don pollo toronto

Fancy Mexican restaurant has transformed into Toronto's newest takeout chicken joint

One of Toronto's best upscale Mexican restaurants may have turned into a brand new chicken joint for the time being, but it's not actually going anywhere in the long run.

"Don Pollo is not a replacement to Quetzal," says Grant van Gameren (Bar Raval, Rosalinda, Harry's, Bar Isabel) of his latest venture. "It is our answer to our wood fire cooking for take out, to run parallel to Quetzal when we feel comfortable to reopen Quetzal/interior dining."

Quetzal has been known for its massive wood fire cooking station which runs the length of the restaurant, and was a major part of the atmosphere and appeal of dining there. It was previously used to roast vegetables, cook meats and create tortillas, but is now being used for Don Pollo's Cornish game hen.

"We chose chicken as we were doing it previously at Quetzal but with Cornish hen, and it's approachable, travels well and is delicious cooked slowly over the fire," says Gameren.

The chicken is actually not as far removed from the Mexican cuisine of Quetzal as it might appear at first: it's "Sinaloa style," taking its name from a Mexican state. It's a roadside style of chicken that's typically marinated, butterflied and slow grilled.

At Don Pollo, you can get the chicken whole, in sandwiches or just get legs, and pair it with sides like fire roasted potatoes, slaw, escabeche vegetables, charred pineapple or chips and guacamole.

You can also add on a shrimp cocktail and beer or wine. Everything is available for delivery, or get 10 per cent off when you pick up.

"We chose this path in order to separate both experiences and to help create more jobs in the future and to help maximize the use of the space and fire during COVID as well as mitigate future anticipated lockdowns," says van Gameren. 

As for the fate of Don Pollo in the future, he says, "Once we reopen Quetzal, we will continue to offer Don Pollo both for delivery through Uber Eats and pick up through Ambassador."

Lead photo by

OVB Inc.

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