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La Perla

Photo: Jonathan Loek

Posted by Ben Spurr / May 18, 2010

La Perla might be West Queen West's newest nightspot but don't call it a bar. Owner Arturo Anhalt is adamant that La Perla is a cantina in the traditional Mexican style. For those of us whose exposure to Mexican culture has so far been limited to late night Beef Gordita Supremes at Taco Bell or cheap street eats at El Trompo, Anhalt explains the difference. In his native Mexico City, a cantina is a regular hang-out where locals go to drink, talk, and soak in the atmosphere. "A bar is trendy," he says. "A cantina will be around forever."

Anhalt may not be courting a trendy crowd, but he's going to have a hard time repelling the city's hipper patrons. Queen Street isn't exactly a dusty Oaxacan side street, and Milagro, the restaurant Arturo owns with his brother Andrés, has been a huge success at its three locations in the city. Considering that La Perla shares management and a late-night menu (at half the price) with Milagro, fans of the Anhalt's three other establishments might want to check it out.

La Perla takes up the second and third floors above Milagro's Queen Street location but has a separate entrance and noticeably different feel than the downstairs restaurant. Its open space with a soaring ceiling, fireplace, and comfortable but arty furniture almost give you the feeling of hanging out at a friend's apartment. That is, if your friend had a bar stocked with ten different types of tequila.

With a menu of great food (roasted lamb sandwiches, pork tacos served with pineapple and cilantro, garlic shrimp appetizers, all at about $11 each), a kitchen that's open til close, and $3.95 Red Stripes (wouldn't Pacifico be more appropriate?) every Friday, it's clear that La Perla has aspirations to be a late-night haunt for locals. Show up most nights and expect latin music on the jukebox and quiet conversation.

But with such a great space at their disposal, management is already deviating from the homey atmosphere Anhalt speaks so fondly of, and has some events planned that are guaranteed to be anything but low-key. With its official grand opening bash still a few weeks away the cantina already has some wild parties under its belt, including a monthly night called Caught Slippin' hosted by Patrick Macguire and Scott Pilgrim, a pair making a run for rookie djs of the year on the back of two successful monthly jams at 751.

There's also a regular gay night in the works engineered by Sheldon McIntosh, an up-and-coming entertainer and events planner whose drag shows on Church Street have already made him hugely popular.

La Perla is is open Thursday to Saturday 9 pm til close.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Steam Whistle Pilsner, Creemore Lager
Signature Drink:
Margarita Classica: Cuervo Especial Gold, Henkes Triple Sec and fresh lime
Bar Snacks:
Full late night menu which includes garlic shrimp appetizers, mollettes (baguette with refried beans and gouda cheese), burritos, and Mexican beef stew
Latin jazz (except at special events)
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Queen West party set and locals looking for a place to hide
Thursday to Saturday 9 pm til close



Reoger Revieck / May 29, 2010 at 8:16 PM

Just spent las night there. Great 2nd floor, kitchy but cool, great late nite menu for the munchies (try the pork torta & the molletes, they are to die for) and very good vibe. This place will get packed very soon so stop in before the crowds.

kstop / July 2, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Gave this place a look yesterday but the douchey staff tried to shuffle us downstairs. Apparently my gf and I aren't patio material - I won't be going back.

staff In replying to a comment from kstop / August 4, 2010 at 10:01 PM

i remember you guys, you told the waitress you wanted to order ice tea and 7-up, so no, you aren't patio material

Sam In replying to a comment from staff / September 1, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Just because someone doesn't want to get smashed the moment they get to a restaurant doesn't make them "non patio material"

Diana / October 29, 2010 at 11:27 AM

I thought douchy might have been harsh, until reading the staff comment ... yup sounds "douchy" to me! Sorry, but there are just too many bars in toronto to treat anyone coming through your door like that. Keep it up you won't be around for long.

Andres / November 10, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Staff has been reprimanded and lashes have been administered and yes "douchy" is no more. We come from a country of hardship and class inequality , we aim to avoid these issues in any of our establishments.

My sincere apologies for this thread.

Adrianne / February 26, 2011 at 2:53 AM

So last night my girlfriends and I decided to go to "La Perla" because the were promoting a local Latin rock band and I love drinking tequila to the sounds of groovy music. So we arrive there, the menu is descent no the best but descent, after we ate we decided to upstairs get some shots of tequila, beers and dance while we were waiting for friends. There was NO COVER charge, the band was playing everything was cool our friends arrive and BAM! the owner or manager decides because it was getting busy upstairs to charge my friends. My friends paid anyways( they shouldn't have). One of my girlfriends ask for shots of tequila the bartender was a dill hole he was DEMANDING a 20% tip after each drink she paid ( we work in the service industry and we found that practice outrageous!). We were so aggravated we left . It seems this place is not well managed, like I mentioned before we work in the service industry and the way they manage things in there is very questionable...

Adrianne In replying to a comment from Diana / February 26, 2011 at 2:59 AM

Seriously we (my girlfriends and I) were treated worse than a second class citizen there, like we can't afford to pay for our drinks!

Andres / February 26, 2011 at 1:11 PM

I apologize if you felt treated unfair or unjustly . Whenever they do happen we address then asap.

As far as the cover is concerned , your friends may have gone upstairs After 11pm . When we started charging the cover. We had advertised on facebbok , flyers and at the entrance of the cantina that a cover would be charged.

I do apologize if you didn't have the best experience , we pride ourselves in always delivering a marvelous experience on every visit.

I was there all night including the moment when the band decided to quit from their agreed set and decided to drop everything and leave.

Drop by on any other night and you will be welcomed and treated like family , that is how we do things

I will even offer some tequila sampling lessons

Kevin / March 2, 2011 at 4:07 AM

Awesome place! Great drinks and late night drinks. II will go again.


Kelsi In replying to a comment from Adrianne / November 23, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Grateful for all these comments. Was looking forward to checking it out as I love Mexican cuisine and tequila of course. Glad I did not bother.. hate having a waste of a night out!

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