South, Meet North: Latin Bars and Festivals in Toronto

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You don’t need to fly to Rio de Janeiro or Madrid for a taste of La Vida Loca! If you need some Latin spice in your life, look no further than Toronto. This city is home to a vibrant Latin community and boasts a multitude of salsa clubs, Latin bars, restaurants and festivals to keep things caliente all year round.

Latin Bars & Salsa Clubs

Get moving to the sultry sounds of salsa at lively Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas Street West). On Friday and Saturday nights, this Toronto Latin mainstay serves up the city’s best salsa bands and DJ’s. If you’re feeling a bit rusty, practise your salsa moves with a friendly instructor, then let your feet (and hips) do the rest!

If you’d rather lounge at the bar than leave it all on the dance floor, check out El Caballito (220 King Street West). Named after the slender shot glasses used for serving tequila, this trendy Mexican bar offers a huge selection of tequilas and margaritas. Have yourself a shot of Mañana, or a whole bottle of Cazadores (just not by yourself!). For a more in-depth experience, book a tequila tasting session with the house Tequilier, then have your fill of street-style Mexican cuisine.

Latin Restaurants

At the Copacabana (230 Adelaide Street West), hungry patrons can get their fill of Brazilian-style steak, ribs, lamb and a host of other meat-lovers’ fare while immersed in the sights and sounds of Rio. For a fixed price, this trendy 320-seat rodizio (all-you-can-eat Brazilian resto) serves up an unlimited selection of skewered meat carved and served by skilled waiters, right at your table.

If you’re in the mood for Mexican, El Catrin (18 Tank House Lane) delivers. This stylish restaurant in the Distillery District offers up both modern and traditional Mexican food, and does it with flare. Savour a Sierra Ceviche, then share a Cubeta de Camarones while taking in the stunning Mexican décor (including intricate folk art chandeliers and a stunning Oscar Flores mural) and soaking in the oh-so-trendy ambience.

For a taste of authentic Spanish fare Tapas at Embrujo (97 Danforth Avenue) offers a range of small dishes that defines this special style of Spanish food presentation. Among the tasty tapas are such classics as tortilla de patatas, Gambas al ajillo and paella, plus an extensive Spanish wine list. Thursday through Sunday, diners’ experience is enhanced by the accompaniment of colourful Spanish flamenco dancers.

Latin Festivals

If restaurants, bars and salsa clubs aren’t enough, there’s plenty more Latin heat to be found in Toronto – in festival form!

If you’ve got salsa fever and one night of dancing won’t do the trick, then strut over to St. Clair Avenue West for the Salsa in Toronto street festival. For two sunny summer days, the streets of midtown T.O. are transformed into the country’s hottest salsa party, featuring a series of Latin dance and art exhibitions and – of course – food!

The much-loved Caribbean Carnival Toronto, formerly known as Caribana, transforms downtown Toronto into a colourful Caribbean party. Deemed the largest festival of its kind in all of North America, this three-week “cultural explosion” features parties, galas, parades and the beloved (and spectacular) King and Queen show – not to mention the pulsating rhythms of Soca, Calypso, Reggae, Steel Pan and Chutney!