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In search of good, reasonably priced, authentic Spanish Tapas

Don't know why this seems to be so hard to find in T.O. with the tapas craze and all, you think there would be a place that you can get some chorizo in sherry or cider, albondigas (meatballs), croquetas and some tomato-garlic bread with good, strong sangria for under $80 for two. Too much to ask? So far, I've been to Cava (way too expensive, but not bad) Casa Barcelona (way too expensive $9 tapas? come on) Cambalache on Mt. Pleasant (flavours just not there and weak sangria) and Torito's menu looks too funky/expensive for what I'm looking for.

Will I just have to buy the Manchego cheese and jamon serrano from the market and make do at home?

Any help would be appreciated! I really miss Madrid.

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  1. There is a place called Sergovia in an alley behind the corner of Yonge & Wellesely ... I have never been there but I hear it is traditional Spanish food and they have a tapas menu..

    1 Reply
    1. re: OnDaGo

      I tried Sergovia once after walking by it many times and noticing the bright yellow exterior.. I bought their Paella for 2 for takeout a couple months ago. At first I thought it was a bit pricey since they didn't have any single order of paella and you could only order 40 bucks worth of it... but when they gave it to us it was HUGE! Like in an aluminum party platter like thing. They had to put it in a box. It had lobster and scallops too.. We were filled and it was very good..

    2. Sorry but it sounds like you'll have to make do at home.

      Torito is well loved and authentic. I personally do not find it expensive by Toronto standards. I would find it hard to believe if there was an authentic tapas joint in TO using great, fresh ingredients offering plates up for less than $9.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

        Took a look at Torito's menu again and no, Lamb loaf w/currants and dried apricots in almond-saffron sauce is not what I'd consider something on a typical tapas menu and $12 for Bravas and chorizo? Please!

        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

          Took a look at Torito's menu again and no, Lamb loaf w/currants and dried apricots in almond-saffron sauce is not what I'd consider something on a typical tapas menu and $12 for Bravas and chorizo? Please! Maybe only if their "Tapas" are actually raciones (7" plates instead of saucer plates)

          1. re: currycue

            I'd encourage you to try Torito before knocking it. Food, wine, and service are all delightful and it completely made us long for Madrid. There are some more imaginative dishes on Torito's menu, but we actually ate some pretty interesting things in Spain and I don't think tapas has to be just tortilla, ham and cheese anymore! If you give Torito a chance, I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

            PS - I have the menu reading $9 for patatas bravas and chorizo. And I'm in agreement with SWS that Torito does not actually seem all that expensive for good quality ingredients in Toronto.

            1. re: Rabbit

              I "third" the comment re: pricing. Unfortunately, imported ingredients cost a pretty penny ... the Palacio chorizo I buy here is in the $15 range, while the same product can be found in Madrid for around 3 Euros. Same thing for cheese, and wine.

              The other thing to remember is that Spain is as gastronomically diverse as Canada is geographically diverse, so perhaps if you're looking for something that is authentically MadrileƱo, it would help to specify that.

              That said, I'll be stalking this thread ... I miss Madrid, too!

              1. re: Rabbit

                Thanks for that. I'm sure I'll try it eventually, but the thing I love most about Tapas and a lot of Spanish dishes is the simplicity of it all (exactly the ham, cheese, tortilla, meatballs, croquettes, bravas, sausage) so the complicated dishes aren't really what I was looking for. I find it also really frustrating that so many places seem to have a hard time getting that right, seeing as it is really so simple.

                I can totally understand certain chorizos, jamon serrano and queso manchego costing a bit more over here (heck I alway bring back a wheel of Manchego in my suitcase when I come back) but that's a bit rich for potatoes with hot sauce on it.

                I do intend to try Embrujo Flamenco, not only because its menu appeals to that simple esthetic I love so much about Spanish food, but their pricing seems quite reasonable as well (by Toronto standards)

                1. re: currycue

                  Actually most of Torito's tapas are really simple-that's the beauty of them and why I am a loyal client of theirs. I too prefer simple, well executed flavours and textures.

                  And I also prefer not to knock a place based on what I see on a website and/or heresay. Its best to try for yourself. I hate to use the analogy as its such a cliche, but judging a book by its cover is always unfair.

                  1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                    I totally agree with you that it's unfair, but at that price point, I will be extremely disappointed if the meal is not to my liking wheras, if I blew, say, $40-50 for two at (for example that crappy Friendly Thai in Leslieville) I wouldn't be as upset.

          2. Let me preface this by saying that I am a fan of Tapas but by no means an expert. I had dinner at Embrujo Flamenco on the Danforth some time ago, and I found the food to be fantastic. For those of you in the know that consider this establishment to be sub par please let me know so I don't continue to fool myself into thinking it was authentic!

            6 Replies
            1. re: finelydiced

              I've actually heard someone mention them before, now that you say it. I will have to give them a try. Just took a look at their menu and it looks like the real deal to me. Thanks so much!!!

              1. re: finelydiced

                I haven't been there in a year, but it is quite tasty. Tapas is not cheap anywhere (hence the reason why we don't frequent it).

                A funny story - I emailed Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors. He's Spanish, so I thought I'd ask him where he goes to. He actually likes a place in Mississauga - I forget the name of it :(

                1. re: atomeyes

                  It is probably Casa Barcelona: http://www.casabarcelona.ca/

                  Which is actually in Etobicoke.. but anything remotely west is all the same to a lot of downtowners ;)

                  1. re: NovoCuisine

                    no no...it was another place. dang, wish i wrote it down.
                    it actually seemed more like a portuguese resto than a spanish resto.

                    I *think* its Martins (in Streetsville).

                  2. re: atomeyes

                    Do you mean Piatto at Miss rd and Dundas. I know a friend of mine saw the raps there one time

                  3. re: finelydiced

                    Like finelydiced, I'm no expert on Spanish/Tapas food, but I've been to Embrujo Flamenco a couple of times and really enjoyed the food there. Currycue, as a pro, let us know what you think if you try it.

                  4. I'm not really a tapas fan, but I agree with your assessments above. When I do try something like that I go to Coca (tapas menu attached - it has some of the items you mention) although I tend to prefer the Coca flatbreads - sort of like a Spanish Pizza (which I prefer to Pizza). It's also open Mondays - and IMO one of the best places to go in TO on a Monday. But I much prefer wine to Sangria - so can't speak to whether they even serve Sangria

                    http://www.dine.to/profile_features.p...

                    -----
                    Coca
                    783 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                    1. Hello, thought I'd update this as it's been a while. Sorry, still haven't been to Torito or Embrujo, but on a friend's suggestion, made it to Segovia last night. I had been years ago before visiting Spain and remembered it being decent.

                      Boy was I wrong!!!

                      Where to start? Tapas: Calamares: not bad, garlic mayo sauce very salty. Crab croquettes, not bad, a bit bland, though. Chorizo, horrible. Very salty, cooked without sherry, cider or any other sauce, just sliced and fried. Very limited tapas menu, when I asked for patatas, he said, that's a Madrid thing. Sorry, I've had them in Seville and Barcelona too, try again.

                      The paella for the main was atrocious. Too salty, taste as though everything was cooked in water instead of stock, all the flavours of the seafood were drained (probably from the water) and a distinct lack of saffron (the rice wasn't even yellow-ish)

                      The sangria was o.k., but weak. Probably used an inferior red wine. At $35 a jug, not acceptable.

                      The bill for a light meal for 4?

                      $170!!!!

                      Absolutely unacceptable. The search continues.....

                      P.S. Had a WONDERFUL Spanish meal in Ghent, Belgium last month of all places. Good, reasonably priced (about 50% more than you would pay in Spain) and authentic. I begged her to come to Toronto!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: currycue

                        Just an update on the continued search :-) Finally got to visit Embrujo Flamenco on Saturday and I quite enjoyed it. Not the best I've had, but good flavours, and reasonably priced. I had the codfish croquettes, chorizo in sherry and the patatas bravas. The tomato sauce that came with the bravas was a little different than what I was used to, but when mixed with the spicy mayo that came with the croquettes, they turned out exactly as I've had in Madrid and Seville. Very good, and very fresh, I'd definitely go back. Unfortunately, as per North American standard, the drinks were really expensive ($16 for two glasses of decent, but full of ice Sangria) Oh well, getting closer. I still must try Torito.

                        Thanks!

                        1. re: currycue

                          i do not have any spain experience to relate but after a visit to emburjo flamenco a few weeks back i am not at all interested in returning. i found their patates bravas quite oily and nearly burnt without any interesting texture and that sauce as you noted was not quite right. we ordered a cod dish with some melange of vegetables on top (don't know the dish name) and while i'm very sure the menu didn't mention it was fried and only a stew.... lo and behold the texture and oiliness of a deep fried fillet underneath all the stew sauce. the calimari was texturally very good and fresh though the batter quite thick and again... oily. i found the paella a bit lacking in rice (filler for some i know, but it would have balanced the dish much better) and the seafood mediocre with only ok flavours though a good noticeable amount of saffron. the only dish i was pleased with came out of a jar i'm sure, white anchovies in oil... tender though vinegary and so still delicious.

                          i was frustrated and disappointed with the service. apparently being right beside the kitchen door doesn't even grant you a glance. we had to wave people down if we didn't grab them by the sleeve before they quickly ran from our table after dropping an item off. what appeared to be the owner/manager seemed completely indignant and haughty when we were casually discussing "tapas" restaurants in toronto with the hostess and how silly the concept at urbano was... though she agreed with us she just kept barking "no" and "no that isn't tapas" at the hostess when she inquired if the owner/manager heard of the place. the portions of dessert were also paltry for the sky high price they charged and again mediocre.

                          i have been very happy with my experiences at torito though i would like to ensure you know they are serving something that is more cuban in style at times. the food is delicious and slightly more pomp and circumstance than your regular tapas type place but still very comforting.