We’ll see you in there.
Connect to customize your food & drink discovery.
They're offering the 'three T's' of Mexican-street style favourites: tortas, tamales and tacos, at their walk-up window and also specialize in pre-order only large brunch boxes full of them. On the rest of the menu, find popular snacks like totopos and guacamole, homemade hot sauces, buttery pan dulce and refreshing agua fresca.
Chef Aaron Okada and Chef Oskar Diaz are the duo bringing you the ultimate Mexican comfort food staples influenced by Toronto's diverse food scene, as well as their own extensive culinary backgrounds.
Carnitas Taco and Pollo Tinga Taco.
Okada is a Toronto-born chef who's worked in the industry for over 15 years at multiple highly-acclaimed restaurants, with a cooking style reflective of his personal heritage and the numerous kitchens he's been a part of. Across from him is Diaz––a chef from Tampico, Mexico who owned and operated five restaurants there. He's worked alongside several notable Mexican chefs including Enrique Olvera, Gabriela Camara and Daniela Soto-Innes, and with Tampico being a port city in Mexico surrounded by water, Diaz specializes in seafood.
After a successful soft launch last weekend that left the team surprised and appreciative of the community's support following an early sell out, they're officially back again every weekend for the rest of the summer. As a one-off event tomorrow though, they'll be serving up birria tacos de res from The Depanneur from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., which you won't want to miss out on.
Chef Aaron Okada.
After first meeting each other while working at Cactus Rosado Taco Bar and later getting laid off during the first COVID-19 lockdown, Okada and Diaz knew they wanted to continue to work together on something bigger. After a year of repetitive unpredictability, repeated restaurant closures and the recognition of instability in their employment situations, the duo decided to team up to create Don Chingón. Once they crafted their concept and created their menu, the journey to executing their vision progressed quickly and Okada and Diaz were joined by Okada's longtime friend Steve Fernandes, who also dabbles in multiple culinary ventures in the city, to complete their team.
Left to right: Aaron Okada, Steve Fernandes and Oskar Diaz sit outside The Depanneur.
"I was told a long time ago 'Work to build your dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs,'" said Okada. "So, after we’ve both spent countless years in this industry building other people’s dreams, we decided to build our own."
Okada expressed his gratitude towards Len Senater at The Depanneur for giving them the opportunity to do so.
Despite working in more high-end restaurants in the past, Okada says the focus with the food at Don Chingón is to be less about any sort of fancy presentation and more about offering food true to Diaz's heritage, while being flexible and accommodating to the local market.
"Our dishes aren’t always the most traditional, but we will always honour the flavours of tradition, as we believe food is more than Instagram," said Okada. "Food tells a story… about the people cooking it, about the history and culture of where it came from."
With that said, to ensure that they're still able to honour and reflect the authenticity of Mexican flavours, they even consult Diaz's mom who resides in Tampico, especially when it comes to the tamales, as she owned a successful business specializing in them.
Chef Oskar Diaz prepares fresh tamales.
Despite unavoidable restrictions, such as having to only offer takeout and being limited to kitchen space, the team still ensures to dedicate the upmost time to planning out each dish thoroughly.
As mentioned, the menu features a variety of tacos, tortas and tamales, with the most popular being Okada's favourite––the Carnitas Taco––made with pulled, slow-cooked confit pork belly––the perfect balance of fatty and tender, dressed with pickled onion, radish, cilantro and topped with a creamy white crema sauce. Another popular taco choice is the Pollo Tinga which has a generous amount of juicy, pulled chicken covered in a thick drizzle of smoky chipotle mayo, topped with onions, cilantro and cheese.
Diaz's top choice on the menu happens to be one of the most popular types of torta in Mexico––the Ahogada Torta, also referred to as the 'drowned-sandwich', is filled with the same confit pork belly as the carnitas and accompanied with red onions, refried beans, chipotle mayo and then as a finishing touch, is fully dunked into Ahogada sauce––a red sauce made from chilies that is surely a little bit messy to eat, but absolutely packed with flavour in every bite.
With a fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth texture and rotating fillings that range from savoury to sweet, like pineapple-coconut, each tamale is handmade and wrapped by Diaz. A true labour of love, walking away with at least one in hand is a must.
In regards to their brunch box combos, these are pre-order only and can be accommodated for two to four people. In the case of two people, they've got a Taco Bruch Box that comes with six tacos, a Torta Brunch Box which comes with two tortas and a Tamale Brunch Box which allows you to select four tamales. Along with your selection comes esquites, which is a sweet and buttery Mexican corn salad, as well as everyone's favourite snack––totopos, guacamole and salsa, the choice of two drinks and pan dulce, also known as 'concha', for dessert.
Amongst their list of beverages, you can find mainstays like Café de Olla and a rotating selection of refreshing aguas frescas, which have included cucumber lime, pineapple mint and hibiscus thus far. Eventually, the goal is to slowly expand their menu offerings to include varying weekly specials.
As Okada notes, that flexibility to play around with different dishes and get creative with what they can offer week by week is one of the most exciting parts of being a pop-up. As a result, you should keep your eyes open for the eventual addition of more seafood-based dishes, as that's what Diaz specializes in. Definitely look forward to fresh aguachile, one of Diaz's signature dishes from his previous restaurants.
Along with their new business comes another one of their food-focused ventures -- LOJA, where they make and sell a retail line of condiments, namely hot sauces, which you can also add onto your order. Their signature product is the Huasteca Hot Sauce, which is based on Diaz's best-selling hot sauce he was known for in Mexico. You can also find other sauces from LOJA, like Piri Piri hot sauce and Miso Chili, available for pre-order or direct purchase at their walk-up window.
Cocina Mexicana Don Chingón is operating every Saturday and Sunday at The Depanneur from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. every weekend. To ensure you get your hands on the dishes you're after, instead of ordering right at the walk-up window, you can also pre-order your goods up until Friday at 10 p.m. via The Depanneur website.
Tomorrow only, catch the team making birria tacos at The Depanneur from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Pre-order is available here and the walk-up window will be open as well, but only birria combos will be available tomorrow––honouring their initial idea of launching Don Chingón with birria as a focus on the menu.
Be sure to follow Cocina Mexicana Don Chingón on Instagram to keep an eye out for their weekly specials and also look out for news of their soon to launch summer brunch box project with The Bentway.