Choose Your Spiciness - Wall Street Journal’s Lunchbox
If you’re looking to upgrade your burrito lunch, head to El Toro Blanco, a stylish new Mexican restaurant in the West Village. El Toro opened for dinner in October and started serving lunch a few weeks ago.
Owner John McDonald said that he had been planning Mexican eatery for many years, but things didn’t really take shape until a location was procured on Sixth Avenue. The venue’s outdoor eating space was a particular draw for him.
"Our goal to be one of the top Mexican restaurants in the city," said Mr. McDonald, who also owns Merc Bar, Lure Fishbar and Burger & Barrel Wine Pub, all located in SoHo.
Mr. McDonald said he and chef Josh Capon approach El Toro’s cuisine with a heavy coastal seafood angle, which helps to provide healthier and lighter choices for their customers—a must, he said, if you want them to be able to eat at the restaurant regularly.
Freshly made guacamole can be ordered mild, medium or hot. We had it hot, which packed a punch but wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy. The trio of salsas that accompanied the guacamole and chips were also of varied heats; of these, the verdi was the favorite.
The guacamole and fundidos—Mexican cheese & green chile fondue ($12) —are the most popular dishes, according to El Toro general manager Vincent Violandi.
Also in the starters department, the buttery and flavorful elote de calle ($5)—Mexican street corn shaved off the cob—isn’t to be missed.
For the main course, try the traditional enchiladas de pollo ($19). The pulled roasted chicken is tender and not eclipsed by the cheese and sour cream.
A lighter option is the tostada chopped salad, with black beans, roasted corn, jicama, chile rajas, avocado and queso fresco ($12). You can add chicken, steak or shrimp for a few bucks more.
Other offerings from the lunch menu include a wide variety of tacos ($13-19 for an order of three), empanadas ($11-12) and ceviche ($13-16). —Kathryn Lurie