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El Torero

231 E 26th St, Tucson, AZ - (520) 622-9534
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/22/2012 3:26:00 PM
It is all too easy to drive past El Torero. Despite a sign on 4th Avenue, its set-back location off 26th Street provides enough camouflage to make a stranger never know that it exists. If and when you do realize that it exists, chances are good that you will assume it isn’t open for business. The front door of the pink-painted building, far at the back of the parking lot, is inconspicuous to say the least.

But it is impossible to ignore food this good. Start with a wafer-thin tortilla crisp of cheese and green chile strips, presented en pedestal so all at the table can pull away slices. The main menu is a broad one, featuring all the familiar tacos, burros, enchiladas, and chimichangas, plus a few items that are truly special. These include off-the-bone Turkey topped with a spectacular spicy-rich dark molé sauce or, on occasion, the similar sauce known as pipian, which includes pumpkin seeds. If you are looking for a dish that is uniquely Tucsonian, that would be a topopo salad -- a great conical mount of lettuce and other vegetables packed with your choice of chicken, shrimp, chili, guacamole, or carne seca, the sides of the mound columned by logs of hard cheese.

16 out of 16 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
tortilla crisp
topopo salad
shrimp Vera Cruz
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Named for, and resembling, a volcano, topopo salads are available in several configurations.  All are architectural masterworks.
"Named for, and resembling, a volcano, topopo salads are available in several configurations. All are architectural masterworks."
Michael Stern





By far, the best thing we ate at El Torero was the turkey mole.
"By far, the best thing we ate at El Torero was the turkey mole. "
Cliff Strutz


Shrimp Vera Cruz is a wild adventure for taste buds.
"Shrimp Vera Cruz is a wild adventure for taste buds."
Michael Stern


The green chiles were mild, while the big chunks of beef were very tender.
"The green chiles were mild, while the big chunks of beef were very tender."
Cliff Strutz


A Tucson specialty, the cheese crisp is built on a super-thin flour tortilla, baked until flaky.  This close shot shows how fragile the edge is, beyond the topping of melted cheese.
"A Tucson specialty, the cheese crisp is built on a super-thin flour tortilla, baked until flaky. This close shot shows how fragile the edge is, beyond the topping of melted cheese."
Michael Stern


The soups here are first rate.  This casuela soup featured beef, potatoes, onions and cilantro.
"The soups here are first rate. This casuela soup featured beef, potatoes, onions and cilantro."
Cliff Strutz


The only dessert at El Torero: almendrado.  It is a meringue, colored as per the Mexican flag, covered with an almond-flavored custard sauce.  A very light dessert after a heavy meal.
"The only dessert at El Torero: almendrado. It is a meringue, colored as per the Mexican flag, covered with an almond-flavored custard sauce. A very light dessert after a heavy meal."
Marvin Nakashima


We were asked ahead of time if we wanted rice in this excellent meatball soup.
"We were asked ahead of time if we wanted rice in this excellent meatball soup."
Cliff Strutz


The thick, dark red salsa was one of the best we sampled in our four days eating our way through Tucson.
"The thick, dark red salsa was one of the best we sampled in our four days eating our way through Tucson."
Cliff Strutz


The attractive bar area.
"The attractive bar area."
Cliff Strutz


With a name like El Torero, no surprise the wall has several attractive bullfighting paintings.
"With a name like El Torero, no surprise the wall has several attractive bullfighting paintings."
Cliff Strutz


Set back from the road in this pink square building, El Torero doesn't look open even when it is.  Inside, the mood is festive.
"Set back from the road in this pink square building, El Torero doesn't look open even when it is. Inside, the mood is festive."
Michael Stern



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