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Restaurants

Rebozos (College St.)

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / Reviewed on November 1, 2012 / review policy

rebozos college st torontoRebozos (College St.) opened its doors just a few short weeks ago, although I first met owner Indalecio Marroquin during his short-lived tenancy at 214 Augusta. The petite Kensington Market stall offered a glimpse into the larger menu available at the original Rogers Road outpost of his restaurant. 214 Augusta represented a foot in the door into the city proper, and although he'd had his eye on Little Italy for his second sit-down restaurant for the past two years, the rent was astronomical. Instead, he took over a former Ethiopian restaurant just east of Bathurst and, with the help of his family, systematically renovated it, one bit at a time.

rebozos college st torontoThe result is a colorful room with yellow walls, orange accents, and an array of Mexican art. A painting of watermelon wedges by his wife gets the center spot on one wall, and her work is also evident in a miniature offering displayed proudly on the bar in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. "I never know what she's going to make next, Marroquin says, smiling.

rebozos college st torontoHis printed menu is concise, meat-heavy, and features recipes direct from his native Mexico. However, a whiteboard holds sample menu items, including burritos ($8.50) and ceviche ($10). Some of those will find their way onto the permanent menu's next incarnation, while others will remain on rotation. Marroquin is clearly passionate about food, and wants to leave room for both specials and his own whims in the kitchen.

rebozos college st torontoThe restaurant recently received its liquor license, but drinks won't be rolled out 'til mid-November, when he's hoping to serve beer and margaritas. For now, there are non-alcoholic Mexican pops ($2.50) in flavours such as sangria and pineapple. I have the latter, and it's true to the fruit, refreshing, and not too cloyingly sweet.

rebozos college st torontoFirst up is the pozole ($7), which is presented on a wooden platter, alongside three other small bowls which hold a lime wedge and lettuce, and self-serve Mexican oregano and dried peppers. The pozole itself is more of a stew than a soup, with hearty hominy grains and spices, and tender, simmered pork. While polite dining dictates the use of a spoon, I'd advocate for dipping the provided corn chips into it like a salsa. The mix of textures is wonderful, and you can get away with scooping out the majority of the good stuff without too much mess.

rebozos college st torontoNext up is the ceviche ($10), made with tilapia and shreds of radishes, carrots, tomatoes, green onions and cilantro--again, it's served with Rebozos' well-salted tortilla chips. It's not our favourite dish at the meal's start (for me, because I was expecting a greater abundance and variety of seafood), but as the flavours have time to mingle and meld, the dish improves, and squeezing several lime wedges over it certainly helps.

rebozos college st torontoI can't resist the shrimp tacos, and am rewarded with a rich blend of grilled shrimp, tomatoes, chipotle and onions, topped with cabbage and shreds of carrots. At 2 for $8.50, they're on the pricy side, but the mild spice of the chipotle lends a rich, smoky flavor to the dish. A word about the tortillas--as they cool, they lose a bit of their flavor and take on a slightly chalky aftertaste, so eat quickly.

rebozos college st torontoTo finish, we opt for the trio of tacos ($10) and it comprises a large part of Rebozos' existing menu for a reason. Unlike other trendy (and frankly restrictive) taco spots, Rebozos lets you mix and match any combination from options such as carnitas, braised beef tongue, and cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork marinated in annatto sauce). We choose carnitas, pollo et tinga, and chorizo.

Groups of two or more, rejoice: my boyfriend loved the carnitas (slow-cooked, shredded pork shoulder with fragrant onions and cilantro) and the chorizo (ground, perfectly seasoned sausage), while I broke from form and gushed over the pollo et tinga (chicken breast, onions and that same chipotle). In short, something for all tastes, within one handy plastic basket.

rebozos college st torontoThe tacos are served with two housemade salsas (a spicy red salsa and a salsa verde) which you can spoon out at will, but the taco fillings are amply spiced, and to be frank, I didn't like either salsa for their sweet aftertaste. The red salsa is highly innocuous-looking (although I was warned), but half a teaspoon thoroughly sears my mouth.

rebozos college st torontoMarroquin is set for a much-needed and well-deserved vacation in the coming weeks, which will mean that the restaurant will only be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until he returns (with Mexican beers in tow) on the 15th.

Discussion

14 Comments

nicole / November 1, 2012 at 10:30 am
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Lol! The city proper? Oh that's right, Toronto only exists south of Bloor, east of Dufferin and west of Parliament. I've lived within these limits my entire life, and I've never had the myopic view that seems to plague so many of the online 'culture writers' and commenters in this city. Anyway, I'll continue to 'suffer' the trek to suburbia to get my Rebozos fix. It's nice to step out of the smugness of 'the core' once in a while and get some fresh air.
Ken / November 1, 2012 at 11:11 am
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Excited about the braised beef tongue! $10 for 3 seems reasonable (though not cheap). Fish in the ceviche looks rather shredded/meagre, and radishes are an odd addition.
Lizzle / November 1, 2012 at 11:25 am
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I, for one, am excited to have a Rebozos location in real-Toronto.

My problem with the other location isn't so much the hardship of getting all the way out there, as it is the accompanying nose bleeds that I get when I am north of Bloor.
acv66 / November 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm
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roger and dufferin is real toronto , i dot want to go to the crime ridden downtown core, ill stick with the west end/uptown location . its a 100x safer area
Berry / November 1, 2012 at 02:17 pm
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ya plus tacos taste way better in the core too
Phil / November 1, 2012 at 05:58 pm
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Don't get me wrong, I love Dufferin and Rogers - I live near there. But it's the former municipality of York, so I think it's fair to contrast it with 'the city proper'.

I agree radishes are an odd addition to tacos, but I've had them that way in Mexico (and at Grand Electric too). And hey, if it tastes good why complain?

I hope they do well on College St. - Rebozos still makes the best tacos in the city. And I'm looking forward to having three with a beer.
Panic / November 1, 2012 at 06:04 pm
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I'm not sure how authentically Mexican the tacos I had from a tiny truck in Los Angeles are, but I'm going to go with "very" as it was serving to a majority Hispanic clientèle. Anyway, all this to say that they included radishes on the side with their amazing chorizo tacos, so it's not totally out there.
Ace McNugget / November 1, 2012 at 09:27 pm
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The pozole looks fantastic - drooling at the picture. Hopefully the tacos are reasonably sized though, otherwise it's a bit pricey.
Brent / November 7, 2012 at 08:10 am
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Radishes with tacos are very authentic, particularly in puebla.

Torontonians have much to learn about food.
Jeff / November 8, 2012 at 01:16 pm
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One of our Critics hit up this spot the other day and she said the food and ambience was top notch! Follow @LetsEatToronto for Toronto's Best Restaurants, Deals and Promotions!
Sean / November 21, 2012 at 07:03 am
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Inspected on: November 9, 2012
Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional Pass)
Number of infractions: 8 (Minor: 2, Significant: 4, Crucial: 1)
Crucial infractions include: Failure to protect food from contamination
Steve / November 21, 2012 at 11:58 am
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It would be great to see the exact address on this review. I can google it, I know, but it just seems like it should be part of the research that goes into one of these things...Amiright?
S replying to a comment from Steve / January 19, 2013 at 02:02 pm
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Yeah, if only the address in every restaurant review was presented with Google maps in the upper right corner....oh wait, it is.
sarah / January 31, 2013 at 07:07 pm
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It's "pollo de tinga" not "pollo et tinga." If the menu reads otherwise, it's a typo.

It would be nice to read a review of a Mexican restaurant by someone who knows about Mexican food, or at least took a few minutes to educate themselves about it so we wouldn't need to read a preschool explanation of what pozole it.

Radishes, oh my! It's not odd at all. In Mexico. But parochial Torontonians don't get that. How odd for a bunch of folks who like to pretend they live in a world class city.

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