How a Toronto taco joint went from tiny food stall to 5 bustling locations
One of the city's largest independent taco chains is proving that good, authentic food is the perfect recipe for a successful business.
Gus Tacos (or Taqueria Gus) first took Toronto by storm when it opened in Kensington Market at the beginning of 2020, which is probably not the best time to open a restaurant.
But for co-owners and cousins Emilio and Augustine Morales, the last three years have been a testament to their handwork.
The beginnings of Gus can be traced back to La Chilaca, a small lunch-counter place opened by the duo, that quickly became a local favourite among Kensington Market pedestrians.
A few years later, the cousins found themselves with an opportunity literally at their doorstep when the place across the street opened and thus, Gus was born.
"Word of mouth from the Latin community and the Kensington crowd just took to our simplicity and quality," said Emilio.
Three years later, Gus has five locations across the city, including their newest joint in Scarborough on Kingston Road. It's a city favourite that offers a classic menu with no frills or extras.
Walk into the easily recognizable red-and-white joint and you'll find a straightforward menu telling customers to first pick from either tacos, quesadillas, chilaca, burritos or tortas and then choose their protein, like chilorio a Sinaloa-style marinated pork, battered shrimp or queso fresco y aguacate, fresh cheese and avo.
Hefty tortas are filled with your meat of choice, smeared with avocado and sandwiched together on a crusty roll. Tacos come with the traditional toppings of freshly chopped cilantro and onions.
"It is a combination between the menu of an authentic Mexican taqueria and the menu of a classic fast food restaurant," said Emilio.
But don't get it wrong, a straightforward menu doesn't mean there is a lack of punchy flavours. In fact, it's the exact opposite.
"We are honoured that our simplicity, quality, quantity and freshness are accepted across Toronto. We are a family business feeding families with quality and quantity with reasonable prices," Emilio tells blogTO.
Top customer favourites are the pastor, carnitas and battered fish. They also offer freshly-made, chunky guacamole and chips that is absolutely delicious and a perfect bite before a cheesy quesadilla.
"We are very proud of how the city has accepted our traditional Mexican tacos, burritos and tortas. Our customers keep asking us to open up shops in their neighbourhoods and their feedback is amazing."
Gus' continued success means their menu offerings grow as well.
You can now find their own in-house prepared sides and sauces; hot sauce, salsa macha (spicy chilli oil) and pickled jalapeños mixed with carrots and onions.
This business move was something Emilio and Augustine had wanted to do for a while and come with a dedicated design process.
As for the future, Gus continues to open up locations wherever they see fit, including new neighbourhoods that may not have had the special experience of feasting on their traditional Mexican plates.
"We're pleased that people like our food and we're thankful for the continuous support of all our customers. This is team work, without all the people that are working with us, this wouldn't be possible," said Emilio.
Gus Tacos' newest location is 2897 Kingston Road in Scarborough.
Join the conversation Load comments