The Team

Christopher Palik
Chef / Owner

Emily Wilson
Sal Morra
Niki Duchesnay

Partners

Lauren Richard
Bar Manager

 

 

 

What is Tex Mex?

Tex Mex food is best described as the Americanization of Mexican food

What is HOTMESS?

Hotmess is an homage to the Tex Mex joints that dot the Southwest border between Texas and Mexico

You're from Texas right?
I get asked that at least a couple times a week.  I'm actually from Saskatchewan but I did eat at Taco Time a lot in High School, does that count?
 
 So where did the Tex Mex thing for me come from? To be exact Houston Texas, 2001, stuck unexpectedly overnight in between flights. What’s a Chef to do with a night off in a new city? Eat of course, I asked the ticket attendant where I should go and with the options presented I settled on Tex Mex as the good BBQ seemed too far out of the city and being from Vancouver at the time I didn't need anymore seafood in my life. I was sent to El Patio, a Tex Mex restaurant that was a Houston institution.

The whole idea of “Southern hospitality” was on display that night. Barb had obviously called ahead and the staff wasted no time in seating me with a Margarita in hand. They then spent the next 3 hours either dropping off another plate of food or walking by showing me plates destined for other tables. By the end of the night I had drank all the drinks and either eaten or seen the entirety of the menu. I was hooked but at that time I had no idea that Hotmess could ever exist. 

Fast forward to 2016 and it was time. I was growing restless cooking in the corporate world but was I crazy to think that Hotmess could be a reality? All chefs dream of owning their own place, mine was no different. It wasn't like I needed to find a concept so I could open my own place,more like the concept found me....
years ago in Houston.

Things were starting to align, the taco trend had hit Toronto and showed no signs of slowing down. By eating tacos people were becoming versed in the ingredients that also formed the bones of Tex Mex. If I could combine people's new found taste for taco's and everyone's secret love of Taco Bell this might just work.

 It wasn't gonna be just about the food, I also needed Hotmess to have the ambiance to reflect a time and place. I needed people to enter another world, like Del Rio Texas, circa 1985 with wood paneling, chicken wire, fluorescent lights, vintage country music, frozen margaritas and ice cold beers.
 
We found a building that was formerly an after hours/coke den that fit the bill. The fact that it was in the heart of Little Italy also made sense, Where better to put a border town tavern? Over the span of 5 months we breathed new life into a turn of the century store front that when completed turned to be as loud and tacky as I had ever imagined. 

 And so here we are serving what I feel is Toronto's only true Tex Mex. It's not authentic or traditional, how can it be? We are about 2300 km from Dallas and I'm from Saskatchewan but it's my version of what I feel Tex Mex for Toronto needs to be. It's honest, filling, accessible, fun and all made by us, We are the epitome of a small business, run by friends, girlfriends and former coworkers. We love our place and we'd love to make you feel like I felt 15 years ago, transported to another place and time.