La Bartola will open as Toronto’s first authentic vegan taco shop in 2020. Chef/founder Ivan Castro first began cooking at a young age in his hometown of Mexico City and wanted to bring his childhood cuisine to Toronto, where he moved with his husband and four dogs in 2016. “I was missing the amazing tacos from Mexico City and the delicious food from Oaxaca and wanted to give Torontonians the opportunity to try them without having to travel south,” Castro said. Castro crafts vegan taco meat fillings from ingredients such as braised hibiscus flowers, smoked banana blossoms, and jackfruit and creates a rainbow of tortillas using different colors of corn. Prior to opening its permanent location, La Bartola will serve tacos and Mexican street corn at Toronto-based festivals Vegandale Food & Drink Festival on August 10 and at Veg Food Fest from September 6-8. Toronto’s vegan scene is rapidly expanding with July’s reopening of fine-dining restaurant Mythology (which previously operated as a diner) and the September opening of Globally Local—the first Toronto outpost of the world’s first vegan 24-hour drive through.