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ALMA+GIL is one of Toronto's best-kept secrets. This company, created by long time chefs Gerry Quintero and Mandy Sou, has been quietly making a big impact in Toronto's food scene. Their name is an ode to Quintero's entrepreneurial grandparents in Mexico––Alma and Gilberto.
After working in various notable kitchens across the city, Quintero and Sou first created a kombucha brand, most recognizable for their unique bottle shapes and robust flavours. What makes their love for this bubbly fermented beverage even more powerful is the ties to family. Each bottle and its bold flavours reflect the names and personalities of loved ones. The 'Sandra', which is fermented with hibiscus, is named after Gerry's mother, who loves flowers.
Since the duo's prime clientele pre-pandemic were restaurants, they needed to quickly adapt in order to stay afloat.
Their first passion project came when the landlady of their first building, who is a vegetable purveyor, was left with an abundance of produce when restaurants shut down. Quintero and Sou partnered with her to create 'Produce by Cindy'. Working with Quintero's mother, a nutritionist, they got her clients who had lost access to food good meals to eat.
When restaurants began to open again after a few months, Cindy parted ways, leaving Quintero and Sou with the motivation to continue the work they were doing. Under the new name of ALMA+GIL Produce, the two are focused on supplying Ontario-grown goods from the Ontario Food Terminal to customers through their delivery service.
Although they were successful in their produce deliveries, they wanted to expand yet again to include cooked meals. Through the addition of 'Monthly Feasts' consisting of a variety of dishes made from scratch using local products and celebratory meals for Mother's Day Brunch, Lunar New Year and Day of the Dead, Tamales Mineros came to life.
Why "mineros"? The pair says that, "miners traditionally take portable, easy to eat food to work, made with care by their loved ones. Tamales and tacos mineros are the best expression of that. They are made with care and are also portable to take home and enjoy."
Out of all the meals created for Day of the Dead, tamales received the highest praise. Made with the inspiration of Quintero's beloved childhood memories, eating tender and fluffy tamales in Mexico.
These tamales are made from scratch with Maizal's Masa, which is made with Ontario grown corn. The individual stews are braised for a long time to allow the flavours within them to develop, the dough is adjusted based on the flavour of tamal (currently offering a couple guisados: pollo verde, pollo rojo, picadillo, champinoñes, papas and the monthly special tajas poblanas) which can also be adjusted for many vegan options.
Quintero and Sou dream of opening a shop, solely focusing on tamales and tacos mineros that are made fresh, customizable and ready to serve. Until then, you can try these delicious tamales by visiting their website where they are also offering popular tamales subscription boxes that allow you to choose from a variety of tamales to be delivered to you once a month––keeping your freezers full of this delicious and intricate dish.
On top of all the other passion projects they are pursuing, the team of three at ALMA+GIL (Quintero, Sou and team member Brian Lee) also make weekly meal donations to Community Fridges TO.
Right now as well, you can find Lee taking the lead at their weekend brunch pop-up at HotBlack Coffee on Yonge Street.
Unlike their produce delivery bundles, tamales are pick-up only Wednesday through Friday from 4 p.m to 9 p.m at 3419 Dundas Street West. Keep in mind, they're relocating! Look out for their new location, popping up at 1543 Dupont Street after March 1.