Clandestina Mexican Grill & Bar
2901 Dundas St W
Ernesto Rodriguez has been an entrepreneur for many years. He started his career by creating marketing campaigns promoting small businesses in Mexico City. He then shifted to working in the restaurant industry, where he discovered his passion for fresh, healthy food and drink. Ernesto has been working in the restaurant business for over twelve years, opening restaurants in Mexico City and Toronto. When Ernesto moved to Toronto ten years ago, he noticed that the quality of the Mexican food on offer here wasn’t up to his standard. So he made it his mission to bring high-quality, 100% authentic Mexican food to the city; no TexMex allowed! This was when Clandestina was born, a takeout-style taco stand in Midtown! The Junction location – Clandestina: Mexican Grill and Bar, came a few years later in 2022 and is a more formal sit-down restaurant and bar.
Beyond the great food, another goal for Clandestina is to share a bit of Mexico’s food and drink culture, its love of food, and an understanding of how it can bring people together. As Ernesto’s Grandmother was fond of telling him, ‘food is love,’ and Clandestina embodies that philosophy with homestyle cooking where every delicious plate is made with passion and love. Inside, everyone gets a warm welcome. The cozy space allows patrons to spend as much time as they want around the table sharing dishes, telling stories, and reconnecting with friends and family, as they do in Mexico. After all, a filling meal with others is a great way to replenish the heart and soul after a long day.
At Clandestina, you’ll find the usual favourites like Guac and Chips, Tacos, and Burritos, but there are also true Mexican classics you won’t find anywhere else! For example, Quesabirra – a corn tortilla quesadilla stuffed with Birria, a slow-braised beef brisket with dry chillies, and authentic Mexican fish tacos that are corn battered, ensuring a light texture but maximum flavour. This commitment to quality goes for the drinks as well. True to the name, Clandestina transforms into a clandestine speak-easy-style bar later in the night. All cocktails are made with fresh fruits and homemade syrups without sugary premixes or purees, making them tastier and healthier than you’ll find anywhere else.
When Ernesto isn’t managing his restaurants, he enjoys spending time with his son. They especially enjoy go-karting as his son is exceptionally talented and competitive. For Ernesto, it’s a great way to relax, stop thinking about work, and create unforgettable memories.
What is one of his favourite Junction stops, you ask? He likes to start his day at a nearby restaurant, Dirty Food. He loves the food and appreciates that the local couple who own it are active in the community.
On their website, you can check out Clandestina’s latest news, menu additions, promotions such as Taco Tuesday, and even the possibility of renting the space for private parties.
Written by: James Watson
Member of the Month
Our Member of the Month features will shine a light on the businesses within the Junction and allow customers to get to know their neighbours who run the shops in our community. If you are a Junction BIA business interested in sharing your story with us and being featured by The Junction BIA, contact Carol Jolly, Executive Director.