I am on a mission to eat authentic food from every country in the world, right here in Toronto.
El Catrin, Mexican Cuisine
My next eating adventure took me to the historic distillery district of Toronto. I am not in this area of the city very often, and I am pretty sure that’s going to have to change. I forgot how cool it is.
I was meeting four of my blogger buds at El Catrin, an authentic modern Mexican restaurant in the heart of the district. What I noticed immediately about El Catrin is that it is very pretty. Everything about it is pretty.
The lighting, the decor, the architecture. There were so many things to look at.
It wasn’t the nicest day for a patio. It was kind of cold and it had rained earlier, but it is patio season and we chose El Catrin specifically for the patio, so we soldiered on.
Most of my summer restaurant excursions are going to be on a patio, I think (I hope!).Winter is too damn long, and I want to fit in all the good patios before it’s cold again. I have all winter to eat inside. The El Catrin patio had heat lamps (and a big bowl of fire in the middle) and we had jackets, so we were all good.
Casey, Shanondoah, me, and Michelle, my bloggers and lagers team (the team formerly known as the blogger joggers, but now we just get together to eat and drink things, so our new name seems more fitting).
Before I get to the food I need to show you the inside of El Catrin, because it continued to be overwhelmingly beautiful and interesting. These pictures are not mine, but they give you an idea of how cool it is in there.
And the bar because it’s pretty impressive.
So much booze. I very fittingly started with booze, the Mayan margarita ($14).
When in Mexico! No, but really how every meal should start.
Every table comes with chips and salsa, and we added guacamole for $11 that they actually mix right at your table.
I can’t lie, I’ve had better chips and salsa (Lonestar actually), but I love pretty much any chip and all the salsa, so I was happy. The guacamole was pretty great though.
El Catrin is similar to Cava in that most of the dishes are meant for sharing. I have been liking this for my Eats the World mission because it means I can try more things before I get too ridiculously full. I also liked that we were a group of four because we could try even more things for less money!
First up were the pollo mini burritos ($1o for four) with pulled chicken, chipotle tomato sauce, black bean purée, and menonita cheese.
Because if I ever go to Mexico I am obviously having a burrito. Or several. They tasted like a burrito so I am going to say authentic. They were good, but very mini and I ate mine in like a bite and a half so it was over far too quickly.
Onto the next! Ahi tuna ceviche ($11 for two) with avocado, mango habanero mojo and cilantro oil.
Also just little, but definitely a highlight. I had read some reviews prior to coming to El Catrin and many of them recommended the ahi tuna ceviche, so it was a must-try for me and I do not feel like I was steered wrong. I loved it.
Here we have the pastelito de cangrejo ($10 for four), a crab fritter with papaya, crema fresca, mole negro vinaigrette.
And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, also delicious. When I’m writing food reviews I feel like I’m always like “It was good, I liked it!” or “It wasn’t good, did not like!” but I don’t really know how to write about all the flavours and textures migling in perfect harmony. It was like a little puff of crab cloud in my mouth, and I enjoyed it. I hope that is enough description for you. Again, done in one bite, but I felt like that was all I needed for this.
And I know you are expecting to see some tacos here so I will not disappoint you. We ordered two kinds ($15 for three, and you can add a fourth for $5). The cochinita pibil tacos came out first, traditional Mexican slow-roasted Yucatan-style pulled pork in a corn tortilla, xni-pec salsa, and black bean purée.
Errrm, I liked, though I didn’t LOVE the corn tortilla. I think there might be some room for improvement tortilla-wise (and the tortilla is important!), but that there pork was delicious.
We also ordered the Baja tacos, which came highly recommended by several reviews and one of my friends. Crispy fried cod, chipotle lime coleslaw, in a flour tortilla.
I will always, always prefer a meaty taco to a fish taco (ALWAYS), but I enjoyed. I liked these shells better and the cod was perfect.
And for our very last dish we went with the pollo en adobo ($15) – grilled cornish hen in adobo, with red rice and black beans.
I also liked very much. Really good.
Ole mole ($8), a warm chocolate brownie, caramel flan ice cream, and churros with various dipping sauces.
Both plates were delicious, and I preferred these churros to the ones at Cava from the week before. I don’t know if there is a difference between Spanish and Mexican churros or if it was just a restaurant thing, but I did notice that the deliciousness was stepped up here on those.
And that was my Toronto Mexican experience. I loved El Catrin, there is quite an atmosphere in the restaurant and in the entire area in general, and the food was delicious. Definitely recommend. Service was good, though it did not compare to Cava. But that was RARE. Also, if you would like to go here I would recommend making a reservation.
I am already coming across a problem with this Happy or Hungry Eats the World…there are too many restaurants I want to eat at! There are many, many Mexican and Spanish restaurants in Toronto and I want to try them all so it’s difficult to choose just one. And after eating Mexican I now feel like I want to go out and eat ALL THE MEXICAN FOOD! And also like I want to go back to El Catrin like tomorrow. But there are so many other countries/restaurants I need to hit. I guess it is a good problem to have.