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Sep 12, 2009 08:26 AM

Cava Vs. Torito

My SO has suggested Spanish tapas as his choice for his 40th birthday dinner. Right now, we're planning on it being just the two of us, but I'm toying with the idea of inviting another couple to join us. We haven't yet been to either Cava or Torito, but which should I choose for a) food b) ambiance c) service? I am aware that the two restaurants are in different price points. For this particular evening, I won't consider price as a factor.

Based on what I've seen of the two restaurants' menus online, it would seem to me that Torito's menu is closer to what one would traditionally expect from (essentially) Spanish tapas, while Cava's menu takes more liberties with the concept and is quite playful. Can anyone comment on the two menus and the execution of dishes?

Are the dishes at each restaurant true to Spanish tapas, size-wise? Can we expect a $16.00 plate at Cava to be tapas-sized or will it be a more "small plates" size, meaning more substantial? For that matter, will a $7 plate at Torito be tea saucer-sized and really only a few bites on the plate? If 6 dishes are suggested at Cava, is that also true at Torito? I have a tendency to go nuts and order too much, subsequently stuffing myself silly. What is a realistic number of dishes to order for two that will give us lots of variety on the table, but not too much? We're not dessert eaters so the focus will be on great food and wines ... and of course, good company!


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  1. For dish size, etc, Torito's were smaller but I don't feel like the were less substantial.


    Menus are there too, but again - from 2007! I remember CharlesYu recently posting about Torito being good as well, so you may wish do dig that thread up. Not much on Cava, that I recall.

    --- -- food. is. love.

    1. I've only been to Torito, but it's one of my Toronto favourites. I think you'll find most dishes tapas-sized verus small-plate sized (to use your terminology)... not always tea saucer, but relatively small. Atmosphere is on the causal side, small and buzzy... warm and friendly. I think Cava is a bit more formal, but that's only gleaned peering through the window.

      As for the ordering dilemma... part of the fun with tapas is that you can just keep it coming. Instead of trying to order everything at once you can pick two or three dishes to start and then keep ordering at suitable intervals until you've had your fill. When we eat tapas we usually place orders 3-4 times (we are dessert eaters) during the course of the meal. Also, this lets you start with the lighter, more delicate dishes and then work your way up to the meatier or more substantial options. And we always keep the wine coming!

      Either way, please keep us posted on your dinner - and happy 40th to the SO!

      1. By Toronto's standard, IMHO, both places are pretty good, each having their own 'hit and miss' dishes.
        In general, I found Cava's meal to be at least 30% more than Torito's for the same amount of food. As for taste, personally, I prefer Torito's food. For example, I prefer Torito's Tongue and cheek over Cava's Braised beef cheeks. The former better textural play with the introduction of the ox tongue and more aromatic! I also prefer the better value ' no filler' crab cakes of Torito's over Cava's rather mediocre Salt cod cakes. However, Grilled sardines at Cava is better executed than in Torito's. After all, sardines had been McDonald's speciality all the way back to his Avalon days! Lastly, Torito's addictive Flan de Chocolat is pretty hard to beat! If not for the calories, I can easily eat two or three for dessert!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Charles Yu

          Thanks for the detailed responses! Sounds like Torito is the way to go. We can try Cava another time. I think I read in another thread that Torito has a downstairs room that's pretty cozy. That sounds perfect. I can't wait. We live in Windsor and it's pretty slim pickings for interesting ethnic food, beyond Vietnamese. The last couple of times we went for Spanish tapas in Toronto, we went to Casa Barcelona and Embrujo Flamenco. Both were okay, but neither really impressed me. I'm looking forward to the evening.

          1. re: 1sweetpea

            If it's a nice day, try to get on the patio (in the back). It's quite lovely.

            1. re: Ediblethoughts

              It won't be until late October. I'd guess that the patio will be long closed by then.

              1. re: 1sweetpea

                Maybe--but maybe not. I didn't look too closely but I have this vague recollection of some paraphernalia to keep diners warm out there. But I might be getting my patios mixed up. So you could check...

        2. I've been to both and I preferred Torito. As I recall the plates are about the same size at both, and all roughly consistent with what you'd get in Spain. I'm afraid I can't remember much else about them.

          1. Hi! I realize you have made your decision and am sure you'll enjoy yourself at Torito. I just wanted to add that the dishes at Cava are more in the small plates style and far more intricate and I believe superior to Torito. For a special occasion or not, you cannot beat the service and the amazing knowledge the servers possess at Cava..........the wine list also shines. Enjoy your night.......looking forward to hearing your review of Torito!