Friday, January 20, 2012

grand electric.

When I read that Grand Electric was serving up delicious tacos to the soundtrack of some well-selected hip hop beats I kinda fell in love before I even visited...

Realizing this was silly, I arranged to go immediately.

Luckily, I found a crew of equally-interested pals who assembled ourselves and headed down there last Saturday to kick off our night. Having heard about their infamous wait times, we went early (6:20ish) to put our name down. 

(And by 'we' I mean I was obviously the last person to arrive - while others had been waiting at a nearby pub for just over an hour - prancing through the door minutes before we got The Call that our table was ready. I'm a jerk. Thanks Vanessa!)

We had a crew of ten and had read that the place sat 30-ish, so we were prepared for a bit of a wait - which it was. An hour to seat the five girls around what may have been a table for two, while the boys (chivalry at its finest!) drank beers across the street for an hour and a half.

Not the end of the world because there was beer involved. Moving on.

The place is tiny. And crowded. And awesome. A longhorn skull with red lightbulbs for eyes greets incomers and goes with the dim-lit cantina-meets-saloon vibe. The lighting was low and the hip hop was good and (as promised) loud. 

Oh, and the Grand Electric Sours (vanilla bourbon, egg whites, agave and lemon) were strong. Off to a good start.  

The ceasar-lovers in our crowd went for Micheladas: a beer-caesar of sorts made with Mexican Tecate beer, some other caesar-y stuff and a forest of cilantro. 

("Some other caesar-y stuff" = sadly, I am not a caesar fan and haven't been since an episode in the eleventh grade involving a nalgene bottle of luke-warm caesar and a party. And I mean sadly quite seriously, because I often feel like I'm really, really missing out. Just can't hack it though.)

We got down to business and ordered some guac and chips that disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived. Super fresh, lime-y guac served with hot, house-made corn tortilla chips with the perfect ratio of oily-crispy-salty-light going on. The puffed pork rind centrepiece was airy and delicious. Mad grabby-hands devouring went on.  

Just when I was contemplating ordering more guac n chips (addictive level: high) came our appies: a round of tuna ceviches. Melt-in-your-mouth tuna on crisp fried tostada rounds, topped with a crunchy and flavourful slaw that was dotted with killer green chilli peppers and crispy fried shallots, then drizzled in a tangy citrus and yuzu mayo.

Didja get all that?

These were small and we split each between two people meaning there wasn't nearly enough of this goodness in my belly - but the tacos were coming, and we had to save room. 

And then they arrived. 

First of all, let me say that these bad boys are deceiving in size.

We each started with the 3 for $10 deal, joking that we'd easily devour 6 for $20 by the end of the night. But Grand Electric piles their tacos high with the good stuff. The beef cheek variety (foreground) garnered rave reviews from the table - apparently the beef was flavourful and rich - and my spicy arbol chicken taco (the one with the pretty pink accoutrements - pickled onions, if I can recall!) was fall-apart tender with the perfect kick of heat. 

Our server had told us that his favourite tacos were the baja fish tacos, so we went with his word and ordered a round. 

And my god, were we glad we did. 

Tender and moist tilapia fried in the lightest, airiest, perfectly-crisp beer batter casing and topped with a sprinkling of crunchy julienned radish, cabbage, red onions and a drizzle of what felt like a middle ground between an aioli and a crème fraîche. They were truly something else. With a squeeze of fresh lime and a dash of salsa verde, they were one of the better restaurant treats I've sampled in a while, blowing any fish taco in my recent memory out of the water (ooooo!) 

We took our first bites and immediately ordered another round, disregarding our varying levels of fullness.

Go and get one (or five) of these. ASAP.

Pork belly tacos snagged the Most Photogenic award - and apparently they tasted as good as they looked. That's a smokey pineapple salsa they're served with. 

 So about that initial lovin' feeling I had? Yeah, the flame is still going strong. Grand Electric's vibe, drinks and food were spot-on. Everyone in our crew left rosy-cheeked and raving and I got my rap fix, which led to a dramatic decrease in my taking over the iPod later in the night at a friends place where we continued the fun. Who am I kidding I still commandeered the thing all night. 

A win-win for all!

Grand Electric, we'll be back soon.

Grand Electric
1330 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON


  1. this almost makes me sad I don't live in Toronto..................nah

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