We are still very much in the midst of a taco mania here in Toronto, which you won’t find me complaining about. For every up and coming neighbourhood in the city there are several taco joints, each one promising something more awesome than the one down the street. The hispter to taqueria ratio is heading for 1:1, and I LOVE it.
What’s not to love about tacos? The fresh flavours, the heat, the intersection of creamy and crunchy, and the share-ability (Kiwi and I have been known to alternate bites, so that we can try as many varieties as possible). Fun, fast, cheap and flavourful. I could go on.
Our favourite taco place is also among the most underrated in the city. It’s pretty unassuming—tucked away in tiny little storefront in the city’s central Kensington Market neighbourhood—but the food is anything but. The last time we were there, in the middle of stuffing a taco into my mouth, and with chipotle mayonnaise dripping down my chin (sexy), I deliriously mumbled to Kiwi that it is “the best food in the WHOLE WORLD”. It probably is.
The charm of the place makes the food even more delicious, I think. It’s what you might call a hole in the wall kind of place: there are a couple of seats in the window, but for the most part it’s standing room only. We push our stroller in there (sorry, hipsters), lift the Bean up onto the skinny little counter affixed to one wall, and order every taco on the menu. You’ve only got about 8 minutes to finish your food before being edged out of there by the hungry hordes, but the food doesn’t last much longer than that, anyway.
I’m tempted to keep the name of this taqueria to myself because, frankly, it’s crowded enough as it is! But that would be too cruel. And in any event, with the information I’ve given you and a little Googling you could probably find it yourself.
Seven Lives. That’s it. If you find yourself in Toronto, go straight to Kensingston Market, seek out Seven Lives, throw down $5 for the signature Gobernador taco (an oddly delicious combo of smoked marlin and shrimp), close your eyes and devour. This is heaven-sent food, truly.
When we can’t get to Seven Lives, there’s nothing quite as kid-friendly and fun as a family taco night at home. An “assemble-your-own” meal puts the kiddos in control of their food and makes it much more likely, in my experience, that they will go out of their comfort zone and try new foods. (Even just a nibble is progress, right?)
On our last taco night, the Bean tried a little bite of pickled onion, and while she immediately scrunched up her face, spat it out and declared “TOO SOUR!” she tried it at least. Baby steps.
I like to build our tacos around something that I’ve already got in the freezer (because I’m lazy like that) which is why these Pulled Pork Tacos are our go-to. I make a huge batch of this Healthier Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, freeze in medium-size Ziploc bags, and defrost one the day of our taco meal.
The fixings are up to you, but the more variety the better I think. Quick Pickled Red Onions are a MUST, and are also a tasty addition to just about every savoury meal, so I’ve included the recipe below. Other favourites (in no particular order): shredded red cabbage, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, crumbled feta or cotija cheese, pickled jalapeno peppers, sliced radishes, salsa or chopped tomato, guacamole or diced avocado, and corn tortillas. Flour tortillas will do if you don’t have gluten issues and/or cannot get your hands on the corn version, but corn tastes more authentic to me and is marginally healthier.
Not only is this a great family dinner, but it’s also a popular dinner party spread too. And one that you can make in advance, which scores big points in our busy household.
- For the pickled red onions:
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 4 peppercorns
- For the tacos:
- 12 small corn tortillas
- Pulled Pork (using THIS recipe) or your other favourite taco meat
- Shredded red cabbage
- Finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Crumbled feta or cotija cheese
- Pickled jalapeno peppers
- Sliced radishes
- Salsa or chopped tomato
- Guacamole or diced avocado
- 1 recipe pickled onions (see above)
- For the pickled red onions: Pour the vinegar into a medium-large mason jar and stir in the sea salt and sugar until dissolved. Add the peppercorns, and then the sliced onions, pushing the onions down into the jar so that they are fully immersed in the liquid. Throw the jar into the fridge for at least an hour before serving. The onions will keep, refrigerated, for about 2 weeks.
- To assemble the tacos: Warm up the meat and the tortillas and put them on the table surrounded by all the fixin's. Then dig in!