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Looking for an authentic Spanish restaurant with authentic Spanish dishes

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Ok. I was in Madrid 2 years ago and came back in love with Spanish food. And by Spanish, I mean from Spain, not Mexico, Colombia or Argentina. Food that Spaniards eat either at home or in typical tabernas and restaurants.

I had a not so bad experience at Segovia here in Toronto and I know that there are a few places that serve overpriced what they call tapas, but what I am looking for is typical dishes. Paella is fine but i am also looking for cocido, game and other typical dishes from the regions of Spain. is there such a place in The GTA?????

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  1. Welcome to the club, lol. I've been searching for years and still can't find anything worth visiting in town. Best to head up to Pimenton on Mt. Pleasant and stock up on some great 15 month old Manchego cheese, membrillo, olives, quality serrano ham, etc. and have your own little tapas party. I just got back from Madrid on Saturday and I miss it already. Let me know if you have any luck!

    -----
    Pimenton
    681 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: currycue

      You might need to rent a giant paella pan from a restaurant supply store and have a paella party yourself. I haven't found a good Spanish restaurant in Toronto yet. Even the good tapas places aren't exclusively Spanish and as such, bring fusion concepts to the tapas.

    2. Hi Fred,

      I have had good experiences at Torito in Kensington: http://www.toritorestaurant.com/menu.php

      And great experiences at Cava on Yonge: http://www.cavarestaurant.ca/

      I don't know if these were on your list of "overpriced tapas," but some of the cazuela, venison anticucho, albondigas, etc. items on the Cava menu seem to fit your desires...

      -----
      Torito
      276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

      Cava
      1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: jgloverwork

        second cava!!

      2. The other problem facing Spanish restaurants here is the high price of alcohol. I actually found prices in Madrid to have gone up a bit since my last visit, however, you could still get a glass of sangria / beer / wine / vermouth for around 2.50 Euro. A glass of the same here is probably $5-7. Being that the idea of tapas is to encourage more drinking, that will run the bill rather high.

        6 Replies
        1. re: currycue

          Please let me know where a wine is $5-7. Given Toronto markups that implies a $7-9 bottle to start with! It's hard to find much that is potable under about $8-10 per glass.

          And I can't help with a Spanish tapas bar either. Torito is more South American (to me); Cava is very expensive; Segovia went so far downhill that I haven't tried it for years; Cambalache was just reheated pre-prepared food (IMO); Casa Barcelona is probably the best of the bunch, but I tried delivery from there and it was inedible.

          -----
          Cambalache
          505 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2L9, CA

          Casa Barcelona
          2980 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M8X1B9, CA

          Torito
          276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

          Cava
          1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

          1. re: estufarian

            Agreed about Torito being more South American in style, but the atmosphere is great.

            -----
            Torito
            276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

            1. re: estufarian

              Estufarian, I didn't realize you are based in the GTA. Your comments on dining in Barcelona and Madrid have been very useful to me in planning our upcoming 9 days in Spain.

              My heart skipped a beat when I saw the title of this thread, only to return to its normal torpor after reading all the posts. I've been doing a little "homework" recently and in the last month, we've been to Cava, Torito and Embruco Flamenco. No revelations anywhere, really. As other posters have already stated, things are expensive here and not very exciting. I looked at my neighbour's paella at Cava and it looked and smelled burnt.

              Embrujo Flamenco is a bit exciting on the nights they host a flamenco show and serve arroz negro, but as my children said, they couldn't really taste any difference. Has anyone else tried Embrujo Flamenco?

              1. re: Aleta

                I did. Although it also fell into the expensive category, the food was probably the best of the places I've tried in TO so far. $7.50 for a sangria of mostly ice though! Yikes.

                1. re: Aleta

                  I come to tapas via Spanish wine (especially sherry), so my Toronto experiences are coloured by the availability (mostly none) of a decent dry oloroso, amontillado or palo cortado.
                  However, Spain is (for me) the most exciting food country there is - tapas are OK, but I find there is far more than that on offer in Spain. Yes, tapas are cheap, but my best tapas meal doesn't come close to my top 10 meals in Spain.
                  In Toronto I DO go to both Torito and Cava - but the latter on Sundays (when the corkage is low). That way I can take a decent sherry (or Rioja, or a few other possibilities) .
                  I KNOW you'll enjoy Spain - at last count 5 of my top 10 meals ever were in Spain - but mostly high end. But I think you might well find my footsteps in some of the places you are planning to visit in Spain (e.g. Gresca).

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                  Torito
                  276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                  Cava
                  1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

                2. re: estufarian

                  Cambalache closed in November, i believe.

                  -----
                  Cambalache
                  505 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2L9, CA

              2. I actually didn't like the food at Segovia at all. We went for a Christmas lunch through work in 2009 and ordered from the price fixe menu. The paella looked and tasted like something I could make at home. The appetizer was ok and the dessert was ok as well. I loved the sangria though.

                Maybe it was during Christmas time and maybe it was the price fixe menu. Should I go back and try something else there?

                2 Replies
                1. re: TOchowgal

                  I don't think it has been good for a very long time. I can't stand the smell. I feel like it needs to be aired out for a month or so before it could even be passable!

                  1. re: JennaBean

                    Has Segovia ever been good? People have been complaining about it for 30 years.

                2. Personally, I think its rather pointless to argue over "authenticity" here-the reality is that we are not in Spain. What is more constructive is defining "authenticity" of a certain cuisine in terms of how the chef brings a sense of "place" to the food and/or atmosphere. I often think of authenticity in replicating a particular style or regional cuisine as I do with wine-does the varietal speak to a sense of place, or terroir? And does the grape varietal have enough of those particular aromatic markers that define it? Same goes with regional food.

                  You will find that things are more expensive here-the tax levied on alcohol is quite high, so you will not get the same cheap price for wine as you would in Europe (sadly). And imported specialty food items will also carry additional costs-as it should be IMO. Protected geographical status of certain food products has been a particular thorn in the side for many European countries. We don't make jamon serrano here afterall.

                  If I recall, this thread has come up before, with CHers suggesting both Cava and Torito. They are both good options. Are they "authentic"? Well I guess you'll have to be the judge of that yourself. Perhaps, as jkgloverwork suggested, these are the "overpriced" tapas places you are referring to. Since I can't live in Spain, and drink wine for 2 euros a glass, I'm willing to hang at Torito instead-I think it gives me *enough* of a sense of the relaxed vibe that a tapas bar anywhere in Spain can offer.

                  -----
                  Torito
                  276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                  Cava
                  1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                    SWS you do have some very valid points regarding the price of imported ingredients, however, the beauty of Spanish cuisine, especially in the form of tapas and pintxos is the simplicity of it all.

                    Sure serrano ham is expensive, but $8+ for patatas bravas is ridiculous. It's not that difficult to produce an authentically Spanish cuisine here, it just doesn't seem to have been done yet at a reasonable price. I really don't feel it's that far fetched an idea. We already have authentic Thai, Italian, Chinese and the list goes on. I can re create the flavours of Madrid quite easily in my kitchen and very quickly (and I am not even remotely of Spanish ancestry) I wish I could afford the start up costs. It seems like there might be a great niche to explore here.

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      Torito's basement bar is particularly nice.

                      -----
                      Torito
                      276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                      1. re: Dimbulb

                        I really enjoyed my one experience (thus far) at Torito. The owner is from Barcelona. It is the chef that hails from South America. I found his dishes quite tasty and varied, with some traditional Spanish favourites and many riffs on Spanish concepts, with some South American touches and outright fusion cooking. The wine wasn't cheap, but not outrageously priced. I thought the ambiance in the basement room was lovely. But, did I feel like I was in Spain enjoying traditional tapas? No. I was happy with it nonetheless. I don't think any chowhounders have voiced any significant complaints regarding Torito, other than a few unreasonably priced dishes, (patatas bravas, for one). If it's any consolation, some dishes are quite generously sized and are well worth the price.

                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                          Hi 1sweetpea,
                          Could you suggest which dishes you thought were worth ordering at Torito?

                          1. re: sumashi

                            I've been too many times to count so I think I have tried every dish on the menu. Here are my favs:

                            - ceviche
                            - potato and chorizo
                            - shrimp al ajillo
                            - Braised beef tongue and cheek
                            - Arugula salad

                            There is also a cookie dessert which is AMAZING.

                    2. because Canada has not experienced a wave of imigration. Does anyone know a Canadian that was born in Spain? I know lots in the food industry from Italy, France, Portugal, China, Japan...even South American....but there isn't a market or the talent to prepare Spanish food.

                      Its tragic, I spent two weeks devouring tapas on my honeymoon in 2005, and have gone to Cava, Julie's and Torito for special occations....wonderful restaurants, terribly expensive. For me the beauty of tapas is the simplicity, the size and the price! I adored munching a tortilla and olives with manchego in the early afternoon with 1L of sangria then wandering the streets until the buzz wore off. We had a rule of threes.....every day, we'd visit three different tapas joints, and try three plates. Such fun, so many flavours. I'd be in heaven if an authentic tapas place opened up and we could make it a weekly or monthly habit. Until then, we reminisce by making our own tortilla and sangria and hunt down expensive spanish olives and aged manchego to nibble at home.

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                      Torito
                      276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                      Cava
                      1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

                      1. Had a good experience as Casa Bacelona on Bloor West in The Kingsway going back 6 mos or so.

                        Paella and tapas were delicious and they offer entertainment.

                        Good meal- not vouching for any authenticity factor here.

                        http://www.casabarcelona.ca/

                        1. hey Guys! Better late than never. I have not been back on this thread since my original post but thanks for the feedback. i have been to Torito and found it good food but nothing really out of this world. I did have great spanish food in..... Chicago back in May though! LOl. Much better than anything i had here. I want to try Embrujo Flamenco, Cava too but cava is not owned by Spaniards so I hesitate.

                          Talking about Spanish Immigration to Toronto, there are some but just a few thousand people. There are more in Montreal. So i may explore there now.

                          -----
                          Embrujo
                          97 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1N2, CA

                          Torito
                          276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                          Cava
                          1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: fredster1

                            btw Torito's owners/chefs are not Spanish. They're from Latin/South America.

                            -----
                            Torito
                            276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                            1. re: Herb

                              I think that was the problem at Cambalache too. I mean, if you make a chorizo without pimenton, it's not a Spanish chorizo. End of story.

                              -----
                              Cambalache
                              505 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2L9, CA

                              1. re: currycue

                                I LOVE the chorizo and potato dish at Torito! I don't know if it has pimento but I find it really tasty.

                                -----
                                Torito
                                276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA