18 Tank House Lane
Photo cred: getawei
Located in the historic Distillery District, El Catrin not only has the best patio in the city, but it also has an incredible traditional and modern Mexican menu that will keep you coming back for more. Serving tapas style plates, perfect for a date night or a girls night out, this authentic Mexican menu was carefully curated by one of Mexico City’s top chefs. Pollo Con Mole, Baja, Gringa, Cazador and Pastor are among the eight taco options but the menu here also offers so much more. Spicy tamarind shrimp, braised lamb shoulder skewers, burritos, duck confit Mexican pizza and five varieties of citrus-marinated ceviche, for all those that crave cuisine from south of the border (the American one that is), this is a must-eat spot. And lastly, let me give you one more reason to pick up your phone and make a reservation – El Catrin is Canada’s largest mescal and tequila bar, pouring over 120 labels. Enough said!
552 King Street West
In the King West neighbourhood and looking to grab a quick bite? Wilbur Mexicana is the spot. With seven varieties of tacos including Chicken Tinga, Carne Asada, Pork, Bulgogi, Baja Fish as well as two vegetarian options, this fast-casual restaurant is perfect to grab a nosh before hitting the King West nightclub scene. The price tag is $3.75 per taco so it’s super affordable, but for sure my favourite part of our visit to Wilbur was the ridiculous selection of 80+ hot sauces! You had me at habanero.
69 Kensington Ave
Photo cred: Stenoodie
Committed to using all fresh ingredients, this Kensington Market favourite specializes in Baja style seafood and it is absolutely delicious. Home of the Gobernador, a taco laced with in-house smoked tuna, shrimp and cheese, Seven Lives – Tacos Y Mariscos is the perfect spot to grab a quick lunch while vintage hunting during Kensington’s pedestrian Sundays. Other menu options include the Pulpo Enojado, a spicy octopus taco, the Carnitas, slow cooked pork tacos as well as mahi mahi, grilled and fried and a vegetarian taco too. Make sure you pop by this taco joint when you are in the neighbourhood – you will not be disappointed.
501 College Street / 106 John Street / 780 King Street East
Photo cred: The Food Files
Picture an industrial chic atmosphere; painted brick walls, hanging Edison bulbs, wooden benches and colourful metal stools and then marry it with the most delicious Mexican street food with an urban Toronto edge and you’ve got La Carnita. With three locations downtown and one coming soon to midtown, originally started as a pop-up shop that sold art and gave a free taco with every piece, LA Carnita is well on its way to being a Toronto taqueria empire. Tacos include Pollo Frito, Beef Cheek, Tostada de Ceviche and my personal favourite, In Cod We Trust, a taco stuffed with cod, Voltron sauce, lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple and cilantro. Another must-try is the Mexican Street Corn, 2 corn cobs drizzled with Mexican crema, queso anejo, arbol and ancho chilli powder. On top of all mouth-watering menu items, the vibe is off the hook with a reggae set that could rival a hype Redemption event.
1330 Queen Street West / 5 Brock Avenues
Photo cred: Naoko Eats
Spicy Arbol Chicken, Baja Fish, Beef Cheek, Pork Belly, Spicy Yam, Shirmp, Crispy Cauliflower and Pork Tinga are all taco options at this Parkdale hot spot. True to its name, the vibe is high-energy with pulsating music only matched by the chatter of Queen Street hipsters. Complement your taco selection with other delicious items including Tuna Ceviche, Spicy Squid, Octopus El Diablo and Aguachile. Wash your meal down with one of Grand Electric’s craft cocktails. A must-try and my personal favourite, the G.E. Sour, a delicious mix of vanilla bourbon, lemon, agave and egg whites. Although there is often a wait, stick it out and I promise, you won’t regret it.
405 Jane Street
Photo cred: BlogTO
Recently expanded, Mad Mexican Tacohouse & Market is a casual eatery founded by Mexican native, Jose Hadad (also the genius behind Frida Restaurant and Bar). All items on this robust, authentic menu are made in front of diners through a glass wall. Most tacos are 3 for $12, a small price to pay for the freshest ingredients and generous portions they offer. Carnitas De Michoacan (braised pork), Guerro Style Fish (grilled cod) and Yucatecan Pollo Pibil (slowly roasted chicken) are among the seven taco varieties on the menu. Other mouth-watering options include antojitos, caldos, tartas and ensaladas as well as tasty Mexican-style desserts. Not to worry, when you fall in love with the artisan guacamole or signature salsa verde, grab them on your way out in the Mad Mexican Market.
I would love to hear about your favourite taqueria – let me know what kind of Mexican I’m missing out on in the Six.