Eateries featuring food from various Latin quarters -- Cuba, for example, and Mexico and Peru -- now dot the Toronto landscape. Try these.
BOULEVARD CAFE (161 Harbord, at Borden, 461-961-7676) Toronto's first Peruvian eatery, this lovely awning-covered patio has been packing them in since 1979. Best: wine-marinated and coriander-kicked Anticuchos (grilled skewers of chicken, beef, shrimp or sea bass) with rice and peppery mesclun greens in a lemony tarragon dressing; fish of the day like grilled tilapia fillets spiked with mango salsa alongside roasted new potatoes, tomatoes and salad; starter or main-sized Creole salad -- buttery Boston lettuce topped with chickpeas, red onion rings, avocado wedges, artichoke hearts, black olives and hard-boiled-egg garnish. Complete dinners for $40 per person ($25 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine or bottle of domestic beer. Open daily 11:30 am to midnight. Sunday brunch 11 am to 4 pm. Fully licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
DOS AMIGOS (1201 Bathurst, at Bridgman, 416-534-2528) At first it might seem to be in the middle of nowhere, but Dos Amigos caters to the nearby Tarragon Theatre crowd and Annex. Expect intensity of flavours, not fire. Best: Pollo con Mole, a chicken breast in a deliciously rich sauce laced with garlic and crushed pumpkin seeds; pineapple-marinated pork in Tacos al Pastor, with two homemade hot sauces; Vera Cruz-style red snapper in a tasty lemon-garlic sauce laced with green olives; addictive caramel flan. Complete dinners for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of beer. Open for dinner Sunday to Thursday 5 to 10:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 to 11 pm. Bar open till midnight. Fully licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
EL SOL (1448 Danforth, at Monarch Park, 416-405-8074) Decked out in folk art, this family-run cantina is easily the best in town, serving way-south-of-the-border fare. Warm service, casual digs and made-to-order, authentic northern Mexican grub push El Sol several notches above its competitors. Best: 65-spice Pollo en Mole, chicken breast in an ethereal hot-chili-and-dark-chocolate sauce, sided with roasted tomato rice and flavour-intense, slow-cooked refried beans; egg-battered Chile Relleno, a huge sweet red pepper stuffed with ground beef, green olives, cubed potato and raisins in pulpy tomato sauce; super chili-spiked salsa. Complete meals for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a bottle of beer. Open Tuesday to Sunday 3 to 11 pm. Closed Monday. Fully licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
JULIE'S (202 Dovercourt, at Argyle, 416-532-7397) Casually cool Cuban cantina on downtown's west side. Best: grilled and then pressed marinated pork, ham and Swiss Cubano sandwiches; snacking tapas like the fried mashed-potato ball stuffed with lean ground beef, onion, tomato and green olives called Papa Rellena; purposefully bland yucca con mojo laced with lime and garlic. Complete dinners for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 6 pm to midnight. Bar open to 2 am. Closed Monday. Fully licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN