Yum, Yum: Taco Wars

If you live in Toronto, chances are you’ve eaten a taco, or at least thought about eating a taco, in the past month. With a plethora of options to enjoy these tortilla delights, we thought we’d give you a run down of the top spots in the city.


El Trompo (277 Augusta Ave.) 

Perhaps the only cactus grill in Toronto?



Pros: Located in Kensington Market, El Trompo offers the most authentic Mexican tacos of the group.  The menu also offers Quesos Funditos, which besides being fun to say is a clay pot filled with molten cheese. 

Yum. 



Cons: The fillings are pretty traditional, so don’t expect to be wow’d by innovation. Ditto for the cocktail and beer menu. This is a Kensington staple, but maybe not where you’d want to bring someone you’re looking to impress.


Taco tip: While their west-facing patio is often busy, table turnaround is quick so you’re never waiting long. Another bonus? El Trompo offers a Mexican brunch on the weekends, with huevos (eggs) done a few different ways. 


La Carnita (501 College St.) @la_carnita

Look at all that space!



Pros: If you ever had to wait in hour-long line-ups when La Carnita was just a pop-up, you’ll be happy to hear they’ve newly opened a permanent location. With a big dining room, guests are seated and satiated very quickly. We love that they’ve continued to distribute their signature artwork to each guest.

Amazing.



Cons: While we loved their Voltron fish taco, overall our tastebuds weren’t blown away by the steak and chorizo tacos. Plus, a taco joint that plays hip hop? Sounds remarkably similar to another place on our list. 


Taco tip: We got three words for you – Mexican. Sweet. Corn. We highly recommend starting off your meal with this tasty app. 


Playa Cabana (111 Dupont St.) @PlayaCabana

Cute and welcoming.



Pros: Reservations! Not only does Playa Cabana take them, but we highly recommend you make one. We seriously enjoyed the Ancho Braised Short Rib-Brisket Crispy tacos, but were also drooling over their Oaxacan cheese-wrapped chorizo tacos.

Tasty, but a bit pricey.



Cons: Playa Cabana is the priciest of the bunch. We had a bit of sticker shock after a recent dinner there, so be warned – tacos ≠ cheap. As well, vegetarians get a bit jilted on taco choices.


Taco tip: The extensive menu has a wide range of offerings outside of tacos. The Spicy Mole Enchiladas were delicious and we’ll definitely be ordering the Poblano Chile Rellenos the next time we’re in. 


Grand Electric (1330 Queen St. W.) @grandelectricTO

Simple, yet satisfying.



Pros: You may have heard some buzz about this Parkdale hotspot. And, well, the buzz is warranted. Tacos are nearly perfect – ultra-affordable at around $3 each, creative toppings/flavour combinations and the fish taco is one of the best we’ve ever had – Mexico and California included. We also dig the casual atmosphere, 90s hip-hop soundtrack and extensive bourbon list. Non-pretentious. 

Tacos come served on one big tray. Tough to decide which to eat first.



Cons: The wait. Lining up for 2 hours is worth it maybe the first time, but gets tired pretty quickly. Plus, sometimes you get booted out of your seat after having ordered, for another party that’s been waiting longer (true story). They also no longer take phone numbers when the patio is open so you can’t leave and come back, and definitely don’t take reso’s. Another “trend” we’re tired of. 


Taco tip: Come hungry. Very, very hungry, so you can order one of each taco, plus guac and any of the other non-taco menu options. They’re all amazing. Also, make sure to try whatever their daily special is, especially if they have their fantastic pozole on offer.


Tacos El Asador (690 Bloor St. W.)



Pros: Nostalgia! This Koreatown joint (yep, tacos in the heart of kimchi land) has been around for ages and is one of the original spots in the city for authentic Central American eats. It’s also cheap, so was a go-to date spot for those of us who did undergrad in the city. Cute and cheery inside, with tons of colour, picnic tables and Latin music playing. If you like spice, their salsas and hot sauces are muy caliente. 

Carne asada.



Cons: It’s small. But perfect for this heat – take them to Christie Pits. Sometimes the tacos can be a bit dry. 


Taco tip: If you love nachos, order them here to get a sense of how they should truly be served (sorry, Sneaky Dees. Yours aren’t so authentic). No sour cream, but they’re served with a ton of toppings – beans, fresh avocado, cotija cheese, jalapeños on the side, etc. Grab a Negro Modelo to go with.


There you have it: our guide to the best tacos in the city. Buen provecho!



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Yum Yum: Playa Cabana

We all love a little Mexican food on the fourth floor. Be it authentic or dirty nachos from Sneaky Dees; the combo of avocado, beans, cheese and corn chips make for innumerable dishes of deliciousness. 
We never tire of a new Mexican restaurant debut in Toronto and when we heard about Playa Cabana (111 Dupont St., east of Davenport) it became our next culinary destination to experience.

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A total of nine showed up ready to be wined and dined. By wined we mean Mojito’ed in pitcher form. A bit of Cuban influence, but why not?

To start, we ordered guacamole and house-made tortilla chips. The guac was heavenly, and the chips were crispy and not too greasy. Sidenote: be careful when passing the chips. One of the people in our party managed to light the wax paper the chips are served in on fire. The funny part was that this happened at another table too. Sometimes candle light is dangerous.

The place was jam packed, so getting our orders in took a bit of time. Same goes for getting the food. We were at the restaurant for a total of two and a half hours. A nice leisurely meal, yes, but by the end, ADD had kicked in and we wanted out. It was Friday night, after all.

Plates included Tacos de Pescado (the fish of the day was halibut), Yellow Fin Ahu Tuna Ceviche, Pollo Milanesa Chipotle Burrito (a.k.a. chicken burrito) and Burrito de Mariscos. 


There is a huge selection of tequilla – over 30 varieties. Would be a fun spot for a birthday with friends. The decor is warm with lots of wood and exposed brick. It’s noisy, but not too loud. It’s small, but cozy. We likey.
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Flavours were great, plates were massive, spices were spot on and prices are reasonable – the average main ranged from $12 to $15.  

Our rating: B+. We’ll be back for margaritas and tacos.


Hours of Operation:
Tuesday & Wednesday 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Thursday 12 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Friday & Saturday 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. – 10 p.m.