2016 JOANNE KATES 100 BEST RESTAURANTS

The Spend A Little list represents Joanne’s favourite 50 Toronto restaurants at which two people can eat for under $65 excluding taxes, tip and drinks.

#22 Carmen

Carmen

Tapas are the new normal and Spanish food is all over town, but few do it as well as Carmen. Fried artichokes with aïoli are ungreasy, cute ‘n’ sweet. Shishito peppers (small chiles with small heat) are slightly blistered and sit pretty on chile-kissed tomato sauce. Pintxo de pulpo is #1: Crusty toast painted with tomato sauce under fab octopus with confit potato and moist chorizo. But before you start inhaling tapas, order paella cause it takes 45 minutes to get to the table. Worth the wait. My fave is paella del Carmen: Impossible tasty rice rich with sauted onions under perfectly (barely) cooked big shrimps, mussels and clams with chicken and chorizo. For fresh scent, raw basil leaves and snow pea shells. The service is charming and so is the room.


  • Carmen
  • 922 Queen St. W., Toronto (map)
  • 416-535-0404
  • www.carmensayz.com

  • Chef: Luis Valenzuela
  • Sous Chef: Ricardo Rueda
  • Cuisine: Spanish
  • Cost of dinner for two: $47
  • Hours: Mon. to Sun. 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Meals served: Dinner
  • Veggie-friendly: Yes
  • Wines available: 18
  • BYOB?: Yes
  • Corkage fee: $25
  • Patio: Yes
  • Private party area: Entire venue can be booked
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • CC accepted: Yes
  • Parking: Street parking
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