Estrella Taqueria

The taco craze taking Toronto finally made it up to North York in November with the renovation of Smokey Joe’s, an old bar with a great rooftop patio just north of Yonge and Sheppard. With an impressive selection of bourbons, daily specials and over 60 tequilas on hand, Estrella is on track to being the new bar in the area.

Atmosphere: I had only visited Smokey Joe’s once and it wasn’t for me. It was nice to see the space re-incarnated with the unique decor and bright colours, there’s even ping pong tables in the back for customers to use free of charge. There are cozy leather booths and lots of wooden tables that can be put together for large groups. I can’t wait for the rooftop patio to open up when the weather warms up.

Service: When the BF and I stopped by, it was still super early for dinner, just past 5:00pm cause we were both hungry and couldn’t wait. The staff hadn’t ramped up yet and we were one of the first customers of the night, which meant service started a bit slow. We weren’t sure who our server was at first and it took some time to get our order in. Our tacos did come out quickly and it was fun to see the guacamole made fresh at the table.

Food: On Monday nights, Estrella offers a $5 taco deal with soup and salad, $5 pints and $5 house cocktails. We passed on the taco special, which was bulgogi in favour of ordering from the regular menu. I did take advantage of the drink special and tried their white sangria while the BF had a bourbon sour. My drink was fruity and easy to drink; the bourbon was quite sour and served with a thick foam topping.

The table-side guacamole arrived in a giant mortar and pestle that was used to mash up the avocado and mix up the ingredients. When I make guacamole at home, I’m very liberal with the cilantro and lime so I thought the flavours were a touch understated. It’s a more traditional recipe and doesn’t mask the avocado. The chips served alongside were crispy and topped with a sprinkle of spice. They were pretty oily but delicious.

On to the tacos. We ordered one of each on the menu except for the vegetarian and oyster ones. My favourite was hands down the Taco de Panza. The fatty pork belly was full of flavour and I liked the pairing of a light, crunchy cabbage topping. Next were the duck confit and short rib tacos. Both were flavourful and I loved the spice in the short rib. For me, the best fish taco I’ve had so far was still at Grand Electric. The offering at Estrella was solid and had great toppings but couldn’t compare. I had high hopes for the tuna and ceviche tacos, but they fell a bit short. The ceviche taco was ok but the tuna taco didn’t have the same kick in flavour as the others and the texture of the tuna made the bite feel mushy.

Ending the night with dessert, we had the pineapple ice cream and churros. The churros were not very good. They were very doughy and uneven, none of the airy crispiness I was expecting. I’m not sure if it was because we ate so early in the night and the oil wasn’t ready, but it was disappointing. However, I loved the ice cream. It was creamy, sweet and sour with little chunks of pineapple. Scrapping dulche de leche with each spoonful of ice cream was a great way to end a meal. The macadamia nuts felt a bit unnecessary. There wasn’t really enough to incorporate into each bite and I forgot about it for the most part.

Estrella Taqueria Estrella Taqueria Estrella Taqueria Estrella Taqueria

Estrella Taqueria

Estrella Taqueria

Estrella Taqueria
Estrella Taqueria on Urbanspoon

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