It's time to pull the plug on the expensive taco thing. Too many people are trying to pull off elevated restaurant tacos, and at this point, if we're paying six dollars per fish taco, that f*cker better be filled with great white shark meat. It's one thing if you're doing Mexican and really pushing the envelope - like at Empellon Cocina. But fancy tacos just don't get the job done anymore.
We were really looking forward to El Toro Blanco, mostly since we like Chef Josh Capon's cooking. Lure Fishbar is consistently solid, and we're big fans of Burger And Barrel. Unfortunately though, we won't be singing this new restaurant's praises. El Toro Blanco only further fuels the "NYC doesn't know how to do Mexican" fire.
We will say that Capon and his guys have done a good job making El Toro Blanco a nice space with a great vibe that makes us want to drink tequila. We certainly did some of that that. As for the eating, there are a few highlights on the menu, like the guacamole and some of the brunch items - specifically the Enchiladas con Huevos. But the tacos, which are the focal point of the menu and arrive displayed on platters like bottle service at a club - are a big fail. Most of the three bite, $4-6 wonders we tried didn't even warrant a second bite. The service is suspect too. We've dined here a number of times now and had one waiter who wouldn't have payed attention to us had we been sitting in our underwear, and another who sported serious attitude for no good reason. Some of our entrees also showed up at the table cold. The whole experience just gave us the feeling that El Toro just doesn't have their sh*t together. And honestly, when the best thing on our dinner table winds up being the side of corn, that's a problem. As is a $12, three sip El Toro Margarita that tastes like it's made with bottled Cuervo Margarita Mix.
Ultimately El Toro Blanco is a trendy spot that's Perfect For some Action At The Bar and a is slightly less of a party than what you'll find a few avenues over in the Meat Packing District. The food just isn't all that good. But judging by the consistent crowds, that won't matter much in the grand scheme of things. We may be over the expensive taco trend, but clearly there's a market for it. Especially in this part of town.
The guacamole here is excellent. But be careful, because we somehow paid $24 for guac, four different salsas, and a bottomless pit of chips. That's insane. There's a $12 version too, just be sure to be specific with your server about which one you want.Elote Verde Tamale
A fresh corn tamale of sorts. Not bad, not great. The tamale was done up with some roasted poblano chile, queso fresco, and a green chile salsa, but it still felt like it was missing something. Maybe salt.Lobster Ceviche
They tried to do a bit too much here. Large chunks of lobster are mixed together with with coconut, mango, jicama, habanero, mint and way too much citrus. While the idea sounded good in theory, we tasted way too much acid and the habanero, which we're normally a fan of, completely overpowered everything else.Costillas Empanadas
Again, this was another dish that was just OK. It's a perfectly fine slow roasted short rib empanada, but it wasn't something we'd come back for.Tacos
Tacos are the marquee event at El Toro Blanco. Unfortunately, they just aren't very good. How can tacos possibly be bad, you ask? Well, the Crispy Cod tacos, which came highly recommended by our waitress, were downright awful. We didn't even want to finish them. The "crispy" fish was actually sort of slimy, and was jammed up with too much raw onion, too much avocado, and a watery citrus slaw. The Slow Roasted Goat Tacos were another miss. The only ones we liked even a little were the Al Pastor. Put it this way, when we came back a second and a third time before reviewing this place, we couldn't even bring ourselves to order more tacos. That's a problem.Enchiladas con Huevos, Jamon y Queso
Aside from the side of corn (see below), this brunch enchilada dish was the best thing we tried. As a matter of fact, it was incredible, and makes us think that brunch is your best bet here. This beautiful plate of hangover cure contained scrambled eggs, some ham, and a cheese quesadilla, topped with pico de gallo, and crema. You want it.Burro con Chorizo
A burrito of eggs, cheese, chorizo, potatoes, and pickled jalapenos inside a warmed tortilla. Another solid brunch item, and one that will soak up whatever you drank last night nicely.Carne Tampiqueña
We could tell that the skirt steak on this traditional combo plate was going to be tasty, but sadly, we could also tell that it was ice cold. Like, not even lukewarm. It actually tasted like they just pulled it out of the fridge. That should never happen at a restaurant.Pescado Veracruzano
A fine entree. The pan roasted gulf snapper came in a tomato and garlic sauce with Spanish olives, capers and pickled jalapeños. We dumped a bunch of corn salad on top of this to make it even better.Elote de Calle
Saving the best for last. This is like Cafe Habana Mexican crack corn, but off the cob and tossed a bunch of buttery, spicy deliciousness. This absolutely must be on your table. We ate it with pretty much every other dish on the table (see above). They actually might want to consider putting some of this in the tacos.