What's the draw:
As Carmen's head chef Luis Valenzuela's puts it: "Mercat del Carmen is the pantry and the fridge of Carmen" so for anyone that enjoys the small plates at the lively Trinity Bellwoods joint, this is your chance to take some of the special ingredients home with you. The space, accessible both from it's own front door or a connecting walkway to Carmen at the back, is Valenzuela's take on a simple Spanish market and cafe with bursts of coloured tile, traditional music and design elements inspired by Antoni Gaudí. The welcoming environment serves up fresh dishes available to take away or sit down with and peer out onto Queen West.
What to drink:
Choose from many varieties of espresso including a classic cortado (a shot of espresso cut with a dash of warm milk) or the indulgent 'Bon Bon' - layers of espresso on top of dulche de leche. The real treat is their chocolate popsicles with rich dark chocolate sprinkled with pink peppercorn served alongside a mug of warm milk allowing you to stir in the chocolate yourself. Hot and cold teas are available along with a selection of specialty drinks in the fridge. We're told that beer and wine are coming soon once the space is licensed, we hope in time for when the large garage door at the front swings open for the summer.
What to eat:
One of Valenzuela's key focuses is to limit food waste so the offerings at the cafe are on constant rotation based on what they are able to share with Carmen's kitchen. Savoury items like sandwiches and banquettes - using bread from St John's bakery - and fresh salads line the glass display counter alongside traditional hot dishes like a tortilla española while made to order pastries, goatcheese cakes and cookies offer sweet pairings to the coffee and tea selections. The market stock is still growing but expect a curated list of Spanish ingredients and local produce, all available for purchase in varying portions to keep with the restaurants commitment to eliminating food waste.
Meal for two: $45
920 Queen Street West; Mercat del Carmen Facebook Page