Last night we had a great night out at one of our very favorite restaurants in New York City, which is Toloache in the theater district. We had reservations for 6PM pre theater and it seemed like everyone else in Times Square did as well since the place was packed at such an early hour. The photo above is the tile artwork on the west wall of the restaurant, which has great ambiance and really does emanate the vibe of a modern take on traditional Mexican cuisine.
We were lucky to have a nice table upstairs and our server was a sweet woman who actually remembered us since we had been in the restaurant several times before. She is quite a professional. The place is very elegant, but somehow relaxed at the same time. It has a good mix of local loyalists and many tourists.
We started the evening with drinks. On my last visit, I discovered the house Toloache margarita and I ordered that again yesterday. Now, apparently the word Toloache translates to “Jimson weed” which is a plant that is a hallucinogen of sorts with anti-cholinergic properties that “cause the user to be incapable of distinguishing fantasy from reality”. I believe the margarita may actually use hibiscus in it (not toloache); it looks a lot like a Mexican drink called Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus tea) and tastes like it too. Pretty awesome.
For starters, I was salivating for the Queso Fundido which is a mexican cheese fondue with accompanying tomatillo salsa and containing maitake & huitlacoche mushrooms. It comes with three tortillas. Simply yummy. Roberto was also salivating for what he ordered which was Chapulines: GRASSHOPPER TACOS. Weirdly good. I guess the little buggers are fried and just about anything which is fried tastes good.
After that I had the Lechon Prensado (suckling pig carnitas, avocado-kale puree, baby vegetables, chicharron prensado) and Roberto had the Tumbada (veracruz-style paella, epazote-scented rice, chicken, chorizo, shrimp, tilapia, clams, octopus). Both were good, although, I think Roberto enjoyed his a bit more than I did. The pork in my plate comes a bit plain and there are these pickled onions that go with it. Only problem is that the vinegariness kind of takes over the whole dish. But it was still good, especially, the kale puree. Roberto’s was chock full of seafood; he almost licked the plate!
The couple seated next to us screamed of being from out of town. They kept pointing out that they were in a rush and needed to be at a show at 8PM. At about five past seven, they hurriedly got up from their table and managed to spill a glass of water on us and the floor, excusing themselves because they were “in a rush, going to the theater”. Almost everyone in restaurant was going to the theater, but somehow we managed to not be weird about it and not need 50 minutes to walk two blocks!! But anyway; their rudeness turned out to be our good fortune…
For dessert, Roberto wanted churros (Mexican donuts) that came with two delicious sauces chocolate and “cajeta” (caramel). I had only ordered a tea, but because of our neighbors’ water mishap, the kind waitress comped me an order of the Crepas Con Cajeta (crepes, caramelized goat‘s milk bananas, cinnamon almonds, vanilla ice cream). This turned out to be the highlight of the meal. Imagine a stack of crepes, then cut into triangular wedges with a wonderful banana flavor. If you like bananas you gotta save room for this phenomenally tasty dessert.
In sum, Toloache is a really enjoyable New York dining experience. The place is pricey, but well worth it. I was so proud the waitress recognized our faces; it is nice to be known of as a “regular”.