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May 1, 2003 09:38 AM

What/Where are the best Mexican Restaurnets in Town?

  • d

I've been trying to find some Mexican restaurants in and around town and only managed to stumble upon a couple while driving around town.
Yellow pages are no help because they don't list any mexican. Can anyone help me satisfy my mexican cravings (and please don't suggest the local Taco Bell) :)


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  1. I was just about to post the same question!

    I recently drove through the St. Clair and Duffering area I noticed that there are a lot of Mexican places there. Hopefully someone has tried them out and can recommend one.

    As for downtown, I think the choices are limited, but here's my favourites.

    This is really Central American, not Mexican, but for the best Salsa in Toronto you have to go to Irene's in Kensington Market on Augusta. She used to sell Empanadas out of a cart in front of the egg store, but now has a restaurant run by three generations of her family. She serves excellent Empenadas, but my favourite are Humitas, (stewed corn and onions wrapped up like a tamale in corn husks and steamed) and try the corn pie. She sells the sweet and hot fresh salsa by the jar so you can take some home.

    There is a small take-out (a few tables) place at Bloor and Clinton called Taco El Asador. I think the guy's actually El Salvadorian, but they have good tamales and Pupusas, that sort of thing. Heacy on the Chicharon, which is a good sign of authenticity.

    There is a pretty good Chilli Rellenos at a place at King and Niagara. They have a kick-butt Tamarind margarita too.

    At all costs stay away from the Mexican place at Yonge and Isabella.

    20 Replies
    1. re: Shawn

      I actually tried on of the ones by the St. Clair and Dufferine area. It was called Poncho Villa. It was alright but not the best. I tried this restaurants because there is a kick ass restaurant in Ottawa by the same name and thought it was the same place, but I was wrong :s

      1. re: Devo

        El Sol, Danforth just west of Coxwell, pretty good food, service often not so great; Jalapeno, King east of Bathurst, good, fairly upscale food.

        1. re: fresco

          Warning about El Sol - three times I have attempted to eat there, based on raves I've heard in the papers and from others. Three times I have left after waiting at least 20 minutes and still haven't had my order taken, despite attempts to flag down staff - and the last time I tried, there was hardly anyone in the place!

          1. re: Everett

            Yes, as noted above, service can be dismal at El Sol. It's unfortunate, because that stretch of Danforth is not exactly awash with decent eateries. This could be the flaw that kills them.

            1. re: fresco

              I've tried El Sol too. Great food; lousy service. For the best of both, try Mariachi on Yonge Street (west side, between Davisville and Eglinton). Small, clean, great food, great prices.

              1. re: RGS

                I concur about Mariachi's - it's one of the places my department likes to go to for group lunches. Killer soup. Fiesta Azteca (Bayview, south of Manor) isn't bad either.

                Maybe there's something about proximity to Manor Rd and Mexican food...:)(mariachi's also being near Manor)

                1. re: Everett
                  Norah Lefebvre

                  You'll want to get to Dos Amigos on Bathurst just North of Dupont (near the Tarragon theatre). Amazing service, beautiful authentic food, classy, un-cantina-like atmosphere and bizarre bathrooms. The Mezcal margarita is one in a million.

                  1. re: Norah Lefebvre

                    I wholeheartedly concur. These people are in the restaurant business because they love food. Excellent.

                    1. re: kelly

                      I tried Dos Amigos once, on the strength of its reviews, and was really disappointed - maybe I'll have to give it another chance.

                      Mariachi's is pretty good - not particularly authentic and definitely not in El Sol league, but cheap and reasonably yummy (and at least it's not Tex-Mex!)

                      I forgot to mention Garibaldi's on the Danforth and ...hmmm... its sister restaurant near Yonge and Davisville, whose name escapes me. Both very good. I'd put the food quality above Margarita's, though still far below my beloved El Sol.

                      1. re: Amy

                        I take that back... it's Mariachi's I am talking about, as the "sister restaurant" to Garibaldi's, and it's very good.
                        My reference to "Mariachi's" in the last post was actually about "Margarita's" on Baldwin - far less good.

                    2. re: Norah Lefebvre

                      I treid out Dos Amigos on Friday evening and it was one of the best Mexican places I've tried. Thanks for the recommendation!

                  2. re: RGS

                    I have to weigh in on the El Sol debate. My family has been going there for over 10 years - that would be the original location at St Clair and O'Connor, which was called Gonzo's. They then sold it to some people who didn't even speak Spanish, left Canada for a while, and eventually returned to open the new spot. I love the food at El Sol, and obviously have a sentimental attachment. But it's always been a neighborhood restaurant for me, and given the slowwwww service and lack of desserts, I would understand, I suppose, if people who made a special trip were a little disappointed. And that's okay, because the more of you who show up, the longer I have to wait for my food!

                  3. re: fresco
                    neighbor guy

                    Enough with trashing El Sol already!!!

                    To comment strickly on food, theirs is outstanding; incredibly flavourful and real. And having spoken to the proprietress, it's made with a pinch of love and care, too.

                    About the service, I have to agree with everyone else. It's Mexican too, not Mexican-style. Mexican! Like when you are down south on holiday and you've stopped at a little cantina or taqueria. Stuff just takes longer. But there's the deilight at the end which may be worth it to endure the wait. You want north american service? Go to the resort's buffet and have the rubber chicken with tomato sauce.

                    So maybe if you prepare yourself for the wait, there won't be so much disappointment. I know that's not a really good answer, but it' s my Stolkholm Syndrome I guess. I live in the area and also agree that El Sol is a jewel in the middle of no where. It's all we got and some of us are grateful there's a superb place that's within walking distance.

                    1. re: neighbor guy

                      Neighbour guy,
                      I agree entirely that El Sol is a jewel in an otherwise barren setting and would very much like to see it succeed. But as other posters have noted, ignoring your customers and subjecting them to long waits when the place is almost deserted is not the way to persuade most people to return. This does not seem to be a tough thing to fix.

                2. re: fresco

                  My view on mexican restaurants is similar to chinese where I believe more expensive does not mean better. However, Jalapeno is the best Mexican restaurant I have been to in Toronto but is a little steep.

                  1. re: fresco

                    El Sol is one of the best Mexican restaurants I've ever been to outside Mexico ... or even in Mexico, for that matter. It's absolutely delicious, and very authentic. I agree that the service can be laughably slow, though.
                    Tacos El Asador (El Salvadorean) is really good too, and very cheap.

                    1. re: Amy

                      Agreed. My husband grew up in the States 4 hours aways from the Mexican border, and is very familar with the cuisine. El Sol is hands-down the BEST Mexican in the city in his opinion and mine. The guacamole is to DIE FOR. The chicken mole is stunning. The veg. combo for two is really excellent. And they make a mean margarita.
                      The service is so-so, but has gotten better in the past few years.
                      Anyone who has not been there yet...get a move on!!
                      (Danforth Ave. just west of Coxwell station).

                3. re: Shawn
                  Mississauga Matt

                  My wife and I enjoyed El Palenque at 653 St. Clair Ave West in the St. Clair/Dufferin area. I had sopa de lima, which I found to be very good, and tacos al pastor, which were good too.

                  For us the main attraction was the atmosphere. The clientele was almost exclusively Mexican. A Latin band played some terrific music, and a large table of their family members whooped it up and danced the night away. It was like going to a party at a Mexican's house.

                  Not to mention that it's always fun for all when I trot out my wonky Spanish ...

                  1. re: Mississauga Matt

                    I have to agree on the El Palenque tip. It is killer good, and you must have the guacamole (in a real volcanic rock mortar & pestle) with a bottle of Dos Equis. Yum!!
                    Oh, and the outdoor patio (out back) is really happening in the summer time.

                  2. re: Shawn

                    If you're shopping in Kensington, El Trompo on Augusta is pretty good for a quick bite. Their horchata and the Tacos de Tinga--chicken with chipotle--are really quite good.

                  3. when i was a kid, there was a Chi Chi's my family used to go to on Markham in Scarborough.

                    those are good memories. i remember the fried ice cream!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Goober

                      They're still in the states.

                    2. It's not quite mexican, but it's close. Tacos El Asador is an El Salvadoran restaurant on the ne corner of Bloor and Clinton. Their specialty is papusas, but they've got a very tasty selection with a great variety of homemade salsa.

                      It's a small, family-run place. The kitchen is right behind the couter, so you can watch mom making your food if you can't follow the spanish programming on the tv's.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Mischa

                        I second Tacos El Asador. The Tamales are excellent too. It's a take-out place, so not fancy.

                      2. I agree with some here...Jalapenos on King Street West can't be beat. Yes, a bit save up! Excellent mole, corn soup, etc etc. Lots of Aztec-style dishes for something really unique. Entertainment on the weekend. Owner really serious about good authentic Mexican food and it shows.

                        You really MUST have the mole!

                        1. Dos Amigos on Bathurst, north of Dupont.

                          Tasty, authentic food. Sublime margaritas. Unfortunate view of the TTC yards.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Williard

                            By far, EL SOL on the Danforth is my fave... authentic Chicken Mole is wwwwwaaaayyyy better then the Mole I had in Mexico recently...