Formerly known as Arre Burrito, Cocina Lucero has joined the wave of updated establishments on the Yonge street strip. The neglected souvenir-shop-lined Yonge of the 90’s is no more, and a new shopping and dining destination has risen in its wake—making Canada’s longest throughfare not just a division of east and west Toronto, but a cultural point of interest. Joining the ranks, Cocina Lucero is a space reminiscent of the Mexican Puebla; without a hint of kitsch, the restaurant mingles traditional Mexican decor sans unnecessary gaudiness. Rustic wooden tables with blue tile inlays, banquette seating cushioned with pillows, and a long communal table with its corresponding upholstered ottomans, Cocina Lucero proffers a tasteful hacienda.
A far cry from the Tex-Mex that tends to tarnish our view of Mexican restaurants, Cocina Lucero is dedicated to preparing truly authentic fare with fresh ingredients, all from scratch. While familiar starters are on board (guacamole, quesadillas, and nachos), there are plenty of exotic dishes to whet the adventurous appetite. Appetizers of tamalito (corn masa steamed in a corn husk filled with chicken, beef, or veggies), ensalada de nopal (greens topped with pickled cactus leaves, pico de gallo, avocados, feta), and the sopa de frijol (a puree of black beans and chipotle), will challenge your view of Mexicana.
The entrees at Cocina Lucero are just as interesting and inventive. The “chuletas de puerco con pipian” translates to a plate of pork cutlets doused in a sauce made with peanuts, chilli peppers, sesame and pumpkin seeds. Other specialties include chillies en nogada (a poblano pepper stuffed with beef and pine nuts, topped with a walnut sauce and pomegranate), pollo con mole de Puebla (feta and spinach stuffed chicken breast drizzled with a special sauce of chilli, spices, nuts, fruits, and cocoa), and the barbacoa de borrego teotihuacan (barbequed leg of lamb seasoned in mild chillies and wrapped in banana leaves). Classic comfort foods of tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, chimichanga, and burritos, will appease those less inclined to change.