After plans to open in the Beaches fell through, La Carnita has finally crossed the Don Valley and set up its taqueria along Queen East in Riverside. Taking up the address of the former Rasputin Vodka Bar, the restaurant's second location is every bit as boisterous and awesome as the original.
What originally began as pop-up limited-edition street food served with limited-edition art work is now a sanctuary for all things taco, The space has the look and feel of Toronto's west end, dimly lit save for the glow of neon lights and buzzing with packed tables and loud hip hop. Black and white graphics plaster the walls. The room is narrow yet deceptively ample as its long channel seats about 80 including a decent-sized and well-stocked bar.
The menu has a lot of things going for it's really all about the tacos here, and In Cod We Trust is a crowd favourite. La Carnita's famous Voltron Sauce (spicy, tamari-based with an awesome name that references '80s Japanese anime or Wutang — take your pick) is drizzled over battered cod then topped with pickled cabbage and green apple. The Pollo Frito pairs fried chicken with peanut mole sauce into a delightfully messy taco bursting with flavours. As the name suggests, Beef Cheek, sees Ancho braised beef cheek, lime avocado, green cabbage, pickled jalapeño and crispy shallots to top it off. It's hot fire in a good way.
There are plenty of on-tap beers and house-made cocktails including the Who Shot Ya? Paying tribute to Biggie, the drink pairs Bulleit bourbon with hibiscus grenadine, ginger syrup and freshly-squeezed lemon juice. It's the perfect call for washing down the palette after taking down plates of spicy tacos.
Signature: Yes, tacos are the deal here, but don't miss out on the ribs. Tangy, fall-off-the-bone barbecue flavour topped with hickory sticks. What started as a Sunday special has become a permanent fixture on the east side menu.
780 Queen St. E