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Restaurants

Tacos El Asador

Posted by Josh Wise / Reviewed on March 10, 2013 / review policy

Tacos El AsadorTacos El Asador is a Koreatown institution, serving up authentic El Salvadorian and other Central American favorites. This small and always buzzing cantina captures the mood, excitement and most importantly flavours of Central American dining.

Tacos El AsadorThe small 20-seat restaurant is always teeming with crowds filling up the half dozen red picnic benches. When arriving during a dinner rush, I always keep my fingers crossed that a seat opens up before my meal is ready -- an assumed courtesy at El Asador is to avoid lingering once your plates are clear. From personal experience, while often a close call, something always seems to open up just in time.

On my latest trip, I found the unintended benefit of showing up 10 minutes late for a 2pm Saturday lunch meant my party already had the table ready.

Tacos El AsadorA couple of Dos Equis ($5.75) were brought to the table by the always present pseudo-manager, affectionately known as Smokey. A fixture at El Asador, Smokey always welcomes customers, whether regulars or newbie's with a big smile in his kind and humble manner.

Tacos El AsadorThe first dish to our table was the Birria (goat) soup ($9) which is recommended as a full meal. One enthusiastic member of our group dived into the hearty and rich soup as his personal appetizer. Tender chunks of goat meat, still on the bone, created a savory and delicious broth. With a mix of slowly cooked vegetables, cilantro, and a bit of peppery kick, the soup is a real winner.

Tacos El AsadorA half dozen fish and guac tacos ($3.30 each) arrived next in a mix of soft and crispy corn tortillas. Lightly seasoned, pan fried white fish were served with a generous portion of zesty guacamole, and topped with a light salsa.

Tacos El AsadorTacos El AsadorThe cochinita soft tacos ($3.30 each) come with flavourful pulled pork and pickled cabbage in a double-corn tortilla. The homemade Aji (hot sauce) and jalapeno/onion salad, compliments this taco with a welcome spicy kick.

Tacos El AsadorThe restaurant is known for their pupusas and we didn't miss the opportunity to try them again. Offered in cheese, bean, chicharron and squash varieties ($2.95 each), these were served pipping hot off the pan. I'd advise that you give the pupusas a couple minutes to cool as the mild, stringy cheese and smoldering beans can do a number to the roof of your mouth; either wait for them to cool, or keep your cerveza close. When topped with their special tomato-based salsa roja, these greasy pupusas do not disappoint!

Tacos El AsadorThe friendly atmosphere and delicious food at Tacos El Asador are what make the place so special and why so many continue to come back. Having been around well before this latest taco-trend emerged in Toronto, Tacos El Asador has kept to what it does best: good, simple and authentic El Salvadorian menu at reasonable prices.

Tacos El AsadorTacos El Asador is open from lunch to 9pm everyday.

Photos by Marni Wolf

Discussion

38 Comments

Jo / January 26, 2009 at 11:16 am
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First thing to remember (despite the big Mexican flag),it's a Central American place (El Salvador), so don't expect the regular "Mexican" flavours wih your food.

Skip out on the burritos (go to Burrito Boyz or elsewhere for that) but definitely try the tacos (hard or soft) and the enchilada (like an open hard taco except with black beans added). I heard the pupusas are worth it too (didnt have room to try it out).

Stick to food only to save money, buy beer elsewhere. (3 hard tacos, 1 burrito, 1 enchilada and 4 imported beers = $38.80)

This place is worth trying out!
(Im already craving an enchilada!)
Kristen / September 4, 2009 at 09:54 am
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The papusas are amazing. The mixed one is my favorite. The hard tacos, enchiladas and nachos are great as well! Its a busy spot, so come prepared to wait for a table, or grab it take out and go sit in the park. Its cash only, so remember to grab some $ before you get here. If you forget, there is an atm in the grocery type store across the street and a bit east. There are a couple of parking lots near by, and we usually have no trouble finding parking on Bloor.
Bob / December 29, 2009 at 09:45 pm
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My girlfriend and I go here all the time for the nachos and the overall price! I highly recommend the nachos! For under $7, they're good enough for a meal. Original and delicious!
Monika / April 29, 2010 at 06:34 pm
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I love this place, its real & authentic Salvadorian food. I love everything on the menu. Best burritos ANYWHERE! The crispy tacos are my favorite but everything is worth a try, amazing guacamole, homemade hot sauce, & dont skip the soups! lots of vegetarian and vegan options. Enjoy :)
jordan / August 10, 2010 at 10:47 am
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One of the worst tacos I have ever put in my mouth... I had the chicken and it was dry, flavourless and gross. The papusa wasnt any better either. I got 3 tacos a papusa and a jarritos and it cost me $16! The tamarind jarritos was the best part of the meal... If you are smart and you like your money AND you want good food, STAY AWAY FROM THE DUMP.

BTW - best burritos anywhere... Big Fat Burrito. Hands down.
ada lah / August 18, 2010 at 09:48 am
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tempat taco plg babi. kgk enak, pleacur semua org di situ. tai babi
erin / November 24, 2010 at 04:53 pm
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I tried it out after seeing this review
and it was the worst hard taco I have ever had!!!

don't get the chorizo taco or beef...
The beef was chewy, hard..
chorizo was dry, dusty feeling
Burreatto / November 26, 2010 at 12:54 pm
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I had the steak burrito and it is by far my favorite of the TO B-joints.
Richard / January 26, 2011 at 10:36 am
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One of the best places in the city!
lisa paterson / March 24, 2011 at 07:46 pm
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The meat was flavorless, especially the chorizo! Its just another pretend "Mexican taco joint" to please the anglo saxon palate. So no spice, flavor or texture. BORING! I've traveled all over Mexico and this is a disgrace to Mexican food!

Mexican taco:
Carne Asada
Onion
Cilantro
Corn tortilla
Slash of limon
Nana replying to a comment from lisa paterson / March 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm
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As other reviewers have mentioned, this is not Mexican it's Salvadorian. It's a different cuisine. It's also delicious.
Greg / August 3, 2011 at 05:23 pm
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lol @ lisa for calliing an authentic Salvadorian place "t another pretend "Mexican taco joint" to please the anglo saxon palate." Stupid white colonizers.
Greg replying to a comment from lisa paterson / August 3, 2011 at 05:24 pm
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lol @ lisa for calliing an authentic Salvadorian place "t another pretend "Mexican taco joint" to please the anglo saxon palate." Stupid white colonizers.
f / October 19, 2011 at 06:31 am
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this place was garbage. the tacos were bland and chewy...

taco bell was better
claudia melendez / November 26, 2011 at 09:31 am
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Es un lugar para comer algunos antojos latinos muy ricos sigan asi con ese sason Felicidades Beto me llevé un recuerdo muy bonito en haber trabajado con ustedes gracias, saludos a todos.
Jildren / February 26, 2012 at 02:46 pm
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Best food I've had in a long time Mexican salvadorian or other. Not even a huge Latin food fan generally but they have found a new regular in me. I'm an east ender but this place is worth the trip.
Emmanuel / September 9, 2012 at 12:51 am
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Forget about it, tacos with lettuce? no way! this place isn't even Mexican, they don't have idea how a freaking Taco should be.
cid cid / January 2, 2013 at 08:59 pm
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since when tacos, enchiladas, burritos and tamales became a salvadoran food. last time i checked that was mexican food.
Yoche / January 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm
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Just ate here today. Had a crispy chicken taco, cheese pupusa and a soft beef taco!

Love that the tortillas are corn. Great friendly service and the food was filling! I've definitely had better tacos, (El Trompo) but for the price, this place is well worth it. Next time I want to try the enchiladas, wish I had seen the combo sign earlier!

Check it out!
johnsonstarfish replying to a comment from cid cid / March 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm
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You and the other idiots on here that think this food is Mexican need to travel and eat in places other than Taco Bell and Burrito Boys. Ignorant a$$.
poh / March 10, 2013 at 02:34 pm
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They may not be an authentic Mexican place, but kudos to them for double wrapping their tacos-ideal way to have a taco.
AV / March 10, 2013 at 02:34 pm
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Reviewed on March 10th, 2013 but the first comment dates back to 2009.... hrmmmmm..............
CG / March 10, 2013 at 03:05 pm
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LOVE this place! nom nom nom
Tim replying to a comment from AV / March 10, 2013 at 03:08 pm
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The older comments are because we've had the restaurant listed in our directory for a number of years
Michele replying to a comment from Jo / March 10, 2013 at 06:11 pm
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"3 hard tacos, 1 burrito, 1 enchilada and 4 imported beers = $38.80" What???!!!!

Dumb hipsters paying 10X the price for one of the cheapest foods around. Imported beer from where? Mexico? This place is just another glorified Taco Bell for style-monkeys. But then you probably pay $15 for poutine topped with ham and cheese whiz.
gl replying to a comment from Michele / March 10, 2013 at 09:46 pm
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pretty sure, its the 4 beers that ran up the tab. @5.75/bottle, its $23 in booze. $15 for 3 tacos, 1 burrito and an enchilada....not bad
Gabe replying to a comment from johnsonstarfish / March 10, 2013 at 11:56 pm
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Suck on a nut pal, Just saying the foods good, I dont know if its mexican, cuban, spanish, el savadorian but the food id dammmmn goood!...
fbc / March 11, 2013 at 07:37 am
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the taco stand at bloor and dufferin at La Tortilleria does it better and Mexitaco does it even better than that.

also - over use of cilantro on EVERYTHING.
pz / March 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm
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ignore the haters. this place is legit, great food!!
Bonesaw / March 11, 2013 at 01:10 pm
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The pupusas here are friggin' great.

go go go
jd / March 11, 2013 at 04:51 pm
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Nachos with the homemade chips and steak...

Been going here for years. Will continue for many more.
Thom / March 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm
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The meat BEEF is so moist and delicious... Awesome Beef Steak Burritos... Get in teh game Toronto!!!!!!!! GEt wit dat!!
Muli / March 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm
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I eat meat BUT don't cook meaat at home that much. Sometimes when I go out I'll order BEEF, let a chef cook it, cause I can't cook it properly. So when I go out I'll order Steak, Beef, Roast, Chicken, PORK! Love Taco;s El Asador!...
Toby Buckets / March 12, 2013 at 07:40 am
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They have Jarritos soda pop. :)
lauren / March 12, 2013 at 04:56 pm
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love this place! service is a bit disorganized, but so worth it for the cheap and tasty eats! definitely try the pupusas!
Huda / May 3, 2013 at 08:16 pm
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Don't get the burrito here. My bean paste had a burnt taste in it. I had to throw it out.
Luiz / August 11, 2013 at 09:04 am
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People who claim Big Fat Burrito - just another joint where some white twenty-something with no experience in the kitchen besides some lame attempt to imitate the Food Channel in the Microwave "puts together" your burrito from ingredients in a counter display - is better than Tacos el Asador should be put dead like a straying rabid dog.
Tacos el Asador may not be the best soft taco in the city, but it is hands-down the best you can buy for less than 10$ a meal.
What I love about the place, owned and operated by a family of Salvadoreans is that the food advertises itself. It will manage to still be here (hopefully in 10 or 15 years to come) despite social network bashing, anonymous reviewers, the glorifying of the ego and the subjective in the altar of the internet and the like ills of our blessed modernity.
Natalia / July 21, 2014 at 02:26 pm
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We've lived in the neighbourhood for a long time and have had a lot of chances to go there. Initially we enjoyed the experience (not the best burritos, but a pretty good place for a quick bite). The people who run it know us well, say "hi" if we pass them on the street. But after three separate incidents where they've turned on us and literally nastily raised their voice for things that a customer should not be yelled at, (i.e., things like changing tables before the food arrives when the place is completely empty) we don't go back. It's absurd. They have to learn how to address people--all's fine when they're feeling friendly, but there's a definite issue with how they treat people if there is an issue to be addressed. Say something, but don't yell like you're talking to a minion. The last "temper" incident was the final straw. Will never set foot in there again! I should have not gone back after the first time.

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