This is not a Cinderella story of underdogs securing an unexpected win, but a tale of restaurateurs armed with capital and business acumen, plus an astute understanding of food trends inTO.
Andrew Richmond and Amin Todai of OneMethod Digital & Design weren’t just your average foodie hopefuls looking to get their big break in Toronto’s unmerciful food scene. Every step was heavily calculated from the “incubation phase” in their design laboratories, to drawing from a deep and plentiful well of resources. Everything about their renegade operation was right on schedule, bursting onto Toronto’s food scene when the city began its pop-up obsession – just in the nick of time when serving up sexy tacos was at its peak of popularity.
First they organically grew a cult-like following on the Twittersphere last summer, promoting a series of pop-up “experiments” happening right out of their design studio. Then they threw a wildly successful bash at Evergreen Brickworks several months back, generating heaps of hype towards their restaurant opening on June 12th. “Underground Culinary Kings” no longer, the design moguls of La Carnita have since emerged into the limelight with one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of the summer.TheSceneinTO visited La Carnita on a Wednesday evening just after the restaurant opened for dinner service at 5pm. Stepping into the space (passing by the mascot “Meathead” door sign and stepping over “Gringo”tiled onto the doorstep) – you could see the product of a passionate project brought to life; spawned by the love of food and art.
The décor opens towards you in layers, introductions beginning with the bar area where diners can park up on stools and enjoy one of four specialty cocktails, such as “The OG Michelada” which is essentially a Caesar with Tecate (Mexican beer), or the “Who Shot Ya”, which is a fruity and tangy concoction with a two ounce Bulleit Bourbon base.Venturing further in, you can either sit in a row of café-style tables lit up by ropey and entangled-esque lamps, or an area that gives the essence of a street-side dining experience against a wall of freehand graffiti and reclaimed-wood picnic benches. As for the food, the “Crispy Avocado & Frijoles” and “In Cod We Trust” tacos as well as the “Mexican Street Corn” are simply the best in show – although the chef seemed generally a bit heavy-handed with the ancho chili powder, the food produced by La Carnita’s kitchen packed both heat and consistency in flavour and texture. All in all, Richmond and Todai have created a brand that’s infinitely cool and an absolute must-try for those looking for a dining experience that’s equal parts artsy and flavourful, doused with generous amounts of fun.
Side note: if you are planning on ordering drinks, several appetizers along with a variety of tacos, make sure you stagger your order – because your food will be served as soon as its ready, which may guarantee freshness but will leave a crowded table top.
La Carnita is located at 501 College St. (Palmerston and College) – make sure you arrive before 7pm or risk waiting in line.