Quick Bites: Amanecer Salvadoreño Restaurant, Frenchie’s Doughnuts, 3 Mariachis Mexican Restaurant

Amanecer Salvadoreño Restaurant
Papusas and a combination plate at Amanecer Salvadoreño Restaurant

This is a fantastic hidden gem in north Etobicoke.  I heard that the papusas are the thing to order here, and yeah, they’re top-notch.  But the rest of the menu is no slouch; I also tried the combination plate that came with steak, shrimp, and plantain, and everything was very, very good.

Frenchie's Doughnuts
Blueberry cheesecake doughnut at Frenchie’s Doughnuts

Frenchie’s has a fun gimmick that makes them feel delightfully distinct from a run-of-the-mill doughnut shop: they fry their doughnuts fresh and then top them to order (you can either pick from one of their pre-topped selections, or customize your own toppings). I went with the blueberry cheesecake, and the highlight was the doughnut itself; it’s cakey and still warm when you get it, like a full-sized version of Tiny Tom’s.

3 Mariachis Mexican Restaurant
The Mariachi Platter at 3 Mariachis Mexican Restaurant

That beast of a plate is the Mariachi Platter, which comes with a chicken enchilada, two chorizo tacos, a shredded beef burrito, Mexican rice, guacamole, beans, pico de gallo, and a zippy green sauce.  As the menu says, “why have one when you can have it all?”  Why indeed.  I shared this, obviously — I’m not Andre the Giant — and pretty much everything was quite tasty, particularly the burrito, which was crammed with tender, tasty beef.  The taco was a bit dry, but aside from that it was a delicious (and huge) plate of food.

Old School Burritos at Burrito Gordito

Burrito GorditoLocation: 120 Peter Street, Toronto
Website: http://www.burritogordito.ca/

It’s hard to imagine this now, but there was a time in Toronto when you couldn’t find a shop selling baby-sized burritos on every other block.  But of course, Burrito Boyz opened on Peter Street in 2003 and basically launched a city-wide obsession.

After a split between the owners, that spot became Burrito Banditos, and now it’s Burrito Gordito.  I have no idea if either of the original Burrito Boyz boys are involved here, but the menu is pretty much the same.

Burrito Gordito

I ordered the steak burrito, which was always my favourite back in the original Burrito Boyz days, and yeah, it’s still good.  I don’t know if it’s quite as tasty as I remember it being way back in the early aughts, but then how can you possibly compete with warm and fuzzy memories from well over a decade ago?

Burrito Gordito

The quality of the steak itself is quite good, and there’s a generous amount of it.  It’s nice and tender but still has a satisfying chew, and it has a mild but enjoyable beefy flavour.

As for the rest of it, it’s as crammed with rice, beans, and sauces as you’re expecting, with a nice variety of zippy flavours.  I ordered it spicy and it was barely hot at all (I remember it being legitimately fiery back in the Burrito Boyz days), but aside from that it’s quite satisfying.

Burrito Gordito

It’s also nicely toasted on the outside — they even roll it over to toast it on its sides, which is a nice touch.

Upgraded Street Meat at Nobs’

Nobs'Location: 505 University Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/nobsofficial/

Nobs’ is a street vendor with a really interesting setup; it looks like a hot dog cart, but you won’t find a dog or a sausage on the menu.  Instead, they serve a variety of meaty sandwiches (and mushroom for the vegetarians) that are cooked sous vide and finished on the grill.  Ideally, this means that the meat will be perfectly cooked, with a nice smoky crust from the fire.

And yeah, that’s what happened.

I ordered the AAA Canadian Blade Steak Sandwich, which comes topped with greens, chimichurri, mayo, and pickled onions.

Nobs'

The steak was perfectly tender, with a good amount of exterior texture from the grill.  The rest of the sandwich is quite tasty, too, with the vibrant, garlicky chimichurri matching well with the creamy mayo.

The bread is also great — it’s fresh, with a nice crispy exterior, and enough heft to hold up to the very substantial sandwich.

But the flavours are overwhelming.  In particular, the garlic in the chimichurri packs an absolute wallop.  It’s intense.  It’s delicious, mind you, but it’s basically all you can taste.  The beef is mostly just there for texture; the flavour is completely annihilated.

The whole thing is really good; I just wish I could have tasted more of the steak (or any of the steak).

An Excellent Steak Sandwich at Completo

CompletoLocation: 5 Coady Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://completo.club/

There are a lot of ways that a steak sandwich can go wrong, but when it’s good, it’s really good.

Completo, a tiny little take-out spot on the east end that describes itself as serving “Latin fresh fast food,” has a steak sandwich that’s very, very good.

Completo

The steak sandwich is dubbed the classic churrassco.  Pork or chorizo are options, but trust me, you want that steak.  It’s topped with diced tomato, avocado, mayo, roasted red pepper sauce, and hot sauce.

Completo

It’s one of those sandwiches where everything is just right.  I don’t think there’s a single thing that I’d change.

The steak is outstanding.  You could put it on two slices of plain Wonder Bread and it’d still be an amazing sandwich.  It’s tender, it has a nice crust from the griddle, and a very satisfying beefy flavour.

Completo

The other stuff is just the icing on the cake.  The mayo and avocado add a nice creamy heft, though it’s the spicy/sweet combo of the hot sauce and the roasted red peppers that really makes the sandwich sing.  You have the choice between mild, medium, and hot; I went with hot, and yeah, it’s hot.  But the spice works so well with the sandwich’s other flavours.  And of course, the fresh bun suits the sandwich perfectly.  It’s pretty amazing.

Solid Tacos at Grand Electric

Grand Electric Trinity BellwoodsLocation: 923 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: http://grandelectrictoronto.com/

Though Grand Electric doesn’t get nearly the amount of buzz that it did when it first opened, it’s still chugging along.  In fact, they’ve just recently opened a new location a bit further east on Queen (though it’s still on the west end of the city).

When I visited the original location a few years ago, they had some pretty out-there stuff on the menu, like a scrapple taco and pig head fries.

Grand Electric Trinity Bellwoods

The menu here is much less ambitious than that — there’s nothing beyond the usual suspects (chicken, fried fish, etc.).

It might not be particularly exciting, but if the two tacos I tried were anything to go by, they still know exactly what they’re doing.

Grand Electric Trinity Bellwoods

The first one I tried was the shrimp taco, which consists of a few generously-sized pieces of fried shrimp topped with a zesty sauce, lettuce, onion, and cilantro.

The shrimp is nicely seasoned and perfectly cooked, with a crunchy exterior that doesn’t overwhelm.  The sauce basically tastes like a variation on shrimp sauce, and the other components add a good amount of freshness.  It’s a solid taco.

Grand Electric Trinity Bellwoods

Up next was the Carne Asada, which features steak topped with cilantro, chopped onions, and a couple of salsas.  This was even better than the shrimp; the steak was super tender and very nicely marinated, with a nice vibrant flavour that never overwhelms its beefiness.  And the salsas compliment it perfectly.