I recently landed an internship as a TV producer’s assistant. My first task on my first day was to research the restaurant scene in Toronto, needless to say that was a fun day. One of the first things I found out, which led to panicked texts and quick planning.. La Carnita finally had a bricks-n-mortar location!! We no longer had to be ready on the fly to go to a last-minute event to buy some art in order to receive “the best tacos” on the side as a free gift! I was thrilled. And paranoid. New place + having been said to at some point be the best tacos = paranoid. We walked by an hour before opening (which is 5pm-ish) and thankfully there was no line-up. Still I insisted we show up 10 minutes before open lest we have another Grand Electric situation on our hands (half hour before open, line-up around the block). We get there right at 5, no line-up so I saunter up to the door, Brent hesitates saying the place does not look open, I say there are people inside, he says they are staff. I try the door, it is unlocked so I walk in. Only to be told they are not open yet. This would be what they mean by 5ish on their website. So we sit outside on the patio, in the awful face-melting heat and wait. Thankfully the wait is no more than 5 minutes.
We sat in the middle of the restaurant with a good view of the bar and the kitchen, well Brent did anyways. He had a staring showdown with one of the chefs. By accident he claims, he thought he was looking at a mirror? For starters Brent ordered a beer, the server came back and said that it had just arrived and was not cold yet. Brent looks at me like :O and I shrug, he scans the beer list quickly, deciding on another beer. As soon as the server leaves Brent goes “OMG!” I shrug again. He says that the beer he had tried to order was one they talked about on a baseball podcast that because it is so thick it never gets cold. I ‘spose that worked out nicely for him. I on the other hand would be irate that I could not have my drink of choice. We decided to split an appetizer first, the guacamole and chips. The chips were better than Grand Electrics, the guacamole was almost as good, it is hard to say, it had a tad more lime flavour to it? What I can say is, it was a much more reasonable size because we managed to finish it.
Then it came to taco time. We were finally going to have La Carnita tacos. After a year of unsuccessful hunting… it all came down to this. We were going to split a chorizo taco and a fish taco. Fish taco first: it was better than Buster’s Sea Cove, but dwarfed by Grand Electric. Chorizo taco was better, alas not as good as El Trompo’s taco. It was still worth it to satiate my curiosity though. Being a sucker for dessert, I convinced Brent to split a churro with me. Not so much a churro, as three small ones. Served in a tiny bowl of the most delicious creamiest, milkiest, sweetest caramel sauce ever! I temporarily contemplated drinking the rest. What made La Carnita stand out (aside from the churros) was the service. That was one of the best dining experiences I have had in the city. We were in and out in 30 minutes! That is 30 minutes for what amounted to a three course meal!
The next day’s dinner plans were rather last minute, so we decided to opt for something quick. We had been recently talking about my dislike of California Sandwiches. About a month ago my sisters and I went there for we had all heard from others that it was amazing. We split a less-than-stellar meat ball sub and dubbed it overrated. When Brent told his coworker about it he guffawed that we had ordered the worst sandwich on the menu. He said the sweet veal (their signature) or the steak were where it’s at. And so we had our dinner plans. The steak sandwich was nothing spectacular, it was better than Subway’s steak sandwich, which is not saying much really. The sweet veal was better, but still not outstanding for all the hype surrounding it. I don’t understand the appeal. The meat and sauce combo make the bun completely disintegrate and because it is the same sauce on all three sandwiches I have had, they all taste rather similar. California Sandwiches is overrated and overhyped. I much prefer higher quality sandwiches, such as Porchetta & Co.