La Carnita, one of Toronto’s best loved food trucks and most anticipated pop up shops, has finally opened a permanent location at 501 College Street. I was there at 5pm yesterday night for their opening, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on some delicious taco creations. The location is gorgeous, and features art from @JohnnyCrap and others, and the menu is full of exciting and reasonably priced drinks and dishes… THIS is going to be one hot Toronto restaurant.
Though nestled in a non-descript stretch of College, La Carnita has created an awesome space that is both easy to find and intimate inside. From the exterior, you might think it’s a tattoo shop or strictly a bar; certainly they have downplayed the artistic interior and it’s probably for the best. This little taco stand that could, started by chef Andrew Richmond, has been wildly popular and I’m just fine if they don’t broadcast their arrival too loudly… word will get out.
Once you step inside, it’s another story entirely. Awesome street style artwork adorn the walls, bringing the restaurant’s promise of ‘authentic mexican streetfood’ so close you can almost taste it. I love the random reclaimed items used for light fixtures and decoration, and the place is finished without being too cluttered… a great spot for a large or small group to kick back and chow down.
But on to the most important part…. the food! The menu is so reasonably priced, you’ll be able to try a lot of different items – and you should. Each one looked amazing; I settled on sharing some ancho chili powder-dusted, thick housemade tortilla chips and incredibly silky guacamole with my bar buddy ($6.5).
Of course, I had to wash it down. The Bar menu – including baller champagnes, top shelf tequila selection, and even mezcals, is a little pricier compared to the rest of the menu. But seriously, in downtown Toronto the prices are all reasonable, and my Carnita Margerita ($11) was divine.
Unfortunately, I had to pick just one taco from the long list of tasty choices; amazingly they are all just $5. I settled on the “In Cod We Trust” which boasts chef Andrew’s famous ‘Voltron Sauce’ (which in fact, has more than 5 elements… 60 or so, I was told by the manager). The gently battered and fried cod comes on a handmade flour tortilla with said sauce, lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple & cilantro. Every taco on the menu is equally exciting in its combination of flavours, and as soon as mine arrived I knew it was going to be fantastic.
Everything about La Carnita screams success… and being so well situated, on a busy and hungry Toronto street, I see a bright and busy future for the team. Beyond Andrew Richmond, the restaurant boasts some former Terroni talent and everyone was all smiles at yesterday’s opening. Can’t wait to visit again (tonight) and try the Mexican street corn ($7) and Churros ($5). See the full menu here.