As Toronto’s College st transforms with the addition of new resto’s and lounges, we’re hard pressed to try them all or give it a valiant attempt, at least. So, this week we headed to La Carnita, a fairly recent addition to the College street strip and a nouveau culinary take on the taco. Yes, you read right – tacos.
The idea of La Carnita came from co-owners, Amin Todai and Andrew Richmond, successful bout at pop-up restaurants in the city that coupled street art and street food. Knowing this then, the pimped up play on tacos isn’t that foreign. Once you enter the La Carnita restaurant, the street art part of their mantra becomes clear as the walls are graced, not just with graffiti, but with modest likeliness’ of some of our most favourite hip-hop artists and symbolic items from hip-hop in the 90’s, when the likes of Biggie Smalls roamed the earth. Despite what you may envision from the words above, La Carnita is a ‘swankily’ styled resto, with the lighting, fixtures and bench like tables along the sides of the dining room to prove it.
My dining guest and I started the night off with a glass of cava (I couldn’t help myself) to set the evening off right. I then committed to trying one of La Carnita’s cleverly entitled cocktails, before dinner was over. We then ventured into the food and kicked off eating with their Rice and Corn Frituras ($8) and of course, their nachos accompanied by three fantastic dips; an expected guacamole along with two delightfully different dips, sikil pak, mezcal chipotle paté ($13). To get a handle on their taco compilation, we tried their ‘In Cod We Trust’, ‘Chorizo’ and ‘Tostado de Ceviche’ tacos ($4.95 each); each one tasting better than the last. My favourite was the Tostado de Ceviche, which came with the right level of spice and citrus, making it refreshing and tasty, all at once. After my taco exploration, I made good on my promise to try one La Cantina’s cleverly named cocktails. I ordered the ‘Who Shot Ya’ cocktail ($11), which was bourbon based with an aid of ginger, both things I love, this on top of the fact that the drink was named after a Biggie Smalls song, which, as I type this, I am reciting gleefully.
La Carnita is that perfect spot when looking to grab a bite with friends during the week. The vibe in the air at the restaurant is lively and energetic; a great combination for a whimsical night. On the downside, La Carnita doesn’t take reservations right now, and its first come first serve, so their tendency to try to turnover tables quickly, was too obvious. We couldn’t help but feel rushed and made it clear that if you’re in a small group of two or three, expect fantastic food, with partially good service, but don’t expect it to be a place where you can catch up casually and freely over dinner.
La Carnita is located at 501 College St West, Toronto – 416-964-1555.