Venues

El Toro

El Toro
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Cost
R80 avg main meal
Ambience
Authentic culture, Comfy & casual, Contemporary cool
Food
Light meals, Mexican, Tapas
Payment
Mastercard, Visa, Zapper
Corkage
No BYO

Critic's review

Nikita Buxton

Food
El Toro fuses old-school Mexican and Spanish classics with some rediscovered and inventive flavours in a varied tapas menu.

Start with the winning Jala bombs, El Toro’s take on chilli poppers: juicy jalapeño peppers are stuffed with a gloriously gooey combination of mozzarella and goat’s cheese and encased in a very light beer batter.

Empañadas are served in portions of two or four. The puff-pastry half moons are golden and deliciously flaky, filled with goat’s cheese and spicy Spanish sausage and served with guacamole. With a bit of crunch on the outside and an extra-creamy filling, these moreish bites are too good to share.

The patatas bravas dish is a bowl of pure happiness. Soft, slightly roasted potatoes are covered in a spicy tomato sauce, a sprinkling of cheese and lightly grilled in the oven, making for a great side dish or vegetarian tapas option. Another good side is the bean-and-corn mash. The subtly sweet and buttery bean mash has a pleasing, smooth texture, while the bites of charred corn add satisfying crunch.

The smoked pulled pork tacos and pulled chicken tacos arrive with a generous amount of filling, but the flavours are subdued, perhaps over-shadowed by the fiery bites we have already eaten. The meat in both tacos dishes is juicy and cooked to perfection, but the lack of heat or hit of lime has us wanting a little more.

For more hearty appetites, the paella dishes are generously portioned and served in traditional Valencia style, with garlic, saffron, paprika, fresh tomatoes, and chorizo. The marinara paella (served in the pan) is rich with tender crab pieces, local black mussels, hake, calamari and prawns. It’s a rather hefty portion that’s best shared.

Drinks
The drinks menu is concise, with some great wine and beer choices. The bar is fully stocked with a wide range of tequilas and the barmen and mixologists constantly experiment with exciting cocktails. The margaritas are strong and feisty, just as they should be.

Service
Energetic and on the ball. Staff are quick to check on you and take your order, and are helpful when explaining the menu.

Ambience
El Toro is vibrant and fun. The décor is tastefully bold, with lots of colour and prints. On weekend nights the younger crowd might get a bit rowdy. On warm days (which is practically every day in Durban) the doors open up onto the deck. This area is, however, a smoking section, which does tend to let unwanted second-hand smoke waft through the front section of the restaurant, so it’s best to bear this in mind when booking your table.

And…
With all the new restaurants in the area, parking can be a bit chaotic on busy nights, so we suggest getting there early or taking an Uber (especially if you’re planning on those shots of tequila).

(October 2015)

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User reviews

  • Really enjoy this spot- food is tasty and different. always been there when it is busy and service has been spotty but enjoy the atmosphere. great decor and vibe
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  • we don't use chorizo in Spain when cooking paella. Very very baaad. Have a better research about it
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  • Think oversized, funky, retro, hot pink, feather lamp shades hanging above a fully kitted out Tequila bar, screed floors, tattooed tables, bright beaded curtains, sugar skulls, high exposed wooden beam ceilings, and rosary beads hanging around the neck of a gold plated bull skull. This place is super cool, but it’s open to the elements, so don’t go there for an airconned experience shielded from secondary smoke. Rather just embrace the summer humidity and wear something sexy but airy. And in typical Mackeurten avenue style, parking is limited, so rather take an uber at night, especially if the Tequilas are going to be down downed. Apart from that, the menu is so extensive and full of unique, weird and wonderful flavour combinations, that like us, you’ll battle to decide what to order. You’ll have to plan to go back again OR order a few plates and share amongst yourselves. To get the decision juices flowing, we ordered a Sxollie golden delicious cider & a Whale Tale Ale (a first for both of us, but loved all the same) both served with icy frosted glasses. Ladies - Alarm bells! This cider goes down as easy as apple juice, and guys – if you’re a craft beer lover, and hints of toffee and caramel sounds right up your alley, then here’s another one to add to the bucket list. Check them out here: http://www.yuppiechef.com/sxollie.htm?id=16241&name=SXOLLIE-Golden-Delicious-Cider & http://www.leagueofbeers.com/boston-breweries.htm?id=9669&name=Boston-Breweries-Whale-Tale-Ale After much deliberation, we started with Jalapeno Poppers & the Salmon & Yellowfin Tuna Ceviche. The Jalapeno poppers were the best I’ve ever had. Big on flavour, but equally big on heat, so if you don’t have a mighty tongue and a strong stomach, just stick to one. The cracker for me though, was the batter! Usually at restaurants, the batter is a terrible oily crumb and sadly, feels like an afterthought. El Toro has created the puffiest & crispiest beer batter, which I could easily have eaten all on it’s own. The sizzling jalapenos have a cool cream cheese centre which, ag shame, tries it’s hardest to put out the fire in your mouth. Close but no cigar. The only thing that kind of compensated for the burn was the guacamole dip. Ask for extra - You’re gonna need it. The cured tuna loin & smoked Norwegian salmon, tossed in warm citrus marinade was served on a bed of rocket and whole kalamata & green olives. This was served with a side of charcoal bread. A lovely refreshing starter, but I would ask the waiter for more coriander and to only add the squeeze of lemon when the dish arrives at the table, otherwise your fish will cook very quickly from the acidity. The overall flavour was lacking something though, like a sweet dressing, or crispy onions, or a sweet buttermilk bread to balance out the sourness and acidity of the lemon. The charcoal bread looked really interesting (kind of like squid ink pasta does), but tasted like any toasted homemade whole-wheat bread would. For mains, we had the pulled lamb tostada and the pulled pork taco. The lamb was tender and beautifully marinated, wrapped up in a bundle with lime sour cream yoghurt, their speciality “gwak” and jalapeno salsa – a phenomenal tortilla. The only thing I would lose is the mixed lettuce. A little bit of rocket and you’re all set. The smoked paprika pulled pork taco with red chipotle, roast peppers & shredded greens was full of flavour & texture. The chipotle & red pepper sauce drizzled over the pork had a tasty kick but wasn’t too spicy. The taco was crunchy not soggy, and the pulled pork was soft but not mushy, fall off the bone & not stringy. Thankfully El Toro does a PROPER pulled pork (which many Durban restaurants don’t seem to be able to achieve). Again, the tacos need less lettuce as a filler, but other than that – Delicioso! We were way too stuffed to get dessert but when we DO go back, I’ll be sampling the drunken bananas or the chilli brownie or hell, I may just order one of the savoury dishes that incorporates white chocolate aubergine ganoush. Yuuu…uuum! For more of my Durban Restaurant reviews, check out my Instagram Feed @Lauren_Joshua_Miles and my food blog MyInsatiableAppetite.net
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  • Horrible service, felt unwanted since I got there. Food was superb, but still never going back after the service I received.
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  • El Toro is the place to be and be seen. Why? Not because they have exquisitely hand carved tables that they serve a whole lotta Mexican magic on. Not because their cocktails are mind alteringly consistently yum and everything that a cocktail should look like. Not because the waiters and staff are incredibly receiving and friendly. Not because of those fabulous pink chandeliers. Not because of their authentic music that just makes you just wanna salsa on your seat. It's about all these things and more because they are a vibe. A restaurant that serves up a myriad of Mexican flair that sizzles with fun. Best Mexican restaurant by far!
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  • By far thee most amazing place to kick back and have some Mexican food with there amazing cocktails that leaves you wanting more and 50 different tequilas to choose from im sure eltoro has a little something for every ones taste buds...staff is amazing and service is all ways on point ten points to the staff and management for keeping customers happy..
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  • El toro is a perfect place to kick back and relax after a long week, to start off I always have the Flamingo, a mixed berry frozen margarita with a kopparberg cider in, ABSOLUTELY mouth watering. For starters the Queso Fundido is a HAVE to, chorizo in a fondue sauce, with nachos to dip, yum, yum, yum. For mains the Belly Con Cerdo is AMAZING, pork belly glazed in honey, with crispy crackling, and with Patata Bravas on the side, which is wedges of potato's with melted cheese on top. Cooked to PERFECTION! For desert Churros is a have to, dipped into Belgian Chocolate Sauce, keeps you wanting more. Be aware its addictive! Lastly the TEQUILA, there is so much to choose from. But the Cabrito is amazing and goes down so well, with a slice of caramelized orange. All their staff knows their stuff! They know their menu and their tequila! Service is amazing!
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  • My absolute favourite place to go! The staff know us by now and are always super friendly always making sure I have a full margarita (Strawberry or Mango are insane) They also stock THE BEST Tequila I've ever had - served iced cold! We love popping in there for the nachos and a quick drink that turns into a whole afternoon of sitting on the deck and people watching. They have recently changed up their menu and can't wait to try the new additions!
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  • I absolutely love El Toro!! I am always welcomed by a friendly staff member and swiftly seated. From the stylish décor to the cocktails which are just too amazing for words and the taste bud tantalising food which is just incredible. You can see that a lot of thought and effort was put into this place and you can feel it in the ambience when you walk through the doors. I would strongly recommend everyone to give this place a try.
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  • If you looking for a bit of fun, tequila and friendly faces don't look any further. El Toro definitely hits the spot. Thank-you your quality tequila and delicious strawberry margaritas xx
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  • Tapas and tequila, what more could you want! Ordered a little bit of everything so we could all taste and I definatly was not left wanting more. Every mouthful was a sensory overload of goodness just screaming for more. Drinks were flowing, people were happy, staff are awesome, vibe is great. Its like ine big happy mexican fiesta!!
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  • They do the most amazing cocktails and the new menu is out of this world you have to try the Cubano Mixto especially the seared rare rump and then if you have room the churros you can add the ice cream which at the moment is vanilla chocolate chip and tequila and chocolate and the amazing Reed Hoffman whose concept this is is and outstanding host but gets you buy more tequila then one should have but with 50 varieties on offer its hard not to try at least a few and finally Amber our waitress was very noligable about the menu and her service was 10 out of 10
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  • Superb place, superb staff, superb food. Crazy, busy and vibey in all the right ways. For the best experience order the Bulldawg to drink and one of the grill dishes to eat (I had the rolled Mexican. Amazing rump dish with a jalapeño inside it!). 5 stars all round!
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  • OMG!! What an awesome spot. We (a group of 7 of us) had one of the best nights in Durban we've ever had. It was a post-work afternoon drinks session that morphed into dinner and late and great one!! The staff were amazing - continuously keeping our drinks filled without having to ask - its a basic thing but that is SERVICE! Food was sensational. Best Nachos I've ever had in South Africa and I know my stuff - been to SoCAL, Mexico and other spots that know what they're doing and it was great to see good old Durbs be able to come up with the goods. The fact that all the Nachos aren't a beige brown colour and they embrace even the dark black Nacho chip was music to my ears. We had Tequila by the gallon; red wine by the bucket load; and more food than we normally would (eating is cheating) - but it was that good!! Having the Chef come out and chat and talk us through his menu was fantastic! Its really awesome to see good food places develop in SA and in Durbs, El Toro was amazing. We'll definitely be back. Reed as host was simply fantastic too! Our waiter was Steve and he was brilliant all night long. Rock on boys!!
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  • Awesome but sadly like all fab restaurants in Mackeurton Drive, you can't just pop in as its full and no parking. Well worth booking.
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  • Awesome but sadly like all fab restaurants in Mackeurton Drive, you can't just pop in as its full and no parking. Well worth booking.
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  • I went there by accident as I was lost but it definitely was the best accident ever. Mexican food is my favorite, I have been to Mexico , my best friend is spanish and the Empanadas tasted just like her Mums!!! Finally a Mexican restaurant in SA that's good!! Great atmosphere ,good food , reasonable prices and nice location...
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Beer served
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • WiFi

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