Rise and shine to a Mexican fiesta! If you’re looking for a weekend brunch spot to add to your list of foodie escapades, head to Xola in the Beaches. Located in the east end of the city on Queen Street East, Xola is a fun and colourful cantina serving up delicious weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner options with Mexican flair and flavour. Truth be told, I stumbled on Xola last summer during a day out in the Beaches neighbourhood but didn’t get around to eating here until I did an assignment for Eat In Eat Out magazine for their feature on Mexican restaurants earlier in the year but because I’ve been so on and off with blogging for the last little while I haven’t gotten the chance to post about them here on Ate by Ate until now. Phew! It’s actually not such a bad thing now that I think about it because the weather is beautiful now which makes Xola’s fun and fiery interior and menu pop that much more. It screams summer more than it screams winter in January! Before I dive right into divulging the yummy details of my first meal here though, let me rewind and talk a little bit about the assignment I took on that led me back to Xola in the first place.
When I took on the assignment for Eat In Eat Out magazine knowing that it was for a feature on Mexican restaurants across Canada, I wanted to approach it in a non-traditional way. I didn’t particularly want to choose any old Mexican restaurant in Toronto for lunch. So I racked my brain for something different, something special. The light blub came on and Xola came to mind. I quickly searched through my photos from last summer for the photo I took of Xola’s menu taped to their front window, did a little digging online, and found out to my utter delight that they served weekend brunch on Saturdays! Seeing as how Mexican weekend brunch is a pretty neat and unique thing in Toronto (it’s not like the city is crawling with places that serve it. Not yet anyway), I knew it was the perfect place to write about. And it totally and wholeheartedly was.
Xola is barely a year old but I’ve seen and heard folks talk about lineups out the door some nights! Thankfully for me I was planning on having my meal during the day and arriving right when they opened at 12 noon so I wasn’t too fussed or worried about that. I was much more interested in what I was going to stuff my face in. Xola’s weekend brunch menu, served on Saturdays from 12pm-2pm, serves everything from burritos with slow braised beef and slow braised pork to fish tacos, omelettes with goat cheese, and THREE kinds of huevos rancheros with fresh corn tortillas, eggs, chorizo sausage, potatoes, different salsas, sour cream, fresco, and black beans among other dishes. Prices range from $8-$15, making it an incredibly affordable weekend brunch spot. NOTE: Xola accepts CASH ONLY. They are a CASH ONLY establishment much like Lady Marmalade in Leslieville.
When I think back to this meal and this visit, I smile because everything about Xola is just so fun and vibrant. They have this gorgeous, colourful mural on one wall that I love to pieces and while the place is small, they more than make up for it in flair, food, and personality. For weekend brunch that day I enjoyed a handful of yummy things: a cold and delicious glass of horchata ($3.50), a Mexican drink made with rice, milk and cinnamon; a ridiculously large dish of chilaquiles ($9): homemade tortilla chips covered in creamy red salsa, drizzled with sour cream and sprinkled queso fresco cheese; trio de gorditas ($8.95), my meal of corn masa patties topped with an assortment of refried beans, red salsa, and green salsa with sour cream and queso fresco cheese and served with guacamole and scrambled eggs; and last, but not least, a freshly made Mexican margarita!
I can honestly say that I enjoyed everything so much because they were all delicious in their own way and because all this food was so new to me, I was seeing it with fresh eyes and tasting it with fresh tastebuds. The horchata drink was so unbelievably delicious. It was like dessert in drink form. It had just enough sweetness from the cinnamon and the milk and rice gave it substance while the ice kept it cold and refreshing throughout the meal.
The chilaquiles? Out of this freakin’ world. This is like the appetizer to end all appetizers. So messy but so fun! The red salsa (which is the consistency of a sauce, not to be mistaken with the pico de gallo style of salsa) is thick and creamy and with the sour cream and queso fresco, there was savouriness, there was tanginess and of course there was fun and crunch from the tortilla chips. My trio de gorditas dish makes my weekend brunch and breakfast-loving heart all warm and fuzzy because the inclusion of scrambled eggs just screams happy breakfast to me. It makes me think of warm sun streaming in through windows, hot eggs coming out of sizzling pan, and enjoying that first meal of the day on those wonderful weekend mornings where the remainder of the day stretches out in front of you and the possibilities for loveliness are endless.
And finally, the margarita! I know, I know, I don’t drink! But my server was so sweet and so gracious that the drink was on the house so I did what any good patron would do: I thanked her profusely and enjoyed it. Not all of it because I’m such a lightweight when it comes to alcohol (drinking is honestly not my thing) but enough to know that heck, it was REALLY good! The lime just made it so juicy and refreshing and for me, it helped to tame the strength of the tequila. At the very least, you all know now that you can certainly raise a happy glass here!
So, if you’re looking to enjoy Mexican food in a fun and different way, Xola in the Beaches is just the ticket. Happy Friday and early weekend, everyone!
Xola is located at 2222A Queen Street East in the Beaches neighbourhood in Toronto. Weekend brunch is served on Saturdays from 12pm to 2pm. Operating hours all other days: Monday (5pm-9pm), Tuesday (closed); Wednesday to Friday (12pm-3pm for lunch, 5pm-closing for dinner); Saturday (12pm-closing); Sunday (4pm-closing). CASH ONLY.