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Restaurants

Happy Hooker

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Listed on March 14, 2013 / review policy

Happy Hooker TorontoThe Happy Hooker is the newest addition to the thriving stretch of Dundas West between Bathurst and Ossington, offering an inexpensive seafood-centric menu that draws inspiration from the West Coast.

Happy Hooker TorontoTaking the space over from a 30-year old pizzeria (and more recently a bong shop), the new restaurant retains the original black and white checkered flooring, but makes over everything else into a charming, eclectic room furnished with mix-matched decor. The take-away counter perched at the back looks over the tiny space and somehow packs in at least a dozen seats without feeling too cramped.

Happy Hooker TorontoNevermind if you can't find a seat though - almost everything on the menu is conveniently handheld. For instance the playful Shrimp Corn Dogs (2 for $6) are made of hand-formed ground shrimp "sausages" crusted in golden cornmeal batter and served on a stick for easy dipping in housemade dill mustard, crema or chipotle adobo sauce.

Happy Hooker TorontoNext up, fish tacos, like the Grouper, Cali Baja and Shrimp tacos (each for $3.50) come piled atop soft corn tortillas and sauced with chipotle adobo, lime crema and bright toppings like pico de gallo, cabbage, or corn salsa. Each has its merits, the grouper is especially crisp on the outside, tender on the inside; the shrimp, succulent and well seasoned; the Cali Baja benefits from a dollop of creamy avocado. None pack any real heat, but a squirt of lime and extra chipotle adobo sauce add a little more kick when necessary.

Happy Hooker TorontoThe Surf N' Turf Sandwich is the lone meat entry on this menu and priced at $11, it's also the most expensive. Thin sliced steak and morsels of shrimp come slathered in lime crema and sandwiched between halved baguettes. Adding the Organic Kale Salad ($6) on the side provides some welcomed freshness via delicate purple kale, radishes, cherry tomatoes and tart vinaigrette.

Happy Hooker TorontoOwner, Attilo Pugliese (formerly of Tavolino and Queen Margherita Pizza) cites his love for the neighbourhood and a personal penchant for fish tacos as motivation to open this new casual joint. He also notes that all the fish is brought in fresh daily (there isn't even a freezer on the premises), and, that plans are in the works to introduce Ocean Wise approved sustainable seafood.

Happy Hooker TorontoOnce the liquor licence is approved (the plan is to serve craft beers, bourbon and whisky), hours might creep into later territory, but for now, the Happy Hooker is open Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 10pm and on weekends from noon until 9 or 10pm.

Happy Hooker TorontoPhotos by Morris Lum

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