With the humidex bumping temperatures up to a cool 48°C, this might not have been the best day to venture outside for eats. But I left my air-conditioned sanctuary and braved the hot winds to see what this La Carnita pop-up taco shop was all about. When I saw the lengthy line of sweaty people snaking out the door and onto the sidewalk only 15 minutes after opening, I almost bailed. Could I really persevere against the heat?
When the people who arrived nano-seconds after me were told by the line-herder that it was quite possible they would get nothing, I had second (third, and fourth) thoughts about keeping my place in line. I decided to loiter a bit to see what would happen and was rewarded 15 minutes later with the news that we would mostly likely get tacos, but they were out of prints. Works for me.
Some time later, I was more than thankful to make it into the slightly cooler clime of the stairwell. Patiently, and slowly, I made my way up to the offices of OneMethod Digital and Design. Apparently the owner, along with his VP and the design director, are the instigators of this crazy-successful pop-up. And really, I love it when smart design kids get involved with things – it just makes the whole experience so much more cohesive – from the food, to the look, to getting the word out there – you get the whole package.
At the 35-minute mark, I finally made it to the office threshold. There, they took my $10 bill in exchange for a snazzy limited-edition print (to be picked-up at a later date) and eventually, a loot-bag of tacos. Checking out the art made me want to unearth my markers and draw some foodie fan-art of Meathead, their mascot.
I was thankful for the line-herders that kept me updated on the likelihood of tacos – it’s always nice to know where you stand. And finally, nearly an hour later, I stood at the taco station where guest-chef Scott Vivian of Beast Restaurant was busy assembling away with what little garnishes that remained.
Officially, the tacos on offer were achiote-marinated chicken (with salsa verde and zucchini ribbons), beef cheek (with bone marrow, blueberries, and a garlic scape & pumpkin seed pesto), and Mexican chorizo (with mango salsa, avocado, cilantro, and queso fresco). Clearly some bits were missing as the mise in front of Chef Vivian was pretty cleaned-out.
Both the chorizo and beef cheek were really tasty. Especially the beef cheek. With hits of sweet from the blueberry and the really rich flavour of the beef (due to the marrow, I assume), this seemed to be everyone’s favourite.
Line-up plus heat-wave isn’t the best combo, but over 150 people endured the humidity to see if La Carnita was worth waiting for. Had I known it would take me an hour, I would have planned to return – really early – another day. But less-than-ideal weather conditions aside, it was fun to see other like-minded eaters about. Lots of familiar foodies were about – including Hassel Aviles (Toronto Underground Market) and Suresh Doss (Food Truck Eats).
If you’re thinking of making a visit, don’t show up to OneMethod’s offices all willy-nilly. To find out when the next pop-up sets-up, you’ll have to follow La Carinta’s twitter feed. And show up early!
- La Carnita, a pop-up at 445 King Street West, Toronto