Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tenoch Restaurant Grill & Bar (Toronto, On)

“La Real Y Autentica Camida Mexicana”

TenochFurther to my discussion about the state of Mexican food in Toronto let me offer up Tenoch in Toronto's Oakwood neighbourhood. A community within the city that's getting more and more of a Spanish flavour. More and more these days Mexican and other Latin expats are immigrating to the area. With them of course comes culture and most importantly the cuisine. It's become the part of town to which people of South and Central American countries flock after their soccer team wins during the World Cup.

Tenoch InteriorTenoch gets it's name for the now mythical leader of the ancient Aztec world. Debates have ensued as to whether he was just a myth but the evidence suggests he lived from 1325 to 1375. Tenoch was honoured when a new city, cut into an island in Lake Texacoco (near present day Mexico City) was named Tenochtitlan. It soon became the capital of the Aztec empire and the largest city in the pre Columbian "new" world. Today, Mexico City's Zócalo, is located at the site of Tenochtitlan's original central plaza and market. Many of the original city streets correspond to modern day roads.
As such, I'm sure you can imagine the food is from the Mexico City region.

Tenoch BarTenoch is not much more than a store front from the outside. Pictures of specials adorn the front window and almost dare foot traffic to walk on by.
Inside it's like a great little cantina. The seating is ample and there is karaoke in the back. There's a bar in the middle that is where, outside of the food, my favourite feature is located. The collection of Mexican wrestling masks.  The kitchen is located in the back and just about everything they sell is made in house.

So let's get a look at these Mexican goodies.
SalsasAs a typical garnish you get, naturally, salsa. In this case, Salsa Verde (green salsa) and an orange sauce made of reconstituted chilies.
The orange sauce has a nice flavour with some smokiness to it. As though there's some fire roasted component in there. The kick is mild but there.
The Salsa Verde is fabulous. Very fresh tasting with a nice balance of onion, chili and cilantro. It packs a bit of a wallop so be careful.

Tacos de AlambreIn English, Alambre means "Wire." There seems to be some missing links in the evolution of this dish because, at it's roots, it should be a skewered dish. It has become however, a dish that is diced meat (usually steak) sauteed with onion, chiiles and (usually) bacon. Here we have Tacos de Alambre with red and green chillies and also ham. It's covered with cheese and is incredibly tasty. The tortillas aren't made in house but are authentic corn tortillas that I suspect come from La Tortillaria. I mixed and matched lime juice, orange sauce and salsa verde and everything just worked. There was no combination that was better than the other  and that was better than without condiments. It was all just so good.

Torta TenochIn Mexico City if you serve torta you serve a Torta Cubana. Never mind the name, it has really nothing to do with Cuba. A torta is a Mexican sandwich served on a crusty, oblong bun. While no 2 torta are alike, this becomes more so with the Cubana. It's an amalgam of all the torta a restaurant will serve. Here, being the house specialty, they've rebranded it, Torta Tenoch. Quite frankly, it's a monster. 12 ingredients not including the bun. I don't carry a scale but it has to come in around 3lbs. It's a ton of food in sandwich form. We have Roast pork (Pierna), breaded fried steak (Milanesa), hotdogs, ham, pastrami, cheese, tomato, onion, avocado, mayo, re-fried beans and fried egg. It's an absolutely incredible sandwich. Big enough that one half was lunch and the other, dinner. Tasty enough to be among the best sandwiches I've had.

Mole TamaleLike any good Mexican place they make their own Tamales. They offer 3  types and this specimen, Mole, has chicken in mole sauce as it's stuffing. First off, lemmie tell you, it's huge. I think they needed 6 husks to keep the thing together. It was very tasty but did have some weaknesses. One such flaw what that the filling was a bit on the sparse side. I thought there was enough mole to carry the dish but the chicken was a bit lost. As well, it was a bit on the dry side. A common malady for these things. I thought the orange chili sauce drizzled on it helped with that an also added a bite that was nice. The corn flavour from the masa was excellent.

Chorizo con Queso QuesadillaIn the Quesadilla category you'll find Chicharones con Queso. Chunks of pork skin simmered in a red chili broth and stuffed with cheese into a corn tortilla. Rather than baked in an oven or grilled over coals of some sort, this one seemed to be fried. It gave the exterior a nice crispiness while still allowing some pliability. That filling was exceptional. A hint of spice balanced nicely by the cheese with the richness of the pork being countered by an acid (probably lime juice) in the broth.

So there you have it folks, some of the best Mexican food I've had in one of Toronto's hidden gems.
You can find Tenoch at 933 St Clair Ave W in the heart of Toronto's burgeoning Latin American community.
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You can also find them on the web and facebook.
 Tenoch on Urbanspoon

Well that's all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.

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