Margarita fridays!

Last night me and a few girlfriends headed out to check out Toronto’s newest Mexican restaurant addition – Pachuco.   It’s only been open since January and has been getting some good reviews.  According to their website Pachuco is “Old Mexico meets new flavours” and I would say that’s a pretty good description.  It’s run by the same sisters that manage Embrujo Flamenco, one of my favourite Spanish restaurants, and if you’ve been there it has a very similar vibe – maybe slightly more casual, and without the live dancing.  Before I can even start talking about the food I need to address the drink menu, which is extensive and very interesting (unless you want wine, in which case this is not the place for you since there was only 1 option).  I was torn between my standard Mojito order, the Chipotle Bloody Maria or one of their many margarita flavours.  Lucky for me I didn’t have to choose when I opted for the Margarita Tasting ($15) which includes 3 sampler drinks.  I chose the strawberry-mint, spicy mango and blueberry.  I highly recommend trying out the spicy mango, it’s such an interesting and oddly yummy taste experience.  Our waiter told us that when he was recently down in Mexico they offered him fruit either “mexican” or “tourist” style, so I guess this is Pachuco’s spin on Mexican-style.

To start we shared the Goat Cheese Guacamole with chile poblano and sun dried tomatoes ($9).  I’m a big fan a guacamole and goat cheese so I expected to love this and wasn’t disappointed.  All of the flavours were perfectly balanced, there was a hint of each in every bite.  The guac was served with house-made chips which were still warm when they came to the table.  We also tried the Ceviche Tia Mali ($9).  For those of you who haven’t tried it ceviche is a seafood dish made with raw fish, marinated in citrus until it’s “cooked”.  I love ceviche for it’s fresh and clean flavours.  This version had star fruit, avocado, tequila and blue marlin.  Even though it was a bit creamier than most I’ve tried I really enjoyed it.

For mains we all tried something different, I had the Taquitos de Machaca ($15) – coffee and ancho braised beef brisket.  The beef was well cooked and the fresh corn tortillas served with it were warm, soft and tasty.  For me, the highlight of this dish is the side salsas that come with it – spicy guacamole and honey chipotle salsa.  It seems like most of the mains come with really interesting side salsas that boost the standard flavours.

Good mexican food can be hard to come by in this city, but i was impressed with Pachuco’s fresh approach to mexican.  While maybe not as traditional as some may like this is definitely worth checking out.  The atmosphere is cosy and fun and the food is really good.  Service was a little on the slow side, but as long as you’re not in a rush it’s not much of a problem.  I’ll likely be back to check out some of their other flavours – both Taquitos and margaritas!

Pachuco Modern Mexican Cuisine, 99 Danforth Avenue, 416-466-8006

Food 5/5     Service 4/5     Value 4/5     Overall Rating 4/5


Superbowl sunday…. korean pre-game meal

So even though today is all about wings, chill, beer, and of course football, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather to get out and do some shopping.   On our way home we were starving so decided to stop at Mak Kal Chon Korean restaurant (the last minute decision also means i had to rely on my cell phone for photos).  While I’m not sure this ranks as #1 in the city, it does get some good reviews and based on the full house at 3pm it must be popular with locals.  Plus, it’s also the first on my list that is in a strip mall – which while a little scary is where I’m hoping to find some real gems on this adventure.

My favourite part of Korean meals is usually all the sides you get.  These were good, I particularly liked the sweet potato root – something I haven’t tried before.  Although while everything was tasty, I have had better.

Despite the slight disappointment with the sides, my go-to lunch dish Kimchi-jigae, a pork/tofu/cabbage soup that packs some serious heat was fantastic.  I love it when the first bite isn’t too spicy but as the meal progresses you really start to feel the heat.  It’s really quite a simple dish – but despite that, I was very impressed.

Steve ordered the bulgogi and it was really good.  Probably too much food for a pre-game meal, but he managed to make a pretty good dent.  It’s even served with the classic “purple” rice. The bulgogi here comes either one its own, with rice, or in a hot pot with noodles.  I almost didn’t post this photo because it really doesn’t make the food look very good – but trust me, it’s worth it.

All in all, this is a pretty good Korean restaurant.  I may soon venture to the north end of the city to try out another recommendation but this is definitely a good choice if you find yourself hungry and in the east end of the city.  A huge plus – P.A.T., the Korean grocery store is along the same strip so you can pick up the ingredients to try your hand a Korean  food at home.

Mak Kal Chon, 1979 Lawrence Avenue East, Scarborough, 416-757-3945

Food 3/5     Service 3/5     Value 5/5     Overall Rating 3/5