Last Thursday, Toronto’s first pop-up taco stand, La Carnita, appeared. One hour later, it disappeared. The only advance warning of the underground operation was a casual announcement on its Twitter feed just moments before its noon-hour start. Those who got the message rushed to OneMethod Digital and Design at King and Spadina and left buzzing about the delicious tacos and the 125 limited edition prints (more about these in a moment)—not to mention their bragging rights.
While a design shop might seem a strange the location for a taco stand, it really isn’t: the three main players of La Carnita all work at OneMethod. Amin Todai, OneMethod’s owner, president and CEO, told us that the purpose of the pop-up was two-fold: first, to test the popularity of tacos for a potential future restaurant, and second, to build a social media following before the launch of a storefront. The other bonus? No overheads.
Although, legally, selling food at pop-up operations is dicey, La Carnita is getting around those rules by selling limited edition artwork for $10 and giving customers complimentary loot bags filled with a trio of freshly assembled tacos. When questioned about the risk involved in hosting the pop-up stand in his own office, Todai, who is also a partner of both Lucien and Lou Dawg’s, grinned and said, “You mean for selling art? We just happen to give you a loot bag of tacos on your way out.”
Andrew Richmond, the resident design director at OneMethod, is La Carnita’s chef. Although the team has been talking about a restaurant concept for over a year and a half, it wasn’t until Richmond visited Silicon Valley that he was struck with the ideas of tacos. Richards has been conducting test runs in-office, resulting in the chorizo, chicken and pork versions served last Thursday, made with the assistance of guest chef Daniel Usher of Ortolan. Steve Miller, VP and creative director at OneDesign, tells us that a different artist will produce the artwork sold at each event. (The premiere print featuring La Carnita’s mascot, Meathead, was designed in house by Matt Webb.)
Given the day’s turnout (the line extended outside the studio’s second-floor space) and the city’s overwhelmingly positive response to the recent Food Truck Eats event, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing more of this. In fact, Todai tells us to expect as many as two pop-ups per week, all announced on Twitter, until the end of September. “Hopefully by that point we’ll actually roll into an actual location.”
Those who missed out this time around can follow La Carnita on Twitter or Tumblr. There are also rumours that La Carnita may be involved in the Toronto Underground Market and Food Truck Eats. We’ll be watching.
La Carnita, lacarnita.com