Ever have one of those moments when you’re walking into a place and you just KNOW you’re in for an experience? That was the feeling we got when we opened the bright pink door to El Caballito on a rainy Friday evening. It was a little hard to find at first but once we did, there was excitement coursing through our veins. This quaint little Mexican place is located on King Street between John and Simcoe, right next to the theatre and since opening its doors in February, its quickly risen to notable fame and become quite the hot spot among young professionals and the “after work” crowd. It is primarily a tequila bar but they serve a variety of different Mexican dishes in the ‘street food’ style that has become so popular in Toronto recently. Caballito which translates to “the little horse” also references the taller shot glass in which you can sample one of their 64 varieties of tequilas – not for the faint of heart!
This had literally been my fifth attempt at this place since I had been suggesting it to numerous people over the last month. Needless to say I did have some expectations. As we walked in we were greeted with a tolerable pulsing of house beats and then led into a dimly lit (please excuse the photos!), low ceiling room with a crowded bar to the left and seating to the right. The gracious hostess told us that there would be about a 30 minute wait for a table. We made our way to the bar to grab a drink and kill some time when lady luck shined on us and a table opened up.
First order of business was of course drinks! Over the last few months I’ve started a love affair with tequila based cocktails so my decision was easy to make. The waiter recommended the “La Condesa” which was a mix of Trombo Blanco, Lemoncello, Grapefruit juice and and citrus salt. Definitely more on the tart side but refreshing nonetheless. Also on their list are caballitos to sample a few select tequilas, tequila and soda, cervesas, margaritas, and of course vino and sparkling. They host happy hour every day from 4-6 and feature a different drink special every night of the week.
La Condesa and a virgin Ceaser
Next up was of course the food! My favourite way to eat nowadays is what I like to call “sharesies”, you get to try a little bit of everything which really works out for everyone. First up we went for the guacamole, a classic Mexican starter. It was super fresh and with the variety of different “chips” we couldn’t get enough.
Next up, the Traditional Ceviche (pico de gallo, cod, lime, chile seranno), the Tostado de Atun (Tuna tartare, magnolia sauce, avocado, fried capers, onion, lime on a fried tortilla) and the Molote de Tinga (Puebla empanadas, with chicken, tomato soffrito, chipotle, cruda asada, cotija cheese). I’ve only started to try ceviche when its on the menu and its always such a fresh, tart and light appetizer to add to the spread. The tostado was good but because the tortilla was fried it was a harder to share, but again a savoury combination of fresh ingredients and traditional spices. My favourite was by far the Molote de Tinga which came in two servings of which I probably would have eaten both on my own!
Now there was no way we were leaving without trying their tacos! We each got our own – Baked Fish (Macha marinade, salsa cruda, crispy leeks, red cabbage, lime), Al Pastor (Pulled pork, pineapple, salsa verde, coriander) and Champinones Al Ajillo (mushrooms, arbol chili, ajillo sauce). I had the pork which was such an interesting combination of spicy pork and sweet pineapple. The ladies enjoyed theirs as well, although the baked fish one had a stronger “fishy” taste while the
And finally, dessert. There was really only one thing that could end this night. Churros, churros, churros! Unfortunately for El Caballito I had just had dinner at Patria a few weeks ago and their churros are accompanied with dulce de leche caramel sauce. These were still good and hit the spot after such a flavourful dinner but I couldn’t deny the comparison.
Such a great evening filled with laughs and catching up on life. Definitely a place i would come back to just for the vibe itself. I’m holding out for a Tuesday for my next visit to experience “Tequila and Tacos Tuesday” featuring, you guessed it, tequila and taco specials AND live music.
Till our next adventure!
220 King Street (between John and Simcoe)