Energetic, unpretentious, exceptionally affordable… El Furniture Warehouse is so not Toronto in so many ways, and maybe that’s what makes it great. The Annex space that formerly housed The Pump is part dive bar, part après-ski atmosphere, and part come-all eatery. This is the 10th location for the successful restaurant chain that started out in Whistler, BC back in 2002. They’ve built their reputation around full meals for $4.95 and the mountain vibe that gives no f*cks.
Partners Sean Young and Ian Ross got to work quickly on their first Toronto outpost with a full reno in just 28 days, and they’re already scouting a second location. A large group of Vans-clad servers circle the chalet-esque room designed by Morgan Allison, one of the staff members. Custom skateboard decks from Parkdale’s The Baitshop, competition-used Mark McMorris snowboards (he’s also a partner), and neon Red Bull lights adorn the walls. The music is loud and it’s good. If your idea of a casual Tuesday night out includes a ski full of shots, then El Furni is your jam.
Aside from the atmosphere, the menu is drawing major crowds. Lineups start at around 5pm and sustain themselves well into dinner service. They don’t take reservations or hold a waitlist so be prepared to linger a little if you’re stopping by during peak hours. Turnover of the 110 seats is relatively quick, though. The kitchen runs like a machine, shelling out between 800 and 1,200 meals a day. And contrary to what one might expect from a $5 meal, the portion sizes are substantial. Save those shillings for a few extra pints.
Another option, if you’re looking to lose some extra change, is to donate a meal to the less fortunate. Last week they donated 180 meals to Evangel Hall Mission on Adelaide. You can also buy a beer for a chef. They’ll receive the notice amongst the stream of endless chits that come out of their printers – it gives them hope and encouragement to make your meal memorable.
As far as the edibles are concerned, they’ve got everything from soups, salads, and dips to big ass burgers and Tex-Mex dishes. The chori-queso dip with spicy Spanish sausage, fresh corn, and spinach, and the beet and goat cheese salad with candied pecans and fresh basil were highlights. The mac and cheese with bacon, their best seller, has a red pepper sauce that overtakes the cheesiness in our opinion. The smoky BBQ burger is an absolute steal for the price.
Finish off with a few mini donuts and a couple more wobbly pops and you’re sailing. Set up a few of your favourite bangers on the jukebox and ride out the evening. El Furniture Warehouse is open until last call and it’s not untoward if you’d like to be the last out.
If you’ve had a chance to check out El Furniture Warehouse, let us know your favourite dishes in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.