La Carnita, Toronto
It can be said that La Carnita was the innovator of the food truck phenomenon in Toronto, using the sale of local artists’ work as a loophole to get by selling great food to the hungry masses (the city has/had very strict and often foolish laws preventing various forms of street food vendors). Their signature skull art was desired by every foodie in the city and their locations were tweeted and retweeted obsessively with people flocking to grab a La Carnita taco. It certainly made me feel like quite the badass to have one of my very own!
After about a year of being the main attraction at the Toronto Underground Market, La Carnita set up a permanent home on College St. (just west of Bathurst). The decor is exactly what you’d expect: raw, trendy and somewhat eclectic. There is a graffiti wall, low bench seating, communal tables, amazing light features and very very loud music. The vibe is great, the service quick, effective and knowledgeable.
Being hungry and curious, our table ordered almost everything on the menu that night. For appetizers we had the three dip tortilla chips, an avocado & mango salad and the rice & corn frituras. All of them packed a lot of flavour in very small portions, were beautifully plated and delicious. The chipotle pate dip was by far the most memorable, being very smooth, smokey and a perfect foe for a crunchy tortilla chip (who would have known?!). The tacos that followed certainly stayed true to the La Carnita style, packing a lot of flavour and very fresh ingredients into a very small package. Each taco had the perfect combination of textures, aromas and left your palate very clean. For someone who generally prefers spicy food, I did have some issues with the heat in the tacos and would have appreciated some sort of dairy (sour cream, cheese, etc) to soothe my burning mouth. Overall, I found the tacos to be severely overpriced ($5/2 bite taco) for their size but definitely imaginative and tasty.
Would I return to La Carnita again? Probably; if I was in the neighbourhood, hungry and everything else on the street was closed. I feel as though being able to taste the forbidden fruit on the regular made their tacos a little less exclusive and this time around I just saw them as being a little too expensive for my taste.