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Dec 5, 2009 07:48 PM

El Sombrero, best mexican food I've had yet in the GTA.

I finally got a chance to make it over to El Sombrero tonight. Do not let the plain interior fool you as to what's in store, the food here is absolutely the best Mexican food I've had yet in the GTA. I had the enchiladas (2 pork, 1 beef) with rice and beans, she had grilled chicken quesadillas. Excellent flavor, just a bit of heat at my request, she had hers hot enough to burn pretty well. I can't tell you what a relief it is to finally find a Mexican restaurant that knows how to work with cilantro, cumin and lime and not just drown everything in red sauce and onions. The chips and salsa left a bit to be desired but I don't really consider that essential to my Mexican dining experience (I wouldn't have ordered them if they hadn't been free). I moved to Toronto from California 11 years ago (funny enough, the owner told me he moved to Mississauga from California, too) and this food is exactly the kind of thing I was able to get easily in California, something which I've been longing for in Toronto for over a decade. Is it the best Mexican food I've ever had in my life? Nope. Is it the best I've found so far up here? Yes, by far.

El Sombrero
35 Brunel Rd, Mississauga, ON L4Z3E8, CA

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  1. Yup! I mention El Sombrero all the time when mexican food questions get brought up.. Nobody ever seems to try it or respond to me though

    And if you liked it now, it was even better when the Mom & Pops were working and cooking there (now they've passed it to their son or something it seems like, a younger kid is always there now..) it's still good but not as good as it used to be. And the kid is a stiff with the portion sizes too

    Did you try those chocolate tortilla things for desert? Those are addictive hehe

    11 Replies
    1. re: duckdown

      Mom and Pop were actually there last night, I had a conversation with Pop about where in California we both came from before we moved to the area (he's from Orange County). I have no complaints about the portion I got last night, but I have nothing to compare it to since it was my first visit. And no, I didn't have dessert there. I'll give them a shot next time.

      1. re: Boodah

        Ahh, if you were there while they were there, I'm sure it was good then.. Good to hear!


        1. re: duckdown

          They gots a website?
          Im aching for some SoCal fish tacos, so hopefully these guys make em.

          1. re: kingkelly

            They have a type of fish there, I always see it on the hot table, but I don't think it's for a taco unfortunately

            I don't think they have a website either, sorry. It's a small family owned mom & pop & son place

            1. re: duckdown

              I believe the fish they have there is salmon.

              1. re: Boodah

                Ya, it looks like salmon to me also.. I know it's sitting in some kind of braising liquid with carmelized onions on top

                1. re: pakmode

                  oh cool, good to see they got a website going now

                  thanks pakmode

          2. re: Boodah

            Sounds great!...How does it compare to Rebozo's or El Sol?...Marimba!

          3. re: duckdown

            Only because you second this Duckdown I"m going to try it.....promise.

            1. re: food face

              LOL, thanks... now the pressure is on -- if the place sucks, i look like a dumbass :D

          4. Thanks for the heads up, sounds fab. Will head out when we have a car rented.

            1. I work in Mississauga and El Sombrero is a wonderful treat for me. The fish is indeed Salmon - and you can get it in a taco (corn totilla). I also often get the fish instead of chicken in the taco salad. The food is always good and its pretty fast all things considered.

              1. Thanks for the suggestion. Will be checking this place out later this week.

                The website is well layed out.


                15 Replies
                1. re: pakmode

                  The food on the website is making my mouth water. Is it more of a fast food place or is it table service?

                  1. re: abigllama

                    theres tables and a small patio but its not really table service.. more of the place where you order what you want, get it, and sit down and eat it

                    its worth checking out, and even though i dont know the name of them , theres some kind of "chocolate tortilla chip" things they have for desert, get a pack of them to take home

                    1. re: duckdown

                      Thanks for the info this place sounds perfect!

                      1. re: duckdown

                        I think they're called "Bunelos".

                    2. re: pakmode

                      Just to follow up, had the opportunity to try this place out the other night.

                      The service was fast, friendly and polite.
                      Gave complimentary chips and salsa which would have been better if they were fried fresh rather then from the afternoon. Salsa was homemade and found the flavouring authenthic. I think authenticity is the key buzzword about this restaurant. I haven't had Mexican food in the GTA with such honest, authentic ingredients and reminded me of recent trips to LA, Orange County and San Fran.

                      The tastes don't necessarily blow you away, maybe because I built this place up too much in my head, but everything here just tastes "right". It tastes fresh. It tastes authentic. Nothing is really out of whack...good amount of cilantro and onions and tomatoes completes this taste balance I speak of.

                      We ordered a veggie quesadilla. Grilled nicely, fair amount of cheese with black and refried pinto beans, cilantro, chopped tomatoes and onions made this enjoyable.

                      I ordered the wet chicken burrito which was good. Left me wanting more which is a good sign.

                      All in all, thanks for the heads up about this place. Enoyed it and will be back.
                      It was very easy to get to - on Hurontario south of the 401.

                      1. re: pakmode

                        Cool, glad you liked it.

                        You're right about the chips -- I've been there AS they're frying them, and they're way better when freshly fried. But they're still pretty good even if they're made earlier in the day.. maybe a bit salty

                        Never tried anything veggie there, I'm anti-vegetarian :D

                        Chicken burrito is great though, that's my go-to pick every time I'm there

                        1. re: duckdown

                          Thanks for the heads up about this place.
                          The chocolate covered tortilla chips looked really good, but we were too full to eat them. If they were fresh I definitely would have taken some to go.

                          1. re: duckdown

                            The pork enchiladas are fabulous.

                          2. re: pakmode

                            I don't mean to be critical because for all I know you are comparing to Cali because that's your only frame of reference for this cuisine, but why is it that American interpretations of Mexican food are held up as the gold standard of authenticity? I have seen this many times now on this board where some Californian or Texan interpretation is held up as the standard for all Mexican food to aspire to. I don't see the need for this culinary cultural imperialism when there is a wonderful variety of Mexican food in *Mexico* that is just as good and in many cases better than American interpretations.

                            Nothing wrong with the wonderful creations of the diaspora in the United States. But if that's the standard view of Mexican food, it's an unduly narrow one and a great gastronomic loss for those who hold it.

                            1. re: basileater

                              Agree. Mexico's a BIG place but you'd never guess it from what's on offer here. I love LA taco truck fare but it sure ain't--and doesn't pretend to be--Oaxaca, Sonora, or Puebla food. Lack of any comparison has always been TO's problem with Mexican food--anyone can foist off almost anything as Mexican food provided it has a few Taco Bell consonants. Nothing much has changed since the 80s aside from the quantity of "Mexican" food on offer. Quality's a whole other enchilada...

                              1. re: Kagemusha

                                I've never been to Mexico so i can't comment on authenticity, but Mariachi at Yonge and Eglinton has a bunch of mains that are quite different to the usual tortilla-based stuff you see at Californian Mexican restaurants. It's not going to blow your mind but i find it all pretty tasty.

                              2. re: basileater

                                I don't follow your argument at all. Imperialism is a politcal term referring to centralized control or reign of power. Ie. the British Commonwealth. There may be certain aspects of their culture they try to instill in a new land or colony.
                                Food is open to interpretation and does not follow a top-down political model.
                                Food is different; it changes and adapts to local tastes, customs, climates, ingredients, resources etc.
                                I said the food of El Sombrero reminded me of trips to California. Not that it was symbolic of all food in Mexico and not that this was the Gold Seal of Authenticity for all Mexican food.

                                1. re: basileater

                                  I guess what we are referring to being "Mexican" is the fast food/street food of Mexico City, Tiajuana, etc. There are some that think that IS Mexican food, but for many of us we know it doesn't represent all of Mexico and the many regional styles of cooking. As for calling it "American interpretations", I beg to differ as many of the Cali restos are owned, operated or cooked by Mexicans (especially the mom and pop shacks). I have family in San Diego and the restos I've been to down there serve food that is totally different from what you'll find in Tex-Mex restos. It's just simple authentic Mexican food. Sure it's probably confined to some region of Mexico, but none-the-less it's true Mexican. BTW did anyone catch the Sunday Morning program on CBS a few weeks ago and they showed "Mexican" hotdogs? Mmmmmmm.....=9. Basically it's like what the Quebecois did to fries. These are loaded chorizo's or hot dogs.

                                  1. re: scarberian

                                    I'm a bit lost with the "cultural imperialism" comment, as well. Wasn't California technically part of Mexico until the mid-1800's? So isn't the Mexican cultural and gastronomical component so central to California life partially a remnant of those days — does it not thus show evidence of a deep-seated RESISTANCE against U.S. cultural imperialism? The many Spanish-speaking-only Mexican restaurants that I always visit when I'm in California are proof that the burgers-n-fries "American" food — and culture — can never fully oppress or eradicate "other" cultures.

                                  2. re: basileater

                                    I think it's possible you've misunderstood my position. I am not saying the US makes food more authentic than you can get in Mexico, that's non-sensical. My complaint (and the complaint of many, many other people on this board) is the Mexican food available in the GTA is bad, horribly bad in many cases. This makes absolutely no sense to me and these other people, as I can get in my car and drive across the border into the US and get better Mexican food by closing my eyes, stabbing my finger onto a random Mexican restaurant in the yellow pages and going there. There is no logical explanation why good Mexican food cannot be as prevalent here as it is 2 hours away by car, it simply defies logic. The reason you see so many Californians and Texans in particular making this observation is because those are two places where you are almost certainly guaranteed to get better Mexican food than almost anyplace else in North America, including in Mexico. I have spent time in Mexico, in numerous places. I can tell you without reservation (and I'm sure plenty of people will back me up on this one, too) that it's easier to get good Mexican food in the US than it is in Mexico. Don't believe me? Go to Juarez or Tijuana, eat there (make sure you schedule a doctor's appointment beforehand) and then eat at any random Mexican restaurant directly across the border on the US side. There are plenty of reasons why this is so, including but not limited to: better quality of produce, better quality of meat, better laws governing food handling, cleaner restaurants, etc..., in essence, the raw materials on the US side of the border for making Mexican food are generally better than the raw materials available on the Mexican side of the border. The standard of living in Mexico is low, the quality of food available there is generally low. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. But that doesn't change the fact that where there's better ingredients, there's generally better end results. There's a reason why you see a common theme in these posts from people who've had the same kinds of experiences I've had, you can chalk it up to "cultural imperialism" if you want but that just reeks of "Americans think they're so great" knee-jerk blowback.

                              3. This calls for a trip to Mississauga! I travel to California pretty regularly and I eat tacos NON-STOP when I'm there!