I spend a lot of time on Roncesvalles ave. because it's on my streetcar route and I'm not the kind of person who seeks adventure that is out of the way. I've been to the East End of Toronto maybe five times total and I've lived here for over two years. I'm like a hamster on a wheel when it comes to how predictable my movements are.
So Roncesvalles ave. is a strip that makes me feel footloose and fancy-free until I start to notice all the people with cool kids or dogs who are way more "granola" than I am. These people silently judge humanity while I eat my double-scoop ice-cream and taunt their healthy-looking kids by making "mmmmmm" noises while they pass by in their little wagons. These kids are child prodigies and are only allowed to munch on organic berries and maybe kale chips. These kids' eyes are wide like saucers because they want my ice-cream soooooooooooo bad but their moms won't let them... but I digress.
There's a Cuban restaurant that opened on the strip in late 2013 but I waited until this summer to try it because I wanted to sit out on their quaint (read: small) back patio. La Cubana (392 Roncesvalles Avenue) is pretty precious, and their 50's diner style decor is bang on. While I found their dishes hit or miss, I'd go back again for their tropical chips and stiff drinks. Here are a few pictures of the interior and some of the grub I'd recommend or pass on.
1) Tropical Chips and Salsa
The plantain, yuca and guava chips will satisfy your starch-tooth and the Salsa Verde is a refreshing switch-up for the usual red goop we've come to associate with salsa.
2) Black Bean Soup, Chorizo Jerky
My favourite dish of the night. The crumbled chorizo perfectly complemented this thick, savoury soup and the fresh cilantro on top was a nice touch.
3) Grilled Coconut Shrimp
A sweet entree that used a lick-your-lips curry you almost wanted to lap up like a cat. The shrimps themselves were an afterthought for me.
4) Guava BBQ Short Ribs
I'm a lover of short ribs, but these were somewhat dull. I kept waiting for the flavour to kick in but the ribs tasted more like stewing beef to me. My boyfriend like them, though. He enjoyed the deep-fried onions and jalepeno garnish.
P.S This restaurant doesn't take reservations, so try to get there early enough. The patio fills up fast!