The lot in Wawasee Village that long ago housed the highly popular Foo and Faye Chinese Restaurant now has a different ethnic look. Moving from Logansport into what was once Duffy’s Irish-themed bar, owner Shayla Canseco renovated the building into all things Mexico, including décor, drinks and food.
Opening July 9, the Los Toritos (translates to “the Bulls”) Mexican Grill has seen steady business and adds another food option in Lake Country.
The huge spiral-bound laminated menu is nine pages of Mexican delicacies, including a full page of lunch specials. There’s every kind of nacho, burrito, tostada, taco, tamale, quesadilla, chimichanga, enchilada, chalupa, tostaguac, salad, eggs and even chili relleno. The latter is a poblano stuffed with ground beef and cheese and topped with a red sauce.
Strangely, unlike other Mexican restaurants we’ve visited, there is no soup on the menu. A good chicken-tortilla soup would have been perfect on this day.
Plopping into a comfortable booth with a laminated wood table, we were immediately served a huge basket of fresh corn chips with a small carafe of exceptional salsa. The salsa is unusual. It’s blended and more like a tomato sauce, and a bit runny instead of chunky like most salsas. Nonetheless, it was delicious.
While munching on those fresh chips, we ordered drinks and dug into the massive menu. Meanwhile, out came a colossal margarita. It was enough for two or three.
After several visits by our waiter, we finally decided on what to order. Although both the tacos and an interesting shrimp salad looked tempting, I went with a single chimichanga from the lunch special section.
Gayle, my wife, ordered the cheese quesadilla from the same section. Plates came out very shortly after ordering and were large. The quesadilla was a 10-inch corn tortilla stuffed with gooey cheese. She added some of that salsa to her mix and scooped it up with more chips.
I ordered the beef chimichanga and although the meat could have had more seasoning, it was coated with a creamy cheese sauce and was quite filling.
All plates come with the usual Mexican sides of Spanish rice, refried beans and condiments. The latter included guacamole, shredded lettuce, a bit of pico de gallo and sour cream. The refried beans were different because instead of pinto beans, they appeared to be black beans. They were tasty as was the tomato sauce coated rice. Regardless, it’s quite a large plate for a summer-day lunch.
CHICKEN AND SEAFOOD
Besides that inviting shrimp salad, there are eight other seafood dishes — all large. One is a fiery shrimp cocktail that I’m told “will create tears!” There are three other shrimp dishes and four tilapia dishes. One of the fish dishes, called mojarra, is a whole tilapia that’s fried and served with all the Mexican fixings. They displayed a picture of that dish, and it is huge and enough for two or more.
There are also eight chicken dishes, including pollo Cancun. It’s a combination of grilled chicken, grilled shrimp and onions that’s served with guacamole and tortillas.
Then there’s arroz con pollo. It’s the national dish in Costa Rico and on every menu in the country. It’s merely a grilled chicken breast with rice and beans then topped with cheese.
Los Toritos Mexican Grill brings a different ethnic touch to Lake Country. It deserves local support, and now you don’t have to drive to Albion or Ligonier for good Mexican food. We would go back just to try any one of the nine appetizers. The guacamole is adequate, but the bean dip and their original cheese dip are very tempting.
With Café Liefde and Los Toritos opening the same week last month, there are now 17 privately owned restaurants along the waterfront and between downtown Syracuse and the bowling alley. There are three more further south, plus all the chains in between. So, choices in Lake Country are abundant. Come hungry.
Loren Shaum is an automation engineering consultant, retired pilot, author, home gardener and sometimes chef. He and Gayle reside in Syracuse. He can be contacted at [email protected].