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Dinner at Toloache, 6/03/08

It felt like years since I'd seen my friend, Teddi; so it was only fitting that we plan a dinner date to debrief about my recent trip to the Hamptons, which she so kindly helped me plan. We chose to meet at Toloache, the theater district's newest Mexican spot, on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

In true Lunch Belle fashion, I arrived at Toloache fashionably early (ahem, 5:30 p.m.) in order to quench my thirst for a margarita and study the restaurant's vibe. From Toloache's signage outside, you'd think that the restaurant was a strip club, which is unfortunate because for those simply passing by, it would be easy to assume this observation and never look twice (but it could also work in their favor...depends on you!). However, for those of us in the know, Toloache is like a rare gem that seems somewhat undiscovered. Housed in a two story space, Toloache is bright, open and airy. From the warm terracotta flooring to the beautiful Mexican tiling on the walls, the restaurant definitely has an authentic feel. Taking front stage, just to the right of the bar, is a small square shaped open kitchen, complete with a wood-burning brick oven, where culinary magic takes place in the preparation of homemade guacamole and an array of fresh ceviches. Overhead, charming dark wood beams house track lighting, adding Southwestern aura and illumination to the entire restaurant. Adding a touch of elegance to the casual space are crisp white table cloths and swanky mustard-yellow leather chairs and banquettes. 

After grabbing a seat at the bar, I ordered a prickly-pear margarita on-the-rocks and nearly 5 delicious sips later, Teddi arrived. We were seated immediately, just as the restaurant slowly started to fill up. Michael, our adorable waiter, took our order consisting of: communal chips, salsa and guacamole, cheese enchiladas with green sauce for me, and cheese quesadillas with huaticochle for Teddi.
Three minutes later, a basket of tortilla chips, a bowl of guacamole and another of salsa arrived. The chips were golden, crunchy, salty and warm which was a pleasant contrast to the cool guacamole. Smashed buttery avocado meat was mixed with chopped tomatoes, a pinch of sweet white onion and cilantro, and a passive dash of jalapenos that gave the dip a nice spicy kick. Though the guac was incredible, I think I actually liked the smoky salsa better! The perfectly pureed potion's flavors of tomato, chipotle, salt, spice and garlic blended precisely together to the point that, had you given me a straw, I would have drank the stuff!

Shortly thereafter, our entrees arrived. My plate of cheese enchiladas was almost too sexy to eat. I snapped about three photos before I couldn't take the suspense any longer...And dug in! I'm convinced that the corn tortillas enveloping the white cheese were homemade. The green chile sauce served as a moat to the two enchiladas, which were topped with more white cheese, crema, cotija cheese and some sort of chopped, pickled fruit. This may sound like a strange mix of ingredients, but I will never forget how unique and brilliant the flavor of the sweet and crunchy fruit mixed with the predominantly savory ingredients. Truly phenomenal. By first glance of the Spanish rice that accompanied our meal, I could tell that it was pre-packaged instant rice...And my first bite proved it. Though I didn't taste Teddi's quesadilla, she happily gushed that it "was the best quesadilla she's ever had!"

Toloache was absolutely outstanding and I can't wait to go back! The prices, Michael our server, the food and drinks were excellent.

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