A Latin American band playing brass and string instruments

Lula Lounge / Photography By Anna Encheva

How to experience Latin American culture without leaving the GTA

Uncover some new-to-you restaurants, galleries and events during Hispanic Heritage Month

It might seem hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Toronto’s vibrant Hispanic culture flew under the radar for those outside the community. But no longer. Now, folks with ties to countries like El Salvador, Argentina, Chile and Spain share their food, arts and culture with curious visitors from across the GTA as an entrenched part of the social fabric. And as April is Hispanic Heritage month in Toronto, it’s the perfect time to explore something new.

pupusa corn tortilla with chicken and onions with salsa behind

Pupusa (stuffed corn torilla) Photography By Adobe Stock

Eat:

Skip the hipster hotspots in favour of the tiny Emporium Latino (243 Augusta Ave.) in Kensington Market—we highly recommend the El Salavadorian pupusa (a stuffed corn tortilla).  Or, try authentic Mexican at Playa Cabana.

Woman in black coat and hat looking at art

The Life In Flight Exhibit / Photography By Elijah Nichols. Courtesy of Myseum of Toront0

See:

At Sur Gallery in Toronto, the focus is contemporary Latin American artists. The “Life in Flight” exhibit showcases interpretations of the immigrant experience through video, photography and digital drawing. Prefer to stay in? Queue up Toronto resident and Chilean-Canadian music historian Rodrigo Bascunan’s award winning show Hip Hop Evolution on The Movie Network.

Listen:

Music lovers should definitely slide into a seat at Lula Lounge in Toronto—but honestly, you likely won’t be sitting long. The live music venue offers a range of local musicians and poets who will have you out of your seat, whether to applaud or to hit the dance floor. And keep an eye out for the array of local Hispanic singing talent that call Toronto home: From Jessie Reyez, who has Colombian roots and whose hit single “Figures” climbed the charts this summer, to Juno-nominated Brazillian Aline Morales, whose sultry voice and fierce percussion beats won’t disappoint.

Teach:

Encourage your kids’ school to join the Art of the Americas program, which helps bring local Latin American artists into classrooms for lectures and hands-on workshops in Latin arts—including Capoeira and Brazilian percussion.

Latin dancers in colourful dresses at Salsa on St. Clair festival

Salsa On St. Clair / Photography By Chi Ken Yeung

Celebrate:

Keep the party going beyond April. This summer, take in Salsa on St. Clair (July 7 and 8), the Mississauga Latin Festival’s 10th anniversary celebration (July 28 and 29) and the Hispanic Fiesta (August 31 to Sept. 3), which is now in its 37th year. Plus, there’s a second Hispanic Heritage Month in October, when Ontario’s province-wide celebration of Hispanic culture takes place. Expect a slew of announcements featuring those events in the fall.