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BITE: Taco Time
Seven Lives aims to bring a taste of Southern California to Kensington Market


I’ve just returned from a few days in Southern California where I saw more taco shops than burger restaurants. Thanks to a trusted source, I also discovered a dumpy little taco stand hiding next to an auto repair shop where a selection of tacos could be purchased for $1.25 each. That’s right, a meal of 4 tacos for 5 bucks. This made me feel like an ass for paying $15 for two similar tacos at a restaurant the night before.

Tacos have taken over Toronto the past year (like burgers, cupcakes, and poutine before them), and there are many fantastic restaurants serving their own style of this tasty street food. Hogtown loves its hog and meaty tacos are aplenty. Seven Lives Tacos y Mariscos is a tiny taco and seafood restaurant in Kensington Market. With 11 of the 13 menu items offering seafood (“mariscos” in Spanish), Seven Lives aims to bring a taste of Southern California to T.O. 

Owned by Sean Riehl, who grew up and worked in Southern California, Seven Lives offers classic SoCal and Baja-style tacos. The most popular taco is the Gobernator ($5) with smoked marlin, shrimp, and cheese. It’s refreshing to see octopus on the menu with the Pulpo En Mole Verde ($5). Not to worry, carnivores, the Carnitas (pork) and Lengua (beef tongue) will have you returning for another. Daily fish specials and a changing selection of ceviche are also on the menu.

On a sunny weekend visit, I am delighted to find house-made strawberry horchata ($2). A cold, refreshing drink that is dairy-free despite its milky appearance. It’s generally rice based, but there are many variations of horchata that can be made with almonds or other nuts and seeds. I will take horchata over iced tea any day.

I’ve always been curious about the cat used for the Seven Lives logo. There are no cats on the menu (whew!) and I do not believe you should feed cats tacos. Sean explains that in Mexico, it’s believed cats have seven lives and with a seafood-heavy menu (cats do like seafood), he felt the name would fit. Somehow, in North America, we’ve managed to give felines an extra two lives. We’re so excessive.

Follow Seven Lives on Twitter: @sevenlivesTO


Pay Chen is a TV and radio host, writer, and producer who puts a lot of things in her mouth. If you have a favourite spot in the city to share, follow her on Twitter at @PayChen.

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