- The Entrees
- The Sides/Drinks
- The Atmosphere
Located in the Annex at the edge of Koreatown, Tacos El Asador (“TEA”) stands as a hidden gem in the west end of Toronto. The Bloor Street stretch is home to hundreds of small restaurants and with a simple and low-profile storefront, TEA can easily be overlooked by a pedestriann walking by. However the restaurant is a hot spot for the locals who live nearby and to the foodies who are on the prowl for an authentic Mexican meal. Oh sorry – correction: TEA serves El Salvadorian food as hinted by its name. I still have yet to figure out the distinguishment between the two. After several dine-ins, I finally decided it was time to put this on Urban Craze. This was my first visit on a weeknight and I was impressed that even on a Wednesday evening, the tables were filled and the floor had very little standing room!
|690 Bloor St. W|
Toronto, ON M6G 4B9
The restaurant is very small so it’s important to get there before the evening rush. If not, you’ll be left standing, or sitting on a stool next to the guy standing. It’s fairly uncomfortable to eat a taco that way, if you ask me. TEA is a local establishment run by friendly staff who all appeared to be Mexican or El Salvadorian.
There’s always one man there behind the cash who takes orders. He is always helpful if you want an opinion of what to get; I’d take advantage of his suggestions if it’s your first time there. The getup is very simple – there were flags hanging from the ceiling and Latin soap operas playing on the TVs. It was a small mom n’ pop’s restaurant independent from a large corporate label, which I appreciated. Without the corporate backdrop, TEA was able to present its assortment of menu items at reasonable prices. Tacos and quesadillas went for around $3 and burritos for approximately $5. Combos were $7 to $9. All in all, you can get pretty stuffed for $10 and change.
As mentioned before, this was not my first time there. I got my usual fix of fish tacos. These are simply the best fish tacos I’ve had anywhere (I’ve had them in the southern US and Mexico). The tacos were double soft-shelled (hard shell available as well) so that the moisture from the fish (or whatever meat you happen to order) doesn’t soak through.
A very generous portion of guacamole is added which mixes well with the TEA salsa and fresh lettuce and romaine. Each table receives a bowl of this homemade salsa and sliced jalapenos/onions/peppers. The salsa is simply delicious, to say the least, and it goes well with the fish tacos and everything else on the menu. It’s definitely not for the weak-stomached though so beware of adding too much. This is the perfect food for a hot summer or cold winter’s day.
We decided to try the chicken burritos and pork quesadilla; these did not turn out as good. The burritos had 70% beans and only 30% meat, a ratio in which my opinion should be flipped. I’m personally not a huge fan of beans because they make me feel unnecessarily bloated – just my opinion. The quesadillas were average and nothing to write home about. Both these items were quite dry and, honestly speaking, lacked flavour and the unique taste of the fish tacos. The solution? Add salsa.
On the side, we ordered a plate of nachos. This was not your typical “bar” nachos with cheese oozing from every corner. These nachos were smothered in salsa, tomatoes, onions and an assortment of vegetables that make each bite satisfyingly un-fattening. I can’t think of another place that served nachos that were under 100 calories per chip. They were really good, but could definitely use a bit more sauce and dressing.
Overall, TEA offers a vibrant and warm environment that serves good food at bargain prices. It’s the perfect place for you to bring that special someone for your Friday night date, and also a good spot for you to catch up with old friends. Whatever the occasion may be, TEA’s friendly staff, quick service and cozy interior won’t disappoint. After going three times, I can honestly say my next visit won’t be too long from now. More fish tacos please! With extra salsa.
The Damage: $15/per person