El Torero is a well known Mexican restaurant tucked away in a corner of the Amador Plaza Shopping Center. With the current state ban on indoor restaurant dining, El Torero has placed tables outside with canopy tents and standing fans on the large sidewalk patio area outside the restaurant. They also offer takeout services, but they’re not set up for it.

That is, I discovered that they don’t have their latest menu posted on their Facebook page. What’s more, the website on their Facebook page links to a page that’s mostly in Hebrew. I was left with sifting through three different online menu sites that had different menus on each site. Two of those menus were text-only and the other contained photos of three menu pages.

Calling the restaurant before we ordered didn’t clarify things, but I was assured by the manager that he would take care of us when we were ready to order. The confusion prompted my mother to suggest that we look somewhere else for our dinner on July 15, but I convinced her that we should stick with them.

So, that evening my mother called El Torero ordered a Tostada Grande with beef for me, and then she asked about what she could order with shrimp for herself. The manager said he would make her one of his favorites, which was a burrito stuffed with shrimp, crab, onions, and tomatoes. My mother agreed and arranged to have me pick up our meal between 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

There was a designated waiting area outside in front of the restaurant, and the tables were filled with about a dozen people. After waiting a few minutes, I received two Styrofoam boxes and a paper bag all stacked within a plastic bag, and I didn’t have to sign a credit card slip. The plastic bag contained chips and salsa.

My Meal

The beef Tostada Grande comes with shredded beef, lettuce, refried beans, cheddar cheese, and copious amounts of guacamole and sour cream. The ingredients were layered in a large, fried flour tortilla shell. The tostada also came with season rice in a large Styrofoam box, and the tortilla itself was separated from the rice with plastic wrap.

Once I removed the plastic wrap and dug in, I had guacamole and sour cream salad with one meal followed by a meal of beef, flour tortilla, and rice. The meat itself was flavorful and loose enough so I could eat it easily.

The rest of the produce was fresh and crisp, the guacamole and sour cream were tasty and not too thick, and the flour tortilla was light but firm enough to handle all the ingredients. El Torero knows how to make a tostada.

El Torero Beef Tostada Grande

Mom’s Meal

My mother’s shrimp and crab burrito was also slathered with generous dollops of guacamole, cheese, and sour cream. My mother thought she would get sour cream on the side, so she had to scoop a lot of it off because she can ingest only so much lactose at a time. Her burrito also came with a side of refried beans and cheese as well as seasoned rice.

It took a few bites for my mother to taste any shrimp, but by the time she finished her burrito, she said she tasted both shrimp and crab. She enjoyed the burrito, though she wasn’t sure about everything else that was in the burrito besides tomatoes and onions. My mother noted that the taste of the burrito was overwhelmed by the guacamole and what remained of the sour cream on top of the burrito.

El Torero serves both corn tortilla chips and fried flour tortilla chips, which isn’t common among Mexican restaurants. (The late José’s Mexican Restaurant did the same.) The corn tortilla chips are crunchy but not hard, and the flour tortilla chips are light but fried well enough so they’re crispy.

The salsa was of medium heat, so my mother couldn’t eat more than one chip with salsa before she had to stop and leave the salsa to me. There were more than enough chips for both of us to enjoy the chips at dinner the following night.

El Torero tortilla chips and salsa

The Verdict

We both enjoyed our meals, and El Torero is worth going back to. But they make it as hard as possible to order takeout from them. So, with this review, I’m retiring the thumbs up and down verdict, and changing to a traffic light metaphor that will let you know if you should go or not.

Our verdict: Yellow light.

Want to Try Them?

You can eat at El Torero for lunch or dinner outside or order takeout by phone. You can visit their Facebook page for the latest news, and/or call them at 209-223-0253.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.