mercado restaurant toronto

Mercado Restaurant

Mercado Restaurant serves authentic Portuguese cuisine with a focus on shareable main courses, such as meat and seafood-filled grazing boards in the Castlefield Design District. 

Four years ago, Carlos Oliveira and his wife Luisa opened the restaurant's original location on St. Clair West while also operating Casa Portuguesa, where the present-day Mercado now exists. 

mercado restaurant torontoWith the pandemic looming over their businesses, Oliveira and Luisa close both down, deciding instead to combine the sit-down concept of the old Mercado with the hot table component at Casa.  

mercado restaurant torontoThe new and improved Mercado has a hot table section next to the entrance of the restaurant that features trays of traditional Portuguese meats, hearty vegetables and seafood dishes such as bacalhau that are ready to eat and available to go.

mercado restaurant torontoCabinets filled with grocery items such as cans of codfish shipped right from Portugal, Portuguese olive oil, teas, spices and other non-perishable goods for sale are located near the entrance. 

The main dining area has a rustic, old-school European feel. The sounds and smells of sizzling and sauteeing food escape into the room from the restaurant's large kitchen pass. 

mercado restaurant torontoMercado expanded their seating area, decorating the room's walls with knick-knacks that could be found in a Portuguese grandmother's home including tributes to Catholic saints, the country's famous Rooster of Barcelos, and a collection of ceramic plates with lobsters on them. 

Operating in the current environment, Mercado didn't only increase their seating, add a takeout area and a brand new patio covered by 100 umbrellas, but also shifted the focus of their menu. 

mercado restaurant torontoPrior to the pandemic, Mercado's food menu concentrated on items that were large and meant to be shared such as their famous meat and seafood grazing boards.

Noting that fewer people are comfortable with sharing platters, they introduced a number of chicken and fish main courses, although they kept the popular grazing boards. 

mercado restaurant torontoWhat stood out to me about the food at Mercado was the elevated and modern plating - right down to the plates used - of the traditional Portuguese flavours and ingredients. 

mercado toronto

Ninho de Alheira ($21) uses katafi pastry to create what resembles a nest (Ninho is nest in Portuguese).

The dish features a fried egg over sausage from northern Portugal, hickory potato sticks and frisée.mercado restaurant torontoIt's a mix of sensations in the first bite. The fried potatoes are crunch, the egg yolk is rich and it covers the meat and frisée below. 

mercado restaurant torontoBacalhau a Bras ($22) is a modern take on traditional Portuguese cod fish salad. Cod fish is stir-fried and cooked with potato sticks and eggs. 

Here, the salty fish is balanced by the fresh frisée and tangy feta cheese garnish. 

mercado restaurant torontoCostoletas de Cabrito ($46) has four seared French lamb chops arranged on top of a vibrant pile of colourful vegetables that includes potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, green beans and rapini.

A drizzle of red wine reduction adds a touch of cinnamon spice to the dish of juicy meat and tender vegetables.  

mercado restaurant torontoThis elaborate display of grilled meats is called the Beira Mar ($145). Beira Mar is like the surf and turf platter of your dreams, where all the meat can be cooked to the level of your liking. Since all of the meat and seafood is fresh from the grill there's a smoky flavour present in each bite. 

There are pieces of slow-cooked pork belly topped with onion marmalade on opposite corners of the board. mercado restaurant torontoSitting on one corner of the board is a prosciutto-wrapped steak medallion. There's also a whole charcoal-grilled chorizo sausage and a crispy grilled piece of octopus tentacle.

The board also features juicy jumbo shrimps, two pieces of tender scallop and a 12-ounce steak that went well with the side of chimichurri sauce. 

mercado restaurant torontoThe new Mercado is located in an industrial area near Eglinton Avenue West and Caledonia Road. 

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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