When you think of autumn the images that come to mind are probably pumpkins, leather boots, and trench coats. Not patios, margaritas, and key lime pie. A few weeks ago my friend Paul and I made plans to meet up for brunch, but a combination of factors like a subway closure, a mini breakdown, and a dirty rug that needed to be moved meant we didn’t get around to finding a place to eat until about 4 o’clock.
I live in Scarborough, which means it doesn’t matter if I get up for breakfast at 8 am or 6 pm. There will always be some dingy place where there is no wait and customer service is just a suggestion. I am fine with both of these things so long as my eggs are not runny. The Parkdale area is a little different. A google search revealed that every place he suggested was either closed or closing.
“Isn’t there just an all-day breakfast place we can go to?” He started making smoothies to tide us over until we found a place to eat. “We’re in that awkward time of day where everything around here is transitioning into bars or clubs.” We finally settled on Grand Electric, a spot Paul had been to before that sold Mexican food with adorable tacos that I would apparently love. Mexican, breakfast, a basket of gourds - at that point, if it was remotely edible, I was game. We started walking down Queen Street.
“Did we pass it?” I asked. “No, I would have heard the loud hip hop,” he said just as music started blaring from a door to our right. “Oh, this is it.” “Patio?” the lady at the bar asked. It was beautiful outside, and the cool, funky space looked like it could barely fit a kitchen let alone a patio, but a few steps through the back and we were standing on a nice patio with a friendly vibe.
The bartender waved her hand around at all the benches. “It’s communal seating, so you can choose wherever.” We sat next to an older couple who were digging into their own food and making appreciative noises. A good sign. I was ready. The menu consists of a few share platters, but the main attraction is the long list of tacos you can buy. The server recommend starting with about three and then adding more if you’re still hungry.
First up: the refried beans with egg served with soft shell tortillas. The egg was fitting; the original plan was breakfast after all. It was delicious and after we devoured it we sat waiting for the tacos. Grand Electric offers several taco options. Among their popular picks are the Beef Cheek taco with avocado salsa verde, onions, and cilantro, their Pork Carnitas with white onion and cilantro, and the Spicy Yam taco with a bunch of yummy fillings for vegetarians. On Paul’s recommendation I opted for the Crispy Cauliflower taco with pickled serrano and green onion and then for good measure I added the Spicy Chicken filled with cucumber yogurt, pickled red onion, cotija cheese, and cilantro.
The food arrived. Each came with two tortillas with the fillings piled on top. “You know why it comes with two tortillas?” Paul said. “You’re supposed to make your taco with the first tortilla, eat it over the second tortilla and then use the stuff that falls out to make another taco.” Genius.
The Crispy Cauliflower was fantastic. The tempura cauliflower provides the satisfaction of deep fried food without the guilt. And the Spicy Chicken taco’s cucumber yogurt provided the ideal balance between hot and cold. I was in heaven. We ended things on a sweet note by splitting a yummy key lime pie.
For taco-loving students Grand Electric is a vibrant, laidback spot to get your Mexican food fix. The taco prices range from $3.75 to $4.45. Grand Electric has a fun selection of drinks, but a mint julep or a margarita will put you back about $12, so if you are trying to dine out on a budget stick to the soft serve tacos.
Grand Electric is located at 1330 Queen Street West. It’s open Sundays to Wednesdays from 12PM - 12AM and Thursdays to Saturdays from 12PM - 1AM. You can check out their menu at www.grandelectrictoronto.com
You can find Neya Abdi and her work at Toronto Discursive and @neyaabdi