Rebozos Mexican Restaurant
First off before the review.. We're back! After being AWOL for too long, we're back with a highly anticipated review... hello? hello? ahh, who are we kidding! Hopefully a rediscovered love of writing will keep this blog up to date and continue to spread the love of good food and good eating in Toronto. Now onto the adventure..
Rebozos Mexican Restaurant
Date: July 5th, 2008
What's on the menu: Mexican
Drinks: Mexican sodas, water, pop.. no alcohol
Atmosphere: Down home casual
Cost: anywhere from $5-25 per person
After doing some extensive research for an upcoming trip to California and coupled with my own taco hunting in Toronto, I've coined myself somewhat of an expert on tacos. Well not really, but you know when you've read about something so much you start to believe you know everything about it? That's how I feel about tacos. I even have the ordering down pat... "Tres tacos por favor... asada, carnitas, al pastor".
Having already been underwhelmed by a previous taco hunt (taco hunt adventure) we know we're in for an uphill battle to find that exclusive Mexican taqueria that can be rivaled with the many fine establishments in the southwestern states. And after reading many positive reviews on Rebozos we knew there could be hope.
Rebozos, located in a mostly residential neighbourhood just west of Dufferin and Rogers Road, is a very small Mexican restaurant that prides itself on bringing a taste of Mexico City north of not 1, but 2 borders. Ironically, Rebozos is just a stone's throw away from Toronto's smallest home (link).
Inside is a no frills, down home casual taqueria, Sunday finest not required. There are maybe 4-5 red and white checkered tables here, so grab what's available. A cheerful waitress brings us our menus as we take in the surroundings. Near the front of the restaurant is a LCD TV that is tuned into what looks like Telemundo. A table away two friends quietly chat while waiting on their food. The coziness of the restaurant makes as feel as though we're guests in someones home and truthfully we probably are.
The menu items are just what we're looking for... sopes, tostadas, quesadillas and of course tacos. A selection of meats by the kilogram are also available, carnitas (their specialty) and Barbacoa de Borrego (barbequed lamb, possibly mutton.. weekends only). Interesting items on the menu not typically seen in Toronto include pozole (stew of hominy and pork), tortas (Mexican sandwich) and a tres leche cake (3 milk cake, proclaimed "Our Proud..."). There is also an "Especial" whiteboard listing daily specials. It takes us a few minutes to absorb the choices, but we finally put in an order hoping to get the best Rebozos has to offer.
Not long after our food arrives. Our eyes and mouths widen as almost everything is brought out at once. First up are the chicken sope and chorizo tostada. There's no real difference between the two, both are topped with frijoles refritos, lettuce and sour cream. The real decision comes with do you like a soft (sope) or crunchy (tostada) crust? Words of wisdom... when in doubt go crunchy, if all else fails crunchiness adds texture to a dish that lacks flavour. Sadly, that is the case here... the saving grace is a good salsa roja with some heat (Side note: go easy on the salsas, extra is charged $1 per bowl). A plain quesadilla is also ordered. It's refreshing to know that no yellow cheese is used, but it's missing something salty. Next time we'll add chicken.
Now for the real test, the tacos (various $2-2.50 each). We ordered three types, carnitas, lengua and al pastor (one of the specials of the day). All tacos are served on fresh homemade corn tortillas that are fragrant and taste like corn (smell your hands afterwards) and topped with onions, fresh cilantro and a couple of lime wedges on the side. The carnitas (braised pork), while juicy didn't have the caramelized crispness to it typically what you get by broiling it in the oven just before serving. Lengua (beef tongue) is slow cooked tender and moist, but lacks seasoning. Best of the three by far is the al pastor, lots of salty goodness with the right amount of grease and slightly burnt crisp from the trompo grilling. These should be on the menu everyday. Our only suggestion for Rebozos... give the tacos the cilantro and lime they deserve. No more skimpy portions of these taco enhancers! (extra limes can be bought, 50 cents each. Not terrible considering the costs these days)
Normally we would have been satisfied with what we had ordered to this point, but as always curiosity got the best of us, so we had to order the pozole. We're served 2 bowls of this tender pork and whole kernel hominy stew. Garnished with oregano, red pepper flakes, a little lime squeeze and topped with a baked crisp tortilla. This was a tasty flavourful soup, certainly would be excellent on a cold day. What's not to like about it? Price! It's 8 bucks that's better used towards some more al pastor tacos.
At his point we know we've overindulged and bordering "stuffed", but how can we not try their proud, tres leches cakes. We already drove quite a distance to get to Rebozos and simply could not leave this out. Now in dessert-land (yes it exists) there are two types of cake sweetness: the mild kind you get in a cheesecake that is further mellowed with fruit adding a tartness to it, then there's the chocolate cake types where it's very sweet, but also very rich in taste and smell from the bitterness of the chocolate. Tres leches cake is probably about 5 times up the sweetness scale. This dish is best paired with a double-shot of your darkest espresso. Other than it being extremely sweet, the cake is very moist (wet) from the drenching it gets from the three types of milk. We're reserving judgement on whether it was a good cake or not since this was our first time trying it. Interestingly enough perhaps it was our unaccustomed palates not attuned to this popular Latin American dessert, everyone we saw at Rebozos ordered it. (and the other was the milanesa torta!)
Oh, before I forget, Jarritos, the popular Mexican soda brand, is very good. Rebozos has about 6 flavours. We tried grapefruit and apple (although I don't think apple soda is a Jarrito offering). It's not overly sweet, a little less carbonated and naturally flavoured.
So how does Rebozos stack up by North American standards? A resounding "ok..not bad". We're not talking "lonchera truck" prices either (just over 40 for the two of us), but in a city like Toronto, starved of good taquerias, Rebozos is up there with the best of them... certainly their al pastor is the best we've had in the city. A revolving tacos list including birria, cabeza, al pastor, suadero keeps things interesting (One glaring taco filling missing is carne asada, not sure if it's part of the rotation). Whether it's worth a special trip for most in the core and outlying burbs and boroughs I'd say no, but on the days where the taco craze overcomes you, much like this day did... Rebozos is worth it. Just opt for a takeout trio of tacos or perhaps what looks like a great torta.
Rebozos Mexican Restaurant is located at 126 Rogers Road
**Another little side note, CFO thinks the ratings have been too generous, so I've toughened myself up and made the drool scale a little more demanding**