Tita La Guanaca (1072 St. Clair West, at Lauder, 416-656-3519) Complete meals for $8, including all taxes, tip and an agua fresca. Average main $5. Open daily 11 am to 10 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
And the winner for best Pupusa is... El Buen Precio! That's right, the weekend pupusa stand in Kensington Market (227 Augusta, 416-597-8716) ranks tops. Second place goes to Tacos el Asador (690 Bloor West, 416-538-9747).
Tita la Guanaca finishes far behind. But the pupusas are the least of Tita's problems. Filled with beans, pork and cheese ($2), they may lack salt but are otherwise as tasty as starch and fat can be.
Their classic accompaniment of cabbage salad and pickled peppers, though, brings down what it should pick up. Bland and non-spicy, it can't compare to the invigorating slaw at El Buen. The tacos ($2 for two) look like they were fried in the grease trap and then air-dried. Stuffed with chicken and mysterious ingredients, they're served with re-re-re-heated frozen mixed veggies. The tomato juice or is it salsa? is no help.
Tita's tamale ($2) is one of the worst I've ever had. It obviously reached its peak several days ago, a challenge many seven-day-a-week operations face if they're not busy enough to turn food over. By the time I get to it, the watery tamale dissolves with a slight unwrapping of its banana leaf into a pool of messy masa, chickpeas, olives and chicken.
The chicken breast dinner ($5) with rice, veggies and tomato sauce is equally disappointing. For the sake of the lovely owners, I hope business picks up. But they need fresh, tasty food for that to happen.