Great Tex-Mex Tacos at Hotmess Tex Mex

Hotmess Tex MexLocation: 615 College Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.hotmesstexmex.com/

Hotmess was selling tacos at the recent Taste of Little Italy festival; having heard nothing but good things about their Tex-Mex grub, tying it out was a no-brainer.

They were doing beef, chicken, and corn tacos; I went with beef.  It was quite good.

It’s very simple: spiced beef, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese served in a hard shell tortilla.

Hotmess Tex Mex

It’s basically Taco Bell if Taco Bell were really, really good.

The beef was nicely spiced, and unlike Taco Bell, it actually has the taste and texture of beef.  How about that!  The lettuce and tomato are fresh and crunchy, and the cheese adds a nice salty bite.

The shell is probably the highlight, oddly enough.  It’s obviously freshly fried, and it’s glorious — the level of crunch is profound.  It’s ridiculously satisfying.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim HortonsLocation: 2960 South Sheridan Way, Oakville
Website: https://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/index.php

The fake meat gold rush continues; I think it’s safe to say that, before long, all of the fast food chains will have imitation meats from places like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods on their menus.

Tim Hortons is the latest, with three new breakfast sandwiches featuring sausage that looks and tastes like sausage — but isn’t.

I tried the Beyond Meat burger from A&W last summer, and I thought it vaguely approximated real meat, but wasn’t going to fool anyone.

The Beyond Sausage at Tim Hortons is much more convincing.

I got the Egg and Cheese, which features a Beyond Sausage patty, an omelette patty, and processed cheese on an English muffin.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

The sausage certainly isn’t great, but it convincingly tastes like an actual sausage — a mediocre sausage, mind you, but if I hadn’t known it was fake meat, I wouldn’t have guessed.  That’s impressive.

(Of course, emulating a lousy, ultra-processed sausage is much, much easier than emulating one that actually tastes good, but one step at a time, I guess?)

There was something about the spicing that I found vaguely unappealing, and the flavour was particularly aggressive, presumably to cover up the lack of a meaty flavour.  But for the most part, it’s decent enough.

The texture is dead-on.  Unlike the Beyond Meat burger I had at A&W, it’s not mushy at all.  It’s a bit dry, and no one’s going to confuse it for a decent quality sausage, but the texture is basically identical to the type of mediocre sausage you’ll find at a place like Tim Hortons.  I was surprised at how close it got.

Otherwise, the sandwich was typical Tim Hortons, which is to say it was pretty lousy — the cheese was barely melted, the omelette was rubbery, and the English muffin was dense and dry.

A Delicious Veggie Sandwich at Forno Cultura

Forno CulturaLocation: 609 King Street West, Toronto
Website: https://fornocultura.com/

I recently had a seriously tasty meal thanks to Toronto Life’s list of the 25 best sandwiches in the city.  So it seemed like a safe enough bet to try another entry from that list: the melanzana from Forno Cultura, a great Italian bakery on King Street West.

It’s a roasted eggplant and zucchini sandwich with fior di latte (AKA mozzarella), Emmental cheese, and arugula.

Forno Cultura

I was tempted by the very tasty looking meatball sandwich, but I stuck with the list, and I’m very glad that I did.  The list is on a roll.  It’s an amazing sandwich.

Forno Cultura

The eggplant and the zucchini are both super tasty — they’re meaty and tender, with a very herby, garlicky flavour.  The two cheeses balance quite well, with a nice soft creaminess from the fresh mozzarella, and a sharper cheesy flavour from the Emmental.  Add in the peppery bite from the arugula, and you’ve got a tasty sandwich.

Though as good as the various fillings are, it’s the sesame-studded focaccia that’s the real star of the show.  It’s crispy, fluffy, and amazing.

Forno Cultura

The sandwich is also exceptionally oily — basically as soon as you pick it up, your hands become slick with grease.  Normally this might be a bit much, but I think that oil was also a vehicle for the aforementioned herby, garlicky flavour, because the whole sandwich was tasty and amazing.  It never feels overly oily.

I should have left it at that, but I made the mistake of getting the cornetto cioccolato for dessert.  It looked so good!

Forno Cultura

It tastes absolutely nothing like it looks.  It was barely sweet at all, and the texture was oddly crunchy and dry.  It was, weirdly enough, very similar to a pretzel.  Not a warm, fresh pretzel; the dry kind from a bag.  I don’t know if that was intentional, but I’m guessing it wasn’t because it was blatantly unappealing.  It was quite saltine-esque.

Still; it’s hard to stay mad a place that serves a sandwich that delicious.

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy'sLocation: 1520 Aimco Boulevard, Mississauga
Website: https://www.wendys.com/en-ca/home

The Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich from Wendy’s has pretty much everything I like in a fast food sandwich; it’s got gooey cheese (with both a melty cheese slice and cheese sauce), bacon, jalapenos, crispy fried onions, pickled jalapeno slices, and a smoky japaleno sauce.

So yeah, it’s good.  They’d have to work pretty hard to mess it up.

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy's

The worst part about this chicken sandwich is, funnily enough, the chicken.  The sandwich features their Spicy Chicken patty, and they keep it in one of those warming drawers (AKA the fast food ruiner).

So it’s dry, of course.  It’s also a little bit too salty, and thoroughly infused with a vaguely unpleasant processed flavour.

Bacon Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich at Wendy's

The toppings are so abundant, however, that it’s barely even an issue.  I only had one or two bites that weren’t crammed with stuff.

You’ve got the richness from the cheeses, crispiness from the fried onions, zestiness from the sauce, a nice meaty bite from the bacon, and a good amount of acidity from the jalapenos to help cut through the sandwich’s richness.  It’s quite tasty.

It also has a decent kick to it — it’s nothing too aggressive, but for something from a fast food joint, it’s not bad.

Nachos at Cineplex

Cineplex nachosLocation: 110 Courtneypark Drive East, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.cineplex.com/Theatres/FoodAndDrink

Yes, I’m reviewing movie theatre nachos.  Big whoop, wanna fight about it?

I actually used to really like the nachos at Cineplex!  They’re junk, but tasty junk.  Or at least, they were.

I haven’t had them in ages, but I feel like they used to be way better.  Maybe I’m crazy.

The nacho cheese sauce used to be salty goo that had almost no resemblance to anything even close to real cheese — and yet there was something oddly satisfying about it.

I’ll admit that it’s quite possible I’m just getting snobbier, but the nachos lacked the junky joys of their previous self.

It probably doesn’t help that the cheese comes in pre-filled containers that are too small to dip chips into.

Cineplex nachos

Seriously, who designed this??  Why not make the cups slightly shorter and wider?  It’s a definite “you had one job” situation.

Even outside of the hilariously ill-conceived containers, the cheese itself seemed less salty, and like it was actually trying to resemble real cheese.  But it did this extremely poorly, so you wind up with something with a neither-here-nor-there flavour that’s bland and unsatisfying.

The chips themselves are exactly as I remember them, at least.  They’re not great (and they always taste vaguely stale), but they’re crunchy and satisfying.

The jalapenos are the clear highlight.  I love pickled jalapenos, but when you buy them at the supermarket, they’re inevitably mushy, with a disappointingly mild level of spice.  These ones have a great crunch and a decent amount of heat.  They take something that would otherwise be mostly inedible and make it tolerable.