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Restaurants

Zocalo

Posted by Meaghan Binstock / Listed on August 2, 2010 / review policy

Zocalo TorontoZocalo, another recent addition to the roster of casual restaurants in Bloordale Village, is one of those places that just feels like a neighbourhood spot. Narrowing the gap between Bloordale and the Junction, Zocalo's unassuming storefront resides at Bloor and Sterling, a little further west of this strip's developing concentration of restaurants and caf├ęs. The small space is bright and welcoming, and the friendly owner immediately makes us feel like we've been hanging out here for ages.

Zocalo TorontoZocalo is currently open only during the daytime (dinner service will begin once a pending liquor license is complete). We arrive on a Saturday afternoon to sample the lunch menu. The charming decor is simple and rustic, all wood and neutral colours punctuated by a handful of bright red tables dotted with little vases of fresh flowers. At the back of the restaurant is an eye-catching bar, atop of which rests an espresso machine that produces the tasty americanos ($2.25) we start with.

Zocalo TorontoThe menu is a small but diverse collection of interesting items. The brief card is divided into baked goods, starters, and sandwiches... sort of. Broken bread sandwiches, to be more specific, which the owner explains is sort of a deconstructed sandwich. The warm, fresh bread comes on the side of a plate of sandwich ingredients, all separate so they can either be eaten as an assemble-yourself type of sandwich, or separately, perhaps as a salad of sorts. A little strange, but something different anyhow, and since the various ingredients are separately quite tasty we can't complain.

Our first broken bread is the pommery fennel and egg mash ($10 - top photo). The mash is like egg salad, served cold and mixed with fennel, fresh herbs and mustard. The combination of crunchy fennel and fresh dill with the egg is good itself, but made even better by the delicious accompanying tomato relish which is very tangy. This dish also includes a chunk of soft cheese, green salad and both white and whole grain bread. The slices of baguette aren't exactly conducive to creating one sandwich-like item, so I mostly try and get a little bit of each ingredient on my fork and proceed from there. Logistics aside, this proves to be a winner.

Zocalo TorontoWe also try the grilled peaches and peppers ($10), another broken bread, which is accompanied by sweet corn hummus and spiced, roasted almonds. The sweet and smoky peaches and peppers pair well with the spiciness of the almonds and the garlicky hummus, another appealing mixture of flavours.

Zocalo TorontoThe greens and gruyere quiche ($7.50) is a generous slice of savoury homemade spinach, cheese and egg pastry, sided with salad and paired with the same tomato relish which adds a perfect punch here as well. I'm enjoying my egg mash, but I experience dish envy when this plate arrives in front of my friend. More than one bite is definitely in order.

Zocalo TorontoFeeling fully caffeinated after another round of coffee, we decide to finish the meal with one of the homemade butter tarts ($2) that tempt me from a cake stand on the bar. My dining companion, a resident of the neighbourhood, chats away with the owner who informs us that he and his partner are also long-time Bloordale-ians and proud contributors to the transformation underway in this area. With the warm, welcoming atmosphere and the satisfying fare, we leave feeling that our visit to Zocalo was a Saturday afternoon well spent.

Zocalo TorontoPhotos by Taralyn Marshall

Discussion

63 Comments

William / August 3, 2010 at 09:38 am
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Could you please correct the headline. I tremendous amount of work on the part of the community went into naming this neighbourhood. The efforts received a lot of press including The Star (http://bit.ly/cXkGRL), CBC and BlogTO (http://bit.ly/d7iwQV). Other then that, great review. Thanks.
William / August 3, 2010 at 09:41 am
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Oh and the later references to Bloordale also if possible. Thanks.
William / August 3, 2010 at 09:50 am
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Oh, it's called the Junction Triangle
Xavier / August 3, 2010 at 10:06 am
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Why is there always an intermediary page? Why not link the frontpage directly to the article?
John / August 3, 2010 at 10:25 am
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Yes, the intermediary page is annoying. (I think William is right too... once you head west of Lansdowne yr out of the Bloordale strip.)
M replying to a comment from Xavier / August 3, 2010 at 10:26 am
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I concur
Tim replying to a comment from William / August 3, 2010 at 10:27 am
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So...we're no longer allowed to use the term Bloordale? Has anyone notified the owners of the Bloordale Pantry?
michelle replying to a comment from William / August 3, 2010 at 10:29 am
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Why the craigslist link?
TL / August 3, 2010 at 10:30 am
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I feel that the true, organic name of my neighbourhood to be Bloordale, and not the awkward Junction Triangle. Bloordale wasn't even an option on the ballot – and it's no surprise that JT won out over proposed names as 'Value Village Village', 'Captain Fantastic' and 'Gizmo Triangle'.

Either way, no matter what you call us — Zocalo is a much welcomed addition to our neighbourhood! Welcome!!
michelle / August 3, 2010 at 10:31 am
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Sorry, that was in reference to the top commenter whose bit.ly link seems to take me to a craiglist ad that has expired. Bizarre.

This place looks beautiful, and I had no idea it had opened. This strip is becoming great for brunch.
rick mcginnis / August 3, 2010 at 10:35 am
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Didn't Chris McDonald have a restaurant called Zocalo briefly, serving lunch underneath Avalon? This would be years ago ...
k386 replying to a comment from TL / August 3, 2010 at 10:46 am
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Junction Triangle is a sham. Was just an exercise in real-estate marketing
William / August 3, 2010 at 10:49 am
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Tim-We would inform the Bloordale Pantry if they weren't in Bloordale but they are. Zocalo is in the Junction Triangle and the Bloordale Pantry is in Bloordale.

TL-there were two votes. One included names like Bloordale (although already taken by the neighborhood to the east) and names like Captain Fantastic but the first vote eliminated eliminated all but the top ten. Junction Triangle wasn't my vote either but that's democracy for you :-)

michelle: no idea why it leads to craiglist for you and apparently others-it works perfectly for me. Here are the two unshortened links.
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/780446--junction-triangle-voted-new-name-for-west-end-neighborhood
and
http://www.blogto.com/mb_toronto/2010/03/morning_brew_the_province_of_toronto_junction_triangle_named_impaired_ttc_bus_driver_tim_hortons_drive-thru_assault_bike_lanes_on_bloor_and_danforth_cash_for_guns/
J / August 3, 2010 at 11:10 am
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Who gives a f*** what the name of the area is.
Toronto has a great new place, the end! I can't wait to try it :)
JMcCormick / August 3, 2010 at 11:17 am
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This place looks great! Can't wait to try it out!
Terry / August 3, 2010 at 11:30 am
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Yes, why can't one just go directly to the article at this site?
Tim replying to a comment from Terry / August 3, 2010 at 11:36 am
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This has to do with how our Content Management System is setup. The direct links to the reviews exist in the restaurants section but if you want to be notified of them via the main feed or the homepage than an extra click is required. One tip though - you can click on the Latest Reviews section of the homepage to be taken directly to the review.
Joe / August 3, 2010 at 12:17 pm
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What is the address?
Minty / August 3, 2010 at 12:40 pm
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I am so excited to try this place! That picture of the butter tart is making my mouth water. I live in Bloordale, but I'll cross over Lansdowne to the Junction Triangle to check it out. ;)

mondayjane / August 3, 2010 at 12:48 pm
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Maybe it's just me, but I think the word "tasty" should be banned from any and all food reviews. Was used here twice. Honestly, is there no other descriptive word?
gabe / August 3, 2010 at 01:16 pm
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Please re-title to

A new brunch spot opens in the GTA
ABC / August 3, 2010 at 01:41 pm
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Blansdowne,
diddy / August 3, 2010 at 04:45 pm
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Zocalo is awesome. the food is to die for and the coffee is the best i've had. Atmosphere is brillant: great tunes, the decor is lovely, there is a great mix of people stopping by for their caffeine fix or to enjoy a leisurely lunch. When the liquor licence comes through this will be my destination hang out, and i live in the east end!
Justin replying to a comment from Joe / August 3, 2010 at 06:10 pm
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It's on the right hand side of the page along with a map. Can't miss it.
Junction Triangle resident / August 3, 2010 at 06:24 pm
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Were cleavage shots intentional? mmmm deconstructed sandwich. What a concept.

P.S. This place is not in Bloordale. Get your geography straight, please.
William replying to a comment from J / August 3, 2010 at 06:29 pm
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Well I guess me and many other residents; but I am just as happy as you seem to be that my neighbourhood has a nice new place to eat.
William replying to a comment from k386 / August 3, 2010 at 06:32 pm
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Hard to imagine what you're basing that on. All the people involved were neighbourhood residents. The only way agents were involved was providing a little funding for the flyers because the costs for those really add up.
Steve replying to a comment from ABC / August 3, 2010 at 07:02 pm
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"Blandsdowne." LOL. Perfect.
Junction Triangle resident replying to a comment from Steve / August 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm
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you moron can't even spell Lansdowne :(
Elizabeth / August 4, 2010 at 12:02 am
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Great review - I got a good sense of the food from the descriptions and photos. I want to check it out! Thanks!

Whokebe / August 4, 2010 at 03:22 am
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The gap between Bloordale and The Junction will never be closed. lol. There's just too much crap - in content but especially form on the ground - in the way for the "Junction Triangle" or whatever the hell you want to call it to become a decent destination. The upshot is that rents will remain cheaper there for much longer than anywhere else in the west end.
Junk / August 4, 2010 at 09:03 am
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This just in!!!! Some friends and I have renamed the Junction Triangle and shortened the name so that people can refer to more quickly and more often, please only refer to it from now on as "The Junk"
TL replying to a comment from Junk / August 4, 2010 at 10:26 am
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YES!! Long live the Junk!!
hahaha!!
RMS / August 4, 2010 at 10:46 am
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Perhaps everyone debating about what to call the area could shift their focus to the restaurant itself, and find another forum for this discussion. It is relevant, yes, but inappropriate considering the hard work these folks likely have put in to get a restaurant going. I have not been there, but it sounds fantastic and I love the pics of the place and the food. Will absolutely try it!
JZ / August 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm
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I've lived around the area my whole life and in no way is it the junction or junk!!
Arti Patel / August 4, 2010 at 02:51 pm
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this is also my area and welcome zocalo, i pass by it everyday and this review makes me want to try it even more. and YES Junction Triangle. :)
gt / August 6, 2010 at 01:21 pm
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Ate there yesterday. The food was delicious. Definitely recommend everybody checks it out!
Junction Triangle resident / August 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm
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Excellent place - A reasonably priced, contemporary diner in a neighbourhood that could use a few.

My friend and I went there for brunch today. We shared the quiche with salad and tomato relish (all delicious), and then had two of the "deconstructed sandwiches": fennel and egg mash with a decent chunk of Quebecois brie from The Cheese Boutique, and homemade pork and wild mushroom sausage with perfectly executed lemony hummus, both accompanied by the same salad of mixed greens and a few slices of artisanal breads. O.J. was freshly squeezed, and latte more than adequate. All came in under $40 for the both of us.

Go there, you will not be disappointed.
AussieGirl / August 12, 2010 at 03:11 pm
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The boyfriend and I live down the road from Zocalo and have been popping in every day since it opened. The owners are so welcoming and friendly, the food is fantastic and the coffee is the best in the area by a long shot. Make sure you check it out.
junction girl / August 14, 2010 at 07:59 pm
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Went by Zocalo today and WOW! Great food, amazing coffee, fun music...and people were really enjoying themselves. The owners were beaming because they just got their liquor license and will be open late as of next weekend. This place is amazing and I can't wait to have a glass of wine and meet the locals. We have been waiting a long time for a place like this in the area.
Lauralee Morris / August 15, 2010 at 01:12 pm
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Great food and ambience. My broken sandwich was delicious! Very good latte.
Erik Braaten / August 15, 2010 at 01:15 pm
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Love the spinach soup and homemade corn bread. The cappucino was great! Can't wait to go for dinner.
Brendan / August 16, 2010 at 04:03 pm
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Went here yesterday and it was lovely. The food was delicious and the staff were friendly. I can't wait to go back again.
Damon replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / September 8, 2010 at 11:30 am
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Indeed you are correct. I was the chef at that restaurant which was at the corner of Adelaide and John. We were downstairs but in the same building as Avalon, and we remained open after Avalon had a kitchen fire that closed them down for several months. Some time after Avalon re-opened, Zocalo closed up shop.

I'll have to check out this new Zocalo to compare and contrast, though it sounds quite different. We were doing pretty authentic Mexican cuisine with tacos, tortas, pozole, etc.
Damon replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / September 8, 2010 at 11:39 am
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Sorry, my last comment was directed to RIck McGinnis above who remembered Chris MacDonald's restaurant of the same name from the mid 90s. Rick, didn't you used to write a column? Kidding.
paul and martha / November 3, 2010 at 09:48 pm
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'junction triangle', fabricated marketing scam or not, is a stupid name. the neighbourhood is called Blo-downe! spread it!
and we can't wait to come try the new restaurant at the end of our street.
Junction Triangle resident replying to a comment from paul and martha / December 1, 2010 at 04:20 pm
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That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.
rojerr / December 16, 2010 at 03:01 am
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Yes, the intermediary page is annoying.The cappucino was great! Can't wait to go for dinner.
David / January 16, 2011 at 09:38 am
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Junction Triangle? I don't think so. Was this a blog based vote? I've lived here for 26 years and this area was never considered the junction in my experience. It's not up to a bunch of nerds, real estate agents or whomever.
Duke / March 11, 2011 at 10:26 pm
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God forbid anyone comment on the quality of the restaurant. Go debate your neighbourhood names else where.

Great food, They change the menu up to keep it fresh, these pictures are outdated. Cleavage shots rule.

This place is packed every night, that speaks for its self.

Best 10 dollar main you can find around this part of town.

Every bite is savoury and leaves you wondering....How is this only $10????
scottd replying to a comment from David / March 31, 2011 at 01:07 pm
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David

So how did you miss the community wide naming vote last year? Hundreds of residents participated and it was in every newspaper and on every TV station. Thousands of mailers and cards were sent out. There were 3 public meetings. You say that you have lived in JT for 26 years which is interesting as the City of Toronto started calling the area Junction Triangle in 1976 which can be seen on planning documents. I guess you have lived in a cave all that time. : ) Come out and join the community.
Ming replying to a comment from scottd / April 9, 2011 at 06:43 am
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Thanks for having me here in Bloordale
jamie / April 27, 2011 at 08:37 pm
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Great place, great food, friendly service.
Done.

goodstuff / July 8, 2011 at 02:43 am
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eat here be happy.
dnr / November 6, 2011 at 09:50 am
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I live in the Junction and think the whole Junction Triangle thing is hilarious. Why anyone would care about an area that has nothing to offer is beyond me. You should call the area "Nothing" because there is NOTHING THERE. What is there is closed up storefronts, dirtbag Laundromats, housing that looks like it belongs in East Berlin circa 1971 and hookers with fat lips.
The restaurant does look good though. I'll give it a shot - Hope I don't get shot.
ew replying to a comment from dnr / April 6, 2012 at 08:30 am
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dnr

you are the ignorant scourge of the suburbs who is ruining our city. you will not get shot in the junction triangle, but you probably should. btw your neighbourhood used to be identical to the one that you are badmouthing, before it became inhabited by the usual good/bad mix of nice new shops and restaurants/judgmental suburbanites like yourself.
rather peckish / April 21, 2012 at 03:31 pm
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i had a great time at zocalo. the food is delicious and at a great price. btw, you wont get shot. lol. our tasty delish pics are here: http://ratherpeckish.blogspot.ca/2012/04/zocaloyum.html

Zoe Lawlor Hill / April 30, 2012 at 11:49 pm
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Loved the food when the place first opened, and now that I've come back over a year later, the food is even better, and the place is always busy now. The food keeps surprising me. I've gone back three times this week for a well rounded taste.

I don't feel I have to go here to sympathetically support the owners and the growth of the neighbourhood, I genuinely want to have a meal here daily.
josally / August 10, 2012 at 09:57 pm
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I've been there twice now and their serving sizes are about half that size. seriously. kind of a rip.
China Wholesale Electronics|Wholesaler / November 12, 2012 at 08:00 am
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I’ve read some excellent stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot attempt you set to make this sort of wonderful informative site.
Tyrell Stahler / December 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm
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The small space is bright and welcoming, and the friendly owner immediately makes us feel like we've been hanging out here for ages with delicious food must be visited
Lana / March 2, 2014 at 02:48 pm
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We went to Zocalo for the first time today. I had the poached eggs, potatoes/cauliflower. Very delicious but I actually came away still hungry. The slivers of french bread and the fact that there just wasn't much substance to my meal, was a tiny bit disappointing. Other than that, the service, atmosphere, drinks were all fantastic.
dan d worldwide / July 9, 2014 at 04:42 am
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Dead Pool

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