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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

El Torito - Review #1

El Torito
18512 Macarthur Blvd
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 833-8230

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Important note: This restaurant is not to be confused with the El Torito Grill just around the corner on Main St. in Irvine. The two restaurants are very close to each other, and even though they are run by the same chain they are separate places with different menus. I'm writing this because people often do Internet searches for "El Torito Grill Macarthur." So, to clarify: El Torito is on Macarthur. El Torito Grill is on Main St. Read our review of the El Torito Grill in Irvine .
Appetizer: Chips and Salsa
Entree: Tropical Shrimp and Grilled Steak Quesadillas
Dessert: Deep-fried Ice Cream

El Torito Exterior

El Torito Interior

This is going to be the last in my recent rash of rushed reviews. Made a trip to El Torito after seeing their latest monthly specials mailer. This is a good thing to pay attention to since often they point out your only chance to get some rare and unique Mexican food items. I ordered the Tropical Shrimp and Grilled Steak Quesadillas, "Sauteed shrimp, jack and cotija cheese, chipotle sauce and fruit relish in a flour tortilla. Paired with marinated grill steak, jack and cotija cheese, escabeche and serrano-pepita dip in a red chile corn tortilla." I was about to add a fish taco a la carte thinking the quesadillas wouldn't be enough but they filled me up plenty well. They usually have a special drink and a special dessert on their monthly specials menu; since they didn't this time I ordered their deep-fried ice cream off of their standard menu.

El Torito Tropical Shrimp and Grilled Steak Quesadillas
El Torito Tropical Shrimp and Grilled Steak Quesadillas

El Torito Deep-fried Ice Cream
El Torito Deep-fried Ice Cream

The El Torito chain has been around for just over fifty years now, which makes it the standard setter for sit-down Mexican restaurants. They've kept up with the times though by innovating and experimenting with menu items with much of their innovation being spun off into the El Torito Grill mini-chain and their Las Brisas standalone restaurant and the rest going to their monthly specials menu. And I don't know how they do it but their service as far back as I can remember has been consistently excellent. For doggedly maintaining tradition without ever slipping into stagnancy El Torito earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Update (July 24, 2006): Went back a few days ago to El Torito. They still had the same specials menu but I got a different entree from it, the Combo Grande which included a steak taco, a shrimp taco, and a chicken enchilada. It was supposed to come with beans but they let me get sauteed vegetables instead.

El Torito Combo Grande

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WORST SERVICE EVER!!!!! NO utensils, no napkins, no water. I went with a co-worker, we both ordered the same thing, 2 tacos. My order looked like someone had stolen then meat out of my tacos where my co-workers looked normal. When I asked how come my tacos are so small I was told they are all done by weight. ( so 2 bigger tacos weigh the same as 2 small empty tacos) when we asked for the bill it took the waiter 20 minutes to bring it. ( he was serving 2 tables ) I decided to give them a second shot and ordered a burrito to go the next week. I received 1 steak burrito ( most disgusting taste of meat and guacamole EVER ) for $17.34. FOR 1 DANG BURRITO. This must have had Panda bear meat in it because it is the most expensive burrito I have ever bought in my life. IN CONCLUSION, DO NOT GO TO EL TORITO. WORST SERVICE WORST FOOD.