Pow Wow Cafe
Pow Wow Cafe is chef and restaurateur Shawn Adler's sixth project, and with it he's bringing the joy of Indigenous foods to Torontonian taste buds in the form of a taco.
The Kensington Market restaurant uses a frybread base for all the tacos: it's a food with origins in the rations Indigenous people were given when they were kicked off their territory by settlers.
The space is small with a minimal little patio under an awning outside and scant seating inside beyond a big front window. The tiny kitchen is open for all to see Adler's assembly of his creations, dunking huge hunks of frybread dough into a deep fryer and chopping them up into rough squares.
You have a choice between beef chili, veggie chili, pork or jerk chicken on your frybread taco ($12), and optional taco-y toppings, as well as the choice to top with an egg for $2. The jerk chicken isn't too hot, the burn melting away gradually and mingling nicely with the sweet mango and creamy goat cheese it comes topped with.
Of course, we go pretty much all dressed with both our tacos, and familiar toppings like sour cream, fresh diced tomato, cilantro, cheddar and lettuce go well with less conventional, more elevated additions like beets and corn shoots.
The beef chili is really good, and like the jerk chicken has a little kick with a nice slow burn that isn't too spicy, and is topped with a cumin sour cream.
They also do fantastic brunch here, with items like a sweet potato short stack ($14) and frybread topped with poached eggs, smoked salmon and goat cheese cream sauce ($15). All brunch comes with fruit, salad and peppery homefries. The eggs that top the frybread are poached perfectly, the liquid yolk combining pleasantly with the super creamy sauce.
There's also a back area with additional seating and a funky barber's chair that seats an additional twelve. With a liquor license, they can serve a limited selection of beer and wine, and champagne for brunch. Otherwise, you can grab an herby homemade cedar soda ($2) or a maple water from Sapsucker ($3).
Photos by Hector Vasquez