Chicken Sopes

Weekend Mexican Happy Hour: El Torito

Unfortunately, life happens and I did not get a chance to post this on the day it was meant to go up. However, we are all human after all so sometimes that means finding a Happy Hour for a Saturday. You heard that right, a Happy Hour on a Saturday! Can life get any better than that?

Black Torro Statue

Happy Hours are notorious for only occurring during the week, so I had to really dig into my research to find a weekend Happy Hour. That is when I came across El Torito’s Happy Hour that happens 7 days a week at the Irvine location right across from the airport. You may remember that my 50th Happy Hour Adventure was at El Torito Grill. Even though they are similar in name, they are different restaurants. I may have forgotten to get a picture of the sign, but I did snap a picture of the iconic black torro statue.

Dark Secluded Bar

To my disappointment, the bar is nothing too exciting. It seems like a dark bar secluded in the back corner of the restaurant. The only light source came illuminating from behind the shelves of liquor bottles.

Dining Area

The restaurant’s dining area is lit up by numerous different light sources and is a lot brighter than the bar. The floor is covered by rust-colored tiles which match with the aged brown bricks on the lower half of the walls. Then the upper half of the facade is painted white with one random patch of brick to give it a deteriorating look. The part of the restaurant that is outdated to me is the popcorn ceiling. Since it was a bit crowded inside, I decided to dine out on the patio which wasn’t much.

Happy Hour Drinks

The Happy Hour menu is set up exactly like El Torito Grill and Acapulco which both are owned by the same parent company, XRG. They have the drink menu split by $4, $6, and $8 drinks. Honestly $4 well drinks are an excellent deal however it is all about some specialty drinks. Plus if you are looking for tequila shots then this is the place for you!

Happy Hour Food

Time to browse over the food! Again keeping things simple with 3 different price categories each with 3 different choices in each. The menu contains most of your classic Mexican fare except for sliders, which fuses American and Mexican cuisine.

Blackberry Margarita

I just had to order up a margarita since I was at a Mexican restaurant. However, I didn’t want to bore you with another classic margarita. So instead I went with one of the fruit-flavored ones. As my waiter was listing them off there was one that caught my attention, the blackberry margarita. The flavor profile was that of a margarita with slight hints of blackberry protruding within. It brought on some slight sweetness which played well with the salt rim of the glass.

Paloma

Originally I was going to try their new Spicy Jalapeño Cucumber Margarita but when I asked my waiter what he suggested he said the Paloma was the way to go. You may remember the very first time I had a Paloma on my Adventures at Social. In all honesty, I believe Social had the better Paloma. This one tasted slightly watery to me with just a slight hint of grapefruit flavor which didn’t become prevalent until I reached the bottom. I’m sure the whole drink was not properly mixed to incorporate all the ingredients with one another. I do appreciate that it was served in one tall glass with a salt rim though.

Chicken Sopes

After eyeing those drinks I’m sure you are hungering for some delicious Mexican fare. This wooden serving platter with a banana leaf comes to you with three chicken sopes. Sopes are made using a fried masa base and topped with all kinds of various toppings for your enjoyment. These sopes in particular contained a slightly orange color with some additional spices to make it more unique. The sope by itself was a bit dry but when you ate it as a whole with the habanero salsa then it all worked together.

These particular sopes had a base layer of refried beans and from there the toppings get piled on. You have a mix of cabbage to add a bit of crisp crunch to each bite. Then the juicy diced tomatoes bring on some nice acidic pops. The creamy avocado slices are ideal for bringing on some fresh flavor. The protein of the dish was chunks of grilled chicken which one could taste the flames of the grill along with the great flavor. Plus a sprinkling of cotija cheese never hurt anyone.

Salmon Tacos

I have had fish tacos on my Adventures a few times but most of them were through delivery. Although this will be the first time having a salmon taco served fresh from the kitchen instead of through delivery. The first time having salmon tacos during my Adventures was the cajun salmon tacos from California Fish Grill.

The first thing that jumped out at me was of course the corn tortillas. They looked as if they were grilled with some sort of red sauce and gave off the same color scheme as the sopes. Each bite ensured that there was flavor throughout each bite. There was a sprinkling of cabbage and cilantro for some greens, which gave off some good herb flavor. The salmon itself was cooked nicely and the chipotle crema that was served on top haded a good creamy spice to the dish. Although any sort of fish has to have a good citrus punch, a slight squeeze of lime juice always helps.

Unfortunately, I’d still have to give the win to California Fish Grill in the battle of the salmon tacos. The cajun butter sauce that was served on their tacos made them rich and decadent that you couldn’t help but not keep taking bites.

Cool Margarita Sign

Overall I’d say it was a good Happy Hour experience. For me, it was all about the chicken sopes while sipping on the blackberry margarita. The salmon tacos were good but they weren’t the all-time best salmon tacos ever. If I’m comparing El Torito, Acapulco, and El Torito Grill with one another I would have to say El Torito Grill is the clear winner. I believe El Torito Grill is there more elevated restaurant so the quality is better and the atmosphere is a lot better as well. Plus the main difference is instead of $4, $6, and $8 items their items range from $6-$8. So you may not be able to have $4 tequila shots but I guess that’s why they have El Torito as an option.

Website: El Torito

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After writing this I just realized I never got a picture of the chips and salsa. So we’ll keep the question simple. Who’s guilty of eating way too many chips and salsa before the real meal comes?

Let me know down below in the comments and share with friends who would enjoy this Happy Hour.

May the adventures continue! Cheers!

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