Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review: Toro Viejo (Coeur d'Alene)

Toro Viejo, 117 N. 2nd Street, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814 (208) 667-7676

The bright new sign along Seltice Way advertising the new businesses in Riverstone keeps taunting me. When I'm driving to or from Coeur d'Alene, I see just a flash of "All you can eat tacos." It's a taco addicts dream come true and I know what it's referring to: the all you can eat taco deal at Azteca on Tuesdays. It's only $5 and comes with all the tacos, rice, beans and salsa you can eat. However, I've indulged in the feast at the Spokane locations and know that even though it's a good price and decent food, I'd rather spend five dollars on one limited size, high quality meal at Toro Viejo.

Like any other restaurant with multiple locations, I believe that there are variations between Toro Viejo outlets in Coeur d'Alene, Hayden and Post Falls. The Coeur d'Alene always has been the best, in my opinion. I was reminded of why when I visited for lunch today.

Although parking has very little to do with the restaurant, I knew things were off to a good start when I snagged a parking spot right outside the front door. Upon entering, I had just enough time to read the specials on the board before we were greeted by the host. He laughed and joked with us while he showed us to our table. As usual, a basket of warm tortilla chips, salsa and water were brought immediately.

Our server seemed to be the only one working. She had a helper dishing out the chips and water, but other than that was on her own. Her tone and mannerisms reflected the stress she must have felt with such a job. It was noon and even on a weekday the tables were filling up. My order was straight up, the special, one taco (shredded beef) and an enchilada (cheese) with rice and beans. My grandma's order threw the server a bit and she became confused and flustered. My grandma is almost 90 years old, but she knew exactly what she wanted and I thought was clear in her order - a green chile enchilada with no rice on the side, just beans. However, the server clarified and went through the order again before she left the table.

Munchkin entertained himself with chips while we waited for our food. Toro Viejo is one of his favorite restaurants because of the self serve basket on the table. I held off on the chips, waiting for the mild salsa I had request from the server (yes, I'm a wimp). The mild didn't arrive, but our food came out so fast, I didn't have much to complain about. The server did remember when she delivered our food that I had asked for mild and promptly brought it. My grandma felt she was bothering the server when requesting guacamole, then a spoon on the return trip.

I dove into my meal with excitement. It had been over a month since I'd eaten Mexican food, and with that sign always taunting me, I was hungry for it. The enchilada was hot with creamy, melted cheese and just the right amount of sauce. I gave the taco to Munchkin, but not before have a sample. It was your regular taco with shredded beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Good, but nothing great. I savored my enchilada, thoroughly enjoying each bite. Grandma couldn't stop talking about how good her meal was.

Even though the server got flustered and seemed a little stressed, she made a point of coming back by the table at the end of the meal to offer an apology. She told my grandma she was sorry about the confusion, but just wanted to be sure the order was correct. I thought it was a very thoughtful and unusual thing for a server to do. Grandma really appreciated the gesture. It changed ok service to excellent service.

As I'm writing this, only five hours after eating at Toro Viejo, I'm getting hungry for another enchilada. The food was just so fresh, fast and good. Plus, you really couldn't beat the price. My "special" was $4.75 and Grandma's single enchilada (which, with the beans consumed a whole plate) was $4.50. Blows the $5 taco bar out of the water.


Carrie said...

MMMM sounds good too bad I don't live closer :) I have never heard of this restaraunt either - is it just a local or a chain?

Shinie said...

Sorry, it's just local!

Kendra said...

Whenever we go out for a "family" Mexican dinner, it's almost always to the Post Falls Toro Viejo.
After reading your post, though, I'm craving a meal out with just Tonydaddy and myself, and think you sold me on the one in CdA! Yummy!