South Of The Border Fiesta
There are a lot of Mexican restaurants throughout the Miami Valley. How do you pick which one is right for you? If I can offer my opinion, El Toro, with nine locations, would be a great place to start.
The newest addition to this El Toro family has recently opened across from the Dayton Mall. When you walk inside, you are greeted by the hostess and sat immediately if not too crowded. They have three tiered floors and it is very spacious. The walls are an orange/terracotta color and very bright. From the second floor, they have balcony windows overlooking the dining area. There is a bar with high top tables off to the left side of the entranceway and a nice sized outside patio. It has a great floor plan and the size is impressive.
El Toro’s menu is extensive and offers many choices for all kinds of appetites. With generous entrée portions, I’m not sure if you even want to start with an appetizer, but for me, the free chips and salsa need a little something more so I always order the cheese (queso) dip. It is really cheesy, creamy and has a nice variety of sweet and spicy peppers. There’s also Bean and Guacamole Dip, Jalepeno Poppers and several choices of Nachos.
The Especialidades de El Toro are where your eye should wander first when making your dinner selection. Separated into beef, chicken and pork categories, it is easy to spot what you might be hungry for. For me, it is the Chile Verde ($9.50). Tender pork tips are grilled and cooked in a special green sauce and served over rice with refried beans and tortilla shells. Much like a fajita minus the sizzling pan, this dish is great because you can make it your way with as much or as little filling as you like.
If you’re not a pork lover, what about giving the Special la Casa ($8.90) a try? Two burritos are stuffed with beef tips, rolled inside a flour tortilla and then topped with nacho cheese and served with rice. I love cheese sauce on all my Mexican food so this is a great one if you feel the same way. If chicken is the choice of the day, I would recommend the Pollo Loco ($9.95). This specialty takes grilled chicken breasts and tops them with cheese and chorizo. If you are not familiar with chorizo, it is a chili pepper and garlic flavored sausage. El Toro’s chorizo is alucinante (awesome). It has just enough spice and packs a great flavor.
If you’re still traveling through the menu, the next eye catcher would be the many dinner combinations. The combinations make it easy to have everything. Knowing the difference between a tamale and a chalupa helps and the prices are reasonable ($7.95-$8.95). Usually rice or refried beans are included but extra items such as chili con queso or guacamole are an added bonus. Plus, I could never just order a taco but with these combinations, I kind of consider them an extra treat.
Still, I know there are people who just like a single entree choice. Maybe you just like Enchiladas. If so, you can choose from Enchiladas Deluxe which takes three cheese enchiladas and covers them with pork tips and enchilada sauce or Enchiladas Poblanas which takes three chicken enchiladas and covers them with El Toro’s special dark mole sauce and chopped onions. For me, the only real choice is the Enchiladas Supreme. One of each flavor is what you get – one beef, chicken, bean and cheese all covered with enchilada sauce, lettuce and sour cream.
If you prefer a burrito, you can order them filled with steak, chicken, ground beef or pork. El Toro’s Monster Burrito ($10.50) is a daring decision. It is a flour tortilla filled with pico de gallo, guacamole, rice, beans and your choice of meat comes out on a platter topped with white shredded cheese and tomatillo sauce. You even get a side salad, and once again, a sustantivo (really full belly).
Quesadillas are another selection that is not in short supply. Chicken or Steak Fajitas are choices along with a Texana, Deluxe, Suprema, Chorizo or Shrimp. All are stuffed with cheese and served with rice and sour cream or sour cream salad. Seafood selections include a Seafood Chimichanga, Pescado con Cama- rarones (tilapia and shrimp) or the most popular Fish Tacos ($9.90). Three flour tortillas are filled with lightly fried tilapia, pico de gallo and a chipotle cream sauce. You can enjoy salads including Taco, Shrimp, Guacamole and Toro. Items are available a la carte and a children’s menu is available. Lunch is served daily with a smaller portions and lunch combos.
It would not be proper to write about Mexican food without mentioning the Margaritas. El Toro offers the regular variety in different flavors but adds some other selections as well. Cadillac Margaritas are good but my vote goes to the Texanas style. They are delicioso! When the weather is hot and you are looking for some relaxation, these are what the doctor would order. The staff is friendly here and the food gets out quickly. My only complaint would be the amount of time it takes to pay the bill. There is only one pay station, with one credit card machine and there is usually a line of people and servers waiting to pay.
I haven’t been to all of El Toro’s locations but of the four I have been to, I can say that the staff is friendly, the service is quick and the food is consistent and served piping hot! This is my recommendation for authentic Mexican dining in the Dayton area.
The El Toro location reviewed here is located at 2355 Miamisburg-Centerville Rd. Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call (937) 291-5544.