Hogtown Eats

4 different deep-fried tacos @ La Carnita

Dude, you KNOW I’d eat anything deep fried, bro! I mean, you could deep-fry a flip-flop, and it would still taste good!!! So we’re hanging out at La Carnita, this funky taco joint on John St, just a few steps from Hooters, where they’re putting not one, not two, not three, but four different fried things in tacos — so you KNOW I had to come check it out!!!

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So, we’re starting off with In Cod We Trust, their twisted take on a fish taco. You’ve got crispy cod, topped with pickled cabbage, cilantro, and Voltron sauce, which is like Donkey Sauce Gone Wild, bro!!!!

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Next up is El Pollo Frito, a fried chicken taco topped with onions, tomato and enough cabbage to choke a chicken… Sadly, the bird isn’t the star of the show here.

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Now, we’ve got the Baja Shrimp taco, which has the right fried stuff to non-fried stuff ratio with just a bit of lettuce, pickled turnip and some garlic mayo, for that extra kick.

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But we’re saving the most funkalicious for last with this sweet potato. You’ve got a whole garden in here with deep-fried sweet potaters, topped with black beans, lettuce, corn and jalapenos, and just oozing with crema. This has gotta be the best vegan thing I ate all week, bro!!!!!!

Mexican Burger @ a German-themed college bar?

So, we’re hanging out at Ein-Stein Bierhalle, this funky basement dive bar on College, right across the street from U of T. This joint has been slinging drinks and serving up pub grub since 1996…but I’d never been here before. Hey, I didn’t go to to the University of Toronto — I graduated Fieri Cum Donkeysauce from Flavourtown Culinary Academy, bro!!!

Now, this place has got all the classics like piled high burgers, 10 kinds of wings, and 7 different poutines. I kinda wanted to try the Hangover Poutine, but since I’m not even drunk yet, I went with the Mexican Burger:

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OK, now let’s break it down. You’ve got your traditional burger toppings like lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles, but they also smother it with cheddar cheese, salsa, and pile on a whole buncha holla-atcha-penos (which actually cost extra, for some reason). So really, this burger is about as Mexican as this place is German…although they do keep Warsteiner and Weihenstephaner in the fridge.

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Of course, I couldn’t go to a funky joint with 7 different poutines and order a side salad, son! These chili cheese fries hit the spot with a nice balance between beans, beef and cheese — but even on their own, the fries would be pretty good. Now, if you could get ’em with sausage and a fried egg on top, that would be Hangover Poutine Gone Wild in Flavourtown!!!!

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I gotta give ’em credit for having a pretty decent craft beer selection, too. Instead of one of the German beers, I went with this Love Potion Number Nein, a Side Launch Hibiscus Sour. I had literally never seen this beer before, bro! But if you like ’em sour, tart ‘n fruity, then this is your jam!!!

French food meets deep-fried diner classics @ Le Swan

Now, I dunno if they actually have diners in France. I mean, they’re all about the discotheque and the bibliothèque over there, with maybe a baguette or two for déjeuner. But when I heard about Le Swan, this funky joint on Queen West that calls itself a French diner, you KNOW I had to come check it out! And with half the menu in French and the other half in American, I was soooo down for this culinary exchange in Flavourtown!!!

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So, we’re starting off with a culinary classic from across the pond: French onion soup. Only, they do theirs a little bit different — instead of croutons, they bake the cheese onto three crispy baguettes, which are hard ‘n crusty at first, but get softer after you dump ’em in the soup. So it might not be what you’d find at, say, Le Sélect Bistro, but it’s still pretty tasty!

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But now it’s time for the main event — real-deal, southern-style chicken fried steak. Dude, I think the last time I had this dish was in Seattle, at a dingy dive that was even darker than Le Swan…which means I didn’t take any pictures. But the flavours here were definitely on point. Nice, crispy breading, with a bit of a peppery kick, on top of a bed of mashed potatoes and a gravy that really brings everything together. Now, if only they’d put, like, some raclette on top, that would really take it to the next level…

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Speaking of next-level, their rum chocolate malt really kicks things up a notch! This boozy Fudgesicle in Flavourtown takes the rich, chocolatey goodness of an old-school diner shake, and adds a nice kick of rum. This ain’t your grandmama’s milkshake, son!!!!

Chopping a 40 oz tomahawk @ Casa Fuego

Now, I’ve had all kinds of crazy steaks before, but one cut I’ve never tried is the tomahawk. This hunka-hunka burning meat is cooked caveman style with a big ol’ dino bone…and they’re killing it and grilling it at Casa Fuego, this funky South American steakhouse right beneath the Copacabana on Adelaide.

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Meat is done to perfection, a nice medium rare, cooked for an hour over an open flame. Goes well with some mushrooms and hot potatoes — the perfect family feast. And while I did not tackle this bad boy by myself, you know I went to town on that bone, bro!!!

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Let’s just say there was nothing left by the time I finished!!!

Pounding two pounds of mussels @ Midi Bistro, bro!

Now, I don’t always eat mussels, but when I do, it’s go big or go home. Whether it’s as a starter, a main meal or part of a massive feast, I can swallow several of these slippery suckers any day of the week! So, we’re hanging out at Midi Bistro, this funky little French joint about a block north of Dundas, where they’re serving up a redonkulous 12 different kinds of mussels to choose from. While you can get a pound of these bad boys for 17 bucks, you can add a second pound for just seven dollars more. That’s like a double dog discount in Flavourtown!!!!

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I ordered mine Quebec style, which means they’re served with goat cheese, shallots, parsley and a Blanche de Chambly beer broth. That broth goes great with bread, bro! You don’t really taste the booze, but the mussels are cooked perfectly, not too firm or too chewy. Comes with a side of fries, which were a lot like McDonald’s, except maybe not as salty. And when you order two pounds, the mussel-to-fry ratio is about three-to-one — I actually needed a refill on the fry front!

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Now, even if they didn’t really have that wheat-beer flavour, I still wasn’t gonna wash down these mussels with more Blanche de Chambly. (They have it in bottles, but not on tap.) Instead I went with a Granville Island Pale Ale, which was neither pale, nor particularly hoppy. It tasted more like a milder red ale…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Riding these Cowboy Beef Short Ribs @ Smoque N’ Bones

Dude, this is body by beef ribs! I once ate beef ribs at Beach Hill Smokehouse AND Adamson Barbecue in the same weekend, and even polished one off with a side of Kitchen Sink Fries. But when I heard that Smoque N’ Bones, this funky little BBQ joint on Queen St, was serving up two Cowboy Beef Short Ribs for 48 bucks, you KNOW I was gonna ride that bucking bronco, bro!!!!!

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OK, now let’s break it down. These big, beefy beauties were pull-apart tender, slathered in a tangy sauce — but not too much sauce, hoss! They did give you more sauce on the side, though… Oh, and speaking of sides, their potato salad was so outta bounds, you gotta shut the back door AND buy a ticket!!!!

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Now, that’s not a spiky, bleach-blond hairdo on top of those taters — those are Hickory Sticks, the best chips ever!!! This secret ingredient adds a little crunch to this double-barrelled potato attack…and they’ve even got some pulled pork in there, too!

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Because you KNOW I’m not gonna walk into a funky joint like Smoque N’ Bones and order a Budweiser…this here’s some Truth Serum, a nice, hoppy IPA from Rorschach Brewing. Not too bitter, with a hit of sweetness, and not one, not two, but three kinds of hops, this brew will have you pass a lie detector with flying colours, son!!!!!!

Slaying a sausage & rapini sammy @ La Vecchia

Now, I’m not just about burgers — any solid sammy definitely works for me. So, we’re hanging out at La Vecchia, this funky little Italian joint on Yonge St, just a couple blocks north of Eglinton, where they bake their own focaccia daily, and they’re filling it with all kinds of good stuff, like Italian sausage, rapini, sweet peppers and mushrooms:

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OK, now let’s break it down. I thought I’d be getting some thicker slices of focaccia here, but this bread is much more crushable. The bread is warm and crusty, you’ve got nice meaty bites of sausage, some crunch from the rapini, a hit of sweetness from the peppers.  This sandwich is so outta bounds, it ended up on the opposite bocce court, bro!!!!!!

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