1. Mariachi’s (Yonge & Davisville)
– This family run restaurant was my first love. In the days when all you were old enough to do on a Friday night was go for dinner and a movie with a friend, Mariachi’s was our “daring” escape from The Pickle Barrel at Yonge & Eglinton. Just a short walk from the theatres, it was a welcome change. Always a sucker for their guacamole (still some of the best I’ve had), now that I am older I have discovered that their sangria is some of the best as well. Very affordable – great quality – great experience.
2. Milagro (Mercer St.)
– One of the most authentic experiences I have had, although their sangria leaves a bit to be desired. Service and atmosphere at any Milagro location are tops. Home made guacamole and many different sharing plates are among my personal favourites on this menu.
3. Hacienda (Yonge & Dupont)
– SUCH a cool atmosphere! The neon lights adorning the walls as you walk in are absolutely the first thing you notice. The second, for me at least, was that the menu is entirely in Spanish with no English descriptions – very authentic! I tried their rum punch, a bit of a pricey cocktail, but so delicious. Their bucket-o-beer special was a big hit with our group as well. The food is a Korean spin on Mexican, a fusion of sorts, so everything has a kick to it, which was a delicious surprise. With their many patios as well as indoor seating, I would highly recommend.
4. La Carnita (College & Palmerston)
– The ever changing menu at La Carnita is part of the draw. Each menu, featuring about 11 items, most of which are tacos, changes regularly, keeping restaurant goers on their toes. Sharing options here are a must, as everything has such different flavours each time you are there. The catch – they don’t do reservations for groups under 8 (and don’t even guarantee that they can make those). Tricky business come birthday time.
5. Playa Cabana (Yonge & Dupont)
– Sister restaurant to Hacienda, Playa Cabana is the original latin flavour on this section of the Dupont strip. Although this very quaint restaurant is situated among rows of sleepy duplexes, the patio out front is always packed. The same great service awaits you here!