El Toro Blanco: A Proustian Ride Through the Taco Bell Drive-Thru

Categories: ¡Oye! Comida

Scarlett Lindeman
El Toro Blanco (257 Avenue of the Americas, 212-645-0193), a swank Mexican cantina from the owners of Lure Fishbar and Burger & Barrel, opened in the fall of last year on a prosaic stretch of Sixth Avenue. Dressed in orange, black, and red with leather banquettes and ochre wooden beams, it channels a certain 1960s California zeitgeist. Even the poster of chilies in the bathroom are like something your great aunt from Carmel hung in her kitchen for decades.

The bar is a nice place to be on the early side, before the scene hits and the prices elevate. A long roster of tequilas keep the cocktail list from being too sedate. The happy hour menu (Monday through Friday, 3 to 7 p.m.) menu has made-to-order guacamole ($8), a mild green chile queso fundido ($8), empanadas, and tacos like the iceberg lettuce-showered ground beef escuela vieja hard shells and chicken tinga overwhelmed with sweet chipotle sauce (two for $5).

The best choice is the platter of nachos ($7, $8 with meat), mindfully assembled into a cylindrical stack. The chips are thick-cut and crackingly crisp; the cheese sauce is silky and orange. Loaded with squiggles of sour cream and a timid pico de gallo, a smooth puree of beans is sandwiched beneath the lower level. For those who came of age in the 90s, it's a Proustian ride through the Taco Bell drive-thru, an uncanny resemblance to the Mexican Pizza.

Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city's best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.

Location Info

El Toro Blanco

257 6th Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

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