With Cinco de Mayo quickly coming up (Cinco de Quatro arriving a day earlier for fans of Arrested Development) we as a society will be reminded that there will be no going out for margaritas this year, and that all tacos will be enjoyed with virtual backgrounds of mariachi bands.
This should not however deter us from remembering the local establishments that we would have patronized on Cinco de Mayo if it were not for the COVID-19 Pandemic. This means something different for everyone, but for me it brings to mind one specific local Mexican eatery.
Tucked into the shadow of Seton Hall University in the village of South Orange, New Jersey, Toro Loco slings out not only delicious Mexican fare, but margaritas that rock with each sip that you take.
When you first approach the building that Toro Loco is housed in, any worry of authenticity is quickly washed away by the exterior decoration. The walls that envelop the full width of the restaurant are adorned as if they were an ancient temple with wall carvings, and the smell of fresh cooking beckons you in like an ancient spell.
The interior of the restaurant, though hard to do, matches the authenticity of the outside of the restaurant by transporting you south of the border with red walls and the continuation of the temple-like wall carvings. If the walls don’t grab your attention visually, then the well-stocked bar certainly will.
This is the go-to spot for margaritas if you’re in the South Orange area, but if you’re looking to try something else from the bar, another solid option that they have is their handcrafted Mexican coffee.
This coffee brilliantly blends the flavor of coffee with Kahlua and tequila to create a twist on a classic beverage. Paired with more savory menu items such as the Carne al Carbon, which features charbroiled-shell steak, onions, peppers, and mushrooms sauteèd in a Ranchera sauce, and you have a dynamic combination fit for any celebration on your hands.
Sadly, like many other small business, Toro Loco has suffered from COVID-19. The owner, Teresa Guzman, recently told Jorge Melchor of palabra. that she is nervous about the future of her business. “If I continue the social distance I don’t think we can continue in this business. I will lose everything.”
They continue to remain open, and have participated in efforts to feed frontline workers at Newark’s Beth Israel hospital. Their menu can be found online at toroloco.net, and they continue to update their Facebook account with updates.
You can still, and should, celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year. Celebrations will just have to be adjusted, just like everything else in the world. On the bright side, a delivery margarita doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world!