classico toronto

This secret Mexican restaurant in Toronto is serving up a lot more than delicious burritos

Toronto's new must-have takeout restaurant just happens to be totally virtual, like a lot of things these days.

Classico is an online taqueria doing pop-ups and making themselves available for delivery through Uber. While their burritos and tacos have been popular, it's a magical condiment that's the cornerstone of the brand.

In addition to offering heaping burritos and tacos stuffed with lamb barbacoa, chicken tinga and vegan options like Impossible protein, they also make their own unique oil-based salsa with dried peppers and peanuts inspired by traditional salsa macha with origins in Oaxaca and Veracruz.

"We're a contemporary Mexican brand," Abel Páez tells blogTO. "We are not looking to be completely authentic, but celebrate and show to the world our interpretation and current state of the traditional Mexican cuisine."

Classico offers a variety of vegan options, and they say they get most of their ingredients locally.

The brand was started by Abraham Páez about five years ago, but was put on pause. The project was given new life when his chef brother Abel relaunched the brand with the salsa macha as the first product after being pandemically laid off twice, first from Bar Buca, and then from Carlotta Bar on the Beverly Hotel rooftop.

Their first wildly successful pop-up at now-closed cocktail bar Hush Hush was an indication of how popular they'd become.

"We sold out on our first day," Páez says of the pop-up that ran for most of November 2020. "That pop-up was definitely a great introduction of Classico."

The Páez brothers ended up teaming up with Carlos Crespo of Bar Sybanne as a partner and investor as well as Karla Hernandez as designer and content creator to spread the word.

Most recently they've popped up at cocktail bar Project Gigglewater, where they serve traditional dishes inspired by places in Mexico, alongside margaritas and other cocktail specials, donating a portion of specials to charity.

Photos on Classico's Instagram from themselves and customers show their salsa macha being used not only on traditional Mexican dishes but also bagels, ravioli, noodles, hummus and fried rice. 

"We are here to tell the story of how Mexican cuisine is not a fast food taco or burrito, it is more: It's the ingredients, the recipes, the interpretations, and the people who eat our food," says Páez.

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