Toronto Star

A taste of sunshine

Can’t get south for the winter? Eat these dishes for a warm glow

- AMY PATAKI RESTAURANT CRITIC

No need to hop on a plane for a taste of sunshine.

Staycation­ers can leap great distances in a single plate at five area restaurant­s, which represent top destinatio­ns Canadians were eyeing this time last year, according to travel website Kayak.com.

So save yourself time and money and get warm this way.

Cuban short ribs

Corinna Mozo’s breezy, no-fuss La Cubana snack bar has expanded to the east end, where the short rib plate ($16.99) warms the belly.

The boneless meat balances sweet and heat with a sticky glaze of guava juice and jalapenos. To the side lie rice and black beans, zippy red coleslaw and the satisfying chew of fried tostones (smashed green plantain).

Café cortadito ($3.50) — equal parts steamed milk and sweetened espresso — completes the Cuban immersion.

Order it with the delightful sugar doughnuts ($5.99). After all, you’re on holiday.

1030 Gerrard St. E. (and two other locations), 647-350-5355, lacubana.ca. Open Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight.

Bajan curry goat

“Better to overeat than waste good food,” says a quote on the wall of Barbados-born Tony Bradshaw’s Street Shak Caribbean restaurant.

Consider yourself warned: the Bajan curry goat ($13.50) wants finishing.

Bradshaw eschews commercial curry powder for his own blend of Indian spices and Bajan green seasoning: green onions, onions, parsley, thyme, allspice, cloves, garlic and lime juice. Red peppers and white potatoes bulk up the sauce.

Rice and peas seem plain until scotch bonnet peppers announce themselves. “We like the food to say hello,” Bradshaw says. 646 Queen St. W., 647-351-7425, streetshak.com. Open Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.

Mexican tacos

Vegetarian­s get respect at Mad Mexican Taco House & Market.

Meatless tacos ($4.50 each or three for $12) are as vibrant as the spirit world in the current animated film Coco.

Tinga con papa fires on all cylinders with smoky chipotle potatoes cooled by the thickest sour cream. Ropy peppers and onions define the fajita version, the vegetables bound by melted cheddar and puréed black beans.

Doubled-up tortillas, floppy warm circles of corn, barely contain the fillings.

You don’t even need the supplied salsas. (Just don’t tell owner Jose Hadad, who sells Mad Mexican sauces commercial­ly.)

405 Jane St., 416-907-5787, madmexican.ca. Open Sunday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Peruvian chicken

Lima is No. 9 on Kayak.com’s list of trending destinatio­ns for Canadian travellers.

Los Chicos Brasa in Markham serves delicious rotisserie chicken in the Peruvian manner: a 24-hour marinade followed by charcoal grilling in an imported oven. “There’s nothing like it here,” says co-owner Javier Carlo.

The marinade is as mysterious as the Nazca Lines; Carlo admits only to using imported Peruvian spices for the halal chickens.

Aquarter leg dinner ($13.50) is juicy and subtle, the yucca fries salty.

Sometimes you must go north to taste the south.

5308 Highway 7 in Markham, 905-2099100, loschicosb­rasa.com. Open Monday to Friday, noon to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.

Brazilian rodizio

Thanks to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, Sao Paulo remains the No. 3 holiday destinatio­n for Canadians on Kayak.com.

Skip the 10-hour flight and head to Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse with its resort vibe.

Rodeo specialize­s in rodizio, a parade of skewered meats carved tableside. Diners signal with a two-sided card: green for yes, red for no. Highlights include lamb chops, rump roast and picanha, a.k.a. top sirloin cap. A stationary buffet covers salads and starches.

Then there is the entertainm­ent. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays ($54 for dinner, $44 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays), capoeira fighters demonstrat­e their moves and costumed dancers lead a free samba lesson. You’ll forget you’re in snowy Toronto. 95 Danforth Ave., 416-465-0969, rodeobrazi­liansteakh­ouse.co. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 5:30 p.m. apataki@thestar.ca, @amypataki

 ?? STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR ?? Book a staycation and get warm by having a meal at a local restaurant that serves eats from sunny destinatio­ns.
STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR Book a staycation and get warm by having a meal at a local restaurant that serves eats from sunny destinatio­ns.
 ?? BRIAN B. BETTENCOUR­T/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO ?? At La Cubana, the short rib plate ($16.99) warms the belly. La Cubana has locations on Gerrard St. E., Ossington Ave. and Roncesvall­es Ave.
BRIAN B. BETTENCOUR­T/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO At La Cubana, the short rib plate ($16.99) warms the belly. La Cubana has locations on Gerrard St. E., Ossington Ave. and Roncesvall­es Ave.
 ?? STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR ?? Street Shak owner Tony Bradshaw uses his own blend of Indian spices and Bajan seasoning: green onions, onions, parsley, thyme, allspice, cloves, garlic and lime juice.
STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR Street Shak owner Tony Bradshaw uses his own blend of Indian spices and Bajan seasoning: green onions, onions, parsley, thyme, allspice, cloves, garlic and lime juice.
 ?? STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR ?? Mad Mexican owner Jose Hadad sells his restaurant-branded sauces commercial­ly.
STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR Mad Mexican owner Jose Hadad sells his restaurant-branded sauces commercial­ly.
 ??  ?? Los Chicos Brasa in Markham serves Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken.
Los Chicos Brasa in Markham serves Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken.
 ?? MELISSA RENWICK/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO ?? Pineapple covered in cinnamon and sugar from Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse.
MELISSA RENWICK/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO Pineapple covered in cinnamon and sugar from Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada