Distillery District Toronto, ON
Le bf and I arrived for dinner, and right away were both blown away by the sprawling patio that was calling our names. Well-appointed, large, and inviting, the patio was just one of many things that impressed our socks off that night. Once inside, we were greeted by a gigantic handpainted mural (by artists who were flown in from Mexico), beautiful light fixtures, and the overall welcoming atmosphere of El Catrin. This has got to be one of the most stylish Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been to.
Once the initial awe wore off, we got comfortable at our table, and braced ourselves for 8 courses of food and drinks. To start, our attentive waiter mashed up some guacamole right at our table, accompanied by warm tortilla chips, spicy nuts, and a traditional margarita. Delicioso! Knowing that there were 7 more courses ahead, we tried (and failed) to pace ourselves with the chips, and kept on shoveling the delicious green stuff into our bellies until there was none left. As for the margarita – it was one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m not a big drinker, but after one sip, I was sold.
For the rest of the night, the food just kept on coming. I had my favourites – tuna ceviche with watermelon was divine, as were the foie gras tostadas (melt in your mouth goodness). I truly enjoyed the cactus salad, something I’ve never tried before, and you could tell that the beef short rib was braised for 24 hours, because it was tender-tender-tender, and also delicious! And while I wasn’t a fan of the ginormous sauteed shrimp, le bf loved the meatiness of those suckers and happily ate what was left on my plate.
The drinks are definitely not an afterthought at El Catrin. After that first margarita, I sipped on a mojito (yum!), zarzamora (good), fuego sandia (very good), mayahuel (very very good), agua de coco (chocolatey), and hibisco rosa – my favourite of the night. All drinks complimented each devoured course perfectly, and I would absolutely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something different next time you’re there. You might just find a new fave! *cough* hibisco rosa *cough*
For dessert, we were served traditional warm churros with caramel, chocolate, and strawberry mousse, and barra de chocolat. Perhaps because my heart belongs to Playa Cabana’s churros, I found El Catrin’s fried dough sticks not as satisfying, but the delicious chocolate bar hit the spot, with its novel mixture of flavours – smokey and hazelnutty.
Needless to say, both le bf and I had a blast at El Catrin! With its fun and inviting ambiance, delicious food and drinks, and attentive staff, our night there was perfect. The restaurant’s menu is extensive, and the few courses that we got to taste definitely piqued our interest, so we promised ourselves to come back for more (enchiladas, anyone?)! After bitching and moaning about the lack of good Mexican food in Toronto for YEARS, I feel like I finally hit the jackpot. Pass the guacamole!
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