Latin World is a small grocery store and restaurant selling Mexican and Latin American food and products. The grocery store taqueria has a long and rich history, and at their best, they can be authentic, unpretentious and delicious: hidden gems serving up impressive regional cuisine. At their worst - well, not so much. Latin World unfortunately trends towards the latter, and would probably be better off sticking to selling packaged tortillas and hot sauces.
The first warning sign is having to repeat, several times, our order to the cook, who chooses not to write anything down. The slapdash nature of the small grocery store restaurant - mismatched chairs and tables, poster board menus, ordering from the kitchen window - can be a large part of their casual charm, but skimping on the fundamentals of food service is rarely a good thing.
Tamales ($3.50), prepared in advance and resting gently in a steamer, turn out to be quite good, with soft, meaty masa enveloping chewy and moist pork that's a bit spicy. It's only when we get to the freshly prepared food that things start to take a turn for the worse.
Tacos (2/$6 or 4/$10) are all identical in makeup: uninteresting meat topped with cilantro and a scattering of white onion. Chorizo, spicy and not too oily, is probably the best, though the meat is somewhat dry and needs to be resuscitated with lime and salsa verde. Chicken, bland but at least not completely devoid of moisture, does little to distinguish itself, while the less said about the gamey lamb tacos, which come as an unannounced substitution for the al pastor pork tacos we order, the better.
At the other end of the spectrum from cilantro and white onion are crema and cheese, which uniformly top our other offerings. Gorditas ($3.50) are agreeable enough. The dough around the chorizo filling is a bit charred, creating flavour that the dry chorizo and moist but otherwise uninteresting dairy cannot. The salsa verde helps, at least a bit.
Flautas (5/$10) aren't impressive. The chicken is somewhat tender, unlike the pork, though both lack any hint of flavour or spice. The crema and cheese and crunchy tortilla do create some contrast that under normal circumstances would be desirable, but none of the individual elements are well executed, leaving the dish as a whole to fall short. What's more, we're shorted a flauta.
Unfortunately the food here feels rather slapped together, with little thought or care and not much to distinguish one dish from another. None of the meat is particularly good, nor are the toppings particularly interesting. With so much good Mexican and Latin American food in Toronto, you can do better.
Latin World is open from 9:00am to 9:00pm daily.
Photographs by Miranda Whist. Follow/yell at Anders on Twitter .