Hotmess Tex Mex: Mexican Bar on College Street

Hotmess Tex Mex is an American Mexican restaurant on College Street in Toronto.

Located in the heart of Little Italy, Hotmess Tex Mex is famous for its Texas-inspired vintage interior.

The hipster dive bar serves frozen margaritas, cocktails and craft beer. The Hotmess Tex Mex menu offers classic Tex Mex snacks such as hardshell tacos, chili con queso, nachos and taquitos.

Hotmess Tex Mex is located on College Street in Little Italy.
Hotmess Tex Mex is located on College Street in Little Italy.

Step Inside Hotmess Tex Mex Toronto

In the heart of Little Italy you’ll find Toronto’s best Tex Mex restaurant. The Mexican restaurant is located on College Street between Bathurst and Ossington. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you find a green neon sign of a prickly Texas cactus glowing back at you.

Step inside the space that was formerly Bar Radio and you’ll find a fabulously kitschy dining room paying homage to the kinds of bars you’d find on a road trip of rural Texas. The walls are covered in Coors Light signs, old school Texas cartoons, taxidermy and pretty American pin-ups.

The dining room at Hotmess Tex Mex.
The dining room at Hotmess Tex Mex.

The left hand side of the dining room features four top tables that overlook the restaurant’s vintage bar. Walk towards the kitchen and you’ll find a more intimate dining room.

The restaurant’s most coveted table is a nook that seats just two romantic diners and overlooks the hustle and bustle of College Street. The nook located on the other side of the entrance doors features a retro Vegas casino slot machine. The slot machine actually still works so be sure to make some time to throw a few coins in the slot to test your luck.

The bar at Hotmess Tex Mex on College Street.
The bar at Hotmess Tex Mex on College Street.

Hotmess Tex Mex Bar

The restaurant’s intimate bar features five bar stools, which overlook an old school backlit diner sign. Listen carefully and you’ll hear the overhead speakers playing a curated mix of country, blues, punk and rock music.

The bartender at Hotmess Tex Mex suggests the signature Texas Tea, featuring black tea muddled with Jack Daniels whisky, lemon, and simple syrup. You’ll also find frozen margaritas, Micheladas, paloma cocktails and a fantastic selection of craft beer (all offered in short cans).

Frozen margarita and tequila muddled Paloma cocktail at Hotmess Tex Mex.
Frozen margarita and tequila muddled Paloma cocktail at Hotmess Tex Mex.

Hotmess Tex Mex Menu

Known as an Americanized version of Mexican cuisine, Tex Mex restaurants are most often found on America’s Mexican border in states like Texas and California.

Hotmess Tex Mex owner and chef Christopher Palik is originally from Saskatchewan. Palik explains his inspiration for opening Toronto’s only Tex Mex restaurant, “The year was 2001, I had been cooking professionally for about 6 years, mostly concentrating on classical French and Asian fusion when I discovered Tex Mex. I was stuck overnight unexpectedly in between flights in Houston. What’s a young cook to do with a night off in a new city? Eat of course! I asked the ticket attendant where I should go and with the options presented I settled on Tex Mex as the good BBQ seemed too far out of the city and being from Vancouver at the time I didn’t need anymore seafood in my life. I was sent to El Patio, a restaurant that was a Houston institution, and I was about to get schooled in the ways of Tex Mex.”

Fast forward to 2016 and the taco trend had a healthy following in Toronto. Palik adds, “By eating tacos people were becoming versed in the ingredients that also formed the bones of Tex Mex. If I could combine people’s new found taste for tacos and everyone’s secret love of Taco Bell, Hotmess Tex Mex might just work. I also needed the restaurant to have the ambiance to reflect a time and place. I needed people to enter another world like Del Rio Texas, circa 1985 with wood paneling, chicken wire, fluorescent lights, vintage country music, frozen margaritas and ice cold beers.”

Chili Con Queso at Hotmess Tex Mex restaurant in Toronto.
Chili Con Queso at Hotmess Tex Mex restaurant in Toronto.

Hotmess Tex Mex Appetizers

  • Taquitos: bean and cheese, garlic shrimp, jalapeno cream cheese
  • Chips & Dips: roasted tomato salsa, jalapeno bean, sweet corn
  • Guacamoles: classic, BLT, Tropicana with pineapple, mango, peanut and crispy plantain
  • Quesadillas: Cheese and Corn & Black Bean
  • Frito Pie: corn chips, guacamole, salsa, cheddar and choice of Truck Stop or Three Bean Chili
  • Tostadas: BBQ Pork and Cheese Burgrer
  • Cheese Fries: crinkle cut fries, chili con queso, crema
  • Chili Con Queso Classic: old cheddar, monterey jack, pico de galo
  • Chili Con Queso Bob Armstrong: chili con queso, taco beef, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole
  • Broccoli: charred brocoli, cornbread crumbs, buttermilk ranch, cojita cheese
  • Carrot Slaw: pineapple, pepitas, goat cheese, chipotle dressing
Old School Taco and Chilli con Carne at Hotmess Tex Mex restaurant in Toronto.
Old School Taco and Chilli con Carne at Hotmess Tex Mex restaurant in Toronto.

Hotmess Tex Mex Tacos

  • Old School Taco: salsa, taco sauce, cheddar, lettuce, crema with choice of beef, chorizo or hot chicken
  • Taco Beef Taco: jalapeno bean, guacamole, lettuce, cheddar, pico de gallo, buttermilk ranch
  • Tinga Chicken Taco: guacamole, pico de gallo, mango, shredded lettuce, goats cheese, buttermilk ranch
  • Chorizo Taco: jalapeno bean, guacamole, pico de gallo, monterey jack, shredded lettuce, buttermilk ranch, roasted pineapple
  • Street Corn Taco: jalapeno bean, guacamole, pico de gallo, goat cheese, shredded lettuce, carrot, buttermilk ranch
  • Hot Chicken Taco: jalapeno bean, guacamole, pico de gallo, monterey jack, shredded lettuce, buttermilk ranch, valentina hot sauce
Garlic Shrimp Taquitos with Guacamole.
Garlic Shrimp Taquitos with Guacamole.

Hotmess Tex Mex Hotdogueros

  • Nacho: bacon, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheddar
  • Sonora: bacon, guacamole, pineapple, jalapeno, monterey jack
  • Chili Cheese: bacon, chili con queso, cheddar, truck stop chili
  • El Dorado: bacon, street corn, guacamole, cheddar, southwest sauce

Hotmess Tex Mex Tex Mex Classics

  • Chimichanga: chipotle chicken, goat cheese, black bean, brown rice, whole wheat tortilla, avocado crema
  • Enchilada: al pastor pork, pineapple, monterey jack, red sauce, crema
  • Fajita Burrito: braised beef brisket, roasted peppers and onions, monterey jack, ancho mayo, chili con queso
  • Taco Salad: guacamole, monterey jack, black bean, pico de gallo, buttermilk ranch, sour cream
  • Nachos: pico de gallo, sour cream, chili con queso, pickled jalapenos
A slot machine and choir of cactus plants in Heinz ketchup containers.
A slot machine and choir of cactus plants in Heinz ketchup containers.

Hotmess Tex Mex Hours

Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm-12am

Friday and Saturday: 6pm-2am

Sunday and Monday: closed

Hotmess Tex Mex Reservations

615 College Street, 416-551-1322

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