Seven Lives & Pancho Y Emiliano

While places like La Carnita and Grand Electric receive most of the taco hype, there are plenty of other places for tacos in Toronto. Of the many taco options in Kensington Market, we were most interested in Seven Lives, as they had recently moved out of the “food court” on Augusta to open their own shop.

Seven Lives
Aguas Frescas 2 and Tacos 5/each
We didn’t arrive until late afternoon, and by then Seven Lives was out of ceviche. However, there were plenty of interesting tacos to try (including a vegetarian option), as well as carne asada fries. We both sipped on watermelon aguas frescas (also available in lemon or honeydew) as we waited on our tacos in the small, crowded restaurant. If there wasn’t a pending threat of thunderstorms, it would probably have been more comfortable to eat on the sidewalk outside.

Seven Lives
Gobernador (top) and Camarones a la Diabla (bottom) tacos 10
The Gobernador (which is actually a municipality in Spain), is Seven Lives’ signature taco. With smoked marlin, shrimp, cheese, peppers, onion and sour cream, there is a lot going on in one taco. This was my first time having smoked marlin – I’d expected something flakier and less dry. While not a bad taco at all, I didn’t feel that the sum was greater than its parts. However, things improved from there – the “Devil’s Shrimp” taco with spicy shrimp, cheese, onions, and sour cream, was juicy and had a pleasant spiciness, and was P’s favourite taco.

Seven Lives
Camarones Fritas (top) and Pulpo en Mole Verde (bottom) tacos 10
The camarones fritas taco was piled with battered, fried shrimp, pico de gallo, and sour cream. One of my favourites, the fried shrimp taco was a flavourful improvement over the typical fried fish taco. Of the four tacos we tried, my favourite was definitely the pulpo en mole verde. Slices of octopus were accompanied by crunchy pumpkin seeds, onions, and peppers, and topped with mole verde and sour cream. The pumpkin seeds gave the taco an interesting crunch against the tender grilled octopus.

Overall, I would definitely return (early!) to try their ceviche, shrimp cocktail, and to have more seafood tacos. The staff at Seven Lives were also really good with dietary restrictions, and would double check prior to topping each order. The attention to detail extended to larger orders – with the staff confirming if there was any preference to which combination of tacos were placed together in the baskets.

Pancho y Emiliano
Churros from Pancho Y Emiliano’s 4 for 5
Full but not yet bursting, we walked down the street in search of churros. Since we’re not a fan of mimes, we avoided the Augusta food court. Thankfully, Pancho Y Emiliano was open, and with patio space! With a choice between 1/$1.50 or 4/$5, we opted for the latter and had two chocolate churros each. The churros here are fried to order, dusted in cinnamon sugar, and can be injected with a choice of caramel, strawberry, or chocolate sauce, or left plain. Hot and crispy, with the added crunch of the cinnamon sugar, we were thoroughly satisfied with our chocolate-y snack.

UPDATE: So we returned to Pancho Y Emiliano, as they were looking for volunteers willing to trade manual labour for free food. In addition to learning some tips on painting and renovating, we tried a taco and tostada with some pineapple Jarritos!

Pancho y Emiliano
Baja Fish Taco 5.75
When we visited, PYE had a “fish tacos in 10 minutes of it’s free” deal, and a helpful menu that listed out the sizes of each taco. The eight inch baja fish taco was larger than most fish tacos in the city. Fresh, crunchy, topped with lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and spicy mayo sauce, the taco was delicious.

Pancho y Emiliano
Ceviche Tostada 4.25
We also tried the ceviche, which was served on a tostada that managed to stay crunchy even with the mountain of fish on it.


Saturday Afternoon, June 1, 2013.
Seven Lives
69 Kensington Ave, Toronto
Seven Lives on Urbanspoon
Pancho Y Emiliano
200 Augusta Ave, Toronto
Pancho Y Emiliano on Urbanspoon

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