What do you get when you combine Chicago taqueria Big Star with Toronto nose-to-tail restaurant Black Hoof, and pipe in a soundtrack of hip-hop tunes? You get Grand Electric, opened in the city’s west end in 2011 by former Black Hoof staffers who were inspired by a short stint cooking at Big Star.
Like many hot Toronto restaurants, Grand Electric doesn’t take reservations. That often means lengthy waits for a table. But the servers will take your name and call you when a table opens up; head to one of the other area bars for a beer or two while you wait. And wait you should. Grand Electric’s tacos are worth your time.
The rotating menu includes five or six taco varieties, with choices such as tender pork belly al pastor, deep-fried baja fish and scrapple – a pan-fried Pennsylvania Dutch creation combining pork scraps with cornmeal, flour and spices. At Grand Electric, it’s served on a corn tortilla with a tangy sauce, avocado and green onion. You’ll also likely find Mexican grilled corn, fresh ceviche and pozole, a Mexican soup with meat and maize corn kernels.
And if bourbon’s your thing, Grand Electric is your place. While the menu includes a small selection of cocktails (what’s a taqueria without a margarita?) and local beers, much of the drink list is devoted to the southern brown liquor, with more than 30 selections by the glass.
A patio opened in summer 2012, more than doubling the restaurant’s capacity from 40 diners to 100. It’s already been winterized to accommodate the onslaught of taco-hungry Torontonians who will continue to pack Grand Electric as the temperature drops. And rumour has it the team is awaiting approval on a liquor license so they can add a second floor dining space in 2013.