la morena toronto

La Morena

La Morena is a family-run spot serving up a slew of Ecuadorian eats and staples from Latin America. 

Tamales, humitas, empanadas, bolones — if you've never tried them, or just want them all in front of you at the same time, I highly recommend this cozy spot for your Latin food fix. 

la morena torontoA family affair helmed by Graciela Riofrio (the eponymous "morena" of the household) and her ex-husband Marcelo Rosero, you'll also likely find their kids Andres, Gabriela, and David in the kitchen and behind the counter. 

la morena torontoBring the vastness of the Ecuadorian cuisine on to one menu, La Morena brings dishes from the mountainous north (like Quito, where Marcelo is from) and Graciela's more tropical recipes.

la morena torontoPlaintains, potatoes and corn are the most essential components of this menu, and frankly it's shocking how many dishes can be made from this trio of ingredients. 

la morena torontoEmpandas are all made in-house, and unlike most other purveyors of this cross-cultural staple, La Morena offers three savoury styles.

la morena torontoArgentinian-style flour empanadas $3.50, Colombian corn flour empanadas ($2), and an Ecuadorian version made with a rice shell ($3.50).  

la morena torontoIt's my first time trying the latter and it's hands down the best empanada I've ever had. la morena torontoMake sure to ask for some of their housemade mustard and carrot hot sauce on the side.

la morena torontoHefty tamales are stuffed with chicken, pork, or veggies. Before steaming, these banana leaf beauties made from corn masa are given a ladle full of sofrito sauce, made from tomatos, garlic, onions, and herbs, for added moisture. 

la morena torontoWhile similar in concept, humitas ($4.50) are also steamed but made from freshly ground corn. They're sweet and creamy, with cheese inside. 

la morena torontoCeviche is offered on weekends only, and comes with shrimp swimming in a zesty sauce, a side of popcorn, patacones (flattened and fried plaintains, similar to tostones), and little plaintain chips. 

la morena torontoBolones de platano, or Ecuadorian plaintain dumplings ($12), are stuffed with chicharron, cheese or both.

la morena torontoThe end result is a hulking fried ball that you should definitely eat while hot. 

la morena torontoHornado ($14.95), a slow roastd pork shoulder dish, is another famous Ecuadorian must-try.

Marinated in beer and bitter oranges, the pork is a multidimensional ticket to Flavour Town, served with hominy corn and a pickled onion mix. 

la morena torontoMaduro con queso is yet another plaintain-based jaw-dropper, splitting open a fully ripe plaintain, simultaneously drizzling, stuffing, and sprinkling cheese on top of it. 

la morena torontoA handful of juices ($3.50) include naranjilla (lulo), gaunabana (soursop) and maracuya (passionfruit). 

la morena toronto

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Hector Vasquez

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