Summers are absolutely amazing in Toronto, and Torontonians love to spend it outdoors. So when there’s a new entrant in Toronto’s vibrant patio scene, we take notice. La Libre is this next exciting entrant, officially opening its doors last week.
Literally meaning “The Free”, La Libre is Playa Cabana’s first and only fully outdoor restaurant and bar. Upon entering La Libre, you feel completely transported to a tropical place. The benches, chairs, and even the wooden beams, are painted in bright oranges and yellows. The tables are sandwashed, lending to a very rustic feel. The restaurant also has a retractable awning, which means rain or shine, it will be open. How many outdoor patios can you go to when it rains? It was actually raining the night we went, and it resulted in a very cool ambiance.
What about the food? It’s a Yucatån-inspired menu, focusing on some classic Mexican fare. The bocaditos (appetizers) consisted of Guacamole and Ceviche Yucateca. The guacamole was fresh, smooth, and creamy, and the ceviche had just the right amount of tartness. Both paired well with the crispy tortilla chips. Three different salsas, varying in heat, were also served if you want to take the spice level up a notch.
Three different tacos are available on the menu. The Tacos Al Pastor is a pork taco, where the pork is cooked on a trompo. For those who don’t know what a trompo is, it’s a “spinning top”, ie. a vertical rotisserie, where the pork is slow-cooked similar to how shawarma is prepared. The Tacos Conchinita Pibil is also a pork taco, but here the pork comes from a whole smoked suckling pig. Finally, there was the Tacos de Cecina, which is a beef taco. All three tacos were delicious. Tip – be sure to eat them before the juices soak through the soft shell tacos!
A non-taco dish was the Perros Calientes, which literally translates to “hot dogs”. Think of a hotdog slider, topped with a salsa. One interesting thing to note is that all of these main items are cooked on a charcoal grill by the dining area; meaning your sense of smell, alongside your sight and taste, will be engaged, all adding to the unique dining experience. Finally, the dessert was Alfajores de Maizena, which is a dessert originating from Argentina. Two cookies form a sandwich with dulce de leche as the filling, and the whole sandwich is rolled in coconut. It was a deliciously sweet ending to the evening.
La Libre’s cocktails are the creation of renowned mixologist Robin Goodfellow. The cocktails we sampled were all citrus-based, playing right into to the Mexican-inspired restaurant theme. These are perfect summertime cocktails, especially in this particular setting.
Rain or shine, for a cool Mexican-Yucatån-vibe, La Libre is definitely a go-to destination to this summer. It’s located at 14 Dupont St, adjacent to its sister restaurant, Playa Cabana Hacienda.
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Photos by Nick Lee