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GF's only experience with mexican....taco bell! Help with lunch suggestion!

So we were talking about mexican the other day and she said she really likes taco bell....the disturbing part is that she may have only been half joking...she said she only had mexican once (on a cruise of some sort) but that was years ago.

Plain and simple, looking downtown for a "more mexican" (re: not looking for the absolute perfect experience, lest the hounders begin to eat me alive) place to show her something more akin to the real mccoy. Milagro will do in a pinch, but am flexible (heard of some near St Lawrence market) depending on the cuisine and price point.


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  1. hernandos hidaway young wellesly area???

    1. El Trompo is authentic and delicious.

      El Trompo
      277 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2M1, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: JonasBrand

        Second El Trompo. It's a good gateway into authentic Mexican, specifically things like tacos al pastor in the style of Mexico City. There's nothing too obscure or unfamiliar on the menu. Plus you're in Kensington Market and can go shopping for Mexican and Central American foodstuffs afterwards, make a fun day of it.

      2. tacos el asador on blood and christie.
        cheap and easy and casual and you can order a large range of food to sample.
        their nachos are dirty and delicious and the only time i actually enjoy liquid cheese. :)

        3 Replies
        1. re: atomeyes

          Tacos el Asador is not Mexican, though the food is very good. I believe they are Salvadorean. I think Cabernet05 meant Kensington Market and not St. Lawrence Market, for authentic tacos and/or tamales. These aren't really restaurants, though. Some names that get tossed around on this board are: Frida's, Rebozos, Milagro and El Jacalito. For a "more Mexican" option that is not too high end, you might try El Sol on the Danforth. Many find Chimichangas satisfying, though I'm not sure how authentic it is. I would avoid The Willow, Hernando's Hideaway, Jalapeno, the place on College near Bathurst and the place on Baldwin St (can't think of the name). There may be a couple of good choices on St. Clair Avenue West, west of Bathurst, but I don't recall their names.

          1. re: 1sweetpea

            The place on Baldwin Street is Margarita's (they also have a location on Carlton), and yes, they're pretty bad. Avoid them.

            1. re: 1sweetpea

              I'm assuming the "College near Bathurst" place is either Rancho Relaxo or Sneaky Dee's, and I'd second the 'avoid' for either here.

          2. Mexitaco _ Bloor & Shaw. Patio and open for lunch.


            1. Reporting back: went to El Trompo and ordered the Al Pastor, Bistec con queso and the Chongos Zamoranos (washed down with mexican soda, it was a day reminiscent of summer)

              All dishes were quite tasty, nod to the Bistec con quese and the two pepper sauces they provide, I love heat and they did the trick nicely.

              She wants to try new places now, so maybe El Sol!

              1 Reply
              1. re: cabernet05

                Happy you enjoyed El Trompo :) Might need to repeat for some Spicy Chicken Tinga Tacos (best tacos on the menu IMO).

              2. I lived in central Mexico for awhile and these are my choices for the best Mexican places I've tried: Rebozos (Rogers Rd), not a lot else around. El Jacal(ito) on Bloor near Ossington, as well as Mexitaco, same area. I like these all better than El Trompo.

                2 Replies
                1. re: oakesec

                  i was disappointed by Rebozos after hearing the hype a few years back.
                  it was alright.
                  i think i just ordered tacos.

                  1. re: oakesec

                    Just for clarity: El Jacal is near Dufferin, Mexitaco is at Shaw.

                  2. El Rincon Mexicano at Oakwood and St. Clair is my absolute, absolute favourite. The servers are very nice and will explain the dishes to you, and they often have regional specialties.

                    As more of a takeout/snack place, La Tortilleria makes their own tortillas, and has some kickin salsas, too.

                    I also like El Jacal, which someone mentioned, and I did NOT enjoy Mexitaco one bit.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: capiscum

                      We ate at El Rincon for the first time Friday night during that horizontal rain storm - we dove in the first place with seats to take cover - luckily it was El Rincon. We were the first people in at 6:15pm. By 6:45 all the tables were taken and there were people waiting for seats. Friend had the chicken enchiladas and I had the chicken enfrijoladas - we shared a side of guacamole.
                      The corn tortillas were fresh and everything was flavorful - nothing too spicy, but we could have asked for more kick. Service was attentive, friendly and informative. Only complaint was that the the side portions of (delicious) seasoned rice were relatively small - but we both totally cleaned our plates.

                      El Rincon
                      653 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C, CA

                    2. The subject of Mexican food in Toronto always makes me a bit sad. I grew up in the US in an area with a substantial Mexican immigrant population (with the requisite restaurants run by, and targeted at, them), spent 4 months in Texas in the Army, lived for a year in California and have had several vacations in Mexico (the real Mexico, not Texico or Flexico, i.e. Cancun, Cabo, etc...). I know what real Mexican food is supposed to be like. There is NOTHING in this city that compares to the Mexican food I can get by simply driving across the border into the US and picking just about any random Mexican restaurant over there. A few months ago I spent a week just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan at a hotel for a work conference. There was a Mexican restaurant in a strip mall across the road and even it was better than any Mexican restaurant I've found yet around here. You name it, I've tried them all in this city. I even went so far as to try this place up in Peterborough everyone went on and on about (La Hacienda), another strikeout. Recently, my girlfriend's parents made their first trip to the US for a week-long vacation and I urged them to eat "real Mexican food" while they were down there as I've been telling them for years the Mexican food on the other side of the border is far superior. They ended up hooking up with my parents, who took them to a family run place near where they live. The GF's parents came back from the trip now saying the exact same thing I say, it's just better "over there". Now, barring all that I've said the most passable place for me I've found so far here is a little family run joint up in North York on Bathurst called La Mexicana. There's apparently also a La Mexicana on Yonge just north of Bloor, I have no idea if this is related to the restaurant up in North York as I've never eaten at the Yonge location.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Boodah

                        Have you tried El Sol? If so, what did you think of that one? I've been reading that there are a few good Mexican restaurants now, so I'd be interested tp know which ones struck out for you.

                        1. re: foodyDudey

                          We live on the west side of town and don't get over to the Danforth area hardly ever, but I'll add El Sol to the list. My list of ones to specifically avoid are Mexi-Taco, Hernandos (both locations) and Burrito Boyz (Burritos that have completely unseasoned, tough meat in them? C'mon guys, Mexican food is all about the slow-braised, seasoned meat).

                          Special mention needs to be made of El Rincon on St. Clair. We went there once for a group meal and were seated in the basement dining area. To attempt to cover up the shockingly powerful smell of urine coming from the bathrooms downstairs they had strategically placed numerous scented air fresheners on just about every flat surface there was down there to the point where my eyes were actually watering and everything I ate tasted like chemicals. Voracious appetites, a large group and the quickly ending day made it impractical to pick up and go anywhere else (including upstairs which was full). There's no way the staff there didn't know how bad it was in the basement. Shame on them.

                          1. re: Boodah

                            I forgot to mention, a favorite joint local to us is Los Arrieros, a Columbian restaurant at 276 Jane St. It's not Mexican food, but the general cuisine of both is fairly similar. I'd classify Los Arrieros as a "joint", but to me that's a good word. No airs about the place, just straight forward food served hot and fresh and well prepared.

                            1. re: Boodah

                              You should try Milagro on Yonge, north of Lawrence. The carnitas and the cochinita pibil are both very good. I'm actually surprised you like La Mexicana, which I've always found "ok" to fill a desperate craving for Mexican, but pretty mediocre overall. I find Milagro several steps up from La Mexicana, though the prices are definitely higher.

                              Another spot worth checking out for its carnitas is Chimichanga, further south on Yonge, just north of Eglinton. I've haven't tried much of their menu (they seem to be quite burrito focused, probably because of the neighbourhood), but the carnitas are the real deal. Sangria isn't bad, either.

                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                I think what makes La Mexicana passable for me is it's cheap, never crowded, consistent and the service is good. Is it some of the better Mexican food I've ever had? No. Is it "ok"? Yep. I've never heard of Milagro's, I'll add that one to my running list as well. I've eaten at Chimichanga (I think it was a year or so ago), I found it neither great nor bad but it was expensive enough that I didn't see the value for what I was paying to eat there. I'll freely admit it, I got spoiled in the US where Mexican food is generally great and cheap.

                                1. re: Boodah

                                  It's "Milagro", without the " 's "

                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                    Doh, you're right. Sorry! I've edited my post to correct the spelling.

                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                      It's depressing that some people I know claim the best Mexican food they've ever eaten in Toronto was made by me, a gringo born and raised in Iowa. I think that's less a reflection of my ability and more a reflection of just how lacking we are here in this cuisine.

                      2. There always Burrito Boyz downtown.