In the last eight months I have become a gluten-free gal.  Mini sigh. Most days I find it easy because of the great GF products out there, yet I do miss my beloved breads and the occasional fried morsel. But it’s really only when I’m dining out with non gluten-free peeps that it can be slightly daunting and annoying. Where’s a GF gf to dine??

I had a thought. Why not review some great local restaurants and create a monthly series to help navigate gluten-free, vegan and/or vegetarian dining?  I’ll be focusing on whole food restaurants, whether they “bend” to make an exception and highlight on some favorite items to order. I’m hoping to share some exciting dining out options, from my fork to yours, starting with Fonda Lola.

Fonda Lola was the brainchild of Andres Marquez (formerly of Milagro) and Ernesto Rodriguez, both of whom have been running restaurants and pop-ups in Toronto for years. This Queen West restaurant offers a modern spin on authentic Mexican cuisine, with a menu that’s locally sourced, sustainable, healthy and oh so delicious!

When you walk into FL you are encompassed by a warm and welcoming environment–gorgeous hand-painted dishware shipped from Mexico, black and white photos of relatives, glass hearts in cages and the smell of delicious food being made lovingly in la cocina.

We couldn’t decide where to start so Andrés suggested their #mexicanfiesta (a must-do for first timers), which is a tasting menu of the entire menu. Everything was so fresh and expertly prepared by Chef Howard Dubrowsky (L.A.B)!

We started with a locally-made kombucha margarita in some gorgeous authentic dishware…

followed up by a guacamole mousse with salsa verde (highly addictive);

then it was onto the ensalada chayote w/ caramelized pumpkin seeds and kale (Super-food Alert!),

and a hand-held Caesar w/ avocado mousse and candied jalapeno bacon (omg) AND Panela popper (double omg).

PLUS: Quesadilla w/ Oaxaca cheese and Pescado al Mojo (Sustainable Seared Bass) and Green Ponzole (Hominy corn, radish and green soup) and watermelon margarita (We also did drink pairings, obvi)

Then came the Taco al Pastor (pork) and lobster tacos (riiiiiight?),

all wrapped up with the perfect ending, spiced churros (not GF, whoops!) and a chocolate-chili pot de crème.

Our entire meal and drinks were nothing short of fantistico and we wish FL a fabulous year of success (not that they’ll need it)! Honourable mentions also include the trout Aguachile (we ate so quickly we forgot a picture) and the homemade rice and beans. While you’re there make sure to check out the fabulous private washrooms with copper basin sinks, the epoxy bar with antique cutlery and vintage Mexican miner’s certificates, and the carefully placed glass hearts in cages.

Fonda Lola is located at 942 Queen Street West. Reservations can be made by calling 647-706-9105.  Closed Sundays & Mondays, check in with them on twitter for more information.