Our Cinco de Mayo tour through Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket in­cludes some of the city’s best Mex­i­can and Latin flavours

North Toronto Post - - Table of Contents - By David Ort

It’s funny how hol­i­days change once they cross bor­ders. In Mex­ico, Cinco de Mayo is cel­e­brated al­most ex­clu­sively in the state of Pue­bla. (In this way, it’s roughly anal­o­gous to Que­bec’s St. Jean Bap­tiste Day.) In the U.S. (and in­creas­ingly Canada) it is grow­ing to in­clude every­thing from pa­rades to mar­garita happy hours.

Sim­i­larly, Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket has been, for over a cen­tury, the Toronto neigh­bour­hood that re­flects our city’s chang­ing and di­verse pop­u­la­tion. From tor­tas to tacos, the mar­ket is a hot spot for eat­ing all things Mex­i­can and Latin Amer­i­can on the fifth of May.


Now that Mex­i­can Sal­sas has closed, El Trompo leads the old guard of Mex­i­can taco joints in the neigh­bour­hood. The pineapple-ac­cented al pas­tor and just-the-right-amount-of-heat chorizo are the lead­ing options from the taco sec­tion of the menu. Plus, the room de­liv­ers char­ac­ter in spades. 277 Au­gusta Ave., 416-260-0097


Tacos started in Mex­ico but south­ern Cal­i­for­nia was an im­por­tant way­point on their jour­ney to world dom­i­na­tion. Seven Lives is Toronto’s best op­tion for the Baja ver­sion of the hand-held meal.

The ob­jec­tively mas­sive Gober­nador (a hearty com­bi­na­tion of smoked tuna, shrimp and cheese — a piscine BBQ) is the best-known menu item for good rea­son. As a coun­ter­part, the Baja fish is a good choice with its crispy bat­tered tex­ture and bal­anc­ing acidic tang from the salsa gar­nish. 69 Kens­ing­ton Ave., 416-393-4636


Once you’ve filled up on tacos, it’s time for a sand­wich at Torteria San Cosme. The menu is built around tor­tas, the stan­dard sand­wich of Mex­ico City. It’s dif­fi­cult to pick be­tween the nine-odd options, but the co­chinita (Yu­catán pulled pork), the Cubana (three types of pork — ham, adobo braised, and ba­con — all from nearby Sana­gan’s Meat Locker) and

the Del Chavo (ham, Oax­aca cheese, av­o­cado) are good places to start your short­list.

A tamarind agua fresca and a win­dow seat are nearly manda­tory ac­ces­sories for an af­ter­noon spent watch­ing one of the city’s most vi­brantly hec­tic ’hoods. 181 Bald­win St., 416- 599-2855


The menu at Jumbo in­cludes options other than Chile’s take on the pas­try­pack­aged meal, in­clud­ing corn pie, hu­mi­tas and Chilean salad.

But the main draw at this Kens­ing­ton stal­wart are the chicken, beef or vege­tar­ian em­panadas. At $4.50 they are one of the best value meals in the mar­ket — at $2, the cheese ones are an even bet­ter value pick. 245 Au­gusta Ave., 416977-0056


Pan­cho’s is the el­der states­man and an­chor of the Latin Amer­i­can food court on Au­gusta Av­enue. They have a full case of baked sweet and savoury options, but the chur­ros re­ally are the ticket. Go for the four for $5 deal so that you don’t have to choose be­tween cho­co­late, dulce de leche, straw­berry and con­densed milk fill­ings. 214 Au­gusta Ave., 416-854-8770


Af­ter all that eat­ing, a pre-nap night­cap is in or­der. For cock­tails, Cold Tea is well worth the hunt. (It’s the last door on your left in­side the in­door plaza.)

Co-owner and bar­tender Oliver Dimapilis can han­dle the clas­sics, but it’s bet­ter to give him an idea of what you’re in the mood for and then let him do the rest. For me, that was a jalapeno re­posado base with Coin­treau, lime and cu­cum­ber lay­ered on top: a boozy pre­lude to spring. 60 Kens­ing­ton Ave., 416-546-4536

El Trompo’s clas­sic tacos al pas­tor

The vi­brant en­vi­rons at Torteria San Cosme

One of Jumbo Em­panadas’ name­sakes

Chur­ros at Pan­cho’s

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