Hot Beans in Kensington Market
Sadly Hot Beans closed after us Nomads moved back to Australia!
The day I visited Hot Beans Tacos I’d had one of those days where I wished I’d just stayed in bed.
You know those ones where nothing goes to plan? Or even anywhere remotely near the plan?
We were moving house. Not just to another place downtown, but packing everything into storage and getting in our RV to go on a four month road trip through Canada and the States.
And the process wasn’t being made any easier by our highly incompetent real estate agency organising viewings for our final week in the house when we were packing everything into boxes. The jerk even booked viewings on the day we were moving out and cleaning, despite our requests otherwise.
So I had a list of things I needed to get before we left Toronto, and already crappy circumstances.
A day of running around downtown dealing with snarky attitude from retail workers just made it all harder. Then I had a run-in with the nasty receptionists at downtown’s free doctor’s clinic. I ended up in tears because I wanted a different brand of my prescription and they wouldn’t give it to me “because that’s not how they do it here”. I was about ready to give up on trying to get anything I needed!
So, tears of frustration down my face, I decided to take what was left of my dignity and walk the 40 minutes or so to Kensington Market – the last place on my list.
I did find ONE of the items I needed at a Kensington Market health food store. Three hours after I’d originally left my apartment, I was ecstatic to find one thing on my list, and I decided to celebrate with lunch at Hot Beans Tacos.
I was a little hesitant, after almost everyone I’d dealt with that day had been downright nasty.
But, even if the guy serving me tacos was as nasty to me as the doctor’s receptionists… I’d still have tacos. Much better than tears with no tacos.
At close to 4pm, I was the only person at Hot Beans. When I asked the guy serving how his day was, he sounded like it had been very similar to mine (probably without the tears and public meltdown in the doctor’s surgery!).
We commiserated over our horrible days, and told each other that this was the nicest experience we’d with people that day.
Already, Hot Beans was a success.
It can be a bit hard to find in Kensington Market. It’s nestled off the main strip away from the hustle and bustle of the fruit markets on Baldwin Street. Inside it has that chrome and wood décor popular with Tex Mex casual eateries in North America.
After an awful day, the nice guy serving and the solitude of Hot Beans is a welcome relief. It’s nice to sit alone in the window and people watch on a sunny day.
It’s a safe dining experience here for me as all items on the menu are vegan-friendly. There is a good selection on the menu, and lots of items to choose from.
Burrito options are: ancho-spiced soy protein (TVP), black beans with smoky coconut, seitan with peanut miso sauce, and mac n cheese with fried potatoes and chili aioli.
Taco pairs come in BBQ jackfruit with house-made BBQ sauce, spicy lentils, and the ancho-spiced TVP. You can also get burrito bowls in various filling combos out of the burritos and tacos.
The nachos also look appetizing – black beans, salsa, guac, vegan cheese, and home-made tofu sour cream. The burritos and tacos are $9, the nachos and burrito bowls are $9.25.
I’ve chosen the spicy lentil tacos, and chips and salsa. My tacos are cooked from scratch, yet ready swiftly. The lentils are spiced gently with cumin and lime. There is a generous layer of salsa over the lentil mix, and home-made tofu sour cream is drizzled over the top. The lentils are tasty, but I could have done with a heavier dose of the spices.
I am a huge fan of the chips. There is nothing quite like crisp, hot, spiced tortilla chips straight from the fryer. And there’s just the right amount of salsa to go with them.
Overall, the serving size is perfect. After hours of trekking unhappily downtown on an empty stomach, two lentil tacos, and chips and salsa hit the spot.
Aside from eating in, Hot Beans also does delivery. I really wish I’d discovered this sooner than a day before we were moving out of Toronto…
Cost: $9 for the tacos (and I honestly forget how much the chips and salsa was, but I don’t think it was more than $3).
Location: 160 Baldwin Street, #1, Kensington Market, Toronto M5Y 3KZ (in between Spadina and Augusta)
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.