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El Toro Blanco pairs the world’s best tequila with high-brow Mexican food.
Choose Your Spiciness - Wall Street Journal’s Lunchbox
If you’re looking to upgrade your burrito lunch, head to El Toro Blanco, a stylish new Mexican restaurant in the West Village. El Toro opened for dinner in October and started serving lunch a few weeks ago.
Owner John McDonald said that he had been planning Mexican eatery for many years, but things didn’t really take shape until a location was procured on Sixth Avenue. The venue’s outdoor eating space was a particular draw for him.
“Our goal to be one of the top Mexican restaurants in the city,” said Mr. McDonald, who also owns Merc Bar, Lure Fishbar and Burger & Barrel Wine Pub, all located in SoHo.
Mr. McDonald said he and chef Josh Capon approach El Toro’s cuisine with a heavy coastal seafood angle, which helps to provide healthier and lighter choices for their customers—a must, he said, if you want them to be able to eat at the restaurant regularly.
Freshly made guacamole can be ordered mild, medium or hot. We had it hot, which packed a punch but wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy. The trio of salsas that accompanied the guacamole and chips were also of varied heats; of these, the verdi was the favorite.
The guacamole and fundidos—Mexican cheese & green chile fondue ($12) —are the most popular dishes, according to El Toro general manager Vincent Violandi.
Also in the starters department, the buttery and flavorful elote de calle ($5)—Mexican street corn shaved off the cob—isn’t to be missed.
For the main course, try the traditional enchiladas de pollo ($19). The pulled roasted chicken is tender and not eclipsed by the cheese and sour cream.
A lighter option is the tostada chopped salad, with black beans, roasted corn, jicama, chile rajas, avocado and queso fresco ($12). You can add chicken, steak or shrimp for a few bucks more.
Other offerings from the lunch menu include a wide variety of tacos ($13-19 for an order of three), empanadas ($11-12) and ceviche ($13-16). —Kathryn Lurie
Good News / Bad News Edition
Last month, John McDonald and Josh Capon opened their stylish new Village Mexican restaurant, El Toro Blanco. The space features a bar, a large dining room, and a guacamole station, plus cacti and old Mexican tile pieces. The menu includes regional dishes from all over Mexico, many of which were developed for the restaurant by Southern California chef Scott Linquist. So far, early diners love the vibe and the food — especially the appetizers. Here’s a roundup of what people are saying about El Toro Blanco:
The Solid Mexican Food News: In a conversation about the best Mexican food in NYC, one Chowhounder chimes in: “I’ve also been to the new El Toro Blanco on 6th Ave a couple of times. I’m not sure how ‘authentic’ the cooking is but I haven’t been disappointed yet by anything I’ve eaten. I highly recommend the goat tacos and chicken tamale.” [Chowhound]
The Very Good News: A diner posts this review on Yelp following what sounds like an enormous meal: “We started our meal off with the guacamole which was very good especially if you have it with the spicy yellow salsa ( diablo). The queso fundido with chorizo and potatoes was also delicious. The corn tamales were oh so good, I didn’t want it to end to be honest. The cheese crisp was good but it didn’t blow me away, with all the other great choices there I’d skip the crisp…The seasoned ground beef tacos were amazing in their hard shells! The grilled octopus tacos with the jalapeno mayo were great! The chicken enchilada was decent but once again there are better dishes to order here.” [Yelp]
The Fantastic News: One Menupages user loves this place: “I’ve been here twice since they recently opened and just loved it both times. The tuna tacos are so fresh. The pork tacos are full of flavor. The snapper was truly incredible. They were so nice and even split the plates for us.” [Menupages]
The Good News: A tipster writes in: “I am not a Mexican food eater but El Toro Blanco is REALLY GOOD. The queso fundito with chorizo is killer. Crispy chips. Amazing guacamole. Really awesome tequila/aloe cocktail with cactus. Capon crew has another hit on their hands.” [EaterWire]
The Mexican Pizza News: One Zagat editor has an early favorite: “The fare is higher end that what’s offered at other Village Mexican restaurants, and it’s still affordable. Our favorite dish, an open-faced quesadilla that was baked to a crisp and topped with cheese, pork and other goodies, could easily feed two people. It’s essentially a Mexican pizza, and it hit the spot with a nicely spiced mango margarita from the cocktail list.” [Zagat]
The Intimate Surroundings News: According to this Yelp reviewer, the restaurant is manageable: “They make nice use of the space — it’s sort of split into different sections even though it’s not large, and that makes it feel both intimate and “buzzy” at the same time. You can have a private, relaxed, low-key conversation with friends (or a date), and even though there’s a lot going on around you, you don’t feel like you’re sitting on top of anyone.” [Yelp]
The Must Have News: This brief and to the point Foursquare review lets readers know what single dish cannot be missed: “Must have side= Mexican street corn.” [Foursquare]
The Twitterific news: From @wdavidbauer: “El Toro Blanco is without question the best new mexican spot in the city #FoodComa #SundayCouch.” From @stuffedpepper: “El toro blanco on doomed downing. Packed bar in prime time.Cleverly crafted cocktails(mayahuel alum).Guac,margs,tacos,emps all spicy & delic.” From @RoeMaggiore: “Thank you @chefcapon for a delish meal at el toro blanco, great Margs too (ouch)! We will return!”
· All Coverage of El Toro Blanco [~ENY~]
Starting brunch this Saturday, a little preview of some of the dishes on the menu.
Bon Appetit’s Matt Duckor weighs in on El Toro Blanco
Whether I’m sitting down for dinner with my girlfriend at our neighborhood taco dive or at one of the country’s growing crop of ambitious Mexican restaurants, two things happen. First off, I immediately order a round of mezcal margaritas (yeah, I sub out tequila for its smoky, leathery cousin). Then I reach for a tortilla chip from the basket that is always on the table. But about three-quarters of the time, something goes terribly wrong. The chips are cold.
And cold chips make us sad.
One spot where this never happens is NYC’s El Toro Blanco, whose owners—John McDonald and Josh Capon, the crew behind Lure and B&B—fully understand the importance of a hot chip. Theirs always land on my table warm.
Think about warm chips in terms of warm bread, says Capon: “There’s a big difference between getting a cold roll and a warm roll. If I get a warm roll, I know I’m getting into something good.”
How does a restaurant keep those chips toasty? With an unsung but essential machine: the chip warmer.
Picture a stainless-steel ice chest, but one that keeps those delicious fried triangles at a perfect 175 degrees. At El Toro Blanco, they’ve installed a Carter-Hoffman CW1 capable of holding 20 gallons of chips. Yeah, pretty serious. An “exclusive heat duct baffling system” (consider us baffled) keeps chips toasty on two fronts: through a rear duct and up through a grate below the chips.