El Torero – Restaurant Review
Today, some friends from work and I decided to check out El Torero, which opened up a few months ago on 30th Street. It’s in a location that has been the home of several other restaurants (Texas Tamales, Los Sabores del Peru, La Perla Tapatia) – the site is so transient, you can never count on it being the same place everytime you go by. Based on my experience, I don’t really expect this incarnation to last long either.
I consider it a bad sign, when as we’re sitting down, the first thing the server says is “I’d bring you chips but we don’t have any, we need to run to the store to get some.” Really? A Mexican restaurant with no chips? We sat down and looked at the menu – it seemed reasonable. Inexpensive, standard Mexican food, with a few weird items thrown in (Not sure what “Jamaica drink” is, for instance.)
A few minutes later, we ordered. Mark wanted a guacamole tostada, but was told that they were out of guacamole. Seriously?! No chips, and now no guacamole? This is a Mexican joint, right? I decided to get the two item combo with a much raved about (on Urbanspoon) chile relleno, and a carnitas sope (recommended by the server.) I also ordered a glass of horchata.
While I was waiting for my food, I went to the restroom. It was clean and seemed in good order, but after washing my hands, I realized I had no way of drying them. There was an empty paper towel holder mounted to the wall. I ended up wiping my hands on my jeans, since the only alternative appeared to be the curtains.
My horchata came out first. It was terrible. It seemed like dry, uncooked rice had been ground up and mixed into a glass of milk. It felt like I was drinking sandpaper. I’ve had lots of horchata in the past, from very authentic places, and have never experienced this texture in any application of the drink. I don’t know how they can justify charging $2.50 for it.
The food was delivered, but we had to ask our server to bring us silverware so we could eat it. I was incredibly underwhelmed by the chile relleno. The outside seemed pretty soggy, and there was barely any cheese at all inside. Additionally, it had a slightly bitter flavor. The one I had at La Sinaloense was far superior. The sope was decent – it was basically a corn tortilla shaped kind of like a pizza crust, with seasoned pork and some veggies on top. It would have been better with guacamole and sour cream, but at this point, I was happy to eat anything remotely edible. The high point of my meal were the rice and beans, which in my opinion were slighly above average.
Overall, most of our food was judged to be from bad to average. Forrest was the only person who seemed happy with his meal. He had a beef burrito which he described as “bursting with flavor.” I doubt I’ll ever go back, but If I do, I’ll have to try it.
So to summaraize: no chips, no guacamole, no paper towels in the bathroom, no silverware, and terrible to mediocre food. I just can’t recommend this place, and I can’t even give this experience an average rating. I’m as stingy with my one star reviews as I am with my fives, but unfortunately, this place earned it.