Asada Mexican Grill
Asada Mexican Grill opened a couple weeks ago amongst a jumble of St. Clair storefronts. It's a new quick eatery from husband and wife team, Austin and Klaudia Morgan who serve up traditional family recipes in convenient and customizable formats.
It's slow food served fast. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, like soft tortillas (flour, whole wheat and traditional corn); grilled, fried and slow cooked fillings; and an impressive assortment of toppings from which you can build a burrito, taco, torta (sandwich) or box as you see fit. Any option for only nine bucks.
It's a casual, 'come as you are' kind of place, with ample room to dine in. Industrial furnishings and fun installations like, a floating row of hot sauce (from 1508 Design) avoids the usual cliches but still nods to the Mexican theme. It's vibrant, modern and inviting -- not at all where past experience tells me to find great tacos.
At the counter, I ask for a sampling of tacos, 'chefs' choice and end up making it through the Baja Shrimp ($3 extra), Cochinita Pibil (Mayan pulled pork) and an off-the-menu creation; the Veggie Baja (avacodo battered and fried for a golden exterior and creamy centre).
Each is packed with complex flavours learned from Austin's mother and grandmother who were once pioneering owners of the Mexico Restaurant, circa 1979 (its former Bathurst and Dupont address is now home to Rapido).
Toppings are added per personal preference but include an all-avocado gauc (no filler here), pickled onions, zesty cream sauces and pico de gallo -- not to mention there's a self serve salsa bar with seven housemade varieties. I sample the hottest of the bunch and can report it triumphs flavour over heat.
A pending liquor license means bottled beers could be added soon. For now, the current beverage selection is just as extensive as the rest if the menu. Vintage refrigerator cases house imported Mexican sodas in glass bottles and housemade Horchata and hibiscus flavoured, Jamaica. Fountain pop is here too, plus American-style fresh brewed ice tea (sweeten it yourself).
For the road, I pick up an order of Sweet Nachos ($4.95) dusted with cinamon sugar and served warm from the fryer. As good as they were, next time i'd try the Tres Leches Cake ($4.95) for better value.
Open from 11am to 10pm (+1 hour on the weekends) every day except Monday, locals should ask about the 'secret menu' that's set to slowly roll out off-the-menu specials. Patio seating out front should be ready in time for warmer days.
Photos by Jesse Milns