In the Distillery District of Toronto, there’s a Mexican restaurant called El Catrin Destileria. The décor is pretty unique. They have colourful skulls everywhere, a rustic looking wall-sized wooden shelf filled with all sorts of alcohol bottles and mad scientist-like lighting fixtures.
When we arrived, we were seated at our table and served water promptly. Clearly, the name of the company is branded everywhere:
The waitress suggested sharing plates so that everyone gets to try a variety of dishes, so we ordered several things for the table. We started off with a round of chips and guacamole:
The waiter brought it to the table in a stone mortar (with avocados halves and spices still whole) and mashed up the ingredients together in front of us with a pestle. I guess to show us the freshness? I don’t think you can ever go wrong with guacamole, so suffice it to say it was deliciously appetizing. Next on the menu – mini pollo burritos:
They weren’t joking when they said mini. Each burrito was the size of a spring roll. There were some pickled beets garnished on top with white swirls of sour cream under it. It was a simple burrito filled with chicken (aka “pollo”) and lots of beans, toasted so that the tortilla wrap was crispy. Next in line was the gobernador:
This dish consists of three soft-shelled tacos that were filled with creamy chipotle aioli, shrimp, lobster, and of course, black beans. This was by far the best dish of the night. It was a good blend of meats and spices and had a bit of a kick to it. It’s very messy to eat, so don’t forget to cover yourself with a napkin! The sauce tends to drizzle out when you bite into this delicious finger food.
The last dish was the ceviche classico:
Sadly, it was also the most disappointing dish. This ceviche came with a side of tortilla chips and a small cup of fishy bass, cucumbers galore, red onion slivers, cilantro, and chile serrano. For those that don’t know what a ceviche is, it’s a dish of raw ingredients “cooked” with something acidic – in this case lime. Not only was it tiny, it was filled with so many cubes of cucumber that I felt like that was all I was eating. I’ve had ceviche before and this was definitely not a good one. I wouldn’t recommend ordering this off the menu.
Overall, the service at El Catrin was good and I liked the edgy look of the restaurant. The food was good, but it’s pretty expensive given that the portions are so small. If they served full sized meals, the price would be more reasonable. I guess they were aiming for a tapas-like restaurant. If I ever go back, I would definitely avoid that ceviche though!
18 Tank House Lane
Toronto, Ontario M5A 3C4