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Mexican Salsas Grill

Posted by Daniel Kuseta / Reviewed on April 1, 2010 / review policy

Mexican Salsas GrillMexican Salsas Grill is a new joint promising authentic Mexican fare in the heart of Kensington Market. And while I like Tex Mex as much as the next person -- burritos are, after all, great booze sponges and it's hard to think of a better "let's watch the fourth season of Dexter" food than nachos -- I like Mexican food even better, so I knew I would be checking this place out sooner rather than later.

Opened two months ago by Jesus Martinez, Salsas' owner says he's trying to replicate the street taquerias of his native Mexico City, offering tasty fast food at easy to digest prices. And while the menu won't win any innovation awards with standard tacos ($1.99), tostadas ($2.50) and tortas (a Mexican-style sandwich, $4.99), the fillings are what set this place apart.

Mexican Salsas GrillI kick-off with a trio of tacos, and as my tortillas are warmed on the grill I ponder the various fillings, which include chicken mole (available in negro and verde), carnitas (slow cooked pork), chiles rellenos and charro (beans with pork rind, coriander, tomato and onion). I choose a mix and look on in anticipation as my tacos are finished with home-made salsa, cilantro and finely diced raw onion. I'm packing gum, so good to go with the "aromatics."

The chiles rellenos is strong and sweet, with a jalapeno hit. The onions provide a refreshing crunch and the salsa that requisite zing. If there's a fault, it's that the fillings are almost too generous -- reminding me that there's no dainty way to eat a taco.

Moving on to the carnitas, I'm rewarded with the rich, smoky flavours that only come from hours of braising. Full-bodied and lush, this dish is sort of like pulled pork with a punch.

And finally the mole. I've had moles negro in Mexico that were works of art, striking the perfect balance between chocolate and chile. This is no such mole. Tired, limp and dry, the chicken is decent enough but any flavor the sauce may have had has been lost amidst the other fillings. Disappointing, yes -- but as Meatloaf taught us, two out of three ain't bad.

Mexican Salsas GrillUndaunted, I order a grilled steak taquito and a tostada. The steak is a lean cut of beef, rubbed with garlic and cooked to order. As it's sizzling, I grab a Mexican coke ($1.50, made with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup like the stuff we get here) and tackle my tostada.

Essentially a corn chip pizza, the tostada is a large corn tortilla smothered with beans, crumbled cheese, lettuce and drizzled with cream. The flavors aren't radically different from the tacos, though the beans add a caramel note and the lettuce a crisp aftertaste. It goes well with the coke.

Mexican Salsas GrillMeanwhile my steak has been cooked, and my taquito's served sizzling hot. Topped with guacamole, onions and Jesus' most blisteringly hot salsa, it's a lively affair. The meat has that fresh-off-the-grill zing while the hot sauce means I'm going through the coke at an alarming rate. The only off-note is the guacamole. Bland and mushy, this dip needed a gallon more garlic and lemon. A shame as it would have nicely rounded my hot tempered taquito and is easy enough to get right.

I ended my meal with my wallet nearly as full as my belly. Was I blown away, transported back to Mexico in a taste-bud triggered time machine? No. Is there better Mexican in town? Possibly. But Mexican Salsas Grill is good, honest food at good, honest prices -- and sometimes that's all you need.

Mexican Salsas Kensington

Discussion

22 Comments

Sam / April 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm
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I had a burrito here the other day and it was so salty I couldn't even finish it
Eli / April 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm
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I think you mean chicharron instead of charro? That's what pork rinds are called in Mexico.
Maria / April 1, 2010 at 12:34 pm
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He probably means "frijoles charros", that's how beams are called when they are cooked that way.
Also, I haven't tasted the guacamole, but lemon doesn't even exist in Mexico, so I don't understand how it can be lacking on it.
Maria / April 1, 2010 at 12:34 pm
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*beans*
Daniel replying to a comment from Maria / April 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm
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Maria and Eli,

'Frijoles charros' is indeed the correct term you're right, but I reported it this way as this is how it appears on the menu.
As to the lemon juice, my mistake I meant lime.
Sheryl / April 1, 2010 at 12:50 pm
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Canadian coke is made with sugar, not HFCS.
Derek replying to a comment from Sheryl / April 1, 2010 at 01:11 pm
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The bottle lists "sugar, glucose-fructose." So yes -- not like American coke. But not like Mexican coke, either. I've also heard Mexican Coke is made with cane sugar...
Maria / April 1, 2010 at 01:14 pm
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In Mexico, there is a protectionist law towards cane sugar producers. It makes it that *by law* all soft drinks have to be sweetened with cane sugar and it specifically prohibits HFCS.
That's why Mexican Coke and all other sodas and soft drinks are made with cane sugar and taste so different and oh so much better.
cam / April 1, 2010 at 01:28 pm
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for a thorough report/debate on the Mexican coke topic see Michael Williams http://www.acontinuouslean.com/2009/08/13/coca-cola-mexicana/
Rebekah / April 1, 2010 at 02:08 pm
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The best guacamole I have had, in Mexico, didn't have a lick of garlic or lemon. I hope you mean lime and cilantro.
Mark replying to a comment from Derek / April 1, 2010 at 02:24 pm
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Glucose-fructose is Canadian for HFCS - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-fructose_corn_syrup
KnowItAll / April 1, 2010 at 03:52 pm
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As per the table to section B.01.010 3(b) in the Canadian Food & Drug Regulations, "sugar / glucose-fructose" is the term for "sugar OR glucose-fructose, singly or in combination".

This means that if Coke has labelled "sugar / glucose-fructose", then this term could very well be how they are labelling High Fructose Corn Syrup. HFCS could be, and may very well be, the only sweetener in Canadian Coke.

You have been edified.
Rachel / April 2, 2010 at 11:22 am
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I haven't been to this place but typically Mexican food in this city is disappointing. I hope Salsas changes that.

Also, I think people should be informed that Mexican Mexican food is different from American Mexican food in that the American take adds a lot more flavour and the Mexican version is very simple. Kind of like Asian food in Asia versus in Canada - same but different.

Anyway, best of luck to this establishment!
handfed / April 3, 2010 at 07:31 pm
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I've eaten there several times, and it was pretty good, especially the nachos. Some fillings are a bit off, but over all I'll keep coming back for that little taste of mexico.
Rural / April 13, 2010 at 01:18 pm
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I've eaten here a couple of times and have been pleased on each occasion. The burrito is an excellent value as well as being very tasty. I tried the tacos and they too were excellent. The Mexican pop available are a pleasant change (tamarind!) There's generally 3 or 4 variations of pork, chicken and beef available at any time - as well as shrimp and the aforementioned charro.

One note - I had the chicken yesterday and found it excellent, not dry as the reviewer claims.

Forget big fat burritos...
JudyT / July 10, 2010 at 05:28 pm
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I had food poisoning here TWICE.. either that or I'm allergic to mole (the chocolate sauce). My partner also got sick! I went back the second time three months later hoping it was some off chance that their food was off cuz they just opened. Same result. I must say though, the food is pretty good (which is why I went back the second time).. but the lady who made my taco was so stingy. Get the dude (I think he's the owner) to make your stuff. He's really nice and generous and takes the time to make your food rather than rushing it.
Eric S. Smith / August 4, 2010 at 05:16 pm
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For what it's worth, as of this writing, their <a href="http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain?userRequest=view_history&;ESTABLISHMENT_ID=10329405">DineSafe</a> record is clean.
Rich replying to a comment from JudyT / March 22, 2011 at 12:19 am
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JudyT:

you may not have had food poisoning...you might actually be allergic to the Mole. the same thing happened to me only when i ate their mole, which i later found out contained nuts (which i am allergic to). so if you are in the same boat, maybe that`s what happened to you too.

i`ve been there many times since, and haven`t had a problem with their other choices. big fan of this place
cherry / April 2, 2012 at 02:28 pm
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BEST.BEEF.TACOS.EVER!
luna / June 3, 2013 at 08:27 pm
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Whoever said that real Mexican food is simple and doesn't have much flavour is wrong. The flavour is spicy, and it's addicting. Some say the hot salsa covers the flavour of the food, but actually that's the point because that is the flavour and it's soooo good.... and of course lime, cilantro, etc... but if you don't use hot sauce, I can see why you feel there's no flavour.
Anon / December 5, 2013 at 10:35 am
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Tried a few tacos here several times (beef, mayan, tinga, etc) and they were all fantastic. I especially enjoyed the beef tacos. The meat is super-tender and juicy.
Vicky / December 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm
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This place has awful food and customer service. El Trompo which is located a few doors down has delicious Mexican food!

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