Toloache - A Restaurant you've got to try!

I got a call from my sister the morning of her birthday weekend. "Toloache!" she says. "I want to go to Toloache for dinner." She gave me the website and their phone number 212-581-1818 and told me to make it happen. I went to the website and stared dejectedly "Reservations must be made three days in advance" (sic). I sighed. I called. It was still early, not yet 0930. No one answered. I tried again at 10 then again close to 11 am. Their first service is 1130 so I was happy to get thru before they were slammed with the brunch crowd. I was able to make a reservation for that night with no problems.

The restaurant is on 251 West 50th St., right off the corner of Broadway and 50th across the alley from the Gershwin Theatre. Across the street is also an entrance to the 1,2,3 and 9.

Toloache seats 90. There are two floors. The bottom floor has a bar that faces the door. The stairs leading up to the loft area are made of a lovely light coloured wood; the rise a bit high but the run a comfortable size. I should have worn my knee braces before tackling them. The lighting is soft but not so much you can't see the food or your company. Mexican style music is played. It's not to loud that you have to scream at your company or strain to hear them. You can hold a regular conversation with no problems.

Our waiter was attentive without being overbearing. It was our first time to the restaurant so everything looked good. We asked him what he recommended. He responded by asking us what we like. He didn't try to force the food on us but rather asked relevant questions and steered us toward food he thought we'd like.

We choose the adobo rubbed tuna and the roasted suckling pig. While we were waiting, we ordered some fresh guacamole (tradicional) which came with warm chips. Even if you don't normally like guacamole, try this. I'm not big on veggies but this was very scrumptious. It's creamy. It's flavourful. It's much better than "salsa" for dipping your chips. About ten minutes later our main course arrived. OMG!!! Both were delicious! The four pieces of tuna was seared on the outside and a gorgeous deep maroon on the inside. It lay on a bed of rice sprinkled with corn. It was topped with tiny pineapple chunks. It was a nice light tasting meal. Very flavourful and filling. The shredded roasted pork watered in your mouth. The orange salsa was savory.

Because it was a birthday celebration we went all out and ordered margarita's. Hey we're "big gyrls" LOL But these are not just any old margaritas. We got one blueberry and one pomegranate. Both came with copious amounts of tequila. The blueberry was "heavy" and berry flavoured while the pomegranate was lighter and melony. Mind you, this is not the type of margaritas you may be used to. No salt rimmed cone shaped glass with thin stem. These were sturdy cylinder shaped glasses no more than 3 inches tall - about a cup and a half of liquid. It was the perfect amount!

For desert we ordered a churros and a pastel de chocolate. I'm a huge lover of chocolate, but I prefered the churros. The churros came in a "log cabin" of six sticks with chocolate and caramel dipping sauce. The pastel de chocolate looked like a chocolate flat topped muffin with caramel ice cream on the side. It was the best caramel (dulce de leche) ice cream I've ever had - better than Breyers! I was a bit disappointed with the chocolate. The inside was a creamy dark chocolate mousse. The cake was lovingly warmed. But as I said, I liked the churros better. They were light and cinnamony.

With a drink and dessert, budget about $55 per person for a meal. It's leisurely. It's enjoyable. The wait staff and the bussers are lovely gentlemen. Our water was refilled without asking. Our table was kept spotless. Plates, extra silver ware, etc did not pile up. Everything was removed and or replaced quickly, unobtrusively, and with a smile.

You want upscale modern Mexican food without the kitch? Go to Toloache!

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