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Best Authentic Meican???

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Hey Guys

I go back and forth from Toronto to the US (mainly Seattle and LA) and am able to get, what I think is pretty good authentic mexican food. I'm not talking fancy Mexican food, just good food from "taco buses/trucks" or small hole in the walls. Where in Toronto can I find this? I've been trying to find something online and i just don't see the rec's. Any help would be great guys. I'd be willing to travel to surrounding cities, i.e. Mississauga, vaughn, etc....

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    1. re: TorontoJo

      Thank you!!!! have you been to any recently?

      1. re: excel

        No, I generally avoid Mexican here unless I'm really craving it. My favourite is probably Milagro at Yonge/Lawrence, though I've enjoyed meals at Chimichanga at Yonge/Eg. The closest thing to the hole-in-the-wall taqueria is probably Rebozos, but I still haven't made a visit yet.

        But I'll tell you that as a general rule, you simply aren't going to find the equivalent of the taco trucks you visited in LA here. The best tortillas in the city (really the only fresh tortillas in the city) are from La Tortilleria. They also do some cooking -- tacos and a few other options. That might be the closest match to what you're looking for. There are 3 or 4 locations, but I think the one on St. Clair is the largest. And there are always Mexicans in there ordering food (which I have yet to try).

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Thank you for your reply and honesty....BOOOOOO is all I have to say...but I'll try out your recommendations! I'm craving Taco truck/bus so badly!

          1. re: excel

            Given what you're looking for, I'd start with La Tortilleria and Rebozos. Chimichanga has more of a tex-mex thing going on (though with some reasonably authentic options like carnitas) and Milagro is a bit more upscale and expensive.

            And while it's not Mexican, you should pop into both Perola and Emporio Latino in Kensington market. In the back of both little grocery stores are a bunch of Latino aunties and grandmothers making various Central South American goodies. Yummy pupusas, and if I remember correctly, at least one of them serves tacos.

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            Perola
            247 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Thanks jo you've been brilliant! I'm definitely going to check these places out

              1. re: excel

                Just keep your expectations low and maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised somewhere! ;)

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  hahahah seems like the game plan for a lot of foodie things here...haha

              2. re: TorontoJo

                The aunties who worked the counter at Perola's have retired or moved on. The young ladies there now are Mexican, make fresh tacos, and have kept pupusas on the menu for the crowd.

                The folks at Salsa's are also Mexican. Nice food, but you have to push them on the heat or they dumb it down significantly if you're pale.

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                Perola
                247 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

            2. re: TorontoJo

              I'm not a fan of Milagro. I find the food boring and bland and overall not of good value for that you get. If I am going to spend more money on higher end "Mexican" food I will go to Frida, where the chef in my view is passionate about his food and not just running a business. I've been to the John Street location of Milagro at least 15 times and it's been worse each time I've gone.

              A caveat: the tortillas at La Tortilliaria are the best in the city, but that doesn't mean that they're anything special. I'm glad to have them, don't get me wrong, and we always have some in our house as it is a staple food (we are a mixed Mexi-Cdn family). But it's powdered masa and the tortillas are only as good as you get from such a product. I like the flavour of the yellow tortillas better than the white ones but they still have the lack of toothsomeness and have the tendency to disintegrate of Maseca-style tortillas. Their prepared food is fine but not great.

              I agree Chimachanga is bordering on Tex-Mex and I am not generally a fan.

              For taqueria style food I enjoy Rebozos and Salsas. My husband the Chilango likes Salsas best. You can get some tasty things at some other places, but those two are my favourites. You might also try Perola on the weekend, El Jacal and other places and see for yourself what you like best. I find I like some items at some places more than others. For example if I am dying for chicharron de queso and don't want to make it myself I'll head to El Trompo, but I find their tacos a little salty and generally only OK.

              Regarding not being able to get spicy food at Salsa's if you're pale, Salsa's has several different salsas that determine the spiciness of your food. I am not Latina and have had no problem getting spicy sauce. I speak Spanish but doubt that has anything to do with it as the salsas are clearly labelled according to their spiciness and it's up to you to choose the one you want. Chiles are an important part of Mexican food but not everything is spiced to kingdom come all the time so don't be surprised that not everything is burning holes in your mouth, and that goes for everywhere you might eat.

              You won't find what you're used to the States. Don't even try to replicate it. It's just like I can't find the southern Mexican food I adore done properly anywhere outside of Mexico. Or the local of food of any place done exactly the way it's done outside of its particular geographic area, for that matter. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy what I eat in LA, and it doesn't mean you can't enjoy what we have here, with our much smaller Mexican population and limited access to ingredients, for what it is.

              And, I have to say, most people in Toronto don't understand Mexican food and expect to eat giant burritos and what have you, so if a given place doesn't adhere to our expectations of authenticity, in fairness I think we need to look to the clientele and not only to the proprietors. These folks need to make a living, after all.

              1. re: basileater

                My last two experiences at Salsa's involved ordering quite clearly the higher level of heat, and receiving either no heat, or a minor drop that would only affect one bite. I like the food and the people there, but this has seemed to be a flaw on more than one occasion.

                As for Milagro, much of the spicing comes from some base salsas, which they are happy to provide on the side if you want to bump if up a bit, or want a different slant to your ceviche than the typical bottled vinegar based salsas they serve with it.

                I would agree on the clientele comment. If you want to find more authentic, it won't be in a place where the patrons or chefs are sporting Rockcliffe Hotel t-shirts.

                1. re: basileater

                  I wasn't that impressed by the meals I had at the Milagro on John St, but I really enjoyed my last meal at the Yonge & Lawrence location of Milagro. While I probably wouldn't travel out of my way for Milagro, it's currently one of my favourite restaurants in the Yonge & Lawrence neighbourhood.

                  Haven't been to El Trompo for about 4 years, but it used to be my favourite place for a tacos al pastor fix.

                  Have been meaning to try Frida's and Rebozos for a while now!

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

          2. I would suggest the ladies at the back of Perola's (on weekends) and Salsa's for the authenticity as well selection of taco fillings; both in Kensington.

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            Perola
            247 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

            2 Replies
            1. re: Santeria

              awesome...I'll definitely make Perola's a must do

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              Perola
              247 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

              1. re: excel

                If you are willing to travel, I recently ate at Mex-I-Can on James Street North in Hamilton. For sure the most authentic Mexican I have had in the area! They make thier own corn tortillas fresh, and the food is superb!