At the start of March the chef and co-founder behind the Toronto-based Mexican restaurant Milagro opened a street-food style restaurant in Kensington Market called Torteria San Cosme. The restaurant opened the first week in March and Cynthia and I attempted to go on the Friday night and try some tortas but alas, they had sold out and were closed for the evening. Don’t worry! Cynthia and I headed around the corner to Dirty Bird.
It should be mentioned that as a general rule of thumb, I hate Kensington Market. I know, I know. As someone who loves Toronto and loves food, it should be my Mecca. But I hate it. The majority of my exposure to Kensington is from weekends when I would go downtown with GC and then he would head to work and I would wander through the city. Kensington on the weekends, especially pedestrian Sundays is *cringe* a nightmare. There are too many people who overrun the small sidewalks that are already crowded with stalls and bins of cheap sunglasses, smelly fish and nuts. But I do have my favourites. I love Blue Banana, Kid Icarus, Sanagan’s Meat Locker, Pizzeria Via Mercanti and of course, Toronto Popcorn Company. And no, I haven’t tried Seven Lives. Yet.
Despite my hate for Kensington, I ventured there twice in the span of two days – shocking I know. GC and I ventured down the next afternoon to try some sandwiches. When we arrived at the restaurant, it was still closed. There was a sign on the door advising that the restaurant would be opening slightly later than advertised and there was a queue of about 20 people waiting eagerly for sandwiches. The door was opened about 5 minutes after the new time but we rushed in.
The restaurant is situated on the corner of Baldwin and Kensington and the two exterior walls facing the streets are large, airy windows. Sunlight streams in from the street and highlights the gorgeous tiles that covers the walls and floors. A large, narrow, open concept kitchen is the focal point of the restaurant with a bar giving seating overlooking this kitchen. There is not a ton of seating in the restaurant, we were perched at a chair-rail like bar in a corner behind the entrance.
I ordered the Cubana sandwich.
This is my favourite Cubana sandwich I have tried, and may even well be my favourite sandwich I have ever eaten. The bun (from Blackbird Baking Co. across the street – another Kensington favourite of mine) was substantial and didn’t crumble under all the beautiful meat and other toppings but also was chewy, soft and moist. I didn’t have to force the sandwich into the back of my mouth and rip with my stronger, more prehistoric-like molars.
The smoked ham was a slice of Easter dinner on a bun. It was thick, juicy and fatty. I loved that it was actually a piece of ham clearly cut from a hock rather than deli meat.The adobo pork was spicy and complimented the richness of the ham. And if two types of pork were not enough for you, there is bacon on this sandwich. The bacon is crispy and salty, making it not just a third type of pork but a third, and completely different flavor and texture profile highlighting how versatile pork is.
The condiments added a balance of tartness from the mustard and sweetness from the tomato and the avocado. The cheese melted over the meat and was smoky and cheesy yumminess.
GC ordered the Milanesa sandwich.
If there is one thing you need to know about GC it is that he loves a a good sandwich, and especially a fried chicken sandwich. While I preferred my Cubana to his Milanesa, this sandwich was exactly what he was looking for. The chicken was crispy and well battered; the batter didn’t peel off the chicken with every bite. It was spicy, crunchy and cheesy.
We thoroughly enjoyed our sandwiches and we can’t wait to go back. This summer will be filled with visits to Kensington Market, picking up take-out from San Cosme and drinking covert beers in parks. It’s going to be an amazing summer.
A new burger joint called Burgernator opened up in Kensington Market, replacing the old Big Chubby Burger. We haven’t yet been burgers but we went for a little preview by trying their sweet potato fries and onion rings.
I wasn’t crazy about the onion rings but the sweet potato fries were delicious. They were crispy, sweet and tender in the middle. If the sides are any indication of how good the burgers are going to be, omigosh I can’t wait!
A couple of weeks ago, GC and I were looking for a quick bite to eat in Kensington Market and strangely enough, this was not as easy as it would seem/should be. Our first attempt was The Grilled Cheese and I’m pretty convinced I am destined to NOT eat here. We were told it would take 25 minutes for us to get our sandwiches. Why? In what world should it take 25 minutes to make a grilled cheese sandwich, especially when that is pretty much all your restaurant makes? Hipster fail. I think this is just another reason why my heart still belongs to Cheesewerks.
After our first failed attempt to satisfy our hungry, we wandered into a few more restaurants and still no luck. Hungry, cranky and pressed for time, GC suggested we go to Jumbo Empanadas.
For those who don’t know, an empanada is stuffed bread/dough that is fried and is common in Latin American cultures. Jumbo Empanada draws on inspiration of Latin culture in Texas and the decor has a southwest feel to it.
The menu is pretty straight forward but a little daunting if you don’t know anything about empanadas. We should have asked for a suggestion/what the best selling item on the menu is – next time we will do this. This is a good tip for any restaurant you go to where the menu is large and you are overwhelmed with options. You will get the best and most popular item as a suggestion and insight into the restaurant and it’s staff.
We opted to each get a chicken empanada – the empanadas are made in the morning and then warmed to order. You can get your empanadas to stay or to go or to eat on their patio.
Here is the inside of my empanada. Shredded chicken, herbs, spices, peppers and a hard boiled egg. The salsa added the perfect amount of heat and complimented all the ingredients. The egg kind of threw me off at first but it was cooked perfectly so there was no grey around the yolk and the yolk was soft and creamy.
These look huge but I think I could have eaten two but maybe I’m just a glutton. Despite its size, the empanada was light and didn’t leave you feeling like you had a rock in your stomach.
I want to go back in the summer and sit on the patio and make the people walking by jealous of my delicious food. If you are in Kensington Market and need a quick bite to eat, this is the place, and would be even if there was a plethora of options.