Kensington is often a turnstile for what’s trendy. As a result, it’s not surprising that Seven Lives has opened in an attempt to follow the lead of tacocentric eateries such as Grand Electric and La Carnita. Sitting in the middle of this neighbourhood, it’s a small space with great music and seating for no more than a dozen people plus a small patio area in front. The menu consists primarily of tacos although one could get ceviche or fries as well.
In honour of the fact that seven lives has a logo which strongly resembles internet sensation grumpy cat, I’ve invited him along to assist in the review.
One of the features is three vats of juice (flavours rotate) sitting on the counter. You get a pint size serving for only $2. I opted for mango over tamarind and it was quite refreshing, which was a good thing since it killed the significant amount of time I had to wait. I managed to beat the crest of the the rush, which topped 30 or so people in line, but I still had to wait 20 minutes (or 3/4 of my mango juice) for my 3 tacos.
My definition of a good taco: one with moist, well seasoned fillings and abundant toppings.
I decided on the signature $5 Gobernador (stuffed with smoked marlin, shrimp and cheese). The taco was stuffed full and its flavour was dominated by plenty of smoky fish, which was slightly dry. The shrimp, cheese and other ingredients couldn’t compete with the intensity of the marlin in either texture or taste, so in the end it was quite monotone.
Taco number two was the $5 pulpo en mole verde (octopus with pumpkin seed mole). Unlike the Gobernador, the flavours were much more complex (as a mole should be), complete with a little sweet and a little spice. The condiments were also more abundant, so the flavours were more rounded. The pumpkin seeds added a nice crunch. The octopus was a bit chewy however.
The standard $4 carnita (pork) was taco number 3. It was topped with the standard guacamole, tomato and onion. I didn’t understand the huge chunks of pork which resulted in a dryer, less flavorful filling. It lacked much of the pizazz of other pork tacos I have had.
The Seven Lives’ salsas were well done. I tried both medium and hot, both of which were a nice balance of flavour and heat.
In a taco shop containing all things Mexican, Speedy Gonzalez wasn’t one of them. Even by beating the rush, I still had a 20 minute wait. Bring your pesos, because Seven Lives is CASH ONLY. For the most part the tacos are quantity versus quality. relying on copious amounts of overcooked and underseasoned meats at the expense of the delicate architecture which normally exists between shell, fillings and condiments. In the end, it was a bit of a disappointment.