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Jun 13, 2012 07:37 AM

La Carnita - 501 College

It's just tacos!

Very briefly, a large group of us had an enjoyable time here last night. We probably ordered most of the things on the menu, and the tacos were just as good as the ones I've lined up for at pop-ups in the past. The tacos are tasty but the standouts for me, by far, are the Mexican corn (Elote) and tongue tostada. Tasty drinks hover just over $10, service is friendly and accommodating, and their signature artwork is left for you with the the bill.

The meal came out to just over $30pp with an alcoholic beverage, full appetizer spread, a few tacos each, tax, and tip.

Why I liked this experience better than General Electric...

- music is not nearly as loud, and I can speak to the person sitting across the table from me
- no lineup (for now)
- for me, the location is much closer
- great service, and tacos were turned around in about 5 minutes in each of the three rounds that we ordered them

I'll be back again, and hope they manage to stick it out longer than the last few establishments that have shared this space.

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  1. love to try it, but closes so early!

    2 Replies
      1. re: JennaBean

        Kitchens close at 11 I was told.

    1. Curious what time of the evening that you went. What made me hesitant to go last night was I was tight on timing... I would like to get out there before the word spreads too much (and, based on the twitter verse it has spread a lot already).

      1 Reply
      1. re: ylsf

        I went at 5:30. Left at 6:10. It was buzzing, but not busy. No lines.

      2. I went last night... Delicious! I was tight on timing and a bit worried I wouldn't be able to get in and out in the time I needed but their service is really fast (I did just get three tacos) and I enjoyed it all. Peanut mole chicken, voltron fish and the carne. I definitely want to go back and take a bit more time to have a drink, some apps, etc and hopefully before it gets too busy (although I really enjoyed it I don't think I would wait 2 hours for it). I haven't been to Grand Electric so I can't compare but they were definitely very tasty tacos.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ylsf

          I posted this in the other thread, but I really loved their avocado mango salad. So good. Their lengue tostada was delicious too.

          I've managed to get through about 2/3 of their menu solo so far...

 -- food. is. love.

        2. Are they licensed? Any outdoor seating?

          2 Replies
          1. re: peppermint pate

            Yes and yes, although the patio is tiny and only had cigarette smokers on it when I was there.

            1. re: dlw88

              Yeah, I didn't see chairs yesterday...

          2. 1 hour lineup for 4 people last night. i thought grand electric had better tacos (at a much better price.. $3.5 vs $5). i found the tortillas cold and way too thick

            highlight was the salted graham cracker lime popsicle & tongue tostada

            seating & atmosphere is better, music is not as loud but i will go to GE (or just make the stupid things at home) for my taco fix

            26 Replies
            1. re: bryanayrb

              My thoughts exactly. I went last night too.

              The good:

              The chili rellenos were amazing. They were more like jalapeno poppers than any other chili rellenos I've had before. They were delish, although the sauce they were lying on top of could have had more flavour. Got a second order because they were that good.

              The churros for dessert were also amazing. Crunchy exterior and soft doughy interior, presented in a cup with cajeta at the bottom for dipping. Loved them.

              The bad:

              The tacos don't even come close to Grand Electric. Not even in the same ballpark. Had the carne asada, cod, and chorizo. Terrible, terrible, tortillas. They tasted like they were bought at the supermarket a week past their best before date. Kinda like cardboard. The carne asada was the worst. The meat was too chewy and the whole thing has zero flavour. Chorizo was okay but as with the carne, the flavour was MIA. How can sausage have no flavour? Best of the bunch was the fish taco. Good flavour and crunch on the fish, sauce was good, and the slaw was good too. But I can't get over how bad the tortillas were.

              I liked the vibe a lot and the fact that the music wasn't blaring (it was still pretty loud, but not at 11 like GE). I'll got back for a platter of the chili rellenos and the churros (may I'll try the salad next time too), but for tacos, Grand Electric all the way.

              1. re: acd123

                i'd assume that GE and LC get their tortillas from La Tortilleria. i doubt that either place makes them in house due to the volume they need, but i might be wrong.

                i'm curious, though, as to whether or not either restaurant uses white corn (more traditional) versus yellow corn (tastes sweeter and better). maybe that's where your complaint lies?

                1. re: atomeyes

                  I've been to GE a bunch of times and the tortillas are always super fresh and soft. Nothing like the tortillas I had at LC.

                  1. re: acd123

                    again, the 2 types of corn tortillas taste different, regardless of freshness.
                    not saying that you're wrong - i'm hitting LC on Tuesday and will give my 2 cents.
                    but considering that LC is either making their own tortillas (and they've been open for less than a week, so they're not stale) or they're buying them from La Tortilleria (which is what they were doing when LC was a pop-up), i would say that its highly incorrect for anyone to say that the tortillas are stale.

                    hell, you can tell when tortillas are stale. they don't fold easily and feel like cardboard.
                    but.....yellow vs white of (taste) difference....

                    1. re: atomeyes

                      I've had the LC tacos at TUM and do not remember having any staleness issues like the ones I had a few days ago. They were kind of crumbly and broke apart when folded.

                      1. re: atomeyes

                        I was there and experienced terrible tortillas (stale or not, they just weren't good). You haven't been there and you tell me I'm wrong? That the tortillas are actually very good? I think it's highly incorrect to post such a monumentally ridiculous comment.

                        1. re: acd123

                          "You haven't been there and you tell me I'm wrong? That the tortillas are actually very good? I think it's highly incorrect to post such a monumentally ridiculous comment."

                          yeah i'm having a good laugh about that one over here. five dollars for a taco is also total madness. this place... i'm not sold

                          1. re: disgusti

                            So you haven't been there either yet you're not sold but also having a good laugh?

                            I believe atomeyes has had the La Carnita tacos many times in the past so it's not a completely blind, uninformed opinion.

                            1. re: disgusti

                              good. go to Taco Bell. heard they're $1 or something.

                              you know, you get what you pay for. and if you don't get what you pay for, either you're a fool or the restaurant will close.

                              but if you're ordering a taco made with home-made chorizo AND you're getting it from a nice restaurant that's in a prime Toronto location (read: their rent is high), how much do you think it will cost? i hope that for $1.50 more than GE, the ingredients will be either better in quality or quantity.

                              and getting back to the tortilla issues that some of you claim they have: again, i haven't eaten at the restaurant (give me 2 days). but their tortilla supplier is a one minute drive away!!! its not like they're buying stale tortillas or have been stockpiling them. i'm just saying that I'd assume that people don't like white corn tortillas versus the more white-person-friendly yellow corn tortillas.

                              I am making the same assumptions that others are making about stale tortillas. until you can logically tell me HOW on earth they can be stale (boggles my mind based on the logistics I stated above), I'll still to my white-vs-yellow corn theory, thank you very much

                              1. re: atomeyes

                                Tried rebozos at Kensington for the first time today. The tacos were great - really liked the carnitas. The tortillas looked like white corn but had a much better texture and flavour than the ones at LC. Not sure if they are from La Tortilleria but I would assume so given they're on the same street?

                                LC only opened on Tuesday to the public but they were doing their soft opening the week before - wonder if it's possible that the tortillas were from the week before which would explain the texture issue.

                                1. re: atomeyes

                                  I still like Rebozos better than Grand Electric.

                                  $5 a taco is Empellon/Alex Stupak territory. Don't think this dude has the culinary pedigree to match that.

                                  I'll go try it out, but tell someone from LA you paid $5 for a taco and they'll laugh in your face.

                                  We're not in LA, I know. We're an underserved market w/ lack of competition. Thus a price premium.

                                  If dude had a stale tortilla, he prob did. What's with the big whoop? Mistakes happen all the time, especially the first week of opening. Lots of reasons why it could've happened. It might've sat at the pass too long after steaming, turning hard.

                                  A TL piece mentioned they use La Tortilleria tortillas.

                                  1. re: aser

                                    Thank you for a most reasonable reply. I didn't get all the vitriol and/or guessing game over the stale tortillas either. And $5 a taco is ridiculous for sure.

                        2. re: atomeyes

                          GE tortillas are smaller than La Tortilleria.

                        3. re: bryanayrb

                          We were there Thursday night also and got seated immediately at 6:45 for 2 at a table in the back. They still had lots of seats in the back. Great service - they really seem to have it together in that realm. As for the food, loved the chips and the 3 dips. The pate was actually my favorite. Loved the corn and churros. We tried all the tacos - fish was good but something in it totally burned my mouth. Really liked the avocado and bean one as well as the chorizo one. Carne was good. Personally didn't try the chicken or tostadas due to nuts though. Had same thought regarding the tortillas - honestly I preferred the steak tacos I had at chipotle a couple days ago. I really hope they get them from elsewhere as they sort of ruined the whole experience for me. I really wanted to like them so much as they are only a few blocks from me and they are so nice. Still need to try GE so can't compare.

                          The space though was gorgeous - really loved that design on the ceiling in the back!

                          1. re: cutehinano

                            The tacos are definitely not in the $5 territory. The shells are chalky and dry. Our server told us that the tortillas were made in-house.

                            The pate, guacamole,pumpkin seed dip and the churros were delicious.

                            The tequila is good: smooth, smoky, powerful.

                            Overall impression: nice, trendy place to hang out and grab a bite to eat.

                            Sadly, both GE and Carnita are not worthy of their hype. Though I prefer Carnita for the overall ambiance.

                            1. re: whittle

                              grand electric would be fantastic as a neighbourhoody place - not that it's not a good spot but i don't want to wait 3 hours for that. if there were 10 grand electrics that all did exactly what they do (good relatively basic relatively inexpensive mexican and extensive booze list in a fun environment) they would all be hits. this carnita place seems like they're just trying too hard.

                              1. re: disgusti

                                I don't think anyone is waiting three hours for grand electric, and as far as I can tell their aspirations don't extend beyond being a neighbourhood spot. I'm not sure what Carnita is doing that seems 'try-hard'. Sounds like they're serving tacos.

                                1. re: jamesm

                                  I waited two hours on a Wednesday to get into GE! Who has that kind of time in the middle of the week to have bastardized Mexican street food? I'd rather go to Rebozos or Agave Y Aguacate to get my Mexican fix in a jiffy!

                                  1. re: whittle

                                    Agave Y Aguacate is on a whole other level--truly incredible!--but it's a totally different thing: It's a take-out stand. GE is a Rompus Room for adults who like cheap bourbon.

                                    1. re: meanmartin

                                      GE as a rompus room. Very funny but so very true!

                                      1. re: whittle

                                        And that one of the reasons why I love GE so much. It feel like a party in my house that I didn't have to prep/cook for!!

                                    2. re: whittle

                                      On what planet is Agave Y Aguacate "in a jiffy?" I love it there but I've waited twenty minutes - for food court take-out. It's delicious, don't get me wrong - but I eat faster after getting a seat at Carnita or GE than I do for take-out only A y A.

                                  2. re: disgusti

                                    At GE, I waited 30 minutes last night... Party of 3. At 7:15.

                                    1. re: jlunar

                                      Ha! I think the patio has remedied things. I waited about 40 minutes for a great patio seat (allowed me a bevvy at the Cadillac patio). Loved it!

                                      1. re: MeMeMe

                                        But that means winter's going to be packed again T_T Gotta eat tacos while the summer's on...