Tacos el Asador

Beast: Look at us! We’re like a real grown-up professional couple who is too busy to have dinner at home so they meet up for dinner and then they go their separate ways.

It was true: I had work to do at the restaurant and the Beast had music to make. But we’d decided to meet at one of our favourite spots, Tacos el Asador, for a quick bite to eat together. Contrary to popular belief (or my belief up until a few minutes ago), they serve up Salvadorean food, not Mexican.

The place was packed with a line-up out the door. It can be a little confusing knowing how to behave in this tiny restaurant: there’s no host and only a few picnic tables for seating, so grabbing a table appears to operate on the honour system. It gets tricky because sometimes you’re placing your order at the cash (servers don’t take your order but they do deliver it) and you still don’t have a table to sit at. It always seems to work out in the end, but the Beast gets very nervous here, so I always do the ordering.

Foodie: Want me to get the usual?

Beast: Yes, and add on two cripsy chorizo tacos please.

Foodie: In addition to your usual? Because that’s going to be a lot of food.

Beast: I’m very hungry.

An attractive man standing in front of me, and also with his boyfriend, turned around, smiled, and shook his head a little, as if to say, “Oh God, boyfriends can be so f–king difficult sometimes! How do we do it?!” I smiled back and nodded my head as if to say, “Tell me about it!”

So I ordered the Beast two chorizo burritos, two crispy chorizo tacos, and two pupasas, which are sort of like cornmeal pancakes stuffed with various things. I get the same thing, but in units of one.

Our table came up just in time so we sat and shared a can of really shitty beer while we waited for dinner.

And just like sophisticated busy couples do, we complained about work and talked about important things.

Beast: You know what I liked about the movie Greenburg? (Mom, that’s Ben Stiller’s new movie by that guy Noah Baumbach who also wrote The Squid and the Whale and Margo at the Wedding.)

Foodie: What did you like about the movie Greenburg?

Beast: Well, it used to be that people got their shit together when they were in their early twenties. They had to get their shit together because they were married, working full-time and having babies. But now people don’t get their shit together until they’re in their forties, that’s assuming they ever get their shit together. Essentially, we’re a bunch of kids. The movie had its faults, but it sure demonstrated that really well.

Foodie: Make some room–here come the crispy tacos!

Beast: What time will you be home tonight?

Foodie: Probably before midnight. Why?

Beast: I won’t be home until after midnight.

Foodie: That’s okay.

Beast: Well, I kind of left a bit of a mess this morning before I left for work and I don’t want you to get mad about it.

Foodie: What kind of mess?

Beast: Here come the burritos: make some more room.

Foodie: These are so good! So what sort of mess?

Beast: Well, remember how I said I’d do the dishes from last night’s dinner in the morning?

Foodie: Yes I do.

Beast: I got distracted with my clarinet. I haven’t had a chance to play it since I got it repaired. So, I played it this morning, by accident, and then I was late for work and couldn’t do the dishes.

Foodie: That’s it? I can live with that.

Beast: Promise not to do them when you get home. I’ll do them.

Foodie: Oh, I promise. We should just start eating on plastic plates covered with a piece of wax paper like they do here and then we’d never have to do dishes.

Beast: I also can’t remember if I made the bed. Oh here come the pupasas.

We always get our pupusas (couldn’t you just say that word all day? It sounds so inappropriate!) stuffed with cheese and black beans. They serve it with some sort of pickled cabbage, which I love and the Beast hates.

Foodie: Was it worth the money to get your clarinet repaired?

Beast: It sounds like a new instrument!

Foodie: Well that’s good news. When you finish we should get motoring so that somebody else can sit down to eat.

Beast: Want to go get those little walnut cakes?

Foodie: Yes! Good idea!

The walnut cakes come from a Korean bakery called Hodo Kwaja, meaning “walnut cake” in Korean, just east of Tacos el Asador. They’re little cakes stuffed with either potato and walnut, potato and almond, or red bean paste. And they look like little walnuts!

Some days you can see them being made in this amazing-looking robotic walnut cake-maker.

The Beast picked up a box of 36 to bring as a snack for music night with his friends. But before we parted ways, we sat outside the shop to share a few together.

Beast (upon sitting down and seeing the state of the crotch of his pants): I don’t think I can wear these pants anymore: my balls are literally hanging out.

The Beast stood up to show me all the holes.

Foodie: You can only see your underwear when you sit down. Wait, and from behind. Oh, and also from the front. Where are they from?

Beast: You bought them for me, from H & M I think.

Foodie: I can get you another pair if you like.

Beast: No thank you. They’re not really my style. Don’t you think they’re screaming “G — A — Y are you wearing those pants” ?

Foodie (laughing): Did you just make that up?

Beast: Yes I did. Listen, I’m sorry we fought earlier.

Foodie: We didn’t fight. But you know how I hate waking up on Saturday mornings to a messy apartment. I mean, neither of us is exactly clean, but at least if our place looks tidy, I don’t sweat the filth so much.

Beast: I know, I know. Hey, remember how you moved those two boxes filled my CDs into the middle of the bedroom?

Foodie: I moved them because you tried to hide them beside my filing cabinet on my side of the bedroom! And I knew that they’d stay there, on my side of the bedroom, unless I put them somewhere awkward, like the middle of the bedroom.

Beast: You’re fucking crazy, you know that, right?

Foodie: I just want to have order! What’s so crazy about that!?!! We just cleaned up our bedroom and you’re already filling it back up with all your shit.

Beast: But the funny part is that I don’t care if there are boxes in the middle of our bedroom! They can stay there forever! You’re the one who will sooner or later be bothered by them!

Foodie: Oh fuck. You’re right. Can’t you just get rid of some shit?

Beast: I’m trying to!!!!

Foodie: Now we’re fighting.

Beast: We didn’t fight like that couple inside Tacos el Asador. Did you hear them?

Foodie: No! What happened?

Beast: Well the woman wanted to leave, just like you did, so they could free up a table for one of the many people in line. But the guy got all mad because he said he wasn’t done eating yet.

Foodie: Was he done eating?

Beast: It looked like it.

Foodie: What an idiot. Okay, I really have to go now.

Beast: Me too. I’m sorry we fought.

Foodie: It wasn’t real fighting. Just try and clean up your shit man!

Beast: Fine! Stop bossing me all the time though!

Oh I’ll stop bossing all right! I got home to find the boxes right where I’d left them–in the middle of our bedroom. And on top of the boxes was a gym bag, and on top of the gym bag were the Beast’s dirty clothes! That little fucking pupusa! If I get my hands on his pupusas, he’ll sure as hell be sorry!

Foodie: ***

Beast: ***1/2

12 responses to “Tacos el Asador

  1. Just got off a plane with someone who recently made a visit to Michael Stadlander’s Haisai, two hours outside Toronto in Singhampton. He said it was one of the best dining experiences he’s ever had. Road trip?

  2. ooh this is one of my favorite Toronto places! I came here on my first trip and got hooked. It was on the list of pros of moving to Toronto.
    Have you reviewed Nazareth? It is now my new favorite.

  3. I can gain weight just looking at your pictures, Foodie. I don’t know how you can live with that messy Beast. I would say he needs a good kick in his pupusas.

  4. One-armed bandit

    Inspired by your post, I screwed up my courage for a little outing and shuffled down to ol’ Asador for a delightful lunch out with the rest of the world. And wouldn’t you know it, the rest of the world included that glamorous, wine-guzzling designer we both know, and his even more glamorous wife. Seeing the difficulty I was having with the plastic cutlery, he pulled out a giant pocketknife (A Laguiole. What a poseur.) and offered to cut up my pupusa for me. In order to save my pride I declined angrily, folded up the pupusa, shoved it in my pocket and hurried out. True story.

    • Of course our designer friend had a Laguiole in his pocket. Was he also drawing little designs on a napkin with his vintage Yard-O-Led pencil? Glad you got out, despite your injury.

      I think all men should carry around pupasas in their pockets. Think of all the, “Is that a pupusa in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?” we could all make!

  5. Jess, I thought of your Dr. Oetker post tonight, as I dug into a two-year old, muchly-stale box of the Russel Stover milk chocolate collection I found in the pantry.

    A fantastic read, as usual! I particularly like the “fight” part, with the CD boxes – I am waging a similar, ongoing and futile battle against a certain someone’s clothing piles on the floor. Stay strong.

  6. One-armed bandit

    I was fresh from a viewing of The Bourne Identity when I ran into M. Laguiole, and when he pulled his knife I was an instant away from launching into a series of mentally-rehearsed counterattacks I learned through my DVD training that would have laid waste to the threat and an innocent taqueria, but then I said to myself, “No. No, this is not a mission.” And I let it pass. Phew.

  7. I agree with temperance, you need to do Nazareth next. I suggest taking a few friends, maybe 2, because the portions are big and cheap and you’ll want to try more than one thing but you won’t want to waste. You know?

  8. and beers are super cheap at Nazareth too!

  9. HOLY MOLY! I remember that night!!!! I didn’t eat a one of the walnut things because I actually don’t like food at all and Elliot had made ginger & chocolate cupcakes or something more traditional like that. PS – piles of crap are a sign of virility, or masculinity, or awesomeness….or just contemptful slothfulness, depending on how you look at it.

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