Saturday, July 22, 2006

Crazy for El Toro Loco?

Last night my husband, our friend ET, and I had dinner at El Toro Loco. The place is located on Staples Mill Road and took over the old Sal Federico’s. As we were being seated we were promptly served the obligatory chips and salsa. And the service remained prompt and attentive for the entire evening. As for the chips – they were golden-hued, light and crisp. Very pleasing. The salsa, on the other hand left a little to be desired. A lot of tomato flavor (no tomato chunks – which is a plus for me), but scarcely any other tastes present. Other “chunky” salsa elements were missing – cilantro, peppers, onions, etc.

It being a Friday and the end of a long work week, margaritas were the beverages of choice. ET ordered a grande strawberry frozen margarita. She pronounced it as good and hard hitting. Hubby ordered a regular golden margarita on the rocks, no salt. He thought the margarita mix used was decent, but there was an absence of golden tequila (at least he was not able to really detect the agave nectar). I went for the grande golden margarita on the rocks, with salt. It came in more of a margarita bowl on a stem. I needed two hands to steady her. And even though I also could not find a distinctive golden tequila flavor, by the time I reached the bottom of the bowl, the tequila buzz effect had found me.

As we perused the menu for entrees, one thing stood out – El Toro Loco had ranked the hotness of dishes with no, one, two, or three chile designations. ET decided upon the Combo # 4, cheese enchiladas. She said that one could not mess up cheese enchiladas too much. She was pleased with the portion size, which was not huge. It was served with Spanish rice which lacked flavor and refried beans that were very tasty. My spouse opted for the Nachos Salad. The ground beef packed a lot of flavor, but the sour cream-like sauce was very runny and made the chips soggy. It seemed like he was eating his meal atop a thin tamale instead of chips. I made the riskiest move of the night and ordered Burritos Alegres – a one chile selection. It consisted of two marinated beef tip filled burritos smothered in melted queso cheese. The beef was very flavorful and the burritos were packed with meat. And it lived up to the one chile reputation – a little heat, but not overwhelming. My only disappointment was that the dish was not served with any sides. Some rice or beans would have been good to break up eating the beef.

Although we had a decent meal, it was run-of-the-mill Richmond Mexican restaurant fare. Crazy for El Toro Loco? Well…perhaps, not.

8 comments:

ET said...

Definitely not the best Mexican food I have had in Richmond.... and I was a little disappointed that they didn't have white sauce with our salsa....

Anonymous said...

I went 6/8/07 and thought it was wonderful! I have been to many Mexican, Salvadorean and Spanish restaurants. Having spoken Spanish for 15 years and having been to Mexico and Puerto Rico, I have tasted good, authentic Mexican food. This was very close and very delicious. I higly recommend it!

Anonymous said...

My wife and I LOVE El Toro. It is by far the best Mexican food in Richmond. The staff are amazing and the food is delicious.

Anonymous said...

I've been a few times. It's funny to see it as a Mexican joint. I used to be the bar manager when it was Sal's. But my comment is directed to ET. White sauce doesn't define the best Mexican food. I thought the food was good and have had worse. White sauce with the salsa or not.

Anonymous said...

This is my husband and I's favorite Mexican place in town. Th staff is friendly, quick, attentive and the food is out of this world!
The best thing is the quality of meats... you don't get that ground up chicken or beef found in a lot of mexican restaurants, but whole slices of beef or chicken grilled to perfection. On the white sauce... it is basically ranch dressing in a dish and just not necessary or authentic. Although this building has housed many different dining experiences, I truly hope El Toro Loco sticks around.

Anonymous said...

Had lunch today, only the second Mexican restuarant we have tried since returning to Richmond 2 1/2 years ago. When we were first here in the late 1970's, Sam's - later La Siesta was our favorite. When we returned in 2006 we went back to La Siesta and while it was terrible it was disappointing compared to the "old" Southside one.

We lived in NoVa and had numerous choices settling on Anita's in Vienna orginally and then El Puerto in South Alexandria as our models. Great food, nice people, good prices, the whole nine yards.

Today, hankering for a taco and chili relleno perhaps we stopped at El Toro Loco. Perhpas since these 2007 reviews were posted management or personnel have changed but to put it succinctly: this place was dreadful! Balnd boring tacos with no hint of seasoning in the meat, too much cheese and no redeeming grace whatever even with the addition of the bland boring sals that accompanied the chips. On to the chle relleno: it was, if it could be believe, even worse. No hint of grilling, merely microwaved glop in the most insipid ethnic sauce I have ever tasted. The only redeeming feature of the whole lunch experience was ice cold, 12 oz draft beer available at a decent price and four choices of brew.

You woud have to be loco in extremis to eat here and think your were eating authentic Mexican food. Ukrops could have done a better job than this.

1/2 or 1/4 star.

Anonymous said...

Jose, the owner, runs the Mexican restaurant with the tastiest food in the metropolitan area. The three essentials--great chips & salsa, delicious entrees and tasty Mexican drinks (margaritas and cervezas) are all here. You can go to other restaurants for any of the three, but they are all present at El Toro Loco. Friendliest and most efficient staff anywhere!!!

Rico Sabroso said...

Agree and disagree with some things. My review at:

http://richmondrestaurants.blogspot.com/