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Deer Garden in Markham

There's a restaurant across from my office that I've been watching being reno'd for months now. I can see the work out the window from my desk. It's called Deer Garden at 7 & Leslie.

Given the amount of work they've been putting into the reno, I was expecting something huge out of it. They've literally gutted two entire floors and rebuilt everything from scratch. It's taken at least 6 months. I don't even want to think of the cost.

But I just looked at their menu (as much as I could read):

I dunno-- it looks a bit underwhelming. Basic sandwich, some noodle soups like spaghetti and "instant noodle". Nothing that you can't get in spades (and cheaper) in a hundred other smaller places from Times Square to First Markham-- and that's just Highway 7!

Has anyone gone into this place yet? Maybe it's a hidden gem with some really awesome food that warrants a 6 month down-to-the-concrete reno?

Cactus for Salad

I'd like to make Cactus Salad for an upcoming Mexican night. Does anyone know where in the GTA (preferably Markham area) I can get edible Cactus?

Is there a special kind I need, or can I just go into a garden center and start eating? =)

Damson Plums in the GTA

Costco Newmarket had Italian Plums today

La Taquiza: Mexican food in the GTA -- no, really!

It's in the north-eastern pad lots. The back/patio is visible from the main ring road that runs around the mall. (You can see the title of the restaurant and the cactus icon). You'll turn North when you see it (and you'll be heading towards Rutherford), and you'll take the first right. It's right in the corner of that lot, hard to miss.

Crispy Greenz in Markville - Gone, any other good salad choices?

Went to Markville Mall yesterday, and was dismayed to find that Crispy Greenz, the awesome salad place, had closed down. It always made a great healthy "second entree" for my fiance and I to share.

Are there any other good salad places in Markham? I think the nearest Cultures is Vaughan Mills, but that's all the way across the region.

La Taquiza: Mexican food in the GTA -- no, really!

How were the desserts? I was too full to try them. =)

La Taquiza: Mexican food in the GTA -- no, really!

Nope, not Toronto. But Toronto already has so many good Mexican places, from fancier Jalepeno on King to the very informal Burrito Boyz on Peter, to a Mariachi's at Yonge & Davisville.

Outside of Toronto you have-- Taco Bell. This is the first _real_ Mexican place to open up somewhere that doesn't require a subway trip. Ok, we do have (in the same area) Taco del Mar and Mucho Burrito, but those really are just Taco Bells that serve edible food.

There's tons of Tex Mex all over the place, but they all have too much Tex, not enough Mex. =)

Burrito Boyz
120 Peter St, Toronto, ON M5V2G7, CA

Jalapeno's Mexican Cuisine
725 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V2W9, CA

Mariachais Restaurant
2084 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A3, CA

Mucho Burrito
30 Famous Avenue Woodbridge ON

Taco del Mar
90 Edgeley Blvd, Vaughan, ON L4K5W7, CA

La Taquiza: Mexican food in the GTA -- no, really!

When I was there, people were bringing in their families. I couldn't say 100%, though-- I'm not familiar with what would exactly make it kid friendly. Though, if you call ahead, I'm sure they'll make whatever accommodations you need.

Loblaw's = downhill

I was in there Friday, too. I was quite impressed with the overall quality of fruits and veggies. I stocked up on the fresh stuff-- mainly because I don't expect this trend to last. Everything was brand new, as fresh as it will ever get, and put on for "opening night". I have a horrible suspicion that in a month (at most), most of the exotic stuff won't be restocked, and what is in stock will be bruised or damaged from being frozen.

The real test for me will be when the next Insider's Report comes out. Every time that happens, I go on a quest to pick up all the new stuff I want to try. And invariably, not only is a good 25% of the stuff not even in stock, but the employees rarely have even heard of it. Now, for minimum wage I can understand not having the entire product line memorized-- but the flagship products that /everyone/ will be asking about? Worse, though, is when those items aren't stocked. Last round I couldn't find a papillote anywhere-- and not only were those a brand new product, but they were advertising them heavily on TV! With that much clout behind them, you'd think they'd have them in stock...

La Taquiza: Mexican food in the GTA -- no, really!

If you're like me, you tend to notice signs that go up in some of the parts lesser traveled. For me, it was a sign that said "Opening Soon" outside a restaurant in the Pad Sites at Vaughan Mills.

I noticed it mainly because it was "Opening Soon" for a Mexican restaurant.

That was February 2007. Since then, the Pad sites have become fully fleshed out and very well traveled, I got engaged, earned my degree, and got my first post-school job. And every week found some excuse to drive by that site looking for a "Now Open" sign.

If you could yank an image-a-week from my mind, you'd get a really neat time-lapse view of the painfully slow construction and opening of La Taquizza. And as of early June, it would come to a climax with the (at last) opening of this fine restaurant.

After a year of waiting, the question that has to be answered is: was it worth the wait?

Futz yes!

When you first walk into La Taquizza, you know you'll be in for a treat. The decor is gorgeous, making it feel like you're sitting on a street-level patio in Mexico.

You'll be personally greeted by Hector, the owner and proprietor of the restaurant. He moved to Canada from Mexico, armed with an MBA and a mother who is an excellent cook. He was a bit nervous if my party would enjoy some of his more "exotic" menu choices, such as cactus salad and authentic, freshly made tortilla chips. We said "bring it on"! If we wanted the bland and normal, there's a Taco Bell in the food court. =0

The homemade tortillas are interesting. They're a lot thicker and a lot crunchier than the bagged stuff. But they're worth every penny. With the tortillas, you also get access to the 'salsa bar', a serve-yourself buffet of 5 different kinds of homemande salsa: mild, onion-and-tomato, salsa verte, jalepeno, and Spicy. They're all delicious, though the salsa verte was a bit salty. But the spiciness of the Spicy was just spicy enough.

Having gotten hold of an advance copy of the menu on their pre-opening night, we knew exactly what we wanted to order. We got:

Chicken Mole tacos
Habenero Tacos (Rajas_con_crema)
Cactus, Tomato and Avacado salad
A Black Bean that I can't remember the name of, but it refers to the type of Mexican slipper that it looks like
chicken enchilladas

Everything was very tasty. Surprisingly, the two best dishes were the Rajas con cream and the Black Bean dish-- both of which are vegetarian friendly.

There were some nice sounding desserts, such as milk cake, but we were all too full after the feast to even think about it. There was also a whole slew of other dishes that sounded very yummy, such as Mexican soup and enchiladas-- all of which is just all the more reason to go for a second visit.

The price for the meal was also very reasonable. The three of us ate (very well) for under $40 (pre-tax), without alcohol. There weren't any leftovers, but there also weren't any hungry people.

So, after over a year of waiting, I can at last say that there IS good, authentic, and affordable Mexican food in the GTA. Highly recommended!

La Taquiza

3175 Rutherford Rd
Concord, ON , L4K5Y6

(905) 669-2277
(Reservations not required, but it can't hurt)

La Taquiza
Vaughan Mills, Vaughan, Ontario

Ben & Jerry's: Dublin Mudslide - where to find it

Does anyone know where in the GTA I can get some Dublin Mudslide? The Vaughan Mills location hasn't had it for over a year, and they won't order any in. I've never been able to find it in a store-- unless I'm looking in the wrong ones. =)

Thanks for any leads!

Best Italian within 15 min drive of Yonge/Steeles

Dante's, at Yonge & Baythorn, is pretty good, though a bit pricey. I can't vouch for their pasta, but the pizza is amazing.

2-for-1 Coupons - What's worth it?

I'd put the OJA at the top of any top 5 list. Especially with a 2-4-1 coupon. Very affordable, friendly staff, and taaaaaaaaaaasty food!

Damson Plums in the GTA

Since Damson Plums are coming into season, is there anywhere in the GTA that stocks them? I've only checked Michael Angelo's so far-- no luck. Or failing that, does anyone know where I can get a substitute very tart plum?


Any great restaurants in the Newmarket/Aurora, Ontario area?

A must try is The Mango Tree:

17830 Leslie Street
Newmarket, ON L3Y 3E5

I could eat there every day. Their Mango Chicken is wonderful. The "A Taste of Green" is the perfect veggie side dish to balance out any meaty meal. Soups = YES! The Pad Thai is so-so.

My only concern is that it has just switched ownership, and that could be the deathkneel for any restaurant. The new owner says he wants to introduce some Malasyian food.

And speaking of Malaysian food, there's the Restoran Malaysia
815 Major MacKenzie Drive East
Richmond Hill, ON L4C 9X2

Richmond Hill also has Cafe en Passant, a nice French place that serves nice, fresh cooked food, without being overly expensive. They're in the Entertainment Book also, as a recurring coupon.

Everything is good, and two can eat with soup for under $20. They just recently renovated and expanded-- and they're still packed almost every night. I suggest going a bit earlier, or taking out.

Mango Tree
17830 Leslie St, Newmarket, ON L3Y3E5, CA

815 Major MacKenzie Dr E, Richmond Hill, ON L4C9X2, CA

Any great restaurants in the Newmarket/Aurora, Ontario area?

I second the Orchid Thai. Very nice dishes that all taste different, good portions, and reasonable prices.

Kudzu Powder

Hadn't thought of the asian places. I'll stop at the one I got to outside Vaughan Mills. They have a nice selection there, including Jicamas!

Kudzu Powder


I came across a nice looking recipe, but it calls for Kudzu Powder. I checked my local Bulk Barn, but they don't seem to stock it.

Is there anywhere in Toronto (preferably north of, Richmond Hill/Vaughan) that stocks this? Any ballpark as to the cost?

OR-- are there any substitutes for this ingredient?


Where is the best Mexican in Toronto?

I'm not sure about he St. Clair one, but the location on King W. has my vote. It's cozy. They often have live music. And the food is very, very tasty at reasonable prices. I was taken there for my birthday last year, and had mole chicken and cactus/beef tacos. All were very YUM!

Dinner after Cirque du Soleil...Port Lands on Cherry Street

If you're driving, or even if you have a TTC day pass, I recommend Oja Noodle House, at 689 Yonge St, just south of Bloor at Hayden. Amazing variety of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, at very reasonable prices. Or if it's too busy, the Spring Roll is right next door.

Just stay away from the strip clubs. =)

Toronto Bourbon/Whiskey Tastings??

It isn't until next March, but the Ad Astra convention always has a Scotch tasting. One thing I've learned over the past few years-- science fiction authors LOVE their Scotch.

William's Patisserie

Hi there,

There used to be a really great Patisserie on Yonge Street near Weldrick (Richmond Hill). It was run by a couple really nice folks, and had amazing cakes and treats. Then, about a year ago, it just suddenly vanished. Locked up, all the equipment gone.

Does anyone know what happened to it? Did it go out of business? Did the owners have to move somewhere?


Best place in GTA to buy a nice large bar of dark chocolate?

A couple options:

1) Shopper's Drug Mart will often carry Cote D'or dark chocolate bars for around $1.70. Yummy stuff, and great for baking.

2) Bulk Barn carries both milk and dark Callebaut chocolate chips, for around $1.50 / 100g. Sometime's they are on sale. If you're a student or a senior, you get 10% off on Wednesdays. I tend to buy a kilo or so when they're on sale (or when I have a $3 off coupon from the rare flyer), and use them for everything-- melting down, frostings, chocolate chip cookies. When you work it out, they're marginally more expensive than PC Decedant chocolate chips, but miles better.

3) If you make the trip up to Newmarket, there's a place called Everything Chocolate on Main Street. They stock a wide variety of bars, in the usual $5-$10/100g range. They tend to have an end-of-line shelf for 50% off, but it's hit-and-miss.

4) Aunt Sarah's on Doncaster. I haven't been for a few years, since ownership changed hands down the family tree, but they've always been good. They usually have made chcoclates, but I think you can get slabs of plain-old from them too. (Off topic, but in the same plaza is Leo's auto service, about the only mechanic I've been to who is honest!!!!)

5) Further up Doncaster is an Ambrosia, but I haven't been to them since they went all organic and weird.

6) As others have mentioned, the PC Dark bar is very yummy and inexpensive. Melts well, too. The Dominion brand is okay, and the Walmark one is mostly sugar.