The cheapest trip you’ll ever take in the middle of a Toronto winter is via your senses. It’s easy to mope around at home, keeping warm while the white fluffy stuff swarms across the cities skyline. But I like to escape from the doom and gloom by sip and nibbling my way through culinary traditions that transport to the hot, hot, heat I’m craving.
I whipped open the door to Fonda Lola after marching through a frigid blizzard and was greeted by the warmth and calm of the petite restaurants ode to Mexico City. I grabbed a stool at the bar beside my friend Damion and sighed at the faint smell of tart lime and tequila. Our bartender whipped up the restaurants signature cocktail, an addictive margarita prepared with fizzy kombucha. Fans of fermented tea and tequila rejoice.
Holding my straw like a calligraphy pen, I swirled the elixir through a clatter of ice cubes while whisking my way through the Toronto Mexican restaurant menu. Chef Howard Dubrovsky has created a culinary offering which tips its hat to authentic Mexican cuisine while still showcasing a playful whimsy. You won’t find fish tacos or burritos here. While the city is indeed enjoying a crazed craving for Mexican munchies Fonda Lola stands out with its intimate setting, attentive service and menu which allows Mexican lovers ample opportunity to adventure beyond the norm.
It’s best to start off by sharing a plate of Hand Held Cesar’s, a homage to the ubiquitous salad that was in fact invented in Mexico not Italy. A plate of Candied Bacon provides a new addiction (if we didn’t have enough of those already) prepared with hot jalapeno and sweet maple. Fans of the fish should focus on pretty bowls of Trout Aguachile and Pescado al Mojo while cheese enthusiasts will get giddy while devouring plates of deep fried Quecas (mini quesadillas filled with oaxaca cheese) and Panela Poppers, jalapeno marinated panela cheese cubes coated in a crispy cornmeal batter. Fragrant cinnamon chile rice and beefy tacos el pastor fill hungry bellies while a plate of churros con cajeta offer a sweet finger-licking-good finish.
Ensalada de Kale con Chayote
kale, arugula, caramelized pepitas, agave lime dressing
Hand Held Cesar
boston lettuce, cesar avocado mousse, candied jalapeno bacon, cheese
rouger and caliente version of ceviche
jalapeno and maple pork candy
mini quesadillas stuffed with oaxaca cheese and huitlacoche
Cinnamon Chile Rice
hominy corn, veg stock, mexican aromatics, radish
jalapeno marinated panela cheese coated in cornmeal
Taco el Pastor
Pescado al Mojo
sustainable fishy-sauteed with garlic and pasilla, sweet potato puree
Churros con Cajeta