There is a very good reason to visit the lower west side of the Hamilton Market: delicious tacos.
Eat Industries Incorporated was founded in August by Brandon Jackson and Matthew Pigeon. Both hailing from Toronto, the gentleman found their foodie home in the Hamilton Market after searching for spots in the Ambitious City.
“We thought, why don’t we do something in the market? When you think of the St Lawrence Market, and the Guelph market, all these markets are hubs for cities and when you go on a Saturday, it’s busy and there’s excitement and there’s a lot going on. I think this market has potential,” said Brandon. “Hopefully we’ll see this gentrification and this energy that comes back into it.”
Eat Industries came around just as the Pan Am games were starting and focused on attending the city’s festivals to build their business, serving up eats at It’s Your Festival, Festival of Friends, Rockton Fair, and Steeling Fashion.
But why tacos?
“We wanted to do tacos and when we first came up with the concept, there weren’t many taco places in Hamilton other than Mezcal TNT. Tacos are so diverse and you can do so much with them. And who doesn’t like a taco?” said Brandon.
And he’s right. If you don’t like tacos (what’s wrong with you?), or are just extra hungry (in that case, we forgive you), turn your proteins into a $7 sandwich or go for the $9 taco combo with two tacos and a side of rice and beans. Eat Ind. Inc. also serves up items like nachos, sliders, and sides. They will also be starting to serve a trio of sliders for $10.
Tacos are affordable at only $3 each and feature a unique combination of toppings, like braised beef with spiced pumpkin puree, tomatillo salsa, and pepita crumble. In addition to the meats, there are also cajun shrimp and roasted cauliflower tacos.
The Works Nachos ($12) are loaded with a six bean vegetarian chili, queso fresco and charred pico de gallo, topped with lime crema, pickled jalapeno, and your choice of three meats: beef, chicken, or pork. It is finished with one of their three signature sauces – sweet mango, medium jalapeno tomato, and hot three chili – and garnished with freshly chopped coriander and lime. For fans of spice, Eat Industries has the spiciest sauces in the city. Ghost pepper puree, anyone? (If you’re daring, you can even buy their hot sauces by the bottle.)
I got to enjoy a tasting of their menu, starting off with a spiced apple and organic ginger iced tea. They always have a house drink of some sort featured in the jug.
I was spoiled, but that wasn’t the first time I experienced the Eat. Ind. Inc. hospitality. Brandon and Matthew treated me to a cauliflower taco (their choice) the first time I saw their stall and said hello. That cauliflower taco surprised me and got me hooked. Now it’s my favourite – but admittedly Matthew’s least favourite, but not for lack of flavour.
“When we were doing the festival circuit, we went through 50-60 heads of cauliflower a week,” he laughs.
His favourite, though, is the pork sandwich, topped with mustard aioli and whatever winter green is available from Buttrum’s in the market (that day it was a large leaf kale), and smoked apple bacon jam, garnished with one of the signature sauces.
To boot, those apples were hand-picked by Brandon’s wife and kids: literally straight from the farm.
Their plan is to deliver farm-to-table fast food as much as possible – “a healthy, local, better prepared fast food option.” Ingredients change with the season, like the winter greens on the sandwich. And being in the Hamilton Market is the perfect place to make that happen.
“We can talk to the people who are bringing the produce in and talk to the farmers themselves. We can take the organic kale that is brought in that day and serve you the sandwich at lunch time and have you out of here in five minutes,” said Matthew.
Their focus is on community, from handing out free samples around town to sourcing ingredients from other market vendors and local businesses.
So far, they are impressed with Hamilton’s community spirit, giving shout-outs to Relay Coffee, Donut Monster, and their market stall neighbours Henry Browns.
Brandon and Matthew met while working in Toronto’s high-end Bymark Restaurant (part of the esteemed Chef Mark McEwan Group). Brandon worked front-of-house for over ten years and Matthew worked as sous chef for over six years.
“Working in Toronto, I was part of a business but I was never a business owner. Here, everyone is very receptive” said Matthew. “You meet someone and everyone is really friendly. They give you advice and they mean it honestly. It’s not cut-throat. People go out of their way to try to help you out.”
We’re glad to have this duo in Hamilton – and they must be glad to be here, too – since they are expanding their business in the Hamilton Market.
In the works, the market will have a new prepared food option: the Eat Ramen bar, serving Japanese comfort food.