Daily bite: Grant van Gameren's newest concept, Quetzal, to open late 2017

A little glimpse into Grant Van Gameren's newest restaurant concept, Quetzal

Quetzal Toronto interior design
Quetzal design rendering courtesy of Partisans.

Earlier this week, Grant Van Gameren announced that he would be adding a new member to his successful Toronto restaurant family, which already includes Bar Isabel, Tennessee Tavern, and El Rey Mezcal Bar. Quetzal is co-owned by Owen Walker and chefs Julio Guajardo and Kate Chomyshyn and is positioning itself to be a thoughtful Mexican eatery worth taking note of.


This Epazote and Quesillo quesadillas cooked on the comal are an example of how simplicity is best. EPAZOTE (pronounced eh-pah-ZOH-teh)is an aromatic herb commonly used in the cuisines and traditional medicines of central and southern Mexico. Its somewhat pungent flavor profile is described by many as “medicinal” and has notes of oregano, anise, citrus, mint, and even tar or creosote. QUESILLO, also known as Queso Oaxaca, is a semi-soft, white, string-type cheese made from cow's milk. Belonging to the pasta filata family, similar to a Mozzarella, Oaxaca is a stretched curd cheese, kneaded and sold in long ropes gently wound in balls. Quesillo has savory mellow buttery flavour and is a great melting cheese. The little salty and mild flavour make it is one of the most popular cheeses for preparing quesadillas. #quetzaltoronto #oaxaca #research #comal #woodfire #mexico

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Aside from having a large wood-burning oven, where most of dishes will be prepared, Guajardo and Chomyshyn will also be making tortillas, tlayuda, tetelas, and other traditional corn-based items from scratch daily. Delving deeper into Mexican food culture, more unusual (to the Canadian palate, anyway) ingredients can be expected--such as maguey worms, chicatana ants and regional herbs like epazote--in a variety of sauces and salsas.

On the drinks side, one is to expect all wine, cocktail and beer menus to feature Mexican-inspired ingredients, flavours and preparations. Don't drink the hard stuff? There will also be tempting, inventive, non-alcoholic cocktails, made in-house using both fresh and fermented ingredients.

van Gameren has once again enlisted the help of local design firm, Partisans (Bar Raval), to help Quetzal to life.

Quetzal is slated to open before the end of 2017, but restaurant construction delays are always typical, so stick to their Instagram feed for an official opening date.