EATS: Saltlick Smokehouse & Mezcal TNT

Hello everyone! Most people know that the Toronto food scene is pretty unparalleled in terms of variety and the quality just keeps getting better and better. Most people who know me know that my heart belongs in the 6 and I live in a suburban city where the food scene isn’t as big, so I’m always interested in trying out new places – but Toronto is still, in my opinion, the place to be. I’ve recently started discovering however (thanks to a handsome foodie I’ve started seeing), that Hamilton is stepping it up in the food game and there are so many amazing places to check out.
This past Sunday, we went to Saltlick Smokehouse for brunch since he is a mega fan of BBQ and had never been. Located on the north end of James Street, Saltlick specializes in all things smoked and cured. I should’ve taken more interior pictures of the restaurant but really – I’m pretty certain I will be back! It’s a cozy restaurant with a mix of a rustic and industrial feel and the aromas are delicious as soon as you walk in. I opted for their Smoked Brisket Benedict and OH. MY. GOD. Definitely one of the best eggs benny’s I’ve ever had! The eggs were poached perfectly (one of them fell onto the board) and the brisket was tender, smokey, and just melted in my mouth. With the perfectly runny yolk, hollandaise, and barbecue sauce, it was rich and indulgent – and I regret NONE OF IT! Will definitely be coming back for dinner because their Southern Fried Drumstick was unreal (he ordered the Steak and Legs which included a sous-vide flat iron steak, poached eggs, and of course, the drumstick…which I got to try a bite of :D)
Later on in the evening, we went to Mezcal Tacos and Tequila Bar because really – who can say no to tacos? Also, sidenote – hip hop seems to be the common theme for all great taco spots which is totally my cup of tea. Anyway, Mezcal is on the south end of James Street where there are several great pubs and restaurants (shoutout to The Ship for the best burger I’ve ever had – will post about that in the future!) Definitely another cozy space (very reminiscent of my beloved Grand Electric) and there was a bit of a wait – but that’s always a good sign! We started off with guacamole and their made to order tortilla chips and a side of their fire roasted tomato salsa. The guac was smooth and I’m not sure if it’s a Hamilton thing, but both places I’ve had guac throw a little sweetness into it (which I don’t mind.) The salsa was fresh and was a nice counterpart to the guac. Fish tacos are my absolute favourite and basically my litmus test for every Mexican restaurant I visit. Grand Electric near Queen and Dufferin is at the top of my list and it’s always been a goal to find somewhere comparable if not better. Trust me when I say I’ve eaten a lot of tacos (La Carnita, El Catrin, Tacos 101, Seven Lives…and so on) and while the others all have decent offerings, no one could ever compare to Grand Electric. Until now. Mezcal’s Baja Fish taco is the closest to Grand Electric and really – the difference is just in the toppings but Mezcal is a serious contender. I would GLADLY come back and order just 3 of this one (which is what I do at GE) because it is that good! Since this was the first time, I wanted to try a variety so I also ordered the pork belly and calamari. The pork belly came with housemade pickles which really cut down the richness and gave it that fresh punch of flavour. I was so full after that however so I only tried a piece of calamari (crispy and delicious!) and made the handsome foodie eat it (he happily obliged.) I love the baja fish, but I am definitely interested in trying out the others. Chef Manny Ferreira (who is a Chopped Canada champion and the owner) came and asked us how everything was at the end of the meal which was such a nice surprise. Service was also fantastic overall so it was a great experience.They also just opened up a Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant on their lower level called Uno Mas featuring pintxos and cocktails. Considering the quality of food at Mezcal, I definitely hope to check them out at some point.

Saltlick Smokehouse is located at 282 James St. N. You can find them online at http://www.saltlick.ca and follow them on Twitter @Saltlicksmoke and Instagram @Saltlicksmokehouse.

Mezcal TNT is located at 150 James St. S. You can find them online at http://www.mezcaltnt.com and follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @MezcalTNT.

Have you ever been to either of these restaurants? If not and you live in Hamilton or are visiting, I highly recommend checking them out. Stay tuned for more Hamilton Eats (and obviously always Toronto too!) Thanks so much for stopping by!

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