La Carnita On College Street

College Street / Little Italy


Isn’t it strange how every neighbourhood has at least one location where, no matter what restaurant opens up, it never seems to last?

That’s the case with 501 College Street, located just west of Bathurst on the south side between Markham and Palmerston. It’s not the busiest section of the street but it is beside Grace Restaurant and Teatro, so it presumably has enough street traffic to support it. This location briefly starred Cinq01, which many said failed for its heavy helpings of attitude. (Note to any commercial proprietors opening up a business in College Street’s Little Italy: the locals will not return a second time for servings of haughtiness and pretense.)

Cinq01 was followed by Briscola, which I rather adored at the beginning when the attention to culinary execution was exceptional. It was by no means inexpensive, and the decor was a bit crazy (with plaster mouldings on the wall!), but I was a loyal patron. I once famously fainted there one Saturday evening last year over the Halloween weekend. I went headfirst into the front door in my attempt to get outside for some fresh air… I never got the door open and instead splattered in a resounding heap in the middle of the floor. When I came to I found two paramedics hovering over me taking my blood pressure. Given that weekend was all about Halloween revelry, I thought I was staring at two people who had inadvertently worn the same costume until I realized they were wanting to put me on a stretcher. Being phobic of hospitals, it was enough reason to get grounded again. I don’t think I was the reason it closed (though presumably, an ambulance with flashing lights outside your cafe isn’t going to serve your business well), but it shut down shortly thereafter. I think it was the onslaught of winter, which in frigid Canada can be the death knell for many restaurants.

The summer of 2012, La Carnita opened up. Cleverly tapping into the new hot trend for ‘elevated street food’, La Carnita is both refined and ‘cheap and cheerful’. Targeting diners looking for value, this is a place you can meet your friends for drinks and tasty snacks without breaking the bank. This week my darling friend Della and I feasted with cobs of corn, tacos, sodas and churros for an extremely reasonable $37 plus gratuity. I can’t remember the last time I spent less than $40 for dinner for two in downtown Toronto. It’s mostly because we passed on the booze. Della was overcoming a cold and I’m on a cleansing that is keeping me clear of caffeine, liquor and junk food. As most any diner knows, booze will automatically near double a bill… at least with me in your company. Ha!

Here’s some snaps of the food and interior:



By the way, the staff are all pretty gorgeous and flirty. Wink.

Wanna see La Carnita’s menu? Click HERE for their website.

I welcome La Carnita to the neighbourhood. After all, who doesn’t want to grab a great affordable meal after a busy day, and then stroll a few steps to get home to make a cuppa tea?



~ Steven


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