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Restaurants

Tara Inn

Posted by Simon Yau / Reviewed on May 20, 2011 / review policy

Tara Inn TorontoTara Inn has remained a secret long enough. The humble Irish Pub in the South Eastern end of Scarborough has for years been plating bar food and traditional Irish breakfast with enough greasy aplomb to absorb even the most serious of St. Paddy's day hangovers. But the real reason to make the trek? The wings. Delicious, plump, juicy and flavourful wings.

From the outside, the signage at the restaurant seems recently updated; a thousand watt beacon gleaming from the recesses of a nondescript strip plaza. The neighbourhood is as homely as the establishment's traditional glass paned doors.

Walking through the threshold of Tara Inn however, one enters a world that is essentially the polar opposite of "gleaming". Green felt carpet, stained glass light fixtures, ubiquitous wood paneled walls, wicker furniture and a gaggle of jovial imbibers huddled around the bar transport you immediately back in time 10 years. In terms of ambiance, I've never been embraced in the anthropomorphic bosom of a snooker table but I'd imagine it's a somewhat similar experience.

It's a wonderful bit of a surprise that amongst the eclectic decor and local regulars at this dimly lit watering hole, one finds some incredibly impressive bar food.

The menu consists, naturally, of typical Irish pub fare: steak and kidney pie ($8.95), braised beef stew ($9) and a traditional breakfast that includes treats like fried soda bread and pudding (both black and white) exemplify Tara's comfort food maxim.

The reason I am here though, and the reason many internet trolling foodies have made the trek out to Kingston Road over the years, are the jumbo chicken wings.

Offered in portions of 5, 10, 15 and 50, Tara's chicken wings are available in a variety of familiar flavours, including BBQ, honey garlic, cajun, honey mustard and jerk to name a few. We opt for 20 wings ($22) split between medium hickory BBQ and cajun. Because our eyes are bigger than our stomaches, we also order a serving of onion rings.

Tara Inn WingsService is friendly and relaxed and our wings arrive in no time flat (the place being empty probably helped). Upon a cursory glance, it's clear the phrase "jumbo" is no piece of false advertising. Each piece of poultry is freakishly, mutant-sized large.

Eschewing the heavily battered style of so many traditional buffalo wing joints, Tara's wings have just a thin dusting of seasoning, resulting in a delicate and thin skin that manages to retain a satisfying crispiness.

The medium hickory BBQ has no trace of vinegar or Tabasco aftertaste. Instead it features a mildly sweet first bite with an appropriately benign kick at the end, courtesy of some peppery BBQ heat.

The cajun style, traditionally a dry wing, are curious in that because the wings themselves are not battered, the meat tastes and appears almost like a baked wing dusted with seasoning.

To be honest, I'm not even 100 per cent sure the wings are fried. Although I did not get a chance to ask, it would not surprise me at all if they were baked -- they convincingly looked and tasted the part.

As for the seasoning, the flavour is cajun-y enough -- slightly garlicky with hints of paprika and cayenne kick -- but nothing exceptional. What makes this wing though, not to be redundant, is the chicken itself. The meat is moist and bursting with flavourful juices instead of the dried out shards so often seen with dry dusted, deep fried wings.

Tara Inn Kingston RoadNot to be outshone however is our humble plate of onion rings. A surprisingly light beer batter covers each piece of hand cut onion. These things are homemade and the difference between each light, flavourful morsel and their bready, soggy frozen counterparts is the difference between an orange and a tetra pack of orange drink.

It might not look it, but the word is definitely getting out about Tara Inn. Although it's not in a particularly accessible (or glamorous) part of town, the comforting homemade menu items and world beating wings make this a pub well worth crawling to, even if it's a bit of a detour.

Tara Inn ScarboroughHours: Sun-Sat (11:00 am - 2:00 am)

Discussion

15 Comments

Les / May 20, 2011 at 09:05 am
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In before Scarborough hate

Though even I admit as a former native I never really ventured to Kingston Road that much.

Looks like some mighty tasty wings and checking the old list I think the best wings in Toronto list needs to be updated.
J*town / May 20, 2011 at 09:15 am
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On Eglinton Avenue East, between Midland and Brimley Rd you'll find the second and only other location of Tara Inn. It's a small place - a diamond in the rough. They got great beers on tap and they have amazing chicken wings that are as big as your fist - literally.
RS / May 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm
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Wasn't this place featured on Restaurant Makeover a few years ago? If so, looks like they beat the infamous 'curse'. Good on them! :D
Greg / May 21, 2011 at 03:29 am
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Nice to see this kind of content.
Sean / May 22, 2011 at 02:08 pm
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It's been 10 years since I've had wings there but I remember them being very good. Would have been nice if the review included a word about the beers they serve...it is a pub after all.
Lisa / September 24, 2012 at 03:40 pm
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The worst restaurant experience of my life.

We waited an hour for our appetizers, then, when they came out: our fish was not cooked, fries were still frozen, french onion soup was charred on top.

When my husband aproached the kitchen staff about the quality of the food... the OWNER threw off his apron, said 'OUTSIDE NOW' and stood breathing in his face as if he intended to physically fight him.

I was embarrassed to have brought my family there.
Marvindale II replying to a comment from Lisa / September 24, 2012 at 04:28 pm
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That sounds like the makings of a viral video. Maybe bad service should be shamed like that, or call 911 if a personal threat was made.
MARIA / October 16, 2012 at 11:25 am
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Lisa we dont has fish on our appetizers,t,he handcut chips are never frozen & our four chefs never deal with the guests.It looks to me working at the Tara Inn for many years with all the same girls that i know and guys that i also know working with for years, that you has a personal issue with someone are something and your words dont make sense.

Please anytime contact our manager Stephen to talk to you,cause what has written sorry just cant be true. Ph# 416 266 6200.Sept 24 was a monday stephen would has been your host & Selva Velicia your chefs,and bout 5pm three more staff join for the night for a packed house for our famous half price wing special with the same repeat costumers and lots new for the last twenty years.I really hope to meet you some day Sincerely Maria




















Lisa / November 7, 2012 at 05:18 pm
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MY words don't make sense? Allow me to clarify:

- Our appetizers and mains came out at the same time, hence the confusion in that sentence.
- In regard to the french fries, if they were not frozen, they must have been refrigerated, because they were cold and hard on the inside... which I equate with frozen.
- The day I wrote the original comment was a Monday, we had eaten at the Tara the day before. I hope this helps you to narrow down which kitchen staff were working. The man who became aggressive with my husband claimed to be the owner (I have since confirmed that he was with friends who used to frequent your establishment) and he was in the kitchen with an apron on.

I should mention that our waitress that day was fantastic, as are all of the other waitresses I've met at the Tara. Our complaint was solely about the terrible food that was served. AND, because of the owner's reaction to our complaint, aggressive/violent behaviour from a man who should be putting customers first.

If he had of apologized like any good owner would, I would have accepted his apology and given the Tara another chance. Now, I will never be back.
Ron Paul / February 23, 2013 at 02:01 am
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Briefly worked here.

The place is disgusting, bleach buckets in the same sink as the vegetables.

The kitchen is filthy, they treated me and everyone else working there like shit

If you saw what was going on in the kitchen, I guarantee you wouldnt step foot in this hellhole
Ron Paul's Mom / March 19, 2013 at 03:02 pm
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Thanks Ron. Although you're full of S*#t, hopefully your comments will keep away the downtown hipsters and frat boys.

The Tara Inn on Kingston Road is a bit 80's (who has rattan furniture and ferns in an Irish pub?), but what it lacks in ambiance, it more than makes up for with the best wings in Toronto. Their thick cut fries and fresh cut onion rings with Chipotle dipping sauce are pretty darn good too...just don't make the mistake of going to the Tara Inn on Eglinton Ave it's an unfriendly little dive bar full of obnoxious regulars. Cheers
The Baron / March 28, 2013 at 03:00 am
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Ron Paul is disgruntled it happens, one of my closest friends has been the bartender there for over a decade, and I have eaten there numerous times. No issues. Awesome wings.
Ron Paul / May 30, 2013 at 07:33 pm
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No. I'm not lying.

I breifly bussed at the Kingston tara Inn and i am dead serious there was bucks with dirty water and bleach being kept in the same sink as the cook was either thawing or preparing a big bowl of spinach in.

Everything is hardly cleaned, we would just go over the place with vinegar once in a while

The owners are complete morons. Its a divorced couple that owns the place and the two of them dig a great job of sitting on their asses at the bar while me and the other workers bummed around pretending to be doing things.

I know for a fact some of the other workers were on drugs too.

Literally a scarring work experience, ill be sure to report all this when I have the time.

Don't

Eat

Here
Melinda replying to a comment from MARIA / July 25, 2013 at 10:37 am
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The Tara Inn is a staple in the Cliffside community. I have been going there since I was a kid. I have nothing but great things to say about the Tara. My husband and I have celebrated many St.Patty days there and have always been treated like gold by Maria and her staff.
The food is irish pub food and has always been great too. Having an arguement on a public forum with the owner is pretty "claddy" (look it up, it's an Irish term).
Take a trip to Ireland, come back and try the Tara again - you'll appreciate the experience of the Tara that much more.
Kam / March 16, 2014 at 09:58 am
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In the many years that I have lived in this area, I have tried this place on 3 separates occasions thinking that the previous times were just "off" nights/days.
First time I came in with a girlfriend and we sat in the sun by an open window because it was warm. We waited about 30 Mins before I got up and walked to the bar side to try and get our waitress sent back over so that we could order. When the food came, the wings were only just ok.
2nd time was take out. I had called in my order for wings and when I arrived 15 Mins later they THEN put my order into the kitchen.
The last time was pretty much the same result when placing an order for takeout. I order in advance so that I don't have to wait. And don't look at me disparity when I don't want to order a drink while I wait for your less than fabulous food.
Tara Inn on Eglin to is by far the better location. They aren't owned by the same guys any longer as the 2 brothers split ways. Tara on Eglin to has FAR better wings. Bigger, crispier and there sauce is more than just tobasco.
I always find it a bit tacky when the restaurant posts to argue with people's experiences.

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