Don Latte Cafe
Don Latte may look like a run-of-the-mill coffee shop at first glance, but this humble little cafe at Davenport and Laughton is actually home to an awesome menu of Peruvian drinks, desserts and baked goods.
Owned by Ruddy and Efren Tenoreo, a brother and sister team from Lima, the simple spot is the siblings' first foray into Toronto's Latin American food scene, with everything made from scratch by Efren.
Offering a lean menu of baked goods, they also do catering and hold English-Spanish practice sessions — perfect for the large Latin American community just up the street on St. Clair West — held free of charge on Saturdays.
The empanadas here are the most popular order, and it's not hard to see why: Efren has been traveling back and forth from Peru to try and elevate his recipe to Peru's virtually unbeatable level of empanada expertise.
The chicken empanada ($3.50) is super moist, not overbaked like others tend to be, and is sizeable for the price.
You can also get beef or spinach-filled empanadas, and if you're ordering for catering, there's the option for quinoa or lomo saltado filling. I haven't tasted it (yet) but it sounds so good I'll probably throw a party just to try it one day.
I recommend pairing your empanada with a delicious and refreshing drink called chicha ($2.75) for an authentically well-rounded Latin American meal.
Made from maiz morado (purple corn which you can buy in flour-form at Don Latte) boiled with apples and lemons, Chicha is sweet, cooling, and it's full of antioxidants.
If you're a fan of tamales, you'll love Don Latte's hefty Peruvian-style tamales ($6.50) served on a banana leaf with a small side of sweet pickled onions.
Made from mote (dried corn) and spiced with aji panca, a yellow pepper Indigenous to Peru, you can get your tamale with chicken, pork, or tofu. Unlike the smaller bite-sized Mexican tamales, these are pretty big.
The lucuma smoothie ($4.75) is not only delicious, it's nutritious and will likely make it to your top 10 list of most unique drinks consumed ever. It's hard to describe the flavour: somewhere between a mango or a jackfruit, with caramel in it.
Found only in Peru, lucuma is considered a 'super fruit' and has been called "the gold of the Incas". If you've had a long night out or just need a sweet pick-me-up, this should be your go-to drink.
Don Latte also offers a few desserts, like tres leche cake ($3.25) and suspiro ($3.50), a popular dessert from Lima that's basically a layered dulce de leche, but with a thicker whipped cream. Served in a plastic cup, it's easy to eat on the go.
Another classic are the alfajores, which are little bites of mostly corn starch and coconut flakes, for $2 each. These make for a good snack with coffee, especially the dulce de leche latte ($3.25 for a small).
Don Latte is a total treat, and a cafe that could easily hold its own in even denser areas of the city. Aside from being a valuable community fixture, it's an awesome concept — if you're looking for unique and well-priced Latin American drinks and treats, head here.