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TacoTaco is a quaint and cozy new spot on Augusta Avenue that is serving up unique tacos, refreshing sweet teas, corn fritters and more, in a space that makes you feel like you’re in California, watching the sunset.
Brothers Luan and Liem Ngo, along with Marissa Champion, are the proud owners of TacoTaco, which opened its beautiful sliding glass doors back in March.
“Opening and operating a new restaurant during a pandemic has been a wild experience, but also an incredible ride, and we’re so excited to be joining the iconic Kensington Market community," says Luan.
When wanting to open a business, the three were driving around Kensington Market on the hunt for vacant property when they stumbled upon an available unit that was the perfect location for their taco spot. With low rises in every direction, the sun pours freely into the space from sunrise to sunset, boasting a great atmosphere with good vibes all around. The space itself was the primary inspiration for the business, but so was the neighbourhood.
“We absolutely love Kensington Market. We’re all from small towns so we’re used to the friendliness that comes with them," says Luon. "We love how informal and casual Kensington can be, but most importantly the neighbours here are amazing. When we were first opening, they were constantly stopping by to say hi, check-in on how we were doing and offer any help or support they could.”
The Ngo brothers and Champion all identify with this style of community-based hospitality, and want their ownership to tell the story behind the food and drinks they sell.
When it came to creating the menu, it was of extreme importance that the recipes would reflect their experience and identity.
“We try to engineer different tacos based on where we come from because it makes us passionate and excited about what we sell," says Luan.
The two brothers are originally from Thunder Bay, Ont., where Luan says they've consumed game meats on multiple occasions. This experience drew them to experiment with some protein options like duck, elk and bison that you you wouldn't regularly see anywhere else.
The duck taco is a fan favourite and often has customers coming back for more. With three slices of smoked duck (sourced from a local farm in Stouffville, Ont.), purple cabbage, beer salsa, and Cotija cheese served on a corn tortilla, this taco has a variety of textures with a slight bit of savoury and spice, so that each bite is perfectly balanced.
The Surf and Turf Burrito also comes highly recommended, and was inspired by Liem’s experience in Califronia. With shrimp, steak, bacon, guacamole and mozzarella cheese wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla, the combination of everything adds so much flavour and is perfect for those who are looking for something hearty and satisfying.
As Champion is from Alabama, where sweet tea is consumed by the gallons, she has introduced an incredible line of handmade sweet teas infused with fruit, to add a refreshing splash to the menu. With flavours like watermelon, mango, pineapple and peach, these teas are medium sweet, well-balanced and are served in a mason jar either virgin, or "hard" with a few shots of vodka.
Champion is also behind the corn fritters on the menu, a commonly-enjoyed delicacy in Alabama that she knew Torontontians would absolutely love. They are fried to perfection and are the perfect side to accompany your artisanal tacos, burritos and "pizzadillas."
TacoTaco has a sprawling patio that is surrounded by plants, greenery and bulb-lighting to add to the laidback, California vibe of the restaurant. The spot also has an indoor dining room that seats up to 40, but feels like you're siting outside thanks to the floor-to- ceiling sliding glass doors that separate the spaces. The interior walls are tinted in orange, and are lined with greenery, so the space lights up beautifully when the sun is setting.
What’s really exciting is the speakeasy-inspired 165 person capacity back room, which will be opening in the coming months. They are currently in the process of transforming it into a 1920s-style prohibition lounge space and bar, perfect for private events, meetings, open mic nights, karaoke parties and more.
TacoTaco is located at 319 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market and is open Sunday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Feel free to join them for a bite either on the patio or indoors, or feel free to order pick-up through Ritual, or takeout and delivery via DoorDash and UberEats.