The top bars and restaurants to drink tequila in Toronto are, unsurprisingly, Mexican spots. With Toronto set to hold the world record for the largest tequila tasting, it's no wonder that tequila's image has been rejuvenated of late. When putting together this list, the first criteria I looked for was, naturally, a large selection of tequila (and their smokier cousin, mezcal). I also took note of the quality of food available as well as the ambiance, of course.
Here are my top picks for tequila bars and restaurants in Toronto.
Opening this year in the Distillery District, El Catrin immediately put itself on the radar in Toronto with an eye-watering range of almost 90 tequilas and mezcals, including the ballers-only Clase Azul Ultra Extra Anejo for $200 an ounce. Surprisingly, the rest of the list is amazingly well priced (at least for the Distillery District). The margaritas are great, the food is delicious (if a little pricier than you'll be paying elsewhere), and the decor is exceptionally vibrant. It's also the biggest spot on the list, with almost 200 seats, in case the tequila craze gets out of hand.
With around 70 tequilas behind the bar, Reposado is a popular spot for any tequila and mezcal aficionado. On ever-packed Ossington, this place gets predictably busy on the weekends, with house band The Reposadists setting the mood and the excellent margaritas flowing out quickly over the bar. They have an amazing patio in the back and some of the best cocktail bartenders in the city. Food is more tapas than tacos, but you'll be heading here for other reasons.
The La Carnita / Grand Electric divide has split this city into a veritable collection of fanboys, each staunchly defending the merits of one over the other. I like both, but where the boys in Parkdale opted to pair their tacos with bourbon (and a lengthy wait for a table), College Street's La Carnita has heavily invested in quality tequila and mezcal. It's not the biggest list in the city, but everything's carefully selected, and the bar is a great spot to knock some back. Soak it up with some fantastic tacos, and make sure you finish up with the legendary key lime paleta.
Playa Cabana Hacienda
Realistically, I could have picked any of the Playa Cabana spots, but I opted for the newest one at Avenue and Dupont as the ideal place of the three to imbibe. The food uses local meat and veg, and has over 50 tequilas and mezcals on hand.The decor here is vibrant and suitably garish, with neon signs, rusty highway paraphernalia, and plenty of exposed brickwork. Just don't mind the inconsistent service.
Milagro / La Perla
La Perla is the upstairs bar situated directly above the ever-popular Mexican eatery Milagro. It has a smaller list than the rest, but owner Arturo Anhalt is keen to replicate the authentic cantina (hangout) experience, and has established a great night spot. They serve a number of snacks, but if you're peckish, it's worth trying to snag a table at Milagro beforehand.
Photo of El Catrin by Jesse Milns
by Jen Hunter via blogTO