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Restaurants

Tenoch

Posted by Joshua Chong / Reviewed on July 3, 2013 / review policy

Tenoch TorontoTenoch is one of those unlikely best kept secrets many know yet few have tried. It may not even be the second place that comes to mind for a Mexican quick fix. But the taco dynasty that's still enjoying its victory lap on the menus of many of this city's finest had long been perfected by this St. Clair grill and bar when it opened a few years ago. During my recent visit, I spoke to the owner, Haydee Moreno, who insists on the utmost fidelity regarding her family's finely-tuned family recipes from their native Mexico City.

Tenoch TorontoNo Tex-Mex here, or pretension for that matter. Just casual, friendly dining and authentic flavours. In lieu of certain ingredients some creativity is required, I'm told, but the results are the closest you'll get to real Mexican cookery.

Tenoch TorontoI don't doubt it. A mango jarritas ($2.50) in hand to quench my thirst, the pork taco carnitas ($8 for 3, or $11.50 for 5) were as good as any usually name-dropped around town, but cheaper and more plentiful. You get a sturdy helping of slow-cooked tender pork, cilantro and diced onion on fresh corn tortillas, simple as that. A healthy spray of lime and a few spoonfuls of their lime-green jalapeno or spicy red arbol salsa and you're all set. Cleansing and tingling, you'll wish you could bottle up that heat long after the meal's over.

Other tacos to try next time will be their sausage and potato chorizo con papas, or their alambre tacos stuffed with a fetching mixture of shredded steak, onion, seasonal peppers, ham, bacon and cheese.

Tenoch TorontoWhat came next was the main event. I had heard fevered rumours of Tenoch's torta sandwich ($13), but had to satisfy that curiosity with my own eyes and mouth, clichéd as that might sound. Needless to say, photos barely register its formidable magnitude. Nor could my spatial reasoning number crunch the logistics of eating it in its entirety (I could only manage half in one sitting). Almost regulation football-size in terms of volume, but denser and heavier, this meaty vessel practically occupies its own zip code and by that I mean, an oath to destroy all zippers in its wake.

Tenoch TorontoA roundup of the Tenoch torta gang could confirm just such suspicions: milanesa breaded steak, pierna roasted chipotle pork, pastrami, ham, and hot dogs...not to mention tomato, onion, cheese, refried beans, avocado, and a fried egg. Wrapped up in foil, it held together, believe it or not, no leaky fissures in its silver hull. This was helped in part I'm sure by the hefty yet soft bun which thankfully never got soggy. Even more remarkable was that the leftovers pretty much held intact. In retrospect, though, I'd say it's best for sharing.

Two main specials spice up their regular rotation. On Fridays they serve a traditional pork and corn grit pozole and a barbacoa lamb dish on Sundays. Both daily features come with a side of crispy tortillas, shredded lettuce, onion, radish, and lime, with the exception of the barbacoa which also comes with consommé.

Tenoch TorontoThe impressive menu variety being one of their strong points, take-out from Tenoch seems like it would be a no-brainer. But if you stop by weekends, busy as theirs are, you might leave disappointed unless you order well in advance. If takeout's your bag, weekdays are your best bet, but again, do expect reasonable, but still longer than average wait times since everything's prepared lovingly from scratch. In the not-too-distant future this may be a non-issue as there's been talk about opening a take-out only location nearby.

Tenoch Toronto

Discussion

21 Comments

bobby / May 1, 2013 at 09:46 pm
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Tenoch is so on point so under the radar, no one will ever go cause it's on St. Clair west, you go line up at Grand electric. I 'll go here
bobby / May 9, 2013 at 11:04 am
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Not even one comment eh? I love it, no one knows about this spot, it is LEGENDARY
Charlotte / May 14, 2013 at 09:00 pm
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LEGENDARY INDEED! I've brought so many friends to this gem of a restaurant and witnessed a few life changing experiences from their roast chipotle pork tortas and tacos.

It's so under the radar that this listing isn't even right - the tamales and tortas don't have sides of beans and rice. The tortas are so huge you wouldn't be able to eat anything else!

I want this place to get the recognition it deserves but I also hate the idea of having a two hour wait for the best tacos in town. But I probably would wait and it would be completely worthwhile.
Sophia / May 18, 2013 at 01:29 pm
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AGREE!!!! This place is amazing! My husband and I eat regularly at this restaurant and we can't have enough. The carnitas tacos are unbelievably tasty and delicious, second to none in Toronto (we went to Grand Electric, sorry but it does not compare to Tenoch). If you want to enjoy delicious Mexican food, you MUST visit Tenoch.
RSinTO / June 4, 2013 at 09:39 am
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I"m torn, partially because I want to keep this a hidden gem and maybe the best Mexican in the city but at the same time I want to make sure it remains open!

This is the real deal. It's not good, it's wonderfully authentically good. Forget lining up for tacos somewhere else, these are head and shoulders above anything other than Kings tacos down the street. All the other food I've had is great as well.
Sadie / July 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm
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I would kill to eat that sandwich right now.. Hot damn.
DarInTo / July 3, 2013 at 03:31 pm
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Best Shrimp nachos I've ever had!!!
rd / July 3, 2013 at 03:34 pm
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I love the bar with the wrestling masks! the food looks authentic and awesome cant wait to go!
ANNA / July 4, 2013 at 10:59 am
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DAMN YOU FOR POSTING ABOUT THIS PLACE. BEST KEPT SECRET IN TORONTO TILL NOW.
Cuauhtemoc / July 7, 2013 at 07:51 am
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Agree with the other commenters about the difficulty of navigating the fine line between about letting the world know about this gem but not wanting the place to become trendy and crowded. Oh well, these things are beyond our control. Nonetheless, the owners and staff should be given credit for emphasizing freshness and high quality ingredients all the while keeping prices low. It could have been so easy for them to do crap Mexican like so many other places. Also, everyone should try the tamales, which are the best I've had outside of Mexico. They are huge and cheap; maybe one of the best food deals in the city.
B / July 19, 2013 at 08:03 pm
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I don't think we have to worry about it becoming too discovered given the hours of operation. Local gem.
Marco / August 1, 2013 at 03:55 pm
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is a gem of a restaurant!! the best Mexican food around Toronto, there are many restaurants but never one like this, the family is so attentive that makes you feel at home, surprises me is the waitress very pretty young girl who is at all times in the restaurant and so that leaves me with my mouth open is that they have so many people that she does everything, take order, serve drinks, deliver food, makes the account and charges you! clean tables when entering someone since they are so busy that the poor no time to be cleaning gives, so the only thing I can say is it is the best restaurant and God bless all of them much more that deserve!!
Adam / August 19, 2013 at 02:29 pm
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Marco you're absolutely right but do not forget to Dad, when she's busy helps you need. actually this is the best Mexican restaurant in toronto seasoning perfect jewel
Jean / August 20, 2013 at 08:13 pm
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Of course is the Best restaurant, 3 years in this
Work is really hard some restaurants close like a year but TENOCH is unique.

The waitress & Senior is so attentive
everyone called a gem and is reality.
david andrec / October 6, 2013 at 01:00 pm
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After researching a good Mexican place to go to the reviews drove me here for lunch.

We were overwhelmed by the deliciousness and quality of the food. Amazing, best Mexican I have ever had and I have been to many.
le mexican / November 7, 2013 at 01:39 pm
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Is this place real? the pictures looks like its actual mexican food! no effin shrimp tacos on a kale tortilla with salsa kimchi infused hipster foam??!?!?!? YESSSS!!1
Patrick / February 27, 2014 at 01:50 am
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Unique,Best, authentic, delicius, awesome.... And more absolutely Mexican Restaurant is the number one!!!! Tenoch sandwich it's my crazy sandwich I can't finish hahahaha i split with my friend because trust me is like a soccer ball!!! Chorinachos... wtf it's a mountain so great.... Don't forget to tried... Tamales, pambazos, carnitas tacos, roast chipotle pork!!
Emmanuel replying to a comment from le mexican / March 22, 2014 at 03:43 am
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Real Mexican food, made by a real Mexican family, if u go there on weekend the place will be full of latin people, this is a guarantee of the quality of the food.
Daniel / June 4, 2014 at 03:23 pm
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Tenoch uno de los mejores restaurantes en Toronto, he probado otros pero la verdad esté a sido uno de mis favoritos!!! It's the best place trust me, the prices is so good the portions of food is like gigantic!!! I hope the people go to this place enjoy the food!!! I'm in English class sorry if is not correct my written!! Los Latinos que entren a esta página en verdad no dejen de ir todo esta riquísimo!! Nota: cuando tienen mucha gente la comida tarda un poco, pero vale la pena esperar.
Vince / June 6, 2014 at 11:32 pm
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After my first visit, this is my favourite restaurant in Toronto.
Gordie Lebrauna / June 8, 2014 at 10:17 pm
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If you ask Mexicans where to eat in Toronto, Tenoch is in their top 5. Tacos here are great. The sandwiches are exquisite. Do not eat for a day before coming to Tenoch, portions are insanely massive and not expensive. Four people can eat for under $7per person. Dont forget to tip, this place is old-school family run, not a franchise or some snobby hipster owner with a trust-fund.

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