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Dubbed “Home of the midnight taco”, this new tequila bar opened up at the edge of the financial district earlier this month. With an extensive tequila list and delicious bites to compliment the drinks, El Caballito (@elcaballito220) is sure to be a new King street hotspot.

El Caballito

The restaurant opened up at the beginning of February and is located between Simcoe and Duncan, in the basement which previously housed Barootes. Upon entering the space, I immediately fell in love with it. They wanted to bring a rustic, Mexican back-alley feel to the space and they certainly achieved it.

It’s dimly lit and despite a capacity of 120 people, it feels quite cozy. There are fun muruals painted on the walls and the space is dotted with gorgeous light fixtures, some of which are made from old tequila bottles.

Light fixtures made from old tequila bottles

El Caballito will also be opening a patio in the summer which will have a 100-person seating capacy and will feature a build your own taco station. As if we needed another reason to look forward to the warmer weather!

The DJ

The restaurant’s extensive tequila list consists of 64 blanco, resposado and anjeo tequilas and mezcals sold by the ounce which are served in a caballito, a slender shot glass used for tequila. They also offer 12 tequilas and mezcals as “Servicio Tequilero” aka bottle service.

But what makes El Caballito most unique is their private tequila tasting room. Fitting only four people at a time, it’s a very intimate experience. Let’s be honest, I’m pretty sure the majority of us have only experienced tequila in shooting form. That’s the extent of my tequila experience, anyway. But I can guarantee, the private tasting is quite the experience! You’ll be in good hands with Manny Contreras, the bar manager.

The private tequila tasting room

Manny is incredibly knowledgeable about tequila and is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. He poured us some tequila to savour – one sip at a time. Let me assure you, this isn’t the stuff you’re used to shooting at the ol’ watering hole.

The private tequila tasting with Manny Contreras, the bar manager

In addition to tequila, El Caballito offers a selection of hand-crafted cocktails. Here’s a look at a few we sampled:

Manny’s Margarita – pink peppercorn & juniper infused Tromba, citrus, Triple Sec & Agave

Manny’s Margarita

Polanco – Mezcal, Lillet, Drambuie & plum bitters


Michelada – Tecate pale lager, fresh lime juice with a salted rim

The Michelada

To compliment the tequila and cocktails offered at El Caballito, executive chef Elia Herrera has created a menu of authentic Mexican antojitos (small plates of street-style Mexican fare). Chef Herrera and chef de cuisine Gerardo Quintero both hail from Mexico so they certainly know a thing or two about cooking Mexican fare!

Last week, I attended a media preview to sample some of their offerings. They started us off with the Frituras Mixtas. Instead of the usual tortilla chips, I was pleasantly surprised by the fried plantains, sweet potatoes, taro and totopos we were served. Each were incredibly addictive and left us wanting more. The chips were served with a selection of fresh salsas which arrived in a tower ranging from mild to spicy – salsa cruda, salsa verde, salsa roja and salsa macha.

Frituras Mixtas with a selection of salsas

Up next was the Flank Steak Taco – bell pepper, roasted onions, salsa verde asada & cow’s milk cheese. With the small-cut pieces of steak, it wasn’t the easiest or most elegant dish to eat but boy was it ever tasty. The steak was tender, the salsa verde was delicious and I loved the melty cheese.

Flank Steak Taco

Following the steak taco was the Tamarind Ceviche – jicama tacos, cod, mango & coriander, one of my favourites of the evening. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this but it was wonderfully light and refreshing. It was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy and the slight crunch from the thinly-sliced sheets of jicama provided a nice textual contrast.

The Tamarind Ceviche

For those who don’t eat meat or fish, there’s the Quesadilla de Quintero – zucchini, bell pepper, cheese & salsa roja on a corn tortilla. All the corn tortillas are made in-house, I might add.

The Quesadilla de Quintero

Another great dish was the Molote de Tinga – puebla empanadas with chicken, tomato soffrito, chipotle, cruda asada & cotija cheese. It arrived covered in sauce, crumbled cheese and a generous handful of lettuce. I was a little worried that the empanadas wouldn’t retain their crunch given that they were covered in sauce but they held up quite well and the chicken filling was really delicious.

Molote de Tinga

Our last savoury dish was the Jalapeno Relleno – pickled and stuffed jalapeno, pork picadillo, almonds & refried beans, which was another one of my favourites. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too spicy so don’t let the name of it scare you. The star of the dish was definitely the pork picadillo filling inside the jalapeno. It had a little sweetness to it which paired nicely with the slight kick.

Jalapeno Relleno

We ended with the Churros Y Natilla – Mexican cinnamon doughnuts with vanilla custard for dessert. I couldn’t think of a better way to end our Mexican feast.

Churros Y Natilla

We certainly don’t have a shortage of great Mexican restaurants in Toronto and El Caballito is yet another fantastic addition to the scene!

*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*

El Caballito Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

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