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La Carnita finds permanent home on college st

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  1. Just saw a write up about this on Blogto.

    501 College, close by Palmerston, old Briscola space.

    Wonder if the line ups will be around the block :)

    10 Replies
    1. re: ylsf

      They tweeted it was official on Saturday and got everybody in a frenzy! This place will be lined up for certain! They also have a huge learning curve on how to operate a restaurant so all bets are off IMO. So far they have shown that logistics is not their strong suit....

      1. re: justsayn

        i find your statement to be 100% incorrect.

        their only logistical failure, in my opinion, was Saturday night's event at the Brickworks. 1200 people RSVP and that was capacity. Twice the amount showed. so Andrew et al. get a pass.

        Its the same thing as Grand Electric. the line-up is part of the hype and vibe. not sure if you want pre-assembled tacos, but you're never going to get it with La Carnita. if you've ever had one of their tacos, each one is carefully assembled, not slapped together.

        but yes, the location will be rocking for its first few months. such is the life of places that serve great food.

        1. re: atomeyes

          No offence taken but I am not one of those who writes about things not experienced first hand - and more than just once or twice.

          I have a number of little pieces of art as trophies from going to war. And yes I was at Brickworks on Saturday. I have been a known fan for a long time! I have loved most of what they serve. I fully respect what the guys have done and how they helped change/make the scene! Inventive and awesome!

          Now back to the realities of starting and running a restaurant. If I look at how they've progressed over time I am reminded of how much has gone wrong. Cold food, late starts, super slow prep, unorganized line-ups, and terrible execution on Saturday. Claiming to be more popular than expected is just an excuse. Give me a break, who RSVPs to a free event? Why keep tweeting and retweeting if you see it is filling up? But I digress. My point is that they have shown a consistent inability to plan and anticipate. Every improvement stems from the previous fail. Thus the learning curve I speak of. It is especially long for them compared to the next guy. That's my opinion. I predict a lot of mixed reviews before they get their fish together.

          Love what they're doing and I hope to be proven wrong!

          1. re: justsayn

            I'm fully in your camp on this one. Great product. Fingers crossed they can actually make it into a resto that doesn't frustrate people to the point of no return.

        2. re: justsayn

          Put me down as skeptical too, I simply do not believe he will be successful in converting the pop up buzz people into a 5 or 6 night a week clientele that will be spendy enough to make money when someone else has already been burning down his trend for 6 months.

          1. re: bytepusher

            Hmm maybe you should ask Colin Tooke if there is any money in the taco trend.

            1. re: childofthestorm

              My point exactly, Colin saw a unmet need took off to Chicago to get some hands on experience on how to execute it right, then came back here and opened in less than a month by taking over an existing restaurant and doing almost nothing to it. All while Andrew goofed around with a few popups. There's an advantage to being the first entrant, Now no matter what Andrew does he's going to be compared to Grand Electric, he can compete on quality obviously but can he carry off the other stuff? Frankly we watch this industry, you really think Colin is still going to be doing this in a year? He'll have cashed out and moved on by then, if the landlord doesn't kill the place completely with a huge rent increase.

              1. re: bytepusher

                wasn't La Carnita before Grand Electric? so i could argue that Colin was the second in Rome.

                Considering the 20-50 person line-up at Grand Electric and how La Carnita and GE are a 10 min drive from one another, i think that Toronto has lots of room for 2 taco joints. Just ask Burgers Priest how their 2nd location is doing, or how Holy Chuck is faring.

                I'd also argue that Andrew was incredibly smart doing his pop-up restaurant. he's a graphics designer by trade. considering that most restaurants fail, why would you quit a good paying job, toss $$ into a restaurant and lose your savings if you don't think it would take off?

                La Carnita's drummed up hype. GE had the Black Hoof cache as its pre-open hype and La Carnita has its self-created hype to fill it up from day one.

                Why can't Torontonians want a win-win? this isn't binary. you don't have to be off or on. you can have two "ons"

                1. re: atomeyes

                  I believe every single person who quit their job to open a resto and anyone who invested in one, believed it would take off. I doubt there is one who did it thinking it would fail.

                  That being said - the city needs more than one GE!!! And LC could be just the people to bring it.

            2. re: bytepusher

              I think he will surprise with depth in his food. He is well connected with some great chefs and there is a huge demand for more tasty treats like this! And food that goes so well with alcohol is a guarantee profit maker!

        3. Dammit! I thought he was going to be closer to where I worked!! My guess was on Dundas and by Trinity Bellwoods, but maybe that was only wishful thinking. BOO I SAY.

          1 Reply
          1. I simply don't understand all the frenzy, and the long lineups, for tacos, when they are so easy to make at home, and for a fraction of the cost at these new places. Somebody wrote on this board recently that they had paid $9 for a single taco! I always have a stash of tortillias in my freezer (I like the Alba Lisa brand, and I cook them in a red hot cast iron pan until they puff up, then keep warm in a towel) and the fillings can be anything you like, but for Mexican street style taste I keep it simple - spicy marinaded flank steak on the BBQ, and a home made salsa. I also like the Mexican places in Kensington Market - no hype, no lines, and perfectly decent tacos for very little money. I suppose a certain clientele needs to be dining on Ossington avenue to be "in with the in crowd" - I don't buy it.

            6 Replies
                1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                  I'm a big fan of Grand Electric, but I'm just as big a fan of Rebozo's and Tierra Azteca. They both serve different needs.

                  Given one or the other, I would choose the bodega esque joints for everyday value. Still love me some craft beer at Grand Electric though.

                  1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                    I thought the same until I ate at Frontera Grill in Chicago a couple of years ago -- complexity and depth of flavour can definitely come in the form of a taco, with a range of spices and sauces that the home cook would find hard to replicate. I'm looking forward to trying GE (after the buzz dies down -- I won't line up) to find out how it compares with Rick Bayless's flagship.

                    1. re: caviartothegeneral

                      A more fair and accurate comparison would be to compare it to Big Star.

                      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                        I kind of liked my meal more at La Carnita (and at Grand Electric) more than at Big Star, but I only ate at Big Star once, and quickly. All three had different atmospheres too. LC and GE are most similar.

                  2. I've popped by the space a few times.
                    Its really nice.
                    Great attention to (little) details. Its chique and fun and arty and grubby all at the same time.

                    they're also taking some reservations, so you won't have the GE-esque line-up issue.

                    start the countdown, kids! my guess? 2-4 weeks until they open.

                    1. Official opening today

                      Based on what I've seen coming from the preview meals that have been happening over the last two weeks I'm prepared to rescind some of my skepticism. It remains to be seen how well he has hired and how well they can execute and one hopes it doesn't take them too long to move this beyond a glorified taco stand, the potential exists to do so much more than just another Grand Electric

                      I suspect there will be a certain amount of carping about authenticity from some quarters but I wouldn't put much stock in it.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: bytepusher

                        Is this a sit down/order at table kind of place or more a la Banh Mi Boys/counter service?

                        Curious to see how the lines are tonight.

                        1. re: ylsf

                          I'd like to know that too. I'm hoping it's more of a counter service/take out place, but I suspect it's a full service restaurant.

                          1. re: ylsf

                            Full service. Bar and table seating.
                            Its nouveaux trash. Take Grand Electric and give it style, design and a lot of flare.
                            I saw the space as it was being designed and its pretty sweet. lots of attention to detail.

                            I'm giving a week to get their shit together and I'll try it.

                            1. re: atomeyes

                              Even though it's full service, do they do take out? Just wondering because Grand Electric doesn't.

                              1. re: kwass

                                You could pick up the phone and ask them. If I had to guess I would think that the answer is the same as for taking reservations "not yet but we plan to once we work out some of the kinks"

                                1. re: kwass

                                  pretty certain they're not doing any takeout.

                                  and i'm trying to imagine how GE or LC would make those tacos for take-out. nope, can't really see it unless you have bento boxes

                          2. Two visits in two days; early evening. Both times the place was busy, but no line up. Music is loud, but you can still talk. Old school music selection.

                            Loved the garlic and lime-heavy guacamole with ancho chili-dusted tortilla chips and queso fresco on top.

                            Had a cocktail - the Who Shot Ya? - a take on a whisky sour, made with bourbon, Jamaica syrup, ginger syrup, and lemon juice. Tart and refreshing, as it should be. Though I thought the ginger was very light.

                            In Cod We Trust with Voltron sauce, lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple, & cilantro. A classic La Carnita offering I'm always happy to eat. Behind is the Crispy Avocado With Frijoles with beans, lightly breaded and fried avocado, jicama, chipotle, queso fresco, & cilantro. Sorta wished I had fulfilled the avocado craving instead with the salad after seeing all the tweets about it. No matter - next time!

                            Dessert! On a stick!! A paleta of lime and salted graham crackers. Form-factor is a huge plus. And a nice treat to end off the meal - a little tart, a little creamy with a good ratio of cookie crumb to ice cream.

                            From the post: http://www.foodpr0n.com/2012/06/13/la...

                            Added notes from tonight's 2nd visit:
                            - Get the Avocado mango salad. Buttery avocado, sweet mango, crunchy hickory stick things. So. Good. http://instagr.am/p/L1OyAuC60B/
                            - I liked the tongue tostada a lot. Meat has a nice chew, and has good flavour.
                            - I got the pineapple chili popsicle. I think I liked the creamier lime one better.