The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. In a city like Toronto, the choices are sometimes daunting and the food reviews and critics can be snotty and too complicated for their own good. So why not keep this easy? Drinks. Appetizer. Main Course. Dessert. All along with a bit of information about what makes them my choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
Los Colibris, 220 King Street West (416)-979-7717
For those of you who remember, I recently told you how “Toronto is spicing it up with Los Colibris.” Last night I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend a special tasting of the menu to showcase what Los Colibris is all about and how they are truly making their impact on the Toronto food culture. Now, I’ll be honest with you in the fact that media tastings have been know to scare me in the past. Albeit a night of delicious food and beverages accompanied by the best of company, they aren’t always truly reflective of the restaurant itself. Think of it in the way that you tidy up the house before your guests come over. It’s still your house, but just a little nicer then it normally is when it’s just you. I won’t name names, but needless to say I always mull over media dinners before I tell you about them.
This, my darling, was certainly not the case. From start to finish, I wholeheartedly believe that I was given an authentic impression of the staff and menu at Los Colibris. Located in the always buzzing entertainment district of King Street West amid Restaurant Row and the always busy theatres, Los Colibris is a great addition to the neighbourhood and city.
Described as authentic Mexican Cuisine, what many people don’t realize is that there are many different facets of Mexican cuisine depending upon where you are from in Mexico. For example, southern Mexican cuisine is known for it’s spicy food and rich flavours, while the North is more subdued and refreshing. The most important thing to remember when exploring Mexican cuisine is that it is NOT Tex-Mex. You will most likely insult a chef at an authentic restaurant if you ask them where the nachos and fajitas are on their menu.
The decor of the restaurant itself in my opinion is beautiful. Elegant, with rich tones of red contrasted with white. You immediately feel a sense of comfort and intimacy when you walk in the doors considering how big the space truly is. With two private dinning room options (one of which overlooks King St and would be PERFECT for people watching!) and a beautiful bar / lounge, the space itself truly is stunning. Warm and inviting, the space is designed to be an upscale Mexican restaurant that best embodies the menu, cocktails and amazing staff.
The menu has been created by Chef Elia Herrera, with some recipes on the menu being third generation and passed down through her family. You can genuinely get a sense of the passion that this talented Chef has for what she does. Speaking to the areas of Mexico and their varying influences, this Polanco-style restaurant embodies the food of Puebla (located South East of Mexico City) here in Canada. Quite mild in its flavours, VisitMexico.com explains it best when they wrote the following:
“what makes this beautiful city most proud is its food, one of the most emblematic and delicious in Mexico. Known as the world’s mole, chiles en nogada and chalupas capital, Puebla takes us close to paradise with deserts that can only be attributed to a heavenly creativity: sweet potatoes, the Santa Clara cakes, and the pecan and pine nut fudge are just the beginning of a long listing that could very well be accompanied with chubby cherubs’ faces.”
The food itself at Los Colibris is mildly spiced, and offers a wonderful representation of Puebla inspired dishes. Chef Elia herself (originally from Veracruz, Mexico) helps to bring authentic Mexican cuisine in an approachable way to the neighbourhood and the city. Toronto foodies and tourists alike sometimes shy away from from South American and Latino food because of a fear of spice and strong flavours. I would go so far as to say this is a great introduction to the world of Mexican Cuisine if you are hesitant.
I am always honest with you because I believe it is important to be as both a food lover and as a blogger. Is it the best Mexican cuisine I have ever eaten? No. But it is a beautiful space with a great menu that offers options for someone looking for authentic Mexican cuisine in the city of Toronto. That being said, I am also the kind of person who loves the little hole in the wall and extremely unique food experiences that most people might shy away from. Los Colibris is a crowd pleaser, of that I can assure you. I know that if you are looking for an option on King Street West (be it before a show at the theatres next door or night out) that this is a great option for you and you absolutely should try it.
Last point is that the following menu items were served in smaller portions then you will find on the traditional menu during regular service. A media tasting is meant to give a sense of the food but allow you to try many items all at once. That being said, the sizes and presentation of the dishes may differ from when you order them upon your next visit. I will tell you of their flavours and what makes them my favourite for each respective category, but please ask your server about portions. I have said it before and I will say it again, but your server is your guide to your dinning experience. Trust them.
All that being said, let’s get chatting about food!
For the duration of my evening I drank beautiful Malbec wine to accompany my Mexican Cuisine adventure. Although my default will always be to turn to the wine list and pairings for my personal dining experiences, some people aren’t wine fans. A shame for them since the Malbec ‘Estate’ Humberto Canale from Patagonia Argentina is a great accompaniment to the menu.
Should you be in the mood for a fun cocktail instead, of the menu options available to you I would recommend The Zona Rosa for its classic Mexican inspiration to match the menu and decor. Although I may not always have matching clothes, I like to believe I can pair drinks and food together after ten years of working in the service industry in my younger years. Combining together flavours of Hibiscus, Tromba Blanco, flor de jamaica (a hibiscus steeped tea), Basil & Mint… all ideal flavours for a refreshing cocktail with quite a kick. Let’s be honest with one another. Mexican cocktails are known to be strong and delicious, and this one is the perfect option in my opinion.
Since the majority of the menu, as mentioned, was served in smaller portions it was kind of like I was eating a lot of little appetizers. Of the dishes I had tried though, the one that stands out the most to me to begin a delicious meal at Los Colibris would have to be the Camarones a la Diabla. Now I may not be able to say this as beautifully as Julio in Spanish, I certainly can tell you about how it tastes and why it is my favourite. Grilled shrimp are adorned with an arbol guajillo adobo which is both sweet and slightly spicy. Plated atop a sweet corn purée, and complimented with fresh avocado, this dish is refreshing.
The char on the shrimp plays with the sweetness of the corn and truly reminds me of authentic Mexican street food. Now, don’t be alarmed. That is in fact the highest compliment I can pay to the dish. I personally love to start my meal with something refreshing and seafood based when possible and this dish is all of those things and more.
When I think of Mexican main dishes I usually immediately associate them with rice and beans. Although both items are staples in the Latin American communities, it doesn’t always have to be present to make a good dish. Of the choices available for main courses on the menu, my favourite from the evening would be the Cerdo en Mancha Mantel. Confit pork belly in a traditional adobo sauce served atop a black bean tamal with pineapple salsa.
Now, my one issue with this dish is the strange addition of broccoli on the plate. Although it’s one of my favourite vegetables ever, I just don’t feel like it fits with the dish at all. The flavours of this dish itself are once again layers of earthiness and sweet. The confit pork adds just the right amount of saltiness to the dish and makes for one decadent Mexican delicacy.
Immediately you might assume I would tell you about a Churro wouldn’t you? Although this South American inspired dessert is one of my personal favourites, I actually would steer you towards the Mini Ice Cream Cones to finish off your meal. After a meal with such varying flavours and inspirations, the idea behind this choice is to refresh your palette with just the right amount of sweet.
Served with Guava & Sour Sop (the fruit of Annona muricata) ice cream, this combination of sweet and sour is pretty much perfect. Small enough that you won’t feel glutinous, but enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, this dessert honestly made me smile. Pair it with a strong aperitif for a fun ending to a fun night at Los Colibris.
Secret You Should Know:
I always love coming up and finding out fun facts that no one else knows. And I especially love when I hear back from you about interacting in some way with that fact. Plus, I don’t know about you, but its the little quirky things in life that make it kind of special after all. My Do The Daniel secret you should know about Los Colibris has to do with the art which I fell in love with.
The 8 portraits hanging on the walls throughout the Los Colibris space are in fact close ups taken from larger works by Diego Rivera. For those of you who don’t know, Diego was husband to THE Frida Kahlo. Known also by his full name, Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez (yup. thats his WHOLE name.) was an inspiration in the Mexican & International art world. His relationship with Frida was not only tumultuous but also inspired many of their works respectively. His passion for his craft is the perfect accompaniment to the space and ideal behind Los Colibris. If not for the delicious food and cocktails, you must visit to see all 8 of these beautiful pieces!
Make sure to follow @LosColibris220 on Twitter & Instagram to get your mouth watering with their creative food & cocktails. Make sure to use the #LosColibris hashtag to join in on the social media conversation during your next visit and tag @DoTheDaniel to bring me along with you!
For more behind the scenes of this and other Daniel’s Dish visits, follow my Instagram!
Please remember to enjoy responsibly and never drink and drive.
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