The 2008 recession was a game-changer for many things. In the restaurant world, the downturn forced a number of high-priced fine dining establishments to close. But that opened up new opportunities for creative restaurateurs to design menus around simpler, more wallet-friendly foods. Like tacos.
The humble taco has taken over dining scenes around the world in recent years, and Toronto is no different. In 2012 alone, a number of taco-focused dining spots have opened in the city. One of the most popular, La Carnita, actually began to take shape a year earlier when Andrew Richmond, creative director of a Toronto advertising agency, began hosting bi-weekly taco pop-ups at random spots around downtown. He got around Toronto’s complicated street food bylaws by selling patrons a unique art piece created for the event, and giving away the tacos for free as a bonus gift with the art. Word spread quickly via social media, and soon the lineups for La Carnita’s pop-up art-and-taco lunches stretched around the block. The tacos regularly sold out in minutes.
So La Carnita’s fans rejoiced when Richmond opened a permanent spot in the heart of Toronto’s hip Little Italy neighbourhood in June 2012. The 80-seat venue doesn’t take reservations, and since the demand for La Carnita’s In Cod We Trust battered fish tacos, chorizo tacos, Mexican grilled street corn and other specialties hasn’t eased, the restaurant’s been constantly full since opening. But for a taste of Mexico in Toronto, it’s worth the wait for a table at La Carnita.