El Toro Blanco, a West Village establishment, is a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar whose unexpectedly refreshing interior pleases with its balance between modernity and intimate rustic-ness.
The contemporary environment of hanging lanterns, plush, spacious booths and a striking geometric layout is successfully complemented by the wooden beams overhead suggesting romance in a space which easily achieves comfort – being neither vast nor cramped, even with a full house.
Ask your server what they recommend for beverages to start with, and they’ll likely offer up two of their signature cocktails: the El Toro Margarita and Raspberry Tequila Sangria. With el jimador blanco, lime, orange and agave in the El Toro; and red wine, tequila, cointreau, raspberry, lime and ginger in the tequila sangria, both are traditionally festive and not overly potent – perfectly enjoyable selections.
You can whet your appetite with their Ceviche de Pescado – this fresh concoction built with their fish of the day, tomatoes, lime, cilantro, onion, avocado and jalapeno peppers awakens your palate for the next few plates of hearty Mexican flavors. The Charred Octopus Tacos, prepared with the same accompaniments as the ceviche, have surprisingly satisfying and substantial chunks of smoky octopus to savor.
For carnivorous cravings, the Empanadas de Costilla and Enchiladas de Pollo will not disappoint. The empanadas feature slow roasted short rib with oaxaca cheese, Ancho barbecue and sour cream. The sweetness of the Ancho adds excitement to each meaty bite while the sour cream and oaxaca soothe by keeping the spice thermometer in check. Tender, flavorful and without overdosing on sodium, the short ribs are a success. The enchiladas are just as much of an accomplishment with its Mexican cheese blend, salsa verde, queso cotija, sour cream and roasted corn bolstering the lovingly prepared pulled chicken.
Though they do have a variety to choose from, they are steadfast with their sweet staples such as Tres Leches Cake and Cinnamon Sugar Churros for dessert. Choose both and you’ll see that neither lead in the wrong direction as you seek an ending for your meal. (After all, thick, fried, mini batons of dough jeweled with sugar crystals have never earned less than a consistent A+.)
The experience at El Toro Blanco will be an adventurous one – just as all experiences with Mexican cuisine should be. And when approaching a new one, do so while keeping in mind the musings of Mark Twain, “The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”