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Restaurants

Chino Locos (Church St.)

Posted by Guest Contributor / Listed on January 21, 2010 / review policy

Chino LocosChino Locos has carved out a spot in a Toronto burrito market as saturated as the demand for more Beatles biographies by using surprising ingredients normally associated with Asian cuisine like shitake mushrooms and chow mein. They offer a wide variety of unique one-size burritos including what might be the best fish burrito in the city. Called "Da Finest", it comes packed with sauteed white fish, guacamole, tomatoes, edamame beans, red onions, black beans, green peppers, cilantro, cheese, sour cream and chipotle sauce and costs only $6.99.

Also on the menu is "Sweeeeet" with slow roasted pork, Pollo Loco (chicken), Off Da Hook (ribeye steak) and two vegetarian burritos. Not to be missed is their Weekly Loco Special which in the past has included jerk pork (amazing), seared and deboned Asian pork chops and curry Singapore seafood.

On a recent visit to their newly opened Church St. location (the original is in Leslieville), I opted for the Biggie Bean burrito ($6.99) with chow mein noodles, guacamole, tomatoes, edamame beans, black beans, green peppers, cheese, sour cream and chipotle sauce on a white tortilla. After making the mistake of getting a medium spiced burrito in the past wherein all the fiery hot sauce was waiting like an explosion at the bottom of the burrito, I went the mild route.

Chino Locos BurritoAfter around seven minutes the burrito was ready, grilled and warm tucked inside its little foil sleeping bag. The chipotle sauce was campfire smoky and the carb-on-carb combo of chow mein noodles and tortilla an empty calorie addicts dream. The edamame beans were the greatest topping in the mix, adding a familiar soft crunch.

Where the second floor Church St. space improves on the original is the seating. Unlike the Greenwood location, which only has a small bar for seating (and a tiny patio in the summer), this new space has indoor seating for around 20 customers. But It may take a little while longer to transfer the bright and busy feel of the first location into the less than cozy light walled second floor space. Nevertheless, the service was as enthusiastic as you'd expect with two of the three owners running the show on this Sunday afternoon.

When I returned home from my venture, my roommate had coincidentally stopped by the Chino Locos down the street and ordered a burrito with noodles for the first time. I sat next to her on the couch while I waited for her to finish before we watched the appetite stealing documentary The Cove. She took her first bite and paused for a few seconds before saying, "I thought this would make the burrito good but I can't believe how delicious noodles in a burrito is."

Chino Locos Church St.

Writing by Jessica Ford

Discussion

42 Comments

Bobby / January 21, 2010 at 10:27 am
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Excellent going there for dinner tonight:) Its amazing that a new burrito place moved into the dieing strip.
not impressed / January 21, 2010 at 10:39 am
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can't believe the business survived at greewood and queen. they took somthing simple and ruined it with odd ingredients, which would be fine if it tasted good.

I have told everyone I know to avoid this place and would offer Bobby the same advice.
Paul / January 21, 2010 at 10:48 am
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Chino loco burritos are better than masturbation and now they have another location it's like a circle jerk. Their food ROCKS!
Bardo / January 21, 2010 at 11:02 am
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Chino Locos rocks, ESPECIALLY the location at Queen and Greenwood. Everyone who I've recommended to try it out loves it, and I'm delighted to hear they've opened on Church. Long may you Locos, Chinos!
Sean / January 21, 2010 at 11:05 am
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They do indeed rock, although I'm disappointed to learn that they've recently nixed delivery. It's a little too far for me to walk, especially in the winter months.

"not impressed on" clearly needs to stick to Taco Bell.
ann / January 21, 2010 at 11:14 am
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The burritos are great!!! They're filling, reasonably priced and yummy!
frank / January 21, 2010 at 11:20 am
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total guilty pleasure! The flavours can be a bit muddled at times but on the whole i've seriously enjoyed every burrito i've ever had there and can usually count on two meals outta that giant, tortilla pillow stuffed with chow mein goodness!
jack / January 21, 2010 at 11:28 am
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looks gross
Martin / January 21, 2010 at 11:44 am
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When I first saw this place out of the blue at Greenwood & Queen I had to circle around the place 3 times before I could believe my eyes... I finally went into the place with all the skepticism that any purist burrito fan should (especially if you've had the fortune of enjoying what a real Mission-style or cali-mex burrito is SUPPOSED to taste like) and I came out in total disbelief at how much I enjoyed the Chino Locos burrito. Their staple Pollo Loco burrito has hands down become my favorite burrito in the city. While I'd still consider myself a purist, the second rate offerings that Toronto unfortunately settles for of the standard burrito variety just don't measure up to the flavour and quality of the chow mein burritos at Chino Loco, at least in my obviously subjective opinion.

I've had a couple chats with the guys who run the business and more than the uniqueness of some of the ingredients, in my opinion it's their quality that sets them apart from the heard. Apparently they all come with backgrounds in the restaurant industry and are adamant about keeping very high standards for their meats/produce and preparation of their ingredients --everything is made from scratch. Where other burrito shops might settle for cheaper substitutes, the guys running Chino Locos use only high quality, fresh ingredients. And I can say from personal experience (having been there a couple dozen times in the last year) every burrito I've ordered has been put together with a lot of attention and care, regardless of how swamped the kitchen is.
jack / January 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm
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does chow mein mean bean sprounts here? or it is really chow mein?
Syncros / January 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm
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I've been to Chinos at Greenwood a half dozen times and every time its been a good meal. Another vote for the pollo loco here and medium spice is plenty. The guys who own the place are hilarious. How can you not like a meal prepared by asian hip-hoppers who talk mexican wrestling with you while they cook?
diane / January 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm
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I love Chino Locos! Don't expect your typical mexican burrito - these are unique and amazing. I've loved everything I've tried there. The ingredients are fresh and prepared every day. Their sauces rock - home made! I've been to both locations, and they are high quality no matter which location you choose. The comments about the owners are right on - they're hilarious! Entertain while you eat!
Randy / January 21, 2010 at 01:04 pm
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Ignore comments from the handicappables like "not impressed." Chino Loco's is FANTASTIC!!! Their ingredients are fresh, unique, and perfectly seasoned and prepared. Their prices are reasonable, especially when considering they are serving very high quality food.

Suggestions: Grab a menu, and order AHEAD of time. Everything is prepared fresh to order, and if you don't like waiting, call a bit ahead to get your food piping hot.

Anyone who thinks this place isn't great much think Taco Bell is authentic Mexican...

collin / January 21, 2010 at 01:05 pm
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sweet. no bitchin' about the west end bias and everyone loves the food.

the church street location is closer to me, but according to their website, they're doing a jerk chicken special that's ONLY at the greenwood location.

i guess i'm going for a little drive for my dinner tonight.
W / January 21, 2010 at 02:49 pm
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They're "burritos" only in that it's food wrapped up in a flour wrap. Other than that, they have no resemblance to a traditional burrito (AFAIK) so you can't compare them that way any more than comparing sushi pizza to Domino's. As long as you keep that in mind, I'm sure you'll find the ingredients go great together and you would be happy with them on a plate, only these are wrapped up. FYI, one burrito at lunch fills me up enough to skip dinner, and a lot of employees from close-by Leslieville restaurants get pick-up there before their own dinner rush. While I wish the guys well with their new location, I'm crossing my fingers that quality doesn't suffer now that they're spread out...
jack / January 21, 2010 at 03:33 pm
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this blog seems to be obssessed with burrito... just because the publisher likes burritos, doesn't mean...
Jonathan / January 21, 2010 at 03:39 pm
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I have been several times and love it. You have the choice of noodles or rice. I tried it with rice on my first visit and it tasted great. I had noodles the second visit and it somehow was even better. I can't fathom ever getting it with rice again.

Kudos for them to discovering the truth about many "authentic" regional cuisines; they were conceived in ignorance of 99% of the worlds ingredients and cooking methods and can often be substantially improved with some experimentation.

I doubt I can ever be satisfied with a burrito containing rice again!
not impressed / January 21, 2010 at 09:02 pm
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randy and sean calling me handicapped and a taco bell eater is down-right stupid. there are simply way better burritos and mexican food in the city. i'm not going to tell you where, because you aren't worthy of my delicious wisdom. gfy.
rodto / January 22, 2010 at 12:49 am
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I am a huge burrito fan, and gave the Church St location a couple of tries but I have to say that I won't be going there for a while. Even though I wanted the store to thrive because it's close to my work, I was really disappointed with the blandness of their burritos. Not that the ingredients are bad or anything, but there is a general blandness (salt? spices?) in the flavour, their burritos lack that rich flavour that you get a Big Fat Burrito, Burrito Boys, or Z-Tecas which is just a few blocks south at Church and Gerrard.
laqueefah / January 22, 2010 at 01:01 am
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bobby, paul, bardo, ann, martin, diane, andy, and anyone else i may have missed...do y'all work at this place and/or are related to the owners? j/w.
Randy / January 22, 2010 at 09:23 am
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@Not Impressed,

Try using proper punctuation and caps next time, or no one will ever take you seriously.
Kelly / January 22, 2010 at 11:56 am
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Yes! I love Chino Locos. Found them last year when I was apartment hunting in the Greenwood area. Had some sort of curry chicken one that was a daily special and it was delicious.
notimpressed / January 22, 2010 at 12:11 pm
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Dear Randy,

GFY

Sincerely,

notimpressed

Better?
uninterested observer / January 22, 2010 at 01:09 pm
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@Randy:

"handicappables" - I assume you mean "handicapable" (which I assume is a derogatory term for disabled persons).

"Chino Loco's is FANTASTIC!!!" - It's actually "Chino Locos", at least according to this review.

"Anyone who thinks this place isn't great much think Taco Bell is authentic Mexican..." - I believe you mean "must", as opposed to "much". Randy, that's two letter wrong in a four letter word. How is anyone ever going to take you seriously?





"Anyone who thinks this place isn't great much think Taco Bell is authentic Mexican..."
za / January 22, 2010 at 04:23 pm
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I don't understand the fuss. The food is a kitchen-sink mess of ingredients that are not meant to be in the same dish, no matter how much you love "fusion" type food. If you venture a taste, read the menu ingredients carefully or you'll be in for a rude surprise. Barbecued chicken and bean sprouts and black beans and salsa and guacamole plus rice or noodles and whatever else they throw in do not belong in the same mouthful. And I know very well that Taco Bell is not authentic Mexican.
EW / January 23, 2010 at 04:49 pm
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Worst burriot EVER. Seriously. It was horrible. Not warm and comforting at all like a burriot should be.
Randy replying to a comment from notimpressed / January 24, 2010 at 02:12 pm
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@notimpressed,

"'Tard says what?"

"What?"
Jo / January 25, 2010 at 01:23 pm
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I LOVE it cuz they have a VEGAN option & it tastes awesome!! Nuff said.
Realist (mostly) / January 26, 2010 at 10:27 am
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Now that they're a little closer to me I'll have to give them a try. Mission style burritos themselves are a California innovation that I imagine many Mexicans would have regarded as a "kitchen sink" of flavors that don't go well together.
JerkOffJersey / January 27, 2010 at 06:20 am
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Awesome burritos and very amicable atmosphere; you step in and you feel like you've walked into your best friends house. The staff greet you and are more than willing to answer any questions you might have about their burritos. Ask them how they make their hot sauce!
The amount of time and effort to made each ingredient shows! I had the Off Da Hook and it's definitely my favorite of the lot. Make sure you try it with chow mein!
KJ / January 30, 2010 at 07:45 pm
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Bad tasting burritos!!!
Randy replying to a comment from EW / January 30, 2010 at 09:36 pm
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EW,

You want warm and comforting? Buy a blanket!
809 / February 1, 2010 at 05:29 pm
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can you put hot dogs in my burrito?
jameson / February 5, 2010 at 09:10 pm
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pretty awesome vegan burrito. its unfortunate that it feels so sketchy inside, i really don't like eating in the dark :\
lville / February 6, 2010 at 04:57 pm
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I wanted to love this place, it's so close to my house and I like the idea but did not like the burrito. I tried the Biggie Bean and the beans tasted fresh from the can, not really prepared in any way and made up almost the entire burrito. The other ingredients were really stingy, about a teaspoon of guacamole and a few endamame beans.
belvedere / May 11, 2010 at 12:04 am
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cum mayo douchefood. tequila needed for disinfection.
Randy replying to a comment from belvedere / May 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm
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@belvedere,

"cum mayo douchefood. tequila needed for disinfection."

We don't need to hear about your personal life, jizz boy.
ANNA / September 1, 2010 at 09:45 am
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HOW MANY CALORIES DOSE THE STEAK BURITTO HAVE?
ANNA / September 1, 2010 at 09:46 am
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HOW MANY CALORIES IS IN ONE STEAK BURITTO?
we, everyone, nobody, whore replying to a comment from Randy / February 4, 2012 at 03:05 pm
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you mean YOU won't take me seriously, and i don't give a shit about you, pathetic useless human beings who try to manipulate society by using plural forms when talking because they are too weak to speak for themselves alone. useless piece of shit marxist whore.
Coachk / September 2, 2012 at 05:29 pm
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How can this place be number 1 with the worst service and mediocre food at best. Burrito lover unite and stay away.
jd / December 23, 2012 at 06:59 pm
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Was in the mood for a burrito tonight. But of course C.L. is closed on Sunday in my area. Ended up getting from another place and it confirmed to me I enjoy Chino's quite a bit. Well the food anyways. They really should look to moving to street level with wayyyy less space. I guarantee they would sell a hell of a lot more burritos.

I made the same mistake once opening up a biz on an upper floor, and the much cheaper rent is just not worth it.

The only way it could work for them is if they had a big section of their eating area by the widows as a patio for the summer, which they could enclose in the winter.

But really, move to street level.

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