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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Delicious Yes... Mexican? Not a chance...

The #13 at El Torito... Green Chile Pork Burrito

In the middle of this political season, I've found myself looking for other things to write about.  I've become so worn down from a form of demonization of which both sides are guilty, that I rarely take the time to comment unless something specific strikes my fancy.

In the meantime, here's a look at a place for you to look up next time you are in Las Vegas.

Over half of my life is spent in Mexico, so I get my fair share of good Mexican food.  Often times people assume that I will try to avoid Mexican food here in the states because I get so much of it when I travel.

Let me say this.  The majority of food that the average American eats in Mexican restaurants around the country is about as likely to be served in Mexico as orange chicken, a staple in US Chinese restaurants, is to be served in Chengdu Province.

Mexican restaurants in the US are in reality, Mexican themed, having about as much in common with traditional Mexican food as the old Casa de Fritos in Disneyland.

But that is another discussion, for my journey this weekend took me to a place located on the outskirts of old Henderson, El Torito.  No, this is not the corporate El Torito where they make the guacamole at your table.

This is the hole in wall El Torito, owned and operated by locals since the mid 70's when this neck of the woods sported the Old Vegas Fort, a trailer park and a few homes.

My first impression was that I was in some sort of time warp.  Nothing hip here.  If you are expecting a tapas and microbrew joint, Houston, you've got a problem.

The place has vinyl booths, a bunch of formica tables, and what mainstream America knows as Mexican food.  It's almost comfort food.  Tacos with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes and shredded cheese.  Chimichangas, fajitas, nachos, and even burgers in case the kids don't want a taco.

I went for the #13 Green Chile Pork Burrito, all meat, at the urging of my server.  As I waited I tried what I was assuming was going to be the wimpy salsa.  Was I surprised.  It had just the right amount of jalapeno bite to go with my chips.  So often, restaurants avoid the chiles when making this important part of the Mexican experience.  Not here.

Soon enough my plate arrived and it was classic.  The burrito was served wet, covered with extra pork and like the beans, topped off with melted cheddar cheese.  My first bite was heavenly.  Tender shredded pork, green chile salsa, wrapped in a flour tortilla.  And it was a little spicy.

The rice was more chicken based, as opposed to the "normal" reddish tomato rice one might expect, and I liked it.  It was not all clumped together, was fresh, and like the beans, served hot on my plate.

Overall, I give the place 4 out of 5 stars.

Will I go back?  Yes I will.  Is it authentic Mexican food?  Not a chance.  Was it delicious?  Of course, and that's what you want when you go out.

So next time you are in Vegas and heading out to Boulder City or Lake Mead, make sure to stop in at El Torito on Boulder Hwy in Henderson... and get the #13! You'll be glad you did.

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Comments on "Delicious Yes... Mexican? Not a chance..."


Blogger BB-Idaho said ... (1:37 PM) : 

I guess us 'northerners' aren't that familiar with authentic
mexican food, but we have Mexican
restaraunts run by authentic Mexicans, so I'm wondering what
their burritos, tacos, sopapilla,
etc would be termed? (I'm thinking
they produce stuff gringos would like, then go home and do the authentic?)


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (2:16 PM) : 

Sopapillas... I love em' and when they are well made, they are delicious...

As for burritos... only in the north of Mexico and never served covered in sauce, unless they are serving a bunch of Americans...

Tacos... usually soft, all meat with onions and cilantro, guacamole and salsa... no lettuce and tomatoes...

Tacos dorados... fried hard with lettuce, tomatoes, and cotija cheese served on the outside with crema...

Different stuff, but all good.

BB, does the Mexican food there have melted cheeses on it?


Blogger BB-Idaho said ... (7:08 PM) : 

Mexican places DO put melted cheese over many things. My wife
loves Mexican; me-my gastroenterologist says to go
easy! I'm not sure where the family (and all its extensions) are from south of the border.
They have been here quite awhile
and opened a brand new themed
place, kids all educated here.
Really nice folks.


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