Carmen Toronto: Spanish Restaurant Serves Paella on Queen Street West

Carmen Toronto is the best tapas restaurant on Queen Street West. The popular Spanish restaurant in Toronto is famous for its paella’s, creative tapas and Spanish wine list.

Spanish Restaurant on Queen West

If there was ever a time in Toronto to love Spanish food it is now. The city is quite literally brimming with restaurants dedicated to paying homage to the Iberian peninsula’s tried, tested and true recipes.

Fans of spicy chorizo and seafood adorned paella jostle their friends over which dimly lit dinning room serves up the best taste of Spain in Hogtown. The conversation chirps with mentions for Bar Isabel, Bar Raval, Patria, Barsa Taberna.

Sit silently with a table of Toronto food fans and you’ll quickly realize that for many, palates are running to catch up with the creativity in our city’s kitchens. Adventurous spirits limited by their vacation days are turning to Toronto’s multicultural restaurant offerings to enjoy a quick escape with their tastebuds.

It’s easy to plan a trip around the world in the course of one weekend at Toronto’s restaurants: wolf down a Hong Kong inspired dim sum brunch, slurp up steaming Japanese ramen for lunch, enjoy a Spanish inspired feast in the eve and down a spicy Trinidadian roti at 2am.

Carmen Toronto is the best Spanish restaurant on Queen West.
Carmen Toronto is the best Spanish restaurant on Queen West.

Step Inside Carmen Toronto

Carmen Toronto is located in the former Caju space on Queen Street West. It is the culinary project of Chef Luis Valenzuela and Veronica Laudes, who also run Torito Tapas Bar in Kensington Market.

Think of Carmen as Torito’s older sister, a bit more refined, elegant and feminine. The duo have created an elegant space that features a petite bar, which Valenzuela mentions is a perfect spot to grab a cocktail and share a few tapas.

The restaurant’s dinning room is outfitted with intimate u-shaped booths and family style feasting tables. The walls are decked out in warm woods and cool stone finishes. Carmen Toronto’s most memorable interior design elements are the black and white oversized flamenco photos and Royal Doulton figurines.

In the warmer months a bustling patio out back offers the perfect place to sip through a jug, or two of Sangria.

Craft cocktails at Carmen Toronto's bar.
Craft cocktails at Carmen Toronto’s bar.

The Bar at Carmen Toronto

The majority of Carmen restaurants wine list is procured from wineries in Spain (with a bottle of two from Argentina). The restaurant’s bar also offers craft cocktails and Spanish beer. Start your visit by hopping up on a stool at the bar while nibbling on Spanish olives before relaxing for a fine feat in the restaurants intimate dining room. 

Codorniz con Datiles y Olivas at Carmen Toronto.
Codorniz con Datiles y Olivas at Carmen Toronto.

Carmen Toronto Menu

The menu at Carmen Toronto is short and sweet, featuring a list of traditional tapas (patatas bravas, fried artichokes, shishito peppers) and modern marvels like petite pureed avocado wrapped in jicama, quail with dates and the restaurants signature dish, a tower of crispy fried green tomatoes, perfectly paired with crumbling feta, sweet roasted red peppers and corn chutney.

Once your eyes have dropped to the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of paellas which are served at the table with a large wooden spoon, perfect for sharing with your plus one.

As the meal comes to a close you’ll undoubtably find yourselves enthusiastically wishing you were dining in the summers sun along the Costa Brava. But you’ll soon realize Carmen’s perch on Queen West, a stones throw from Trinity Bellwoods may just be the next best thing.

Carmen Toronto: Tapas Tradicionales

  • Fideos y Conejo: angel hair pasta, rabbit, confit, aioli
  • Pulpo: braised octopus with spicy tiger’s milk
  • Coliflor con Uvas: cauliflower, roasted grapes, pomegranate, hummus
  • Ensalada de Habas: watercress, fava beans, english peas, radishes
  • Mejillones en su Jugo: steamed shelled mussels a la vinaigrette
  • Date Pintxos: bacon wrapped dates with manchego cheese and almonds
  • Pa SMB Tomaquet: forno cultura bread, fresh tomato spread, manchego cheese
  • Jamon Serrano con Papel de Frutas: traditional spanish ham with fruit leather
  • Pimientos de Padron con Salasa de Tomate: shishito peppers, tomato sauce
  • Alcachofas Fritas: fried artichokes, maldon salt, aioli, lemon
  • Patatas Bravas: roasted potatoes, brava sauce, aoili
  • Aceitunas y Almendras: marinated olives, roasted salted almonds
A tower of breaded green tomatoes with feta, roasted red peppers and corn chutney.
A tower of breaded green tomatoes with feta, roasted red peppers and corn chutney.

Tapas De Carmen

  • Lucio en Salsa Verde: pickerel with clams and parsley with butter sauce
  • Lentejas con Lengua: braised tongue with lentils, bacon and plantain
  • Esquites de Maiz: roasted corn and peppers with cotija cheese
  • Sardinas: sardines al escabeche with roasted tomatoes, capers and olives
  • Ensalada Verde: carmen’s dressing with manchego and croutons
  • Ceviche de Atun: tuna with orange and agave glaze
  • Ceviche de Trucha: seared trout with aji tiger’s milk
  • Gambas al Ajillo “Estilo Carmen”: grilled shrimp, garlic, serrano chili oil
  • Jicama con Aguacate: avocado puree, corn crisps, pico de gallo, jicama wrap
  • Tomato Verde Frito Con Queso Feta: breaded green tomatoes, feta, roasted red peppers, corn chutney
  • Lomo Adobado con Pimento de Piquillo: marinated pork tenderloin with piquillo jam and manchego cheese
Shrimp, clams, mussels, chorizo, chicken and saffron in Carmen Toronto's signature paella.
Shrimp, clams, mussels, chorizo, chicken and saffron in Carmen Toronto’s signature paella.

Paella at Carmen Toronto

  • Paella de Conejo: 1/2 confit rabbit wit sous vide snails
  • Paella Negra: whole roasted Mediterranean bass with grilled octopus
  • Paella Italiana: farrow, roasted wild mushrooms, manchego cheese
  • Paella del Carmen: shrimp, clams, mussels, chorizo, chicken and saffron

Interested In Eating Your Way Through Spain?

Carne y Camote steak with sweet potato puree and mushrooms.
Carne y Camote steak with sweet potato puree and mushrooms at Carmen Toronto.

Carmen Toronto Hours

Everyday: 5:30-11pm

Carmen Toronto Reservations

922 Queen Street West, 416-535-0404

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