Zocalo Modern Cantina Now Open in the Fraserhood’s Old Crowbar Space

The owners of the Fraserhood’s popular Sal y Limon restaurant quietly opened Zocalo Modern Cantina last week in the old Crowbar location at 646 Kingsway.

The new 30 seat restaurant follows the Mexican theme of Sal y Limon but with a larger, more playful menu of shareables like gooey queso fundido, crispy flautas and beef tongue with creamy mushroom sauce. (There’s not a taco to be seen.) The menu is especially heavy with cocktails, with eleven on offer and prices ranging $9 to $15. (I can’t vouch for the value of any of them, so you’re on your own there.) The drinks list is rounded out with a short selection of wines and a few of beers, including two Parkside brews on tap.

Zocalo looks to be the very picture of a turnkey operation. As far as I could tell they hadn’t changed a single thing about the interior from its three years as Crowbar. They must have just swapped out the ingredients in the mise en place and changed the liquor on the boxed shelves (with far fewer bottles). Everything else is exactly as it was, which is to say good looking, clean and cozy. As for exterior signage, they’ve simply draped an ugly, undersized plastic banner over the old Crowbar brand. Hey presto-change-o!

It’s my understanding that this building and its immediate neighbours will be demolished in the next couple of years (likely to make room for condos that very few people can afford), so there’s an obvious reason why they haven’t spent much money on the place. They know the asteroid is on its way. That isn’t to say that Zocalo is somehow a doubtful enterprise. Fans and regulars of Sal y Limon (I count myself as both) are well aware they don’t mess around when it comes to deliciousness. You’d be wise to give it a try, even if it’s just for a sip and a recce as you wait for a table at Savio Volpe across the street.

I should also point out that this is not the second coming of the restaurant of the same name that burned down at Main and Broadway ten years ago. There’s no connection. The staffer I asked wasn’t even aware that there’d been another Zocalo nearby. (It’s a common enough word; the Mexican equivalent of the Italian piazza, or public square.)

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