tasted like nothing we've tried before. The sopa azteca was described as a very traditional Mexican dish and it did not disappoint. It was a chicken broth with seasoning, avocado, tortilla bits and sour cream. It had incredible flavour especially when paired with one of the salsas.

                    The highlight of the evening was definitely the totopos. We were scared because they didn't have any when we ordered because they were making a fresh batch and they would let us know when they would be ready. Halfway through our meal, our very friendly server asked us if we would like some and they brought over a huge dish with guacamole. The chips were extremely crunchy and addictive. The guacamole of avocado, onion and tomato was the freshest I've ever had and it resembled more of an avocado salsa rather than the creamy guacamoles we're used to. Our server graciously offered to pack up the remaining chips as she probably noticed that I would have hurt myself if I finished the dish. I would have if left on my own.

                    As halcyon mentioned, there was a salsa bar with a salsa verde and a mild and spicy tomato based salsa. The spicy tomato based salsa was definitely the best and it had a nice kick. There were also jalepeno peppers, onions, cilantro and limes at the salsa bar. We washed everything down with refreshing lime infused ice water.

                    The owner was very friendly and mentioned that everything they made was made daily including the salsas which were made every few hours. His vision was to make an authentic Mexican restaurant in Toronto that he would want to go to which was something even he recognized was lacking in this city. He also wanted to create a laid back atmosphere where people could relax, grab their own salsas and enjoy a quality meal. He has definitely succeeded as we came away very much satisfied with our meal.

                    1. I have been watching this place for months with it looking ready to open, finally started checking it less often. So, while I fell behind, the opening is no surprise, just the long delay. Heading there soon......

                      1. Stupid question: Is it IN the mall itself or on Rutherford Rd near/outside of the mall?

                        Thanks,
                        mnc

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: mac n cheeze

                          On Rutherford Road near/outside the mall :) Not IN the mall itself.

                          1. re: ceciel

                            Thank you!

                        2. It's worth mentioning that La Taquizza is not open on Mondays. (We found out the hard way) Also, it looks as if they only take Mastercard and Cash? (No other signs in the window indicating alternative payments accepted)

                          1. To be brief on the food, our party of 5 , 3 adults and 2 pre-teenagers, on Sunday truly enjoyed the authentic freshly made as required foods. The bill just over $100 for lots of food, 2 Mexican beers and 3 desserts, one dessert being a tasty sponge cake, heavier than the norm consistency. The place was continually busy with 2 Oriental tables, 2 Mexican tables and the rest Caucasian. Definitely a place to return to and truly enjoy.

                            1. Well I went to this place on Friday with high expectations for some real, authentic and GOOD Mexican food in the GTA. Unfortunately, I can't see what all the raves are about. When we arrived, the place was completely empty, save for one couple. The atmosphere of the restaurant has a very "fast food" vibe to it..... like a Wendy's or something to that affect. Our server was very friendly but was not able to make any recommendations. We started with the totopos which seemed like they had been sitting around for awhile. They weren't stale, per se, but were definitely not fresh out of the oven. There was also not enough guac served with them. For my main, I had the tacos carnitas which I found extremely bland and slightly damp. My compadres had the enchiladas which they didn't rave over. The general consensus was that if this is "authentic" then we'd stick with tex mex any day. I was in Puerto Vallarta in December and had much better tacos from a truck on the street. The one saving grace was the Aztec Soup. A nice subtle heat, and a deep rich taste. Overall though, quite dissapointing considering the previous reviews.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: airsey

                                I have been there more than a few times and see it a little different. Taco Bell is certainly a fast food nothing of a place. I believe the owner designed the restaurant for those simply wanting good real Mexican food, a limited menu certainly, no long wait for the exotic dishes. We found from the unique original chips ordered to our different menu choices to be quite good. There are five different salsas at the side mini salad bar along with sliced onions and jalapeno slices. You can ask for the extra hot sauce from the kitchen. Salsas are made on as a needed basis in small quantities, that's fresh. The atmosphere of the restauant, the limited menu and the lack of long lingering waits for any special dish can make you think fast food, but it is a real Mexican food! It took many many months for the owner to finish the restaurant with materials from Mexico, the chairs and tables are great, not fast food plastic or inexpensive metal. And busy, yes at times, sometimes not, once we passed it over because it was too busy and once I enjoyed a quieter pace after the lunch hour! It is a unique Mexican place to enjoy, not to fine dine, not for a special date, but maybe more to fit in somewhere on a working day or a shopping day! I can love good Tex/Mex also, especially with the chance of additional spice/chilies.

                                1. re: Jar

                                  Points well taken. I did not talk to the owner so I am not familiar with how the restaurant was put together. I was just expecting something different... warmer and more homey but instead got blasted with freezing cold air conditioning and hard seats. I forgot to mention the salsa bar which I did enjoy, especially the spiciest one. I DO enjoy authentic, bare bones tacos but I really found the carnitas to be unappealing. I sometimes work in the area so next time I'm up there I'll give it another try.

                                  1. re: airsey

                                    Why not give it a try again I expect sometime zipping and zapping around, I just might go in and ask if I can only order the fresh tortilla chips, use the salad bar. There are days when that is enough! A beginning beer has no calories and does not fill you up, for those of us in the know!!!

                                    1. re: Jar

                                      For those of us in the know beer does have calories no matter how good it's impact is on an empty stomach. But that's not news; what is news is that Rebozos on Rogers Road and El Palenque on St Clair West offer true Mexicano fare. Of course, like with any other cuisine that has been dumbed down for delicate tastebuds, they may prove to be too much (someone recently complained about meat being overcooked in a Portuguese resto - live with it, that how they do it; it ain't sushi).

                                      1. re: mrbozo

                                        Sorry, just kidding, of course a Beer has calories, as does any alcohol as alcohol converts to sugar in the body. I was just being selectively mischievous.

                                        1. re: Jar

                                          But of course.

                                          Also, Rebozos and El Palenque are worth savouring, perhaps with a cerveza or two..

                              2. Dropped in today for lunch at La Taquiza and a bit of a surprise to find a large table beautifully set up, thinking a buffet. I was kindly informed that last week, they started a buffet at lunch from Tuesday to Friday. I know that a lot of Chowhounds hear buffet and say " Oh No "or something less polite!!! For $11.95 you get flour or corn tortillas, salad, fruit and the usual salsas always at the mini salsa bar. The main items are 3 heated containers each with 3 items, all freshly made. The items were explained to me in detail and I'll just let it stand that the items were delicious indeed!!! Service was perfect, attentive and friendly! Nothing at all to find fault. Great food, fresh and Mexican!!!

                                1. nice. will have to visit this place

                                  1. bout 2 years ago i was at a place called Dos Amigos in toronto..it was absolutely fantastic mexican food, i would suggest you check it out if your into mexican. I believe its on Bathurst, they have a website too

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: mwalton11

                                      the link for the website http://www.dos-amigos.ca/main/about.htm

                                    2. Sounds tasty...

                                      Would like to try it and see if it can rival what is IMO the best Mexican I've had in Ontario, at El Sombrero

                                      They actually sound quite similar, from the homemade tortillas and chips etc

                                      1. As it happened was at La Taquiza in Vaughn Mills outer stores early before 11.30, waited 15 minutes, Saturday morning. Of course, I was the then sole entrant and enjoyed a great lunch. Talking to Hector, even though the salad bar has about 5 or 6 salsas of varying heat, he brought me twice the special Habanero salsa as well. The salad bar also has lime pieces, onion and jalapeno! I ordered the Chicken Enchiladas in a light tasty tomato cream sauce and the elongated plate allowed me to place on each end the two hottest salsas and used the Habanaro on the rice, Very enjoyable, so tasty, and tears of joy (latter my choice ). Soon after arriving, two more tables with many people at each joined and certainly a good indication was that they were all speaking Spanish!!! The lunch buffet ceased due to lunch being a hurried time for diners and cliental were ordering from the menu, too bad, as buffets went, the offerings were unique!!

                                        1. Went there yesterday with the bf. Mostly empty when we got there at about 7pm but was almost full by the time we left. Really casual, mix of families, friends, and couples. I have to agree with airsey, the decor isn't really anything to rave about and reminded us of the tex-mex franchise "Moe's". But lots of Spanish being spoken, like Jar's experience.

                                          Salsa bar was great, I could easily have bought a bucket of salsa, which they do sell. Other highlights were the margaritas, totopos, tortillas, and "open-faced" tacos (can't remember what that's called). The rest of it was so-so, definitely enough good stuff that I'll go back to try something else if I'm in the area, but not enough that I'd recommend it to someone yet.

                                          1. Time to revive this thread.

                                            We had dinner there tonight and I can tell you that it's great.

                                            I had the Huaraches (chorizo) and Mrs. Sippi had the Carne Tampiquena. Both tasted fresh and really good.

                                            The place was empty when we got there and only one other couple came in just as we left. They've been open for a while and say they're doing well but most posts I see talk about an empty restaurant.

                                            www.lataquizza.com

                                            DT

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Davwud

                                              WOW I am so surprised to read this. the only thing my dining experience had in common with yours is the empty restaurant. nothing we got seemed fresh or well prepared. maybe they have a consistency issue. in that case it must be a huge consistency issue.

                                              1. re: shekamoo

                                                This restaurant is not good. And I'm not fussy when it comes to Mexican food. The meat did not taste fresh. On a combo plate with chicken, sausage and beef all the meats where unidentifiable and gross. Out of the three, the beef was the only edible taco on the plate. The place does not deserve the hype and it is not worth a 2 minute drive let alone a half hour from Toronto.

                                              2. re: Davwud

                                                I have been to La Taquizza a few times in the past (I work in da 'Bridge) and have had varying experiences. Most of them have been good, one or 2 great, but I really can't say that I have had a bad dining experience there. However, I haven't been there in a while, so take that with a huge grain of salt.

                                                As far as the empty seats, La Taquizza is more of a lunch time venue. When did you guys go there? Those times I have been were during the work week between 11:30 & 1. That is when I saw the place fill up. But it was never to max capacity. I have always been able to get a table. But again, since I haven't been in some time, so maybe things have changed.

                                                Anyway, just my 2ยข

                                                1. re: Lazar

                                                  6pm yesterday

                                                  DT

                                              3. Might try this place out tonite, and was wondering if someone could tell me exactly where it is in proximity to Vaughan Mills. I am not going in the mall and do not wish to drive around aimlessly!

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: 16crab

                                                  It's in the north-eastern pad lots. The back/patio is visible from the main ring road that runs around the mall. (You can see the title of the restaurant and the cactus icon). You'll turn North when you see it (and you'll be heading towards Rutherford), and you'll take the first right. It's right in the corner of that lot, hard to miss.

                                                  1. re: halcyon1234

                                                    I'll actually be driving across Rutherford coming from the east, so I'm guessing I can turn left into the pad lot at the corner of Rutherford and Jane and it should be in there. As long as we have a rough idea and can avoid having to drive around Vaughan Mills. Large mall parking lots tend to make the better half irritable!

                                                    I've just searched for a website for this restaurant and don't find one. I'm always surprised when restaurants today don't have a site. Any suggestions on what to order? I adore Mexican but never get to have any, so this will be a treat even if it's not stellar.

                                                    1. re: 16crab

                                                      Tacos Al Pastor.

                                                      Avoid the Cactus Salad. It's a regular lettuce salad with canned cactus tossed in.

                                                      Oh and even though I've never tried it, people on this thread rave about the Tres Leches cake.

                                                      1. re: 16crab

                                                        The website is here:

                                                        http://www.lataquizza.com/

                                                        We've been there a few times, most recently a week or so ago. It's always been decent, but the last visit was quite good. They have a new menu, some of the new items that caught my eye were sopes, huevos rancheros and huevos divorciados.

                                                        I had the tacos el pastor, which were good, and we also had sopes. The sopes were excellent, if not quite what I was expecting (they were essentially served on thick tortillas and lightly fried - I thought sopes were supposed to have raised edges that you pinch up).

                                                        I thought it was as good or better then the food I've had at el Trompo.

                                                        Note the website does not appear to have the new menu yet.

                                                        Thanks,

                                                        Brian

                                                        1. re: brianl999

                                                          I'll second the sopes recommendation.

                                                          I also enjoy their salsa bar and the Flautas were really good - I had the mushroom and potatoe.

                                                          I haven't had a disappointing meal there yet.

                                                          lk

                                                          1. re: lyndak

                                                            wish they had taco specials with more interesting flavours like tongue, ear or tripe...

                                                  2. Was at La Taquiza today for lunch, very, very enjoyable! The menu has been expanded and Hector was cordially serving, being helpful and greeting, conversing with his guests! Certainly the expanded menu will have me returning more often!!!!!!!!!