Thursday, August 23, 2012

Maizal Quesadilla Café

In June, Maizal Quesadilla Café (Facebook: Maizal Toronto, Twitter: MaizalToronto) quietly took over the space previously occupied by Liberty Belle Bistro. Although serving Mexican street food, you will not find any tacos at Maizal (I know, shocking!) Rather, the café focuses on handcrafted, artisanal corn quesadillas which owners Gabriela Ituarte and Ivan Wadgymar make fresh from scratch every day. Let me tell you straight off the bat that Maizal's quesadillas are so good that you will completely forget about tacos when you are there :)

Maizal's menu is short and sweet, ideal for a quick sit-down lunch or takeout. 

The owners use this Nixtamex corn grinder (left) to grind corn every morning. Fun and educational information about corn, tortillas and the quesadilla café can be found on chalkboards.

The cheerful, vibrant colours and decor of Maizal gives a very casual and homey atmosphere.  

A large mythological mural pays tribute to Mexican ancestors and illustrates the history and cultivation of corn. 

My friend Reggie (@reggieramone) and I ordered the following for lunch:

Aguas Frescas - Fresh water drink
Jamaica: Water brewed with hibiscus flower and chilled ($2)

Botanas - Finger foods served with tortilla chips
Guacamole: Fresh mashed avocados with a touch of cilantro and pico de gallo (large)
($6 for small, serves 2 people OR $10 for large, serves 4 people)

Meat Quesadillas - Served with Pico de Gallo salad and black beans
Tinga Beef: Oaxacan cheese and chipotle marinated beef quesadilla
Chicken Pibil: Achiote marinated chicken quesadilla
We ordered one of each
($6.50 each or 2 for $10)

Vegetarian Quesadillas - Served with Pico de Gallo salad and black beans
Mushroom Epazote: Filled with Oaxacan cheese, caramelized onions & mushrooms
Spinach: Filled with Fresco cheese and seasoned spinach
We ordered one of each
($5.50 each or 2 for $8)

The Mushroom Epazote quesadilla was filled with warm, melted Oaxacan cheese. Delicious!

I know Maizal is all about quesadillas but man, their guacamole was fantastic too. Creamy with a great consistency (not too thin or thick) and a hint of lime juice, the guac was simple yet so good. The crispy tortilla chips had tremendous corn flavour too (I know that may sound silly but I usually can't taste much "corn" in a lot of tortilla chips). Reggie and I both agreed that Maizal's guac and chips is highly addictive; it's nothing fancy but certainly going down as one of the best guac & chips I've ever had (by the way, Maizal mistakenly gave us the large guacamole instead of the small).

Out of the four quesadillas, we both liked the Tinga Beef (slightly spicy with moist & tender beef) and the Mushroom Epazote best. In contrast to the hard, stale and flavourless tortillas that I'm used to when having quesadillas, the taste of corn was really prominent in Maizal's corn tortillas. They were also very soft and warm.

Maizal is an excellent lunch spot and I'm happy that it's so close to my work in Liberty Village. It offers affordable and really tasty Mexican food (with a patio!) Next time I'm going to try their sopas for sure (thick tortillas topped with black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream). Can't wait! 

Maizal Quesadilla Cafe on Urbanspoon

 Maizal at