Friday, 13 July 2012

La Carnita

La Carnita (501 College Street, Toronto)

One of the most talked about restaurants in the city, I had to make my way to La Carnita. With failed attempts to make it to their various pop-ups around Toronto (due to work) and missed TUM events, it was finally time to taste what everyone was talking about! The restaurant is surprisingly very spacious with a beautiful bar set up right at the front entrance. Cool atmosphere, with insanely creative artwork and the vibe is very casual. The food was overall delicious and La Carnita is a great addition to the growing network of great restaurants opening in Toronto.

** After my first experience there, I really liked it but I wasn't blown away. I always like to give restaurants a second chance, especially one with so much hype, so I returned for the 1 year anniversary. I have to say, I am converted!! I love La Carnita and is now one of my favourite restaurants in the city. The flavours are refined and well balanced and the food is excellently executed. I have also included at the end of the post, some of the additional drinks we had and the special of the night. Must haves: Guac and chips, Mexican corn, Ceviche special, chicken taco, chorizo taco and the key lime paleta. Lastly, if you like it hot, ask for their hot sauce. It makes a perfect pairing for all tacos to give that extra kick (I used them on all tacos, a necessity for me).

Carnita Margarita 
2oz Tromba tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and agave nectar
A great margarita, not too sweet, primary tastes of lime and tequila with a hint of salt. Very refreshing. 

A classic cocktail, a very good rendition but we did miss the salty/spicy rimmer. 

Guacamole with chips with Ancho Chili Powder 
Insanely addictive! The guacamole is probably one of the best in the city. It has the perfect amount of garlic, seasoning and the queso and ancho chili spices kicks it up another notch. The chips are freshly made and with the ancho chili powder, they are impossible not to finish. 

Mexican Street Corn
Mexican crema, queso anejo, arbol & ancho chili powder
Perfectly sweet and juicy kernels covered in a creamy, cheesy concoction and well balanced with the ancho chili powder. Squeeze a little of that lime and the flavours are fantastic. 

Red and Green Chorizo
Housemade chorizo, mango salsa, pickled onion, queso cotija and cilantro
One of my favourite tacos of the night. Rich, intense flavours of the house made chorizo sausage and the toppings were a perfect companion. Sweetness from the mango salsa, acid from the pickled veg and queso cotija provides that salty, cheesy element. Flavour explosion.

Crispy Avocado & Frijoles
Beans, crispy avocado, jicama, chipotle sauce, queso fresco & cilantro
Really enjoyed this taco! The crispy, fried avocado was soft and warm, which paired nicely with the creamy black beans and the salty queso fresco. All the flavours worked nicely together for a very mild but tasty taco. 

Pollo Frito
Peanut mole sauce, pickled green cabbage and salsa fresca
NOT TO BE MISSED!!!! Very original taco and the flavour profile is just undeniably droolworthy. The chicken has a perfectly crunchy exterior while the meat inside is wonderfully moist and juicy.  The unctuous peanut mole sauce is so original, giving a creamy, savoury and sweet element. The pickled green cabbage and salsa fresca provides the perfect balance.

Tostada de Lengua
 Cilantro verde, cashew sauce, grilled pineapple, radish & beet sprouts
Not knowing what to expect from beef tongue, I was surprise I enjoyed this one as much as I did. Well cooked, thin slices of lengua with an extremely fresh and flavourful toppings.

In Cod We Trust
Voltron sauce, lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple & cilantro.
Who doesn't love fish tacos? These were well executed and the apple in the slaw was very interesting. 

Arctic Char (Special of the Day)
The arctic char was perfectly cooked, nice crispy skin and the corn relish was a sweet pairing to this tostada; although I found the overall flavour a bit bland. 

Key Lime Paleta 
Lime Pie with Crumbled Graham Crackers
I would come back just for the paleta. This popsicle is the perfect end to the meal. The interior is a creamy, cool, key lime concoction, topped with a sweet and salty crumbly graham cracker exterior. I wanted to eat 10 more! 

New Additions (1 Year Anniversary): 

Swordfish Ceviche
One of the best things I have eaten in a while. The delicate swordfish is enveloped with flavours of lime, mango, habanero (or jalapeno, not much description was given). The flavour profile of this ceviche was beautiful -- sweet, spicy and salty and the texture was spot on. If they have this special, it is a must order!

Left: Gin and Juice: Gin, Grapefruit and Chili Cinnamon Syrup
Very light and refreshing, good flavours but was hoping for more kick from the chili cinnamon syrup.
Right: Who Shot Ya? Bulleit, Jamaica syrup, ginger syrup and lemon 
Great bourbon drink, tasted like a bourbon fruit punch. 

La Carnita on Urbanspoon


  1. Excellent review. I am planning on checking this place out next week.:)

    1. Thank you! Just a heads up, they did put the ceviche on the menu now (vs. being a special) but they took out the mango, which was a little bit disappointing! Still very good, just not at that next level. Tacos and margaritas are awesome.

  2. Finally went last week with Mitch and Marisa. It was the bomb shit.

    - Scott

    1. Could not have said it better myself :)!!