Grand Electric is a place you wanna hate. No reservations, long lines, cash/debit only and no split bills not to mention an irrelevant website makes planning a dinner with friends a bit cumbersome. Nonetheless, once you’re in you become one of the cool kids, even if for a short time. Loud old-school rap cuts the air amongst the touque-wearing animal heads as you stare at a blackboard scratched with nouveau-Mexican fare and double take when you see tacos for only 3.5 each. You get sucked into the gluttony and place order after order from the kitchen as you succumb to the communal rave of taco nirvana. It’s nothing short of a tongue-tickling trance.
The tacos are terrific. Whether you opt for a safer arbol chicken (slightly spicy), basa fish (battered and flaky) or vegetarian taco (crunchy corn) or a more adventurous choice such as beef cheek (tender and rich) or pig tail (crispy and flavorful), there is little disappointment. Each choice is stuffed to the point where it is a hot mess; accompanied with variety of condiments, whether it be the abundant guacamole with the beef cheek or the salty cheese with the chicken. From a value perspective, they are head’s and (pig) tails above the competition considering other moxy establishments ask $10-12 for a pair of clearly inferior products.
The blackboard menu describes the pozole as dope. After the first bite, I couldn’t argue. Each spoonful offered tender hominy and pork suspended in a fragrant broth which was addictive like liquid nicotine. It was spiced perfectly, offering an edgy punch with every bite. In the end, it was heart-warming and addictive dish well worth of the dope proclamation.
The spicy squid redefines calamari which has unfortunately become a generic term for spongy rings of breaded squid served with some kind of generic dipping sauce. Grand Electric offers a mountain of tender hoops sprinkled with peppers, green onions and a spicy red coating which eliminates the need to be masked by seafood sauce or garlic aioli. You’ll wanna share this one although be warned that a few fork fights may ensue, even among good friends.
Not surprisingly, desserts include anything that can be shoved into a mason jar. In this case, it was a key lime pie and a dulce de leche cake. Served together, there were in total contrast; one was tart, smooth and cold and the other was sweet, crumbly and served piping hot. In the end, they were both average for what they were but provided a very satisfying end to a terrific meal, although some may not enjoy the extreme sweetness and tartness of these finishing touches.
The hang-up is the utter pretension that characterizes many of the restaurants in Parkdale. There’s a “my house is bigger than your house” or maybe “my hole-in-the wall is less inviting than yours” mentality which resonates throughout the neighbourhood like cracks in the sidewalk. Case and point….I have a friend of mine who has been there at least a dozen times. She does the 60-90 minute wait like everybody else and brings new people almost every time. On her last visit, she was cut off. So was her table of four. Why? Too much bourbon? No, she was informed by the hostess that, after less than an hour of sitting, their “time was up” and they would not be served further. They were given the bill without further discussion. She attempted to call the owners on three occasions, has left messages and no calls have been returned.
Personally, I found the service pretty good once I went through the mandatory waiting period (even at 1045 at night). I did, however, feel a little inferior. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t sport a raven tattoo or know all the lyrics to 2 Live Crew. Either that or I don’t have a fetish for social sodomy…afterall, I haven’t read 50 Shades and probably never will. Hey, maybe the next restaurant in Parkdale (providing the ban is lifted)can offer moderate asphyxiation in between the appetizer and main course.
The food is amazing! I do, however, heed a warning penned beautifully by Dr. Seuss over 20 years ago in “Oh, the place you will go!”…..
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
can happen to you.
The food is grand, the atmosphere is electric and this joint may be topping the rest and is the best of the best according to many pundits, critics and self-proclaimed foodies. The hang-up is self-righteous attitude that one receives in atttempt to get some good squid. On the heels of an expansion, consideration should be given to modernizing the approach to improved service that will maintain and even enhance the electricity. In a world where people show less attitude starting revolutions against social injustice or going from rags to riches to make millions, Grand Electric should put things into perspective; they make tacos…..although they are pretty freaking good.