Shawn Adler introduced a new type of taco to the city last October when he opened Pow Wow Cafe in Kensington Market. Pow wow is an Aboriginal word for a social gathering where people come together to celebrate indigenous culture through song and dance. Unlike the many Mexican style tacos you can find in Toronto, Adler’s version comes as a heaping salad-like creation with chili on top of Objiway fry bread.
Objiway fry bread, also known as bannock is traditional flattened yeast bread from Aboriginal Canadians. Adler learned how to make his fry bread from his mother and it is what really makes his tacos stand out. Adler’s version is fried to order and then cut into rough cubes, a perfect crispy and chewy component to his tacos which soaks up his flavourful chili as you eat it. Pow Wow Café’s tacos are all about texture as they come loaded with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, beets, corn shoots and salad greens. They’re topped with a generous dollop of sour cream which helps ties everything together.
Pow Wow Cafe offers four chili options for their tacos, traditional beef, vegetarian, smoked pork and jerk chicken. The smoked pork version features tender pulled pork in the chili with a hint of smoke that doesn’t over power the rest of the dish. The chili is thick with creamy red kidney beans and is full of flavour with just a hint of spice.
Additional to their tacos, Adler often has daily specials. During my visit it was a pan fried mackerel with home fries and a salad, a nice lighter option compared to their tacos. The fish was lightly dusted with spices, perfectly cooked and was topped with a fresh dill butter. The home fries were addictively crispy and can be found accompanying their regular brunch items.
On weekends Pow Wow Cafe does brunch from 11am until 3pm where you will find more menu items such as their smoked salmon and poached eggs with goat cheese cream over their fry bread. If you have a sweet tooth, there is a sweet potato pancake with maple syrup and cinnamon whipped cream. Additionally, all of their signature tacos can have two eggs added to them for an extra $2 at any time of the day. Like most popular brunch spots in Toronto, Pow Wow Café fills up fast so go early and go hungry.