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Posted by Liora Ipsum / Listed on September 24, 2013 / review policy

Xola TorontoXola is the tiny new 15-seater taqueria from chef/owner Mali Fernandez (formerly of Embrujo Flamenco) that opened this summer on Queen East in the Beaches.

Inside, the modest sized dining room is cozy and smartly sparse. The decor features hanging filament lights and colourful graffiti from Mexican mural artist, Andre Castro. On a recent weeknight when I stopped in, the windows were steaming up and the place was packed to the brim as locals streamed in for take-out at a regular pace.

Xola TorontoFernandez originally hails from the Xalapa region of Veracruz on the Gulf coast and opened this restaurant to showcase the flavours of the Mexican madre tierra (motherland). The menu features an array of snacks, ceviches and taquitos. There's traditional guacamole ($8) but also four innovative variations like say, a goat cheese, sundried tomato and poblano pepper studded version.

Xola TorontoTaquitos estilo Baja ($15) come three toasty tortillas per order topped with golden fried pieces of fish. They're garnished with slaw, avocado, jalapeƱo salsa and habanero mayo for perfect balance of hot and cold; creamy and crunchy.

Xola TorontoChile Poblanos ($10) are a hearty vegetarian dish that sees black bean and queso fresco-stuffed peppers bathed in a saucy roasted tomato caldillo.

Today, the off-menu specials include steaming bowls of Pozole, a rich stew that could be a hearty meal on its own. It comes topped with lettuce that wilts into the broth and is served with cold garnishes like crunchy radish slices, chopped onion, house made salsa and lime wedges.

Xola TorontoAt brunch and lunch (from 11am to 2pm), Xola offers Mexican standards like chilaquilles ($9), tamale trios ($9) and variety of burritos ($7.50). Coffee is supplied by neighbouring roaster, Higher Grounds, and horchata ($4) is available along with Mexican sodas.

Xola is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner starting at 5pm. Take-out orders are encouraged since seating is so limited.

Xola TorontoPhotos by Morris Lum



Sam / September 25, 2013 at 11:19 am
This place is a bit too pricey for the Beach. It should be interesting. Good food but drinks are very small and super expensive
Matt F / September 25, 2013 at 11:20 am
Okay, the menu sounds intriguing, but how was it? There's no opinion in this review!
john / September 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm
This is a welcome addition to the Beach, there are enough Pubs there, and the prices reflect the good quality of the food, it is delicious!
sean / September 25, 2013 at 01:23 pm
oh good lord,yet another 'take' on mexican street food while this city still lacks a single place to get an authentic taco al pastor,roasted shawarma style on a spit.

BM / September 25, 2013 at 06:47 pm
Hey BlogTO - For Christ sake! It's The Beach. If you can't get that right - change your name to BlogScarborough.
v79 replying to a comment from BM / September 25, 2013 at 08:01 pm
Give it up BM. A small few who voted a few years ago can't change what the city at large calls the area. It's a series of beaches, and it will forever be known as The Beaches to the overwhelming vast majority of us. Get over it and move on.

As for Xola, the food looks good, but overpriced. I doubt I'll be trekking the ten minutes south to check em out.
Alison replying to a comment from v79 / September 25, 2013 at 11:04 pm
Exactly! "The Beach" is a destination in any city, "The Beaches" is an area of Toronto. It doesn't even make sense that the small amount of people who voted wanted to call it The Beach. People who grew up in Toronto will forever call it The Beaches
Sam / September 26, 2013 at 12:10 am
I popped in today at lunch to grab take out fish tacos. There was only one table being used and they looked to be almost finished. There were 3 staff members standing around chatting. They refused to make the fish tacos at lunch. I don't get it
Lo replying to a comment from BM / September 26, 2013 at 09:59 am
The Beaches is the old name, the real name. That stupid yuppie vote some years back to change it to The Beach is bogus (though technically yes, now it is The Beach).

Exciting to see something new in the area, as it's been lacking vibrant restaurants for some time. Whether it will hold up, I'm not sure.

Mikey / September 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm
I am a long time beacher. It will always be "the beaches" to people who actually live there. Happy to finally have somewhere decent to eat in the neighbourhood with the additions of Xola and Brussels Bistro. There is more than enough greasy nasty pub food.
piero / September 26, 2013 at 07:41 pm
The food is fresh and tasty and made with care. The drinks are very strong. I had the sangria and it was delicious. The service is very friendly and you get a variety of spicy sauces to complement your meal. It's usually very busy since the restaurant is very cozy. It's a welcome addition and adds some diversity to the neighbourhood.
AA / September 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm
We found it disappointing that weekend lunches strictly adhere to the brunch menu... no tacos available until dinner time:(
katie replying to a comment from BM / September 30, 2013 at 04:38 pm
it always has been and always will be "the beaches" to true beachers.

to clarify, there is more than one beach in the beaches: Woodbine Beach, Kew Beach, Balmy Beach...hence the beachES
Maya / October 1, 2013 at 04:24 pm
Food is very pricey and we walked out very disapointed.I would not recommend it or ever go there again.
kc / November 2, 2013 at 10:36 am
I've lived there for 10+ years and elsewhere in T.O. for 20 years. To me also it will always be 'The Beaches' but seems petty to get into a fight over it - let people call it whatever they want.
Re: the restaurant, was excited to see something casual other than a pub come in. Quality, non-chain restaurants cost more, but good food and service are essential to make it a value experience. Will try it to make up my own mind.
LC / November 13, 2013 at 10:37 am
This is a wonderful spot to eat, and a great addition to the BEACH.
Calvatheson / November 30, 2013 at 04:08 pm
In a district historically overrun with chicken fingers, wings and fries, this little gem offers terrific, authentic Mexican food in a city where the typical conception of Mexican was the deep fried ice cream 20 years ago at Chi-Chis. In fact, it might be a little too real and down to earth for an area whose banal cuisine accuarately reflects the blandness of the people who live there. Who else would turn a discussion about a restaurant into a silly debate about Beach or Beaches?

Xola, I hope you find your feet and move to a neighborhood where they will appreciate you. In the meantime, both your food and your heart are wonderful. Try the fish tacos.
Chris! / December 31, 2013 at 04:22 pm
A taqueria that won't sell people tacos! Sounds inviting.
Lauren / March 6, 2014 at 10:41 pm
Overpriced in reference to portion size. Will not return
Matt / June 15, 2014 at 03:16 pm
Lived in the Beaches all my life and have accepted its culinary mediocrity (there are very very few good restaurants here) but I went to XOLA when it first opened and was pretty surprised at how delicious the burrito was. The guacamole is amazing. I recommend it. Delicious mexican food.
Rjack replying to a comment from BM / July 27, 2014 at 10:58 am
Beaches.......Beach........WHO THE HELL CARES?

Usually, the food in the "Beaches" is beyond terrible. A whole slew of white-bread community pubs with sad, fried food and zero character. Xola is a bit of a breath of fresh air.

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