Ed Note: This restaurant reopened as Taqueria Garibaldi, and then became Los Picosos.
El Torito Taqueria
4159 Summer Avenue
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
On Sunday, we continued our quest to eat at every interesting spot along Summer Avenue. This time we chose El Torito (The Little Bull). We've been enchanted with El Torito for awhile for the sheer fact that it is housed in an old school Taco Bell building. And we're always in the mood for Mexican.
We pulled into the parking lot and Satchel (age 6) immediately started telling us how much he hated this restaurant. We informed him that he had never been here before, but he didn't believe us until he walked inside. At the counter he and Jiro (age 4) discovered a giant tub of (free) hubba bubba gum and within seconds we found ourselves in the "coolest restaurant ever."
There were three or four tables of people inside--not bad for 3:30pm on a Sunday. Warren and I hovered at the counter for a few minutes, perusing the menu, until a pretty waitress instructed us to sit down. We grabbed a seat by the window and went back to work on the menu. "What's an alambre?" I asked.
"I don't know," Warren replied. "What's a pambazos?"
It was exciting to have some new items to choose from, but also a bit intimidating since we weren't really sure what a lot of things on the menu were. While Warren continued to decipher the items, I flipped the menu over and gave the monkeys' their choices from the $2.99 kids' menu. "You can have taco, rice, and beans; mini burrito, rice, and beans; egg, rice, and beans; or cheese quesadilla, rice, and beans," I said. (I didn't mention the cheese quesadilla and french fries option. I'm sneaky like that.)
"Eggs," Satchel said.
"Eggs," Jiro said.
The monkeys love eggs.
A waiter/cook came over for our drink orders. We all opted for water, although they had lots of colorful drinks in a nearby cooler. They also had beer and a few drink machines that may have contained margaritas. Most of the other guests in the restaurant had big goblets of what looked like tea, but surely wasn't. I was still trying to figure out the food, so I didn't tackle the case of the mystery drink.
The waiter also gave us two large bowls of salsa, one of which I would describe as an avocado salsa--not quite guacamole, but not quite green salsa--and some nice, warm chips.
"I want cheese dip!" Satchel demanded. Unfortunately, it didn't appear that there was cheese dip on the menu. (Bummer!) I ordered the closest thing which was queso fundido. (It said it had chorizo in it, but I hoped it wouldn't be too spicy and that I could pass it off as beef to the kids.)
The waiter disappeared into the kitchen, then much to my surprise, Warren announced that he knew what he was getting. "I'm getting a lengua (tongue) and a tripa (tripe) taco," he said proudly.
"Are you serious?" I asked.
While Warren and I were discussing his taco selections, Satchel and Jiro were stockpiling chips in front of them on the table in anticipation of the cheese dip. They were getting a bit antsy with nothing to dip into, so Warren directed their attention to the large screen TV by the door. There was a Spanish speaking clown acting crazy. (Which I suppose was appropriate for a show titled "Que Locura!")
The waiter came back for our food order and I made the quick decision to go with the gringas. All I knew was that they came with spicy pork, pineapple, and cheese. I ordered the kids' meals, with the addition of an extra beef taco (plain) for Satchel, and Warren ordered his tacos (in Spanish, cuz he's cute like that).
In no time at all, our queso fundido came out in one of those gigantic and crazy heavy volcanic bowls. The queso was not the liquidy El Porton variety, but simple melted mozzarella. The monkeys were not happy, but they each agreed to try it. I put a little on the accompanying soft tortilla triangles, and rolled them up, but neither monkey was satisfied. They wanted the usual stuff. Warren and I both liked the fundido, especially with a piece of the grilled jalapeno, but couldn't even make a dent in it.
We liked being able to see in the kitchen, and anxiously watched as our food was prepared. Our entrees arrived in quick succession and I soon learned that gringas is another name for quesadilla. I made it through one piece before declaring myself stuffed. (Everything at the little bull is BIG!) I thought the gringas were yummy, but they needed a kick. There were plenty of hot sauces and salsas on the table to choose from, but I thought of it too late.
Warren politely offered us a bite of his tongue (ha ha) and we all politely took the smallest bites possible. "It's so tender," he said. "Uh-huh," I said pretending to be invisible. Later when he asked if I wanted a bite of the tripe, I said "No, but thank you" quite forcefully...multiple times before he finally backed off with the crazy desire to share his weird meat with me (ha ha).
The monkeys both tore through their eggs and I believe Satchel gave them the "These are better than Mommy's" seal of approval. Jiro declared himself done and immediately treated himself to a piece of gum he had palmed for the duration of the meal. Satchel picked at his beans and ate about half of his taco before catching on to Jiro's routine and declaring himself done as well. (The rice had tomato bits in it which rendered it unappealing. "I only like Japanese rice," Satchel stated matter-of-factly.) To pass the time while Warren finished eating, Jiro grabbed my camera and took pictures. (Hence the reason he is missing from all of the action photos above.)
When all was said and done, we had two giant to go boxes full of leftovers. (Thankfully no tongue or tripe though!) I went to the counter to pay, asked for a to go menu so I could Google the unknown words, and we were off. (Total bill $25 plus tip.)
Alambres are Mexican style shish kebabs. That's what I'm getting next time!